The latest Global Broadband Speed Test by Ookla ranks Australia fifth globally for mobile speeds out of 140 measured locations. But for fixed broadband speeds, with a 42.1Mbps average, the ranking is 61 out of 175 countries measured. This puts Australia at a lower position on the list than countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Serbia.
Mr Rue defended the quality of the network, saying the NBN Co ensured “ubiquitous high speed broadband across the nation” and argued that speed tests did not hold up to scrutiny.
“Intuitively that’s very wrong,” Mr Rue said of the low rankings from multiple online speed tests, adding that the companies involved often do not consider factors such as the availability of broadband or the physical size of countries, and relied on small sample sizes to come to conclusions.
Research from AlphaBeta, commissioned by the NBN Co, ranks Australia’s internet services when using government-validated subscription speed data as 22nd out of 37 countries, putting it in the bottom half of the countries measured. When adjusted for households across the country who have access to fixed line broadband, this ranking jumps to 17th.
At the end of the roll-out, AlphaBeta has predicted Australia’s ranking will improve to 13th.
The report warns that international comparisons are “challenging and …can be misleading” as there isn’t a global, standardised way to test broadband speed.
Australia often features below Thailand on speed tests, which Mr Rue said did not make sense as the country had less than half the broadband availability that the NBN Co provides.
“As a nation we want to ensure that we are building an asset that [allows us to] continue to be globally competitive, that’s going to serve the health and education needs,” he said.
An NBN Co spokeswoman declined to provide details about the cost of the research, saying the terms of AlphaBeta’s contract were commercial in confidence.
“Any once-off opportunity cost so that we may provide this transparency is hugely outweighed by the impact of customers being confident to take up the network and know it will meet their needs,” she said.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement that some broadband surveys “do not properly take account of the many factors that influence speed test rankings”.
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