The first seven days of Exetel broadband Internet access

We have had wired broadband service delivered to these premises for almost ten years, supplied by five vendors: Telstra Bigpond, iiNet, Amaysim, Southern Phone and now Exetel.

The change from Amaysim was at Amaysim's choice, they decided to quit the wired broadband business stating that they could not make a profit, and they sold their customer base to Southern Phone.

Southern Phone was unable to deliver the VOIP service we have had for many years through all of those broadband suppliers, so we churned to an Exetel “Standard Plus” service.


The cutover was badly coordinated, there was a 12 hour outage, and I had to phone Exetel (yes, wait in the interminable queue to try to get the modem PPP credentials, it had DSL service and was routed to Exetel, just needed the authorisation details for Exetel).

Telecommunications providers are all about strong procedures for handling usual business, and this part of the business is known as provisioning. The events with Exetel hint that their provisioning processes are not sensitive to churning an existing NBN connected service which should be done to minimise disruption, including advising the logon credentials, doing it when their support desk is open, holding if the customer needs a new modem etc. This is the bread and butter of the business, but a FAIL to Exetel on this occasion.

First impressions are lasting ones… so how do they come back from that start?

Service levels

I have an expectation that “I want it to deliver most of the rated speed, most of the time during the hours that I want to use it”.

As a result of behaviour of the industry, the ACCC gives some guidance on terms used to advertise a service, and a service expectation.

Essentially they say:

Standard Plus Evening Speed—plans using this label will deliver a minimum speed of 30Mbps during the busy period. This plan would be suitable for a higher usage profile (e.g. streaming an ultra-high definition movie and streaming music on one or more other device during the busy period)


So on that measure, how well did they perform?

Above are the results of file transfer tests conducted automatically, the above are filtered for those in the ACCC's defined “evening hours” on which they base their service level enforcement. All + symbols in the pink area break the 30Mb/s minimum.

The fact that ACCC has determined that residential performance should only be protected between 19:00 and 23:00 is curios, there seems an assumption that traffic peaks in that period and it is the only time that congestion will degrade performance.

In the first seven days of service, Exetel has failed to deliver a minimum evening 30Mb/s service on four of the seven days, ie 75% of days.

Above is a wider view of the download tests over that seven days. It can be seen that on some days, most are around 40Mb/s, but on other days they are strung out down into the low single digits.

Note that congestion degraded performance is not limited to evening hours.

The characteristic of pipes carrying traffic is that performance degrades very quickly when utilisation reaches a critical value, the suppliers business is about proactively managing the timely provision of capacity to stay ahead of demand. The graph above does not suggest that Exetel are on top of it.


Well, service performance dug a bigger hole.

Time will tell.