Measuring Broadband Australia Program May Be Expanded

Measuring Broadband Australia Program May Be Expanded

The ACCC is continuing to explore the idea of expanding the Measuring Broadband Australia Program to include non-NBN providers and connectivity technologies not currently covered.

Measuring Broadband Australia

Back in 2017,  the Australian Federal Government announced it was to fund a new broadband performance monitoring initiative to provide Australian consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds – the Measuring Broadband Australia (MBA) Program. The first report was published in March 2018.

As well as helping consumers, MBA also assists the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in responding to instances of poor market behaviour.

Testing is carried out using the SamKnows “WhiteBox” installed in selected homes across Australia, which is a monitoring solution that has been used in dozens of countries. Under the program, only the performance of NBN fixed broadband connections are reported, i.e. it doesn’t include fixed wireless, satellite or mobile, nor non-NBN fixed superfast broadband and other technologies.

Last week, the ACCC published a report of its review of the effectiveness of the program, which was undertaken in consultation with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC).

A consultation paper was provided to nominated stakeholders for their comment last year and a public consumer survey was also undertaken on the ACCC consultation hub. One of many topics examined was in relation to the potential expansion of the program into monitoring and reporting on fixed wireless and other services.

The ACCC reported significant interest among consumers in this added coverage:

  • 82% – 5G home broadband services
  • 76% – NBN fixed wireless services
  • 42% – Other non-NBN superfast broadband services

The ACCC is also still pretty keen on the idea, stating:

“Extending broadband performance monitoring to additional and emerging access technologies can assist in encouraging competition between access technologies as well as retailers,” it states. “This will help to ensure these services are delivered as expected and provide consumers with the necessary information to give them greater confidence to choose between competing services.”

While acknowledging there would be challenges with accurately measuring the performance of wireless services compared to fixed line services, the Commission believes with the right approach, reliable data can be collected and reported for fixed wireless and non-NBN networks.

The ACCC report has been provided to the DITRDC for its consideration. The full report can be viewed here.

On a related note, Australians curious about how their own internet connection is performing can use this speed test, which only takes around 30 seconds and is compatible with all connectivity technologies.

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