Telstra attacks mobile broadband speed survey findings

Broadband Expert admits taking commissions from ISPs, but argues these have no impact on its survey findings

Broadband Expert is standing by its research on the average speed of mobile broadband services in Australia following strong criticism from one of the bigger losers of its recent research findings, Telstra.

According to Telstra spokesperson Craig Middleton, the survey did not accurately reflect the mobile broadband experience of customers across Telstra’s Next G network.

“We conduct thousands of hours of detailed network testing to arrive at our speed claims,” he said. “Customers with a BigPond Elite USB device can experience typical customer download speeds of 550kbps-8Mbps in all capital cities and selected regional areas.”

Middleton also claimed that a number of independent reviews had highlighted the Next G network's superior coverage and speed.

“In the absence of any real detail regarding the tests on which these results are based, we have reservations about the underlying scientific rigour and independence of the survey findings given the fact the publishing organisation receives commissions from ISPs for sign ups through its site,” he said.

Rob Webber, commercial director at Broadband Expert defended the survey, telling Computerworld Australia that the aim of the survey is to help consumers by giving them more realistic expectations of the download speeds that they’re likely to achieve, before they commit themselves to a 12 or 24 month contract.

“Up to speeds have never been a good indicator and with recent industry regulations, some ISP’s are now not quoting speeds at all,” he said. “We believe the ISP’s should quote the average speeds that they’re existing users achieve at the point of sign up but until they do this, we hope our data will help consumers by uncovering the best and worst performers from an independent point of view.”

Addressing Telstra’s criticisms around the methodology of the survey, Webber said all tests were carried out by users within the speed test section of its site.

“Before the test, we ask the user to confirm which type of connection they’re using – mobile or fixed line-- which ISP they’re with, the ‘up to’ speed they were quoted when they signed up and which state they’re in,” Webber said. “The data is then matched up with the speed results and from here averages per ISP can be calculated.”

On the issue of receiving commissions from ISPs, Webber said that Broadband Expert did receive commissions from almost all major mobile broadband providers, but that this was “a standard amongst comparison sites”.

“However, this has no impact on our speed test results, for example we have a commercial relationship with ‘3’ but they came bottom of our results,” he said. “Telstra is the only major mobile broadband provider that has chosen not to work with us, as they say they do not wish to work with comparison sites.”

“We’ve been delivering speed stats in the UK market for over 3 years and Telstra’s response is a fairly typical first reaction from ISP’s that haven’t performed as well as they’d hoped. However, many different companies have run these types of tests in the UK over recent years, producing remarkably similar results, so now these stats are widely accepted by the UK ISP’s.”

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