Even with the National Broadband Network now pretty much fully in place, Australia is still stacking up poorly against other countries when it comes to fixed broadband speeds.
Early last month, NBN Co reached its 2019-20 end-of-year target of delivering connectivity for 11.5 million homes and businesses across Australia – the NBN was at that point 99 per cent complete.
Given the amount that has been spent on the NBN, Ookla’s* Speedtest Global Index isn’t really showing it has paid off when comparing to other countries. In June 2020, Australia ranked 62 on fixed broadband speeds; up one position.
On a more positive note, Australia ranked very well again for mobile broadband speeds, at rank no. 8.
Some of the countries beating us on fixed broadband speeds included Montenegro, Uruguay, Barbados and Serbia ..and of course, our cousins across the ditch New Zealand, which ranked a very respectable 21 (+2).
NBN “Not Fit For Purpose”
So, we’re at 62 now – which is nothing to crow about, although our download speeds are trending up. But surely that ranking is a marked improvement on the pre-NBN era? Sadly, no. According to Rod Tucker, Laureate Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne, in 2010 Australia ranked around 40th in the world on Ookla’s broadband speed scorecard.
“The network is not fit for purpose,” stated Professor Tucker. “But we find ourselves with no plan for an upgrade and there is little appetite to throw good money after bad.”
How much was that “bad” money? Around $51 billion – approximately $2,040 for every woman, man and child in Australia.
Thankfully the NBN has stood up to the demands placed on it during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. But with many other countries continuing to stay ahead of Australia and development of applications we haven’t even thought of yet to appear; Australia faces becoming a broadband backwater, choking on the dust kicked up by other nations’ more accessible zippy speeds.
As we often mention, the NBN isn’t the only show in town. There are non-NBN superfast connectivity providers such as Lightning Broadband; but it’s just a shame that a golden opportunity for Australia to rapidly become a world leader for fixed line broadband – or at least even in the top 20 – looks to have been lost for the foreseeable future.
* Ookla’s testing platform is the application used for Lightning Broadband’s speed test – give it a try here to see how fast (or slow) your connection is.