Australia slips in global broadband rankings again


news Australia has taken another step in the wrong direction down the global rankings of countries with the best broadband, with the latest report by technology giant Akamai showing average broadband speeds in Australia actually decreasing and the nation slipping behind neighbours such as New Zealand and even Thailand.

The ‘State of the Internet’ report is produced by online content delivery specialist Akamai Technologies every quarter. It is regarded as one of the benchmark standards by which countries and organisations measure broadband speeds globally. Akamai is in a good position to measure global Internet spees due to its extensive global content delivery network sitting at the heart of networks in each country.

In the company’s latest report — measuring broadband speeds over the past three months, Akamai noted that Australia had slipped down four spots on the global table in that quarter in terms of average broadband connection speeds.

Australia is now ranked 46th globally when it comes to average broadband speeds. This places the nation behind a number of other competing countries in the Asia-Pacific region — not only behind fibre-rich countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, but also behind financial and trading hub Singapore, as well as Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand.

Australia’s average broadband speed is listed as being 7.8Mbps.

The United States has an average broadband speed of 11.7Mbps, while the UK has comparable average speeds of 11.8Mbps. Canada sits at 11.2Mbps, while a cluster of European countries have opened up a lead on Australia. For example, Switzerland sits at 15.6Mbps, Sweden at 16.1Mbps, Norway at 14.3Mbps and the Netherlands at 15.2Mbps.

The key problem for Australia, according to Akamai, is that even though Australia’s average broadband speeds are increasing — up 4.8 percent on a quarter on quarter basis, and up 8 percent on a year on year basis — they are not keeping pace with the speed increases being seein in the rest of the world.

On other measures, Australia more or less held its position in the rankings — again, increasing its overall speeds but not keeping pace with the rest of the world enough to increase its overall ranking.

For example, Australia continues to be ranked 50th in the world globally by percentage of the country which has access to broadband speeds of 4Mbps or higher (in Australia, that’s 74 percent of the population). It is ranked 44th in the world by percentage of the population which has access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps or above (18 percent) and 49th in the world by the percentage of the population which has broadband speeds of 15Mbps or above (7.2 percent).

It’s not the first time Australia has dipped in the Akamai rankings — a similar situation occurred last quarter.

The figures have immediately attracted political notice.

“According to the latest @Akamai State of the Internet report, Oz has dropped 4 spots in the global rankings for average connection speeds,” wrote Minister Assisting on Communications, Michelle Rowland on Twitter today.

What we are seeing here is very clear.

On the one hand, Australia is indeed increasing its broadband speeds across the board. On most measures, as a country Australians are generally getting access to better broadband, and we’re seeing this in the stats.

However, balancing this fact appears to be two factors. Firstly, Australia’s broadband penetration is still increasing, so the added numbers of people joining the broadband revolution appears to be keeping our average speeds from jumping up too far.

In addition, Australia is just not deploying high enough speed infrastructure at a fast enough rate. The ten years which Australia’s politicians spent debating how and why Australia’s broadband infrastructure should be upgraded is finally catching up with us as a country. In that time, most other first-world countries incentivised their incumbent telcos to conduct major upgrades.

Australia took far too long to get on the bandwagon, due to factors such as the lack of bipartisanship on the issue and the reluctance of Telstra’s previous management under Sol Trujillo to play ball.

As a result, the rate at which Australia is increasing its broadband speeds is slower than the rate at which the rest of the world is increasing its broadband speeds. So even though things are slowly getting better in Australia as initiatives such as the National Broadband Network gain pace, we’re still slipping further behind compared to the rest of the world.

As many people have written continuously over the past few years, the only way to stop our trend downwards is to deploy Fibre to the Premises infrastructue, and price access to it at a level that will allow Australians to access higher speeds. We’re not going to leap in the rankings by only upgrading our copper networks and focusing on 25Mbps speeds. Most other first-world countries are 5-10 years ahead of Australia in doing that.


