ACCC uncovers small number of NBN gigabit users seeing only 100Mbps

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ACCC uncovers small number of NBN gigabit users seeing only 100Mbps

Asks retailers to check up on in-home setups.

The ACCC's first attempt to understand how up to gigabit NBN plans perform has uncovered a subset of users getting only 100Mbps speeds due to limitations with their modem or home gateway.

The consumer watchdog released its first measuring broadband Australia report [pdf] on Wednesday that specifically examined up to gigabit tier services for the first time.

Though the sample size is relatively small - 52 services, it provides some indication of the performance fluctuations that an up to gigabit user might expect to see over a 24-hour period.

“Users on NBN very high speed connections attained an average download performance range of between 608 and 745Mbps,” the report found.

“Average download speeds showed considerable variation throughout the day for very high speed services: speeds typically started to decrease during the evening, dipping to 138Mbps below the day’s maximum speed by 6pm, and would recover to higher levels later at night.”

The ACCC noted that the result showed the highest tier plans are “more susceptible to congestion during busy periods than lower speed plans”.

In a surprise finding, however, the ACCC said its monitoring program had uncovered some gigabit users that were constrained to just 100Mbps by their customer premises equipment (CPE).

The ACCC said the issue affected “a small number of our volunteers”.

It’s unclear how widespread this is across the gigabit tier, but the incidence was enough for the ACCC to ask retailers to check up on the in-home setups of their gigabit customers.

“Some of the test results for very high speed services on the NBN panel showed that a small number of our volunteers were always achieving below 100Mbps,” the ACCC said in its report.

“We have assessed that most of these volunteers have a 100Mbps Ethernet link within their home that is the bottleneck. 

“A common cause of this is customer premises equipment (CPE) or other networking equipment that has 100Mbps ports. 

“These consumers are unable to receive the full benefit of their very high speed plans when there is a 100Mbps link in the path.”

The ACCC said it had been forced to exclude these volunteers’ results from its performance measurements.

“The ACCC has engaged with RSPs [retail service providers] to encourage them to reach out to their consumers who may be using a constrained gateway device,” it added.

The up to gigabit tier has seen a large influx of new users this year owing to a temporary price promotion by NBN Co called 'Focus on Fast'.

The ACCC said recently that between December 2020 and March 2021, the number of up to gigabit services in operation went from "9924 to almost 83,000".

It would appear, however, that at least some existing users were upgraded to gigabit speeds without any corresponding change to their CPE, meaning they were unable to even temporarily see the highest possible speeds.

An NBN Co spokesperson has been contacted for additional comment.

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