Real speeds 25 percent slower than Turnbull MyBroadband tracker



news The final analysis of a crowdsourced comparison of real-world broadband speeds has shown that the MyBroadband broadband availability site launched by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month is significantly inaccurate, with most Australians receiving speeds more than 25 percent slower than those listed.

Turnbull launched the MyBroadband website last month as the culmination of a significant study conducted by the Department of Communications into the availability and quality of broadband in Australia. The study was an election promise by the Liberal MP contained as part of the Coalition’s broadband policy unveiled in April 2013 ahead of last year’s Federal Election.

According to Turnbull, the report is the first of its kind to be undertaken by an Australian Government, with data drawn from all major Australian telecommunication carriers. It describes the broadband technologies available as well as the speed that can typically be achieved over each available technology platform.

However, an analysis of real-world broadband speeds has already shown it to be significantly inaccurate. Following the launch of the site, blogger Noely Neate invited readers to submit their real-world broadband speeds to a public document online. In a very short time, the blogger had received over 800 submissions, representing Australians from all around the nation.

At the launch of the site, Turnbull acknowledged that the data would not be 100 percent reliable, as it indicative data based on estimate information supplied by carriers about their networks and not real-world testing data. “You may find that the service in your own address is not consistent with this, but this is the closest you can do without testing every single premise in the country,” the Minister said. “Without obviously perfect information, we are getting a very good handle on when broadband availability is the least.”

The Minister said that the Government planned to integrate real-world speed test functionality into the site, which would allow users to submit their own speeds into the site’s database and increase the accuracy of its data.

Last week Neate and a group of other volunteers conducted analysis on the data collected and published an extended document submission to the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network. The full PDF of the submission is available online, as well as the raw data used.

The vast majority of those making submissions (688 out of more then 800) were using ADSL broadband, the most popular form of broadband in Australia. Of those, analysis conducted by the group showed, most participants experienced real-life speeds more than 25 percent slower than the estimates generated by the MyBroadband site.

One of the recurring themes mentioned by participants in the survey was rain, and how water could affect the reliability of ADSL connections. The submission states:

“For people with ADSL, ‘rain’ was mentioned 63 times. Extreme heat also caused people’s connections to either drop out or cease totally, requiring a call to Telstra. Considering the amount of extreme weather this country experiences (in particular drought and flooding), this should be paramount to any decision-making in regard to what infrastructure would work best for which location, as well as ensuring what is currently in use has not already been irreparably damaged. In
some cases like the below, it is not just the internet but the phone line as well, making small business very difficult.”

One submitter wrote that they were receiving around 6Mbps download speeds from their ADSL connection, although the MyBroadband site had predicted around 12Mbps. “Try running a small business from home when the faulty copper wire connection keeps failing after every moderate fall of rain,” they wrote. “Phone line quality impossible, internet experiences problems and we can never consider video for Skype. Even voice Skype connections are often poor.”

Another was receiving real-world speeds of 3.4Mbps, where the MyBroadband site had estimated around 7Mbps. “I have never seen speeds about 4Mbps where I live,” they wrote. “I have excellent equipment and service with iiNet. Everytime it rains heavily my speeds get slower. When the temperature breaks 35 degrees my Internet stops working.”

In general, the submission made a number of recommendations to the Senate committee examining the NBN project and its successor, the Coalition’s Broadband Network, ranging from the need to consider environmental weather conditions, to the need to consider broadband as being critical infrastructure, that an accurate map of existing broadband infrastructure be published, and that other factors such as network congestion and the quality and reliability of Telstra’s copper network also be considered.

The submission concluded: “Considering the purpose of the MyBroadband site is to get a realistic picture of the current network and give priority to the communities most in need. It would stand to reason that weather extremes, which affect the whole nation, should be taken into account when planning a National Broadband Network.”

