• What should I consider when setting up my internet?

    What should I consider when setting up my internet (in-home arrangements)?

    If you are using a fixed line broadband service such as ADSL or FTTN (VDSL2) over the existing telephone wiring, you may want to consider the configuration of in-home wiring installed at your home and/or the location of your modem/router as each can affect how your service will perform. Older in-home wiring and wall sockets may diminish the performance of your broadband FTTN or ADSL service.

    Additionally, some household electrical devices may cause interference to your DSL access into the home or to your Wi-Fi services and affect overall broadband performance. You may therefore want to consider the location of your modem gateway/Wi-Fi router relative to such devices. You should take into account the following when considering the placement of your router

    • Avoid placing a router near other electrical devices (such as electrical dimmer switches, halogen lamps, microwave ovens, TVs/monitors or stereo/computer speakers) as well as other devices that emit wireless signals, like baby monitors or cordless phones.
    • It is preferable to place your Wi-Fi router on a shelf or table, rather than on the floor.Careful placement of your router in relation to internal obstructions in your house (such as internal solid brick walls), as signals can be affected by these types of obstructions.
    • Try to place the Wi-Fi router in a central location that will provide even coverage for devices used around the premises.
    • Whether it is necessary to use a direct cable connection between your modem/router and devices to minimise the impact of interference from other devices, signals and in-home obstructions.
    • Alternatively, consider installing a wifi extender if your house is multiple stories or really long or wide
      For more information, you may wish to see our section on ‘interference.

  • What does ‘up to’ mean when considering broadband speeds?

    What does ‘up to’ mean when considering broadband speeds?

    RSPs often advertise their retail broadband services according to the access line connection speed, which is the speed which should be achieved (or very close to achieved) in ideal circumstances. This does not always reflect the speed of a broadband speed delivered over those access lines. Consumer-grade broadband services available for sale in Australia are not a dedicated connection between your home and the internet.  They are a shared connection offering variable broadband speeds subject to contention by multiple users, the speed experienced by an individual user can be reduced when there is high demand from these other users.

    Because consumer broadband services utilise shared capacity, they are typically provided on a ‘best efforts basis’. Service providers may use an “up to” statement in their claims for 2 reasons:

    1. For services that run over telephone lines, including ADSL, FTTN, FTTC, and FTTB, the access connection speed a customer receives may be less than the maximum service speed because of local interference and/or distance from the exchange or node.
    2. All internet access services are affected by congestion in the busy hours (e.g. 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm) with average speeds often lower than your access connection speed.

    Consumer broadband connections are also asymmetric, meaning that they offer faster download speeds than upload speeds. This is by design, as consumers tend to download a lot more than they upload (e.g. watching video or streaming music primarily constitute downloading of data).

  • Will I always get the same broadband speed?

    Will I always get the same broadband speed?

    It is normal for the performance of your broadband service, and, in particular, your data upload and download speeds, to fluctuate over time and depending on the time of day and the content being accessed. This is due to demand from other users and factors relating to how data gets to internet servers and back again (called routing). These variable factors include, but are not limited to:

    • the number of other people using the RSP’s network at a given time;
    • the number of other users/devices on-line in your household; and
    • the number of people accessing a particular website.
    • the server hosting the content you are accessing, including its location and how much capacity it has.

    Busy, or peak hours are the times when slower speeds are most common, and typically fall between 7.00 pm to10.00pm. Peak hours are the periods when the largest demands are being placed on the internet networks and servers that provide content and services.  It is during these periods that broadband speeds are likely to be most variable and/or slower than expected. During the busiest hours, an individual’s upload and download speed tests may vary from the maximum access connection speed down to significantly slower speeds. During the busiest hours, for example, typical off-peak average speed of 10Mbps may slow significantly during busy periods (i.e. 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm).

    In some cases, congestion may be the key determining factor for speed outcomes during peak hours. Those outcomes may differ widely across different ISPs. Some consumers are very cost conscious and will prefer to pay for a lower-priced more congested service even if the average performance is not as strong as that of higher priced offerings.

  • Where can I find information about the speed of my broadband service?

    How can I access information regarding the speed and overall performance of my broadband service?

    There are several sites you can use to test the speed your device can access. For example, sites such as Speedtest.net, fast.com, Speedof.me and TestMy.net are all useful resources.

    These sites will give you an upload and download speed which you can check against the advertised speed of your plan. Note that the results of these speed tests can also be affected by other people or applications using your broadband connection and/or by poor Wi-Fi reception or performance.

    It is important to note that a single speed test will only give an indication of your speed at a particular point in time and may not be representative of your average broadband speed. It is important to conduct regular tests over time and at different times of the day, to help better understand the performance of your broadband service. If you are getting a different result than expected, see our troubleshooting question on the topic.

    You may also consider using a broadband quality monitoring application, which you can install to monitor a range of service characteristics, including upload/download speeds, latency and packet loss. These products – some of which are available free of charge – are readily available online from providers such as Think Broadband, Neubot, Smokeping, Visualware and Beagle Software. Like speed test sites, these applications can also be affected by other people or applications using your broadband connection and/or by poor Wi-Fi reception or performance.

    Online broadband user forums, such as Whirlpool, can also be a good source of comparative information for consumers who are shopping around for a broadband provider and/or want to enquire as to the performance of competing providers in a specific location or neighborhood.

    If you are having trouble accessing broadband, the ADSL Availability Map available from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) may help you identify areas where, and the reasons why, you may be unable to get an ADSL service and when these areas will have services over the nbn™ network. You may also wish to see the nbnrollout map for nbn specific information.

  • What is the difference between the advertised speeds?

    What is the difference between the speed advertised by network operators, including the nbn, and that advertised by a retail service provider?

    nbn, and other network operators, make available to consumers information about the network access service that they offer to retail service providers. Retail service providers use these access services in combination with their own networks and services to offer broadband service to their residential and business customers. Service providers are free to choose which wholesale services they buy and how these are offered as retail services to customers.

    This means that while a network operator’s wholesale service may offer an access line speed ‘up to’ a certain broadband speed, it does not reflect the speed of any broadband service delivered over the nbn access line. Refer to a RSP’s broadband speed advertising when assessing whether a particular broadband service is right for you.

    Because a retail broadband service is made up of a number of different components, many of the factors identified earlier in this document will influence the speed that a customer’s broadband service will deliver. These factors include:

    • the wholesale network used;
    • the technology used by the wholesale network operator;
    • your equipment quality and location (modems and routers);
    • your broadband plan (not every provider offers every speed);
    • how many devices you use at once;
    • the amount of traffic to the website you are visiting (this can include where the website is hosted which can be overseas);
    • how your service provider configures its network;
    • whether you connect to your modem via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable; and
    • if you connect via Wi-Fi, the location of the device in your house.