Report: Australian broadband performance on the rise

New Epitiro report shows Australian broadband providers improved performance and service delivery during Q4 2008

Australian Internet surfers enjoyed significant improvements in performance during the last quarter of 2008, according to new international research.

Global broadband benchmarking firm, Epitiro, found email delivery times, browsing speed, connection and gaming performance had all improved during Q4 compared with Q3 last year.

The company measures the performance of the premium services of eight Australian ISPs from the same locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“There were small but significant gains across most of the variables we measure. [In Q4 2008] Australians were able to browse, surf, game and download a little faster than they could in Q3 [2008],” Epitiro said.

Of the eight Australian ISPs measured for performance by Epitiro, Telstra sat in top spot, followed by TPG, iiNet, Netspace, AAPT, Internode, Westnet and Optus.

“There was a lot of action in the lower half of the table, with Optus heading south to bottom spot from a previous ranking of fifth, and AAPT scooting up to fifth from second to bottom,” Epitiro said.

“Optus slumped in certain areas such as ping, DNS response times and came last in email delivery, with average times around 10 minutes. These undermined what was an above average performance in other areas, such as download and connection speeds."

Local telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, singled out offerings by companies such as Internode and iiNet as driving improvements in broadband performance.

“There has been significant improvement in the broadband market in Australia there is no doubt about it,” he said.

However, Budde claimed the rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, as Telstra’s sheer size and the fact that it owned the network infrastructure skewed the results.

“Obviously, the overall impact of a company like Telstra is larger than that of a smaller company… Part of the reason Telstra is in the lead is because it’s their network, therefore they can manipulate it and they have been manipulating others who have to rely on Telstra for whatever they offer in the market,” he said.

“This is why there are something like 30 or 40 disputes between various ISPs and Telstra before the ACCC. You can’t look at these things in isolation – the fact that competitors are active is what stimulates Telstra."

Budde attributed Optus’ poor result to the SingTel-owned telco’s late entry into the broadband market.

Despite Epitiro’s encouraging analysis of Australia’s broadband performance, shadow communications minister, Nick Minchin, recently labelled 2008 a year of wasted opportunity, stagnation and uncertainty, claiming the Rudd government has delivered nothing in relation to high-speed broadband.

Responding to the Epitiro report, Telstra’s public relations team pointed out that Acacia and Axia, the other remaining national NBN bidders, did not rank because they do not even offer any broadband services.

“The results cast a dark cloud over the capabilities and the record of those asking to be entrusted with the massive and critically important NBN project,” Telstra said in a statement.

Its head of public policy and commuinications, David Quilty, said the telco had “moved on” from the NBN process.

Quilty claimed there was nothing to suggest the remaining NBN bidders were capable of building a reliable, secure, highly capable, upgradeable and financially sound NBN. Budde dismissed Quilty’s comments as pure spin-doctoring.

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