  1. Telstra could hardly be incentivised while wanting to remain in both the natural monopoly network side and the competitive retail side of the telco business.

    This was one of the biggest reasons for the creation of NBNCo – the legacy of the Howard partial privatisation of the company that held both the natural monopoly and the incumbent retail arm.

    The shitstorm we’re in right now is down to politics – the protection of the Howard legacy of Telstra (see the cash thrown at it for copper of unknown quantity without any clawback provisions for useless infrastructure or repair costs, considerable given the lack of investment by Telstra over the past 5 years (wise at the time given NBNCo) ) at the expense of the telco sector broadly in Australia, particularly those in regional areas long let down by both “the market” and their natural representatives in parliament.

    • Then why not put the ultimatum to Telstra that was put to BT, which succeeded – upgrade or be structurally separated?

      • Doesn’t really matter now… they no longer own the copper, so they don’t need to do anything. Besides, they would then just take the “upgrade” route, and charge stupidly for wholesale access.

  2. I”…the only way to stop our trend downwards is to deploy Fibre to the Premises infrastructue, and price access to it at a level that will allow Australians to access higher speeds.”

    The only way? So universal access of 25mbps growing to 50mbps for 90% won’t improve things. HFC upgrades to gigabit speeds won’t help.

    That 77% of NBNCo customers selecting 25/5 plans or lower not reflected in rankings?

    Service level zero for FTTP model clearly not an issue, nor the slow rollout performance (FY26-28).

    Got it, only FTTP model able to deliver. Oh,then price below cost to encourage higher speed plans without demand. All about the rankings;-)

    • Glad you finally got it… YAY!!!!

      Oh wait… you were being sarcastic in an extreme far right, bean counter, the iron wires were good enough, we don’t need a gold plated Rolls Royce, distant second is good enough for dumb Aussies, get a hair cut and get a job, look at me I know everything, sorta way.


      Yet the plan you could have written [sic] sees us fall further and further behind.

      Pity again.

    • Richard you can quit the y26-28 as that is if the NBN had to restart doing FTTP not if it had continued rolling out FTTP. So if you minus the last 2 years of screwing around changing to MTM – 2 more years (since it’s taken that long to get FTTN up and running). It could have been done as early as y22-24 but then that would look bad as its completion date is now y22

      • Yes but Jason according to page so and so of CP16 (the be all and end all documents and yes the same one that just blew out by a mere $15B, but that’s ok)….

        … we can expect the same regurgitated BS, about……………now…!

        Strange in a warped sort of way, that the Quigley docs and even the now disregarded CBA are ignored by our dearest naysayer, because they both basically said the FttP costs were roughly the same…

        So which page of the $15B rubbery figures CP16, doc was that again, Richard? *sigh*

        As HC mentioned elsewhere, OMG, this is becoming most irrational, like our other friend Matthew, with his daily spiel for the last 5 years. Where no matter what the topic was, it morphed into the same 50/12 spiel?

        • Indeed Rizz, you know throughout the whole NBN debate over the last few years I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen anyone from the anti-FttP/anti-progress crowd defend or use the mathew arguments, most tend to avoid them (and him) because they dont want to be associated with blatantly ridiculous irrationality. Until now. I’m just surprised it’s Richard because despite our differences the thought of him sinking that low would never even cross my mind.

          More to the point and the topic, somehow I’m not surprised Australia has slipped. And as long as we stick with FttN based on the decaying copper will continue do so while other countries steam ahead with proper future proof fibre networks, they can up their speeds anytime and sink Australia even more. What an absolute mess the coaltion clowns have created.

    • What hasn’t helped my mood is that over in Business Spectator they cite that FTTN costs 12 times as much as FTTH PON models to maintain and NG-PON2 now offers speeds of 40gbps/10gbps @ 40KMs length – BY JUST CHANGING THE HARDWARE ON THE ENDS!

      It makes no sense to me to actually have to come back and redo all this copper to fibre in the future.

