Australia vs New Zealand: Who Has Better Internet for Streaming Netflix?

Australia vs New Zealand: Who Has Better Internet for Streaming Netflix?
Image: Columbia Pictures/Sony

Earlier this week we shared highlights from a report that looked into broadband speeds in Australia and New Zealand. The report showed us just how poor our upload speed is in comparison to our Kiwi friends, but it also looked at the experiences both countries have when it comes to streaming.

The report, prepared by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC), compares the two countries in three ways: fixed-line 100/20 Mbps plans, very high-speed fibre plans and fixed wireless plans. Head over to our summary that breaks out the specific broadband types used in the comparison.

Specific tests were run to two major content providers, Netflix and YouTube.

Here’s what the report had to say about the streaming experience in Australia and New Zealand

streaming australia new zealand
Image: ACCC & NZCC

These tables show the proportion of NBN services on the main NBN plans which would be able to reliably stream (without stopping and starting) a varying number of videos from Netflix simultaneously. This is 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).

The report explained that a HD video stream from Netflix would take up around 2.2 Mbps data rate on average. A UHD (that is, 4K) video stream would take up 12 Mbps on average. The actual data rate will vary during video streaming: for example Netflix would use a higher data rate during a fast-paced action scene. It will also depend on Netflix‘s user traffic at a given time.

“The Whitebox measures the total downstream data rate available from Netflix’s servers, and so using multiples of 2.2 Mbps (for High Definition) and 12 Mbps (for Ultra High Definition) allows us to infer whether a service would be able to handle different numbers of streams,” the ACCC and NZCC wrote.

This assumes no other use of the connection at the time, that is, that Netflix is the only application running.

Almost all services on 100/20 Mbps plans can support more than four concurrent UHD Netflix streams, with the median values being seven concurrent UHD streams for Australia and eight concurrent UHD streams for New Zealand.

The ACCC and NZCC said all services on Australia and New Zealand’s 100/20 Mbps plans support streaming 90 per cent or more of YouTube’s content in UHD, too. 100/20 Mbps fixed-line plans offer good streaming quality in both countries.

Similar to the 100/20 Mbps fixed-line plans, the quality of experience when using streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube over Australia’s NBN Ultrafast plans or New Zealand’s Fibre Max plans would not be limited by the connection itself. Both plans are able to support a high number of concurrent UHD streams from Netflix on average, and almost all YouTube content is available in UHD for almost all services on these plans. These plans are the fastest plans tested in both countries.

streaming australia new zealand
Image: ACCC & NZCC

The above image shows Netflix results over fixed wireless connections in Australia and New Zealand (4G only). It shows the maximum number of concurrent UHD streams from Netflix.

While the quality of streaming experience was excellent over the 100/20 Mbps and very high speed fixed-line plans, streaming performance is much more variable over fixed wireless, the report said.

The median number of concurrent UHD Netflix streams over Australia’s NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plan (two Netflix UHD streams) was higher than that over New Zealand’s 4G fixed wireless plans (one Netflix UHD stream).

The ACCC and NZCC said the proportion of services that could consistently stream Netflix content in UHD was lower in New Zealand. But, in both countries, most consumers were able to stream 90 per cent or more of YouTube’s content in UHD over fixed wireless. Some fixed wireless users in both countries were only able to stream a lower proportion of content in UHD.

Australia’s NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plan performed slightly better both in respect of the average proportion of content available in UHD, and the proportion of services able to stream at least 90 per cent of content in UHD on average.

There you have it. New Zealand’s upload speeds might put ours to shame, but when it comes to streaming, Australia’s internet performs just that little bit better.