“We are very concerned that decisions will be based on results showing on the MyBroadband site that we have found are not quite the reality people are experiencing,” the submission states. “We would be remiss if we did not share our data from real people with the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network.”

“In regard to My Broadband being used to prioritise, we think our survey adds value as it would seem that many assumptions made on the My Broadband site in their methodology area seem to be disconnected from the evidence and it would appear to us that you can’t have evidence-based policy if you ignore the evidence?”

As I wrote last week:

“The interesting thing about this crowdsourced data that has come through regarding the MyBroadband site is not that it shows that the Government’s data is inaccurate. That’s to be expected; as Turnbull himself pointed out at the site’s launch press conference, the site uses estimates and not real-world measurements to give Australians a picture of broadband availability in their areas. By definition, it cannot yet deliver totally accurate data.

The actually interesting thing is that so far, almost all of the real-world data submitted is in one direction — worse than the estimates. The overwhelming trend seen from the many samples collected by Neate and her ad-hoc team of statisticians on social media is that real-world broadband speeds are significantly slower than telcos are estimating, with only a few outliers being better.

Of course, just as it’s possible to question the accuracy of the data collected by the Government’s MyBroadband site, it’s equally possible to question the data being collected by Neate and co. The blogger’s survey is hardly scientific, being based on voluntary contributions online. Nor do we know how qualified her assistants are to analyse that data. We’re not talking about a definitive study here. This information is very, very far from being verified and should not be treated as conclusive.

However, none of this invalidates the clear overall, high-level trend we’re seeing coming from the sample collected so far. Australia’s telecommunications industry has long been full of rumours about the poor quality of Telstra’s copper network, the degree to which it is affected by something as simple as rain, and the claim that many Australians currently on ADSL broadband aren’t achieving anywhere near the speeds they have been led to expect.

For the first time, we’re seeing this play out in reality here, with community-sourced, real-world data clashing directly with ‘official’ data from telcos and the Government. That clash has already appeared to reveal a significant gulf between the official version of the broadband truth in Australia and the real-world experience. We hope Minister Turnbull acknowledges this reality as the Government’s MyBroadband site starts collecting its own crowdsourced data.

And we wonder what impact these new data sources will have on the debate about the potential speeds achievable in a Fibre to the Node scenario for the Coalition’s Broadband Network project.”

Image credit: #MyBroadbandvReality team


  1. Mr Fraudband any description of my area (Katoomba when it’s not raining I get 11Mbps down but up it’s just a staggeringly slow 800kbs, constantly stops when raining) as an “A” class service is just plain offensive.
    Get it straight an “A” class service is Gigabit Fibre!
    The 8Mbs definition as an “A” class service is like labelling a dead fish that’s been lying on the beach in hot sun for a week as an “A” class fish.
    Fraudband your labelling is a crock of shit, I’ve got a “D” or lower class service.

    • I have the same rain issues and upload speeds 10m from the sydney CBD, except my download speed runs at a maximum of about 2.5mbps.
      Naturally myBroadband predicts a speed of around 10.5mbps for my area which gives me an A grade connection. Cheers Malcolm.

  2. I am “lucky” enough to live in a suburb of Brisbane QLD, where I have access to both cable (Telstra) and ADSL (various providers). In the case of ADSL I live within 1.5 kilometres of the exchange. Initially the only “broadband” services available was cable (Telstra) and I was (unfortunately) left with NO provider choice (a not uncommon problem) The local exchange, after a number of years (it is of course Telstra controled – competition!!!) is ADSL enabled. I rapidly moved to this service. Acceptable initially but deteriorated into a poorly performing, frustrating experience (performance wise) forcing me to move back to cable to try and obtain a reliable/stable broadband service.

