Broadband