Australia slips out of broadband Top 20

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Australia slips out of broadband Top 20

Can our networks meet tomorrow's needs?

Australian fixed broadband connections averaged above 5 Mbps for the first time in 2010 but weren't deemed "ready for tomorrow", according to the latest global Broadband Quality Survey commissioned by Cisco Systems.

The 5 Mbps downlink speed result was higher than the 4.4 Mbps recorded last year and 3.97 Mbps in 2008, according to statistics published on the vendor's website.

But that was largely where the good news for Australia ended.

The 5 Mbps downlink speed in Australia was behind the average global download speed of 5.9 Mbps.

Uplink speeds remained relatively flat in the three years the survey has been running - growing from 439 Kbps in 2008 to 564 Kbps on average this year. The global average was 1.77 Mbps in 2010.

That was a concern because the report's authors found that broadband consumption patterns globally were "diverging, from a basic household requiring 2.7 Mbps and consuming about 20 GB a month, to a smart and connected home commanding over 20 Mbps and a consumption of 500 GB a month".

Australia was, however, kicking goals on latency. It cut average latency from 100 ms to 82 ms this year, putting it well ahead of the global average of 142 ms.

Australia's global rank on broadband - based on a ‘quality' index developed by the Saïd business school at Oxford University - has slipped six places in three years, from 15th in the world in 2008 to outside the top 20 this year.

The nation's actual quality score has been basically the same over a three-year period.

Australia was seen to be lagging in its readiness to cater to future internet applications and on the "digital divide" between city and regional areas.

Over half of the countries included in the survey - 38 countries in real terms - were said to have "conquered the digital divide, with less evident differences between the broadband quality inside and outside their main cities."

Australia ranked 53rd out of 66 countries when it came to bridging the digital divide.

The survey report also said that 14 countries in 2010 were "already prepared for the internet "applications of tomorrow compared to only one country in 2008."

Australia did not make this list, nor did it qualify for the category "comfortably enjoying today's applications".

Its networks were capable of "meeting the needs of today's applications", alongside those in New Zealand, Thailand and Brazil.

Australia's score on mobile broadband was also surprisingly low, given rapid take-up of services. The country ranked 31st on broadband quality compared to other countries.

The top three were Sweden (where LTE is being rolled out), Denmark and the United States.

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