NZ’s Upload Speeds Leave Ours for Dead, and Other Rude Surprises From the ACCC Broadband Comparison

NZ’s Upload Speeds Leave Ours for Dead, and Other Rude Surprises From the ACCC Broadband Comparison
A totally to scale image of Australia and New Zealand. Image: Gizmodo Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) have prepared a report that matches up how Australia’s broadband performs alongside that of our closest neighbour. While we all know how our internet performs in Australia, it’s interesting to see that on the surface, Kiwi broadband isn’t that much better.

Except when we take a look at high-speed upload speed. Gosh darn, New Zealand whoops our  butt here – 507.2 Mbps vs 45.7 Mbps. No, that decimal point isn’t in the wrong place. But it is in line with what the Kiwi services offer. We tease that out more below.

In the report, the ACCC and NZCC compare the two countries in three ways: fixed-line 100/20 Mbps plans, very high-speed fibre plans and fixed wireless plans.

Just a note, broadband offered over copper (ADSL and VDSL), and fixed wireless broadband over 5G have not been included in the ACCC and NZCC report as some products differed too much in how they were offered in Australia and New Zealand.

The following data was collected between September 1 and September 30, 2021.

Australia context

As at September 2021, 1.6 million premises were connected via NBN FTTP with 2.4 per cent on Home Ultrafast, and 2 million premises connected via NBN HFC. Around 18 per cent of FTTP and HFC subscribers had download speeds of 100 Mbps in September 2021. Fixed wireless technology served 373,000 premises. The remaining 4.4 million premises were connected via copper-based technologies.

New Zealand context

As at 30 September 2021, 308,000, or 17 per cent of New Zealand premises were connected to the internet via copper technologies and 276,493, or 15 per cent of New Zealand premises were connected to fixed wireless.

 

Australia vs New Zealand: fixed-line 100/20 Mbps plans

The first type of product included in the report are 100/20 Mbps fixed-line plans: Australia’s NBN 100/20 over fibre to the premises (FTTP) and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) connections and New Zealand’s Fibre 100 (offered over FTTP connections only).

australia new zealand accc
Screenshot: ACCC/NZCC

Comparing Australia’s NBN 100/20 Mbps plans supplied over FTTP and HFC to New Zealand’s Fibre 100 plan, average download speeds are similar – 100.2 Mbps vs 100.3 Mbps. However, the percentage of households attaining average download speeds above 100 Mbps is higher in New Zealand than in Australia both during and outside of busy hours, the ACCC and NZCC said.

The lowest speeds are measured during 8pm – 9pm in both countries, but the NBN 100/20 plan shows a greater variation in download speeds during the day than Fibre 100.

The report said Australia’s NBN 100/20 Mbps plans are not overprovisioned on the uplink and as a result, the measured average upload speeds remain under 20 Mbps. In contrast, almost all households on New Zealand’s Fibre 100 attain average upload speeds that exceed the nominal 20 Mbps due to overprovisioning on the uplink. 18.2 Mbps average for Australia vs 22.3 Mbps average for New Zealand.

Around 95 per cent of NBN 100/20 and Fibre 100 services experience latency of 20 ms and under, fibre 100 had a lower average latency than NBN 100/20 and latency increased more during busy hours on NBN 100/20 than on Fibre 100.

When comparing New Zealand’s Fibre 100 plans to Australia’s NBN 100/20 Mbps plans over FTTP and HFC, the rate of outages was found by the ACCC and NZCC to be very low in both countries.

Australia vs New Zealand: very high-speed fibre plans

The second type of product included in the report are very high-speed plans: Australia’s NBN Ultrafast plan over FTTP and New Zealand’s Fibre Max plan, which are the fastest plans tested in both countries. A comparison of very high speed HFC plans is not included in the report, however.

australia new zealand accc
Screenshot: ACCC/NZCC

Australia’s NBN Ultrafast plan is advertised as having a download/upload speed range of 500-990/50 Mbps. New Zealand’s Fibre Max plans are sold under different advertised speed claims of 900/400 Mbps, 900/450 Mbps, 950/450 Mbps and 950/500 Mbps.

When talking download speeds, Australia’s average for high-speed plans is 745.6 Mbps and New Zealand’s is 808.1 Mbps.

The average upload speeds measured are very different in the two countries, with 50 Mbps being offered in Australia and 400-500 Mbps in New Zealand. Average upload in Australia was 45.7 Mbps and in New Zealand it was 507.2 Mbps and while this seems insane, the ACCC noted that this is largely in line with the plan speeds. Average upload speeds in Australia do not exceed the plan speed of 50 Mbps, but average upload speeds in New Zealand are often higher than advertised, the ACCC and NZCC added.

Elsewhere, Fibre Max and NBN Ultrafast had similar average latencies outside of busy hours, but the increase in average latency during busy hours was slightly higher for NBN Ultrafast.

The rate of outages lasting longer than 30 seconds was found to be low in both countries (0.9 per week for Australia and 0.5 for New Zealand).

Australia vs New Zealand: fixed wireless plans

Lastly, the ACCC and NZCC compared Australia’s NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plan, offered over NBN’s Fixed Wireless Access Services, and New Zealand’s fixed wireless plans offered over their 4G Fixed Wireless Access Service.

NZ’s Upload Speeds Leave Ours for Dead, and Other Rude Surprises From the ACCC Broadband Comparison
Screenshot: ACCC/NZCC

Average download speeds over fixed wireless are higher in Australia (36.4 Mbps vs 29.2 Mbps). However, the majority of New Zealand’s fixed wireless services achieve a higher upload speed than Australia’s NBN Fixed Wireless Plus. The majority of New Zealand’s fixed wireless services achieve a higher upload speed than Australia’s NBN Fixed Wireless Plus. Australia’s average upload speed here was also far lower than New Zealand’s, with the ACCC reporting 4 Mbps for us and 17 Mbps for New Zealand.

The overall rate of outages over fixed wireless connections was found to be higher in both countries than over fixed-line connections. However, even the comparatively high rate of 4-5 outages per week in New Zealand (less than one a day) is low enough to not have a detrimental effect on user experience, the ACCC noted.

The ACCC report is packed full of stats comparing the performance of broadband in Australia and New Zealand, so head over here if you want to give it a read.