    Taking six months after connection, much angst, phone calls, over billing/service/tech call/modem replacement/tech calls and letters to MP’s and Government Departments, I have a “reliable” service and pay $$$$ for the “speed” version. I still need to reboot the cable modem on occasion and YouTube and Vimeo video’s stutter or fail to play, on far too many occasions (You don’t want to know about provider available, streaming music service). Speed tests, to the providers servers meet specs (go to a non provider server or servers outside of Ozz and it all gets S L O W E R). I can get excellent internal WiFi speeds from my iDevices (not using the supplied WiFi cable modem of course) when the cable is working, as stated to the providers spec’s.

    I am planning a small home based business with major reliance on reliable good broadband bandwidth (up and down). The #CBN and #MTM look like killing it (small business) as my clients (home and small business) need similar capabilities.

    I definitely have “crap” copper in my street and the suburb is around 30 years old. For “performing broadband” I am frustrated by the Broadband Choices I have, in reality non. Many Australians have no choice, particularly if you live outside of a city. Many Australians have no access to Broadband Internet services.

    Now mobile (3G/4G data and voice) is simple. If you want coverage and performance there is NO CHOICE. If you live in country Australia there is NO CHOICE. Just pay BIG $$$$.

  3. Total fantasy. I get ~4Mbps of the estimated 12.12Mbps at my location.

    I guess Malcolm’s 25Mbps minimum will therefore mean I’ll get about 8Mb. You know, ADSL1 speed.

    This “study” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Total waste of money.

  4. The comment I’d make in agreeance with yours above about the accuracy of the data. If you have a good connection or exceed the expected speed, you are much less likely to comment on the predictions, than if you are less than.

    • So, people will read the article requesting data on their broadband speed vs the MyBroadband site. Look up their address on the site, check their internet speed, then after doing that, decide that since their speeds are faster they won’t bother filling out the form they were collecting the data for… yer right.

      • You’d see the mybroadband site first, less likely to see the survey first.
        The point of the survey is to send a message to the government. If the message is that my broadband is better than what you say it should be, then you’d be less likely to send this message to the government. If it was worse, you’d be more likely.

        • How much overlap do you really think there would be.? Less than 1% of the population probably looked at MyBroadband, way fewer would have happened to run into the survey. Much more likely the majority of those who went to MyBroadband for the survey did so because it was linked from the survey. There is no mention of the survey on the MyBroadband site. The survey only really became general knowledge well after it was completed. I am not saying there could not be people who filled out the survey because of your scenarion, just they it’s likely to be a very small number that could hardly be a reason it’s so far off.

    • Actually the survey started just from a few of us watching the MyBroadband launch. It was supposed to be for ‘interests’ sake to maybe do a blog piece on, you know, like maybe 50 or 60 participants. It turned into a lot more & in fact a lot of the people had to be ‘helped’ via twitter, not understand how to see what their speed was etc as they were ‘punters’ not tech people. Example, I would love a buck for every time I had to explain to someone via email or in a DM what Mbps actually was & that was the figure they had to put in the survey ;-)

      We did encourage everyone to put in speeds that were higher if they had them (again via twitter) as we were still thinking ‘blog post’ at that stage & wanted to give real life examples of what you could do with fast broadband. The submission idea came after it had been online for 24 hours & we had over 400 participants, didn’t feel that we get not give those ‘people’ a voice.

      We had to close it after 48 hours as the deadline for submissions was 28 Feb and since the 4 (plus a few others at times) all had real jobs, needed the extra days to actually put the submission together. We have no idea how many more participants we would have had if we had left longer than 48 hours?

      So even regardless of the numbers, we pretty much found out that ‘Average’ people actually do care about Broadband, they just don’t understand it and no-one is listening to them :)

  5. From Turnbull’s response in the Business Spectator (BS for short)

    “An alternative course of action would be for academics explaining complex policy issues to actually read detailed reports produced by the government before bagging them.”

    An alternative course of action would be for politicians explaining complex technology issues to actually read detailed reports produced by the industry before bagging them.

    See how that works Turnbull?

  6. There seems to be a glaring omission from myFraudband.

    Where are the Upload speed estimates?

