Australia will be at bottom of broadband ranking for “many years to come”


news Australia will languish at the bottom of international broadband ranking ladders for “many years to come”, veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has said, due to delays in the rollout of the National Broadband Network and the Coalition’s decision to switch to the controversial Multi-Technology Mix approach to the project.

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.

In a post on his blog this week, Budde — who has been a strong critic of the Coalition’s revised approach to the NBN — wrote that when the national conversation began back in 2005 around upgrading Australia’s broadband infrastructure, the nation had dropped to about the 25th position.

“When the NBN was launched in 2009 one of the goals was to get the country into the top ten of the international ladder,” he added. “Now, in 2015, we have dropped to the 42nd position. This drop is mainly due to the ongoing delays in the rollout of the project, because of the partisan political situation in the country.”

“With the rest of the world now moving clearly towards FttH Australia is set to linger on at the bottom of the international ladder for many years to come. Yes, the situation will most certainly improve, but there is no chance of the country ending up in the top ten in the near future.”

According to Budde, this issue matters a great deal, as internationally high-speed broadband is seen as a key economic enabler.

“After the mining boom it is clear that Australia needs to diversify and our very poor level of productivity needs to be improved, and the digital economy is key in that,” the analyst added. “If we want to be competitive in our Asian and globalised markets we need to lift our digital profile among our trading partners, and the NBN is key in that. We shouldn’t stop at the already out-of-date multi-mix technologies – these should be extended as soon as possible to a fully-blown FttH network, in line with what other developed nations are building.”

Australia is clearly behind a number of other developed nations in terms of broadband speeds.

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 seen in the rest of the world.

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

I highly agree with Paul Budde — we are going to be seeing this situation for quite some time. As I wrote last week:

“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. According to Budde, this issue matters a great deal, as internationally high-speed broadband is seen as a key economic enabler.

    This I find a little grating. For a number of years, pivotal in the development of NBN, policy and direction, virtually every analyst with a voice was claiming NBNco and Labor had it wrong. Stop the waste. FTTN will be fine. It’s not that bad. We can’t afford the Rolls Royce net. There’s no demand – on and on it went.

    I’m glad to see that Budde has now fully realised the future cost of such a narrow argument; as (no surprise to anyone) that is where we are today. But such comments tend to ring a little hollow now; it’s too late to hold the government to account.

    We will all have to like FTTN as it’s going to be a mainstay of the broadband landscape for decades to come; there’s talk, but still no sign the government will change the mix. Telstra’s moved on, TPG are eroding NBNco’s value; ISPs are consolidating into behemoths, and the ACCC couldn’t be happier.

    This is exactly what ‘we’ asked for. The damage is done, we’re unlikely to ever catch up.

  2. According to Budde, this issue matters a great deal, as internationally high-speed broadband is seen as a key economic enabler.

    According to Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, it’s a “video entertainment system” isn’t it? ‘Sexy Fingers’ the both of them, everything they touch, they ****…

  3. I’ve said this a few times. But if you can get a copy of The Independent Member for Lyne by Rob Oakshott, he gives a fascinating insight into the politics of how the Murdoch press attacked Labor’s NBN. There is one chapter where Oakshott gives an interview where he says how he agreed with Labor’s NBN. The next day the Murdoch journalist spins the interview to make the NBN look terrible and that at best Rob is lukewarm towards the NBN. The journalist phoned Rob Oakshott and apologized and said “I’m sorry to write that but I didn’t want to and I was told to make the NBN look bad”.

  4. Labor made the mistake of installing the NBN in city and country LNP held seats where:
    1. It wasn’t wanted.
    2. Country people whinged when they got it.
    3. There was no political value for Labor in doing so.

    This has led to delays and allowed Abbott to put a wrecking ball through the entire project. Turnbull won’t be any better. The Right still has the control of the Liberals and if they don’t want the FTTH NBN then so be it.

    • They probably should have picked a few congested area’s with more demand than supply, as they would have easily proven that there was demand out there.

      The black spot program was all well and good (it is needed) but they were black spots for a reason and some of those really hit NBN Co in the butt.

    • Pretty sure it’s been proved by a few fact checks that neither side ‘pork barrelled’ with the NBN. It’s a great story. but there isn’t a lot of fact/evidence in your post

      • I think the point was it was installed in LNP and National seats and they used it against Labor, better to have pork Barrelled and put it in safe and swinging seats. Let the rusted on’s have the MTM

  5. It was never a technology issue. It would have been disruptive to Foxtel. Murdoch owned Abbott and ordered him to destroy it. That’s all there was to it.

  6. It was never a technology/cost benefit issue. Murdoch knew that the real NBN would crucify Foxtel’s market share. He owned Abbott and ordered him to cripple it.

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