The latest ACCC report tracking the performance of NBN providers during coronavirus is out and it’s showing some companies are leaving much to be desired.
The first ACCC’s Critical Services Report, released on July 8, provided NBN usage data captured over May and compared it to a February 2020 baseline — a time when most of our lives were relatively normal.
It specifically looked at how internet service providers (ISPs) tackled the increase demand for streaming and video conference services. It showed Netflix and YouTube both performed above their February figures in download speeds, which was attributed to the NBN’s offer of increased connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) to ISPs free of charge as well as Netflix’s drop in bitrate.
The CVC charge is a fee paid by ISPs to NBN Co to access a certain amount of data. The more CVC a provider pays, the more capacity it has to guarantee speeds during peak hours.
“Think of this as the thickness of a pipe that determines the maximum amount of water flowing through – which is why the peak time of day is considered when determining how much flow through an RSP needs to adequately serve its customers. While the amount of CVC purchased limits the total volume of data being passed between the two networks, the more practical impact of not purchasing enough will constrain the observed speed during busy traffic times.”
If an ISP doesn’t have sufficient capacity, its network will become congested, resulting in slower download speeds. This is the problem MyRepublic faced, according to the ACCC’s latest report.
In May, most ISPs fared pretty well. There was little change in performance from the average for users streaming Netflix and YouTube, regardless of the time of day.
The only exception was MyRepublic. MyRepublic outperformed other ISPs with Netflix speeds in off-peak hours between midnight and about 3pm, including Aussie Broadband and Telstra, but once peak hours hit, it took a considerable dip. When it came to YouTube, it fared even worse, dropping below 50 per cent of its February speeds.
The ACCC investigated why MyRepublic’s peak hour performance was so poor, and found the problem lay with the network’s handling of YouTube traffic.
“MyRepublic displays particularly extreme performance, especially in the case of YouTube,” the report read.
“This issue seems to cover all services with MyRepublic always routing through Sydney irrespective of location within Australia, thus also covering Netflix.”
Unlike other providers that host servers within their own networks, the ACCC argued that MyRepublic uses just the one server in Sydney.
Gizmodo Australia contacted MyRepublic for comment, and it responded that the conclusions in the ACCC’s report contained “inaccuracies” that it was working to resolve with the consumer watchdog.
“There are inaccuracies in the conclusions contained in the ACCC’s latest MBA report specific to MyRepublic and we are taking this up with the ACCC now. We have no further comment,” a MyRepublic spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia.
While MyRepublic did top ACCC’s speed rankings in August 2019, a Gizmodo Australia report in February 2020 had found it did not update its advertising despite two further speed reports showing it dropped to the bottom ranking.
According to the ACCC’s NBN speed report in May, MyRepublic fared just 0.1 per cent higher than the last place holders — Dodo and iPrimus — which are now facing court proceedings for allegedly misleading customers over speeds.
It did, however, gain the title of last place for most outages lasting more than 30 seconds.
The ACCC’s next Critical Services Report is expected to be released later in 2020.