‘Super-sized’ broadband survey targets MyBroadband



news A community project dubbed ‘#MyBroadbandvReality’ which aims to deliver a real-world examination of Australian broadband speeds through crowdsourced submissions has launched a massively expanded broadband survey and is taking submissions from Australians until the end of April.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the MyBroadband website in February 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 was 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 quickly showed 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.

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. Neate and her partners eventually submitted the data to the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network (PDF).

This month Neate published several posts noting that her group had established what she described as a “super-sized” survey which would collect a vast swathe of additional data from Australians with respect to their broadband speeds.

Neate pointed out that in early April, Turnbull has ordered NBN Co to go ahead with the controversial ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ option for its broadband rollout, despite the fact that the cost/benefit analysis being conducted into the project will not be completed until the middle of 2014.

“Note, this was done without any sort of Cost Benefit analysis at all (something Mr Turnbull was very concerned about when in Opposition), not to mention it breaks the promise of just what we would be getting on the Coalition’s broadband and of course I won’t even get into the ethics as to how this decision came about, nor our purchasing of Telstra’s Copper network under the advice of ex-Telstra head Mr Ziggy Switkowski?” Neate wrote.

“What is concerning is the fact that the MyBroadband site data will still be used for deciding how the rest of this infrastructure will be rolled out (I can’t call it the NBN anymore as there is obviously nothing National about it).”

“The second major concern is that the Government obviously has no idea what we are actually using the Internet for, how what we currently have is barely functioning for many of us now and future projections show that we will be requiring a hell of a lot better upload AND download speeds.”

The expanded survey asks Australians to submit details such as their name and location, as well as type of broadband infrastructure, official speed as listed on the Government’s MyBroadband site, as well as what broadband speed they were able to obtain in reality.

In addition, the survey asks for details about how Australians actually use broadband — including options ranging from banking and accessing business and government services to working from home, sourcing entertainment and connecting with friends and family through social media and other forms of online communications.

“Sadly, the internet is too often presented in media as a ‘luxury’ instead of the ‘utility’ that it really is – it is akin to inferring that a bathroom inside your home is a ‘luxury’?!” wrote Neate. “If we were to be told all of a sudden that some of our houses could have inside bathrooms, others could have thunderboxes [outback toilets] out the back, some may even have to share that very same thunderbox with the rest of the street & some would not even get that, but would have to hold on & hope it was not raining to take a pee out in the back yard, you could pretty much guarantee that ‘people’ would not be accepting that sort of inconvenience or disparity, just because of where they live.”

“Internet usage will only increase in future, we ALL need ‘stable & fast’ access in our homes, businesses, schools & more… Not thunderboxes we know will need to be replaced or stop working when they get too full ;-)”

Some of Neate’s concerns may be addressed by speed test functionality which has been added to the MyBroadband site since it launched, or additionally through the cost/benefit analysis and wider regulatory analysis which is being conducted into the project as a whole by a panel appointed by Turnbull in late 2013 — the ‘Vertigan’ Review.

Additionally, even at the launch of the MyBroadband site, Turnbull acknowledged that the data would not be 100 percent reliable, as it used 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 at the time. “Without obviously perfect information, we are getting a very good handle on when broadband availability is the least.”

However, the analysis conducted by Neate and her partners has already added significant information to the debate over Australia’s need for faster broadband speeds, given that the data collected in the past has consistently shown the Government’s data on current broadband speeds to be significantly inaccurate.

I highly recommend that all readers head over to Neate’s site and fill out this survey. The ‘#MyBroadbandvReality’ project has already shown itself capable of producing very useful datasets and I anticipate its new survey will go even further. I look forward to hearing about the results.


  1. Turnbull will ignore or dismiss the results like nearly ever other time. Facts don’t seem to get in his way, they are a mere inconvenience.

    • He will ignore it because the survey has heavy self-selection bias and the survey sample is small.

      • “the survey sample is small”
        Kind of reminds me of a sample with 1 node with 1 user at 100metres.
        It’s okay, we ignored that too.

    • Yes Turnbull may ignore the data we get. Though we do try to get all data, good, bad & ugly, and we have had some limited success already where in last sessions Senator Rhiannon actually, not only mentioned out data, but also hit up Dr Switkowski in regard to getting real data of real people. http://yathink.com.au/article-display/mybroadbandvreality-achievement-unlocked-,110 So not a total waste of time :)

      A number of other people have used the raw data & one group in particular also had data on future speeds that will be required. This is why we have the extra questions on the survey, to ascertain what people are using it for now and then to see how that may extrapolate out to the standard future needs. Taking into account congestion, lack of ports, the ever dodgy copper etc, yet Government alone are increasingly putting their services online, not looking good so far.

      As per last last, we will put up all the graphs etc and of course make the raw data available to others who have a legitimate use for it, so even if you think you it might be a waste of time, only takes a few mins so please do it :)

      • I’ve just completed the survey. Ookla said 13.17Mbps down, 0.82 up. I’ll be very interested in the upload speed results… It seems to me that the government and interested business partners would like to keep the monopoly on uploads (it certainly seems tough “uploading” information to the CBN decision makers!)

  2. Done the survey :)

    According to ozspeedtest.com i get 18Mbps. According to the mybroadband site, the median for my area is 11.18Mbps, according to the speed test on the mybroadband site, i’m lucky if i get 2.91Mbps.

    Something really fishy there, but hey, i’m happy to give the government crappy results like that!

    I suppose one point to make there is the ozspeedtest.com site uses my ISP for the speedtest itself, i dunno what server the mybroadband site uses.

    • It’s weird the Mybroadband test.. It’s like it throttles different if you select different options at the start.. Like if I select FTTP and Work I get a different speed from if I select ADSL1/2 from Home on say Wi-Fi.

      • Never actually thought to try that. I’m happy if it is riddled with bugs like that though, as it means a lot of people who go there will end up giving the government worst-case data :)

  3. “I can’t call it the NBN anymore as there is obviously nothing National about it.”

    Call it what it is: refurbished landlines. Or should I say “gold plated” landlines :-)

  4. Did the test and both say I get 5.74Mbps. My suburb is fairly new so I actually get expected speeds relative to my distance from the exchange. Unfortunately, as we already know, Turnbull will not let actual proven facts get in the way of his and Abbotts vision for the technological future of this country. I can’t wait to here his excuse when he is asked about AT&T going with fibre instead of FTTN as he has been boasting about when talking up his ATM (anti technology mix – appropriate considering ATM also means something no less difficult to swallow)

    Unfortunately for them but I am truly thankful I do not live in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and end up stuck on some HFC rubbish. At least I should be able to receive reasonable good speeds if and when I ever receive a CBN upgrade.

  5. MyBroadband says I have a “median ADSL speed 0”, which I guess is true, this is South Brisbane, it’s all fibre, no ADSL. The speed test gave correct results though, well except for the “latency 0” result. Should make for some interesting results, what percentage increase in speed is that?

    I wonder if Turnbull will see that “median ADSL speed 0” and think that South Brisbane is a black spot in need of immediate correction? We do have HFC here, so they might pull out the fibre and put us all on that instead?

    • No, Turnbull will think no such thing. I’m sure he’s smart enough to realise that FTTH ratings of “A” for Availability and Quality mean the ADSL median speed is irrelevant.

      • All things considered, assuming Turnbull will be smart enough to do the correct thing is probably not a safe a thing to do.

        • Actually, “smart enough to realise” and “do the correct thing” for CBN seems to be mutually exclusive going by current performance.

          All the hard work of installing the fibre has been done long ago in South Brisbane. The correct thing to do is to switch it over to NBN, which I understand was the plan and should have been done by now (the old NBN web site used to say South Brisbane NBN would be done end of last year / beginning of this year). The most likely thing to happen is nothing, South Brisbane remains Telstra fibre. I’d not be at all surprised if South Brisbane got switched to HFC though. I’d be really pissed off, but it would not be any sort of surprise.

          What I am surprised about is that while NBN was mentioned in the recent Griffith by election, I seemed to be the only one that ever mentioned South Brisbane fibre. The South Brisbane fibred area makes up a large part of the Griffith electorate.

  6. HashTag SurveyFail!

    Completely ignores the UPLOAD speed, which is one of the BIGGEST benefits of FTTN via NBN.

    For the record: Fruadband site says 22.97Mbps, speedtest.net says a shade under 15Mbps (seriously folks, it rained here this week, normally I get a WHOPPING 16Mbps).

    I live two blocks from the exchange, have near-perfect actual cable path, I’d have to be living IN the exchange to get the numbers claimed by Fraudband site.

    But hey, this is par for the course for our Communications Minister, somebody seems to have forgotten that his communications are supposed to be truthful.

    • Yep, we did not include upload speeds in our survey for a few reasons,
      1. Most importantly, that data is not available on MyBroadband to compare with.
      2. When we tested survey on ‘punters’ (which we want info from) was difficult enough to explain how to just use the likes of speedtestoz, so knew that we would get very little beyond tech savvy actually supplying an Upload speed :(

      For the record, Paul, Pascal & I agree with you. We all work online and know how bloody important the upload speeds are & wish we could have gotten a sizable amount of data to show how pitiful we think it is just from anecdotal evidence :(

      • Punters’ may have troubles figuring out their speeds, but you could at least have told them to where possible get their sync rate from the modem rather than their Layer 7 download speeds.

        The mBB site suggests sync rates, so your survey is not an apples to apples comparison.

        • Also, the survey asks what your *ADSL* median speed is – even if you have answered that you use something other than ADSL in the previous drop-down.

          If you choose something other than ADSL, the survey should instead ask you to list the Quality rating supplied for your address for *that technology.*

  7. Did the survey. Median for my area suppossed to be 12.12MBps, actual from my computer a whopping 4.9MBps. Thanks guys keep up the good work, look forward to seeing the results!!

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