Broadband speeds increase, but numbers in the air

20 per cent increase in average broadband speeds brings Australia up the charts

Australian broadband speeds have increased by 20 per cent in the last eight months to average 4.2 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream, according to an independent broadband comparison website.

The results, collated from approximately 10,000 tests conducted by Broadband Expert between April to September this year, indicated average broadband speeds had increased by about 0.7Mbps in total when compared to the 3.5Mbps average in the period from July 2009 to December 2009.

Despite the overall increase in Australian speeds, the country still lags behind on a global scale with Broadband Expert’s findings, showing the UK posted speeds of 5.93Mbps and the US, 5.75Mbps.

According to the results, Optus is leading the charge with average speeds of 7.19Mbps, while Telstra BigPond recorded average speeds of 5.17Mbps.

Broadband Expert commercial director, Rob Webber, said the increase was a welcome one, but highlighted the hefty contrast between rural and metropolitan areas.

“A 20 per cent increase in average speed in such a short period of time is an impressive result,” he said in a statement. “However, it’s important to remember that regional Australia is still being left behind."

Broadband Expert’s research showed metropolitan areas in Australia were sitting on average speeds of 5.28Mbps, while rural areas must make do with just 4.29Mbps.

The firm attributed the increase in average speeds to widening availability of faster internet access technologies. On average, customers with cable broadband received 9.75Mbps, while those with ADSL2+ received 5.62Mbps. Those on standard ADSL were stuck with 2.47Mbps.

According to figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in June this year, DSL remains the most popular internet access technology with 4.2 million subscriptions, followed by 3.45 million mobile wireless users. There were also 15,000 connected by fibre, and 113,000 on slower satellite connections. The ABS statistics do not differentiate between those users with multiple subscriptions or accounts, however.

However, the figures from Broadband Expert come into conflict with those surveyed by Ookla, which runs the popular Speedtest.net website. According to its Net Index tool, average broadband speeds in Australia currently sit at 7.80Mbps, an increase of 1.52Mbps in the five months since the tool first launched. South Korea still ranks highest in the world with an average speed of 35.70Mbps, while the the US posted 10.13Mbps. The current global average sits at 8.11Mbps.

Speeds in the Canberra suburb of Gungahlin, where NBN Co held a community consultation night last week, were revealed to average 1.32Mbps downstream and 0.22Mbps upstream based on testing done by the Gungahlin City Council. Maximum speeds were approximately 12Mbps on the faster ADSL2+ connections where available in limited areas.

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