  7. what can we say, but, “Told You So”?

    In regards to Uploads midspace, Turnbull doesn’t want you to know, because that is the biggest failure of FTTN.

  8. In my place, MyBroadband says 10mbps, real speed its 3mbps, when its raining 500k, with diaconnection every 5 minutes. In my old place MyBroadband says 6mbps actual 8 mbps. The figures are way off and completely useless

  9. LOL, I get a median speed of 22.69Mbps, on a Telstra RIM dslam capped at a maximum of 20Mbps! How can the median be higher than the maximum?

  10. It looks like around 50% of respondents have speeds below 50% of the MyBroadband median estimate.

    If 50% have speeds below X (and 50% have speeds above X), that makes X the true median.

    In other words, a more accurate estimate for the median is 50% of the MyBroadband median estimate.

    In other words, whatever speed your area gets on MyBroadband, halve that and then compare. Or, the speed quoted by MyBroadband is double what it should be.

  11. I really am hating the fact that there is so much emphasis on download speeds. Why can’t people start talking about the NBN in terms of upload speeds?

    • Because that would mean that the CBN would be a complete joke, so we must put up smoke screens and divert attention from that at any cost!

      Honestly, I would prefer a 25/25 or 50/50 connection over a 100/40 connection any day. HD Streaming over Twitch and similar streaming sites, what you care about is the upload, not your download.

      • Not if you are dling from these sites to watch the stream…… unless you are the one streaming it?

  12. Renai, one wonders how small companies can quickly produce technology with accurate results on a national scale, while government projects always seem to run millions of dollars over budget.

    I wonder how much Turnbull’s website cost in comparison???

  13. Not just my speed is inaccurate (have 6 instead of claimed 8 Mbps) – but also is there no HFC avaiable (I re-checked Telstra’s and Optus’ web sites) anyway near my street. despite claims of grade “A” availability.

    Any yes, the need for upload speeds has been ignored in the whole debate, as has the requirements of affordable fast and reliable Internet for Small Business.

  14. Hmm,

    “Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) quality > E
    The estimated median ADSL speed for your area is (Mbps): > 4.76”

    Actual peak speed is 1.8Mbps. Subtract for rain or peak times.

    I am in Greensborough – Metropolitan Melbourne.

    Should I be investing in tin cans+string?
    That way, I can get my mate in neighbouring South Morang (NBN FTTP) to shout out the ones and zeroes for me to manually key into my computer.

    Tricycle on the Information SuperHighway…

  15. My current sync is 11mbps on ADSL2 at my address in Sydney.

    The website says I should have at least 21mbps.

    The funny thing is that its not wrong. I live within 500-1km of my exchange and yet despite trying over 5 different modems I can’t get over 11mbps.

    This is my worry about the governments to the node program. Because I”m so close they won’t bother building a node for me. Yet with the ADSL2+ protocol I can’t sync at high speeds. Its unlikely VDSL will offer me any significant improvement.

    The reason why the government is going with the xDSL plan is because I think they’re going to buy out the xDSL ISPs like they’ve done with the HFC networks.

    On the surface they’ll make it look like they’re doing it because their desperate for subscriber numbers on the NBN but in reality its cushy corution thing. They buy a dead duck asset from the likes of TPG, iiNet and so on and in turn those ISP’s support the liberal party.

    As we’ve already seen Simon Hackett is working on the NBN and although his painted as the ‘independent’ guy my experience with liberal (and for that matter labour politics) is that its all just facade.

    Money for the boys.

  16. My fraundband web site tells I should get 9+
    I get 5.4-6.3 depending on the modem used
    Can we call on god to help us ?

  17. Well that was a good laugh.

    Checked the myBroadband site and it turns out I’m in a class B quality area with a median speed of 18Mbps.

    Now for reality, if I’m very lucky, I can sit on around 4Mbps and I’ve never seen it higher.

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