      • And guess who’s there (at Biz Spectator) spruiking the same ridiculous, MTM/FttN, ideological, bean counter, one-eyed BS…?

    • Some people just don’t understand mathematics. Even when the rollout of the MTM is completed (assuming that it ever will) Australia will still be falling down the global rankings because the rest of the world, by then, will be on gigabit or more with us sitting here on UP TO 25 or 50 if you are lucky.
      As they say in the classics – build it and they will come.

    • Richard; given that the population covered by HFC is limited and will require large amounts of fill-in work for lead-ins, along with the 48mm grade cable to be strung (and if the telegraph poles that hold that cable arent up to snuff to handling the extra weight and strain thats 10K a pop to upgrade there),the rejigging of the nodes and other work…

      assuming *all that happened tomorrow*; and the gigabit HFC switch was flicked on next monday there is STILL a large problem with the rest of the country outside of FTTP areas. rural, remote, rim-helled and simply-not-serviced.

      the notion that the FTTN upgrade will provide a ‘universal’ 25 to 50 upgrade is also a nonsense if you are fully aware of the distance, crosstalk and straight attenuation effects on the end user speed – just look at BT; a vanishingly small portion of their serviced population actually hit headline 76mbit speeds, and in NZ there were more than a few people cut over to VDSL getting *worse* connect figures than they had on DSL.

      BTW nbn customers connecting today at 25/5 is not really as important as those who at 2020 – the original mooted FTTN completion date – will be able to connect at those (and higher) speeds. and if they cant; we will have to go through all this ‘upgrade’ rigmarole all over again to ensure they can. those on FTTP can certainly make that upgrade; and in easy painless fashion. those on FTTN, satellite or FW might not find things so amenable.

      by the way SC0 is certainly an issue, but given MT appears to be having every bit as much trouble with that as his predecessor (and im tipping will inflate the numbers now the FTTN product is released) i think you will find that will grind on as it always has.

      the rollout performance was never allowed to improve beyond the point at which the legs were chopped out from under it at the election; it was always planned to involve a larger workforce and consequently faster rates had Labor been able to continue. it certainly was not a static figure as you are implying.

      but you are right; only the FTTP model can deliver. it does not wear the legacy and technical problems of copper or HFC, and were it not for the limited view of this government (shrinking from 24 to 20% coverage) its coverage area would have done far more to improve the rankings than leaning on old, outdated technologies.

    • “So universal access of 25mbps growing to 50mbps for 90% won’t improve things”

      As the article says, yes it will improve things but at a rate that is well below the rest of the world.
      We are currently building in our own obsolescence…

    • You do like to ignore the fact that those promises of universal speeds cannot actually be guaranteed over FTTN don’t you Richard.

      Aren’t we at the point now where the LNP is promising a minimum of 5Mbps? I forget which low-ball target they are currently aiming for.

    • Street lights going from gas to electric was an improvement, but a lot of people still couldn’t put food on the table. Saying that improvements have been made is not as compelling as people say it is. It doesn’t mean that the improvements don’t fall way short of what is needed.

  3. “even Thailand”

    This isn’t surprising. Thailand’s Internet is super-fast when you need it to be. If you’re in a city with fiber but it doesn’t exist in your street? Pay some guy to extend it. If he can’t do it, he’ll find a mate of a mate of a mate who can. If no fiber is nearby, you can still get able or DSL extended at a reasonable cost. None of this waiting for the govt rubbish (or paying Telstra $10k+ for an extension). Speeds up to 1Gbps down /200 Mbps up (although realistic International speeds are much lower than that, they still are a lot faster than Australia at an equivalent price). Sure, government filters exist and they slow the network down, but you just bounce off a Singapore/Hong Kong VPN and as a bonus, you’ll get a speed boost.

    Many will argue Australia’s average will always be lower than the world thanks to rural internet, but even if you exclude the country population and focus on the capital cities, we are an International joke.

    • Yes. I’ve traveled all over Thailand and their Internet availability is amazing.

      A friend lives in a tiny remote village in the North West and he has fiber to his house.

      And I was surprised to find that the Internet everywhere I have visited is uncapped!!

    • Although Australia is a highly urbanized country, more so than many other big countries. Over 80% live in cities, so even if FTTP was delivered to 80% of the country, this would be beneficial to a huge majority.

  4. “…due to factors such as the lack of bipartisanship on the issue and the reluctance of Telstra’s previous management under Sol Trujillo to play ball.”

    We enjoy (?) an “executive” parliament, where the Ministry likes to get its hands dirty. Work-stained, I mean. Anyway, in this situation Parliamant and particularly the Cabinet is The Board of Directors of bodies like Telstra, and Australia Post.

    So we can’t blame Telstra’s previous management. A management without direction will inevitably find a direction, if only to make itself indispensable, especially if the Board of Directors has recently given part of the Corporation to Private Enterprise.

    Sol Trujillo behaved exactly how he was paid to behave. Our (mis)governments behaved totally irresponsibly. That’s right, answering to NOBODY.

    So who can we blame? Not ourselves, surely! We all voted, as required by law. We’re not guilty. But the pollies! Ummm. NO. We voted them in.

    But WE are not guilty.

    • Actually, this discussion (faster broadband) is largely irrelevant. The simple fact is that the best broadband is delivered with IPoAC which most developed countries have neglected.

      But NASA has in the past declared “Nothing beats a station wagon full of sticks hurtling down the highway”.

      With data transmission rapidly approaching the Terabyte level, we need to radically rethink our technology: and pigeons begin to look very attractive.

  5. OK, Sorry, Sorry, everyone for embarrassing Australia. I confess, I’m the culprit for declining average Internet speeds.

    I sent my OOKLA results of 2.66Mb/s Download and 0.33Mb/s Upload speeds to Akamai and that dragged down the national average, hence we slipped again in our international rankings.

  6. Yep, Australia has screwed the pooch yet again!

    Speeds like these:

    which would have been totally achievable in the near term using fibre infrastructure…are still a *pipe* dream for most Aussies. Thanks Malcolm….bang up job! Rupert owes you for that one.

    The rest of the world sends its regards… they look at us in their rearview mirror.

    I weep for the damaging ignorance of my beloved country.

    • Well ‘Chronic,

      When we have a substantial section of the electorate in Australia who is:
      and who’s only source of information is Murdoch (notice I didn’t use the word “fact”), this is the result.

      This isn’t an overnight phenomenon, we have endured 36 years of rightwing political dominance starting with Thatcher to get to this and it shows no signs of abating.
      Yes, we have just dumped our own Tea Party Prime Minister, but we still have a Tea Party Federal Government, albeit with a more acceptable face on the front.

      We have a parliament dominated in one way or another with religious wingnuts on both sides of the political divide. One political party on the left is hell bent on populating Australia with a medieval, conservative religion that has terrorism as part of it’s mantra.

      Science is heretical to our religious policy makers and viewed with suspicion and distrust. The are a reflection of what the Australian electorate is like.

      “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve”
      Joseph deMaistre (1753-1821)

  7. Even after all that over investment in scammy mobile that doesn’t even help with page load times and latency because of congestion.

    Leave it to the private sector the Liberals say.

  8. “The ten years which Australia’s politicians spent debating how and why Australia’s broadband infrastructure should be upgraded is finally catching up with us as a country. In that time, most other first-world countries incentivised their incumbent telcos to conduct major upgrades.”

    So incentivise Telstra and maybe Optus to give us the infrastructure we need today. That would probably have been a very good idea. It puts the bulk of the financial burden on those companies, satisfies the large right wing element in this country, while ordinary suburban punters would likely have had very good broadband. It’s sensible as it draws upon proven strategies overseas.

    The Howard government had a chance to put this in place between 1996 and 2007 and it supports their agenda. But they snoozed.

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