Speedtest.net is the website and mobile app millions of people use to test their internet speeds. With so much data from across the globe, Speedtest are well positioned to create a comparison between countries to understand who’s winning and who’s loosing. Speedtest are now releasing a Global Index of internet speeds on Mobile and Fixed Broadband every month.
Given Australia is spending billions of dollars on the NBN to improving Fixed Broadband, it’s interesting to see where we rank compared to the rest of the world. The July 2017 data shows Australia in a lowly 53rd position with an average download speed of 24.32Mbps. Given the National Broadband Network is more than half way built, this isn’t great and certainly not representative of the amazing amount of effort and dollars invested in delivering high-speed internet to all Australians.
When it comes to Mobile broadband, that’s 3G/4G Australia is actually really competitive, landing position number 6 in the world, with 44.64Mbps. A casual observer may look at the number and draw the conclusion that its faster than the fixed line average speeds and we should just run with mobile everywhere. There’s a very big (and should be obvious) problem with that theory. If all the fixed-line customers shifted to completely using mobile data for everything, the average speed would plummet as mobile tower bandwidth is divided by the number of users. Add more users and each user gets less on average. This isn’t the solution.
For fixed line, the country leading the world is Singapore with a staggering 154.38Mbps down, that’s an average well in excess of the best internet most FTTP customers can achieve (90-100Mbps). This can largely be explained away by the geographic differences between our countries. What can’t be explained is the demand for such speeds. We’re constantly told even by the head of nbn, that Australian’s don’t want gigabit speeds, but that begs the question, what differences are there between the needs of Singaporeans and Australians, I find it hard to believe there’s much at all.
Singapore is followed by South Korea with 125.69Mbps, then Hong Kong with 117.21, Iceland with 110.52Mbps who are all above that magic 100Mbps mark. The US lands at 70.75Mbps in position 9, but its perhaps our close neighbours New Zealand that we should be most embarrassed by, the Kiwis are in position number 16 with 61.21Mbps. The UK is 24th with an average download rate of 49.22Mbps, even Thailand has 35.94Mbps, but it gets really hard to accept places like Ukraine (34.2Mbps), Estonia (32.97Mbps) and Kazakhstan (24.93Mbps) all beat Australia. Guess we should be thankful we don’t live in Venezuela in last position, they have just 3.20Mbps – owch.
Clicking on a country in the index provides further detail, including the upload speeds and the trend for speeds. While Australia’s speed is indeed on a trend up and to the right (24.32Mbps up from 18.75Mbps in 07/16), the problem is, other countries aren’t standing still. To be globally competitive, we need to continue to rise up these international charts to enable the productivity and societal benefits enjoyed by the top tier. Australia has an average of 8.57Mbps upload speed, which is up from 4.95Mbps this time last year, but that’s hardly rocket-ship growth for the money we’ve invested.
When it comes to Mobile speeds, being in the top 10 is pretty good, particularly as we do face one of the largest land masses in the world to cover. Most of this success is due to constant private sector investment, with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all throwing billions of dollars at the problem. That investment will continue as we and the world march towards 5G networks.
Taking out the top spot in average Mobile speeds is Norway at 52.59Mbps, followed by the Netherlands (42.94Mbps) and Hungary (46.24Mbps). Being at 6th is something we should be pretty happy about. Fast internet probably isn’t the primary focus for a country like Iraq, which sees them at the bottom of the mobile list, in position 122 with just 3.03Mbps. Remember they’re average speeds, so there’s plenty of people on much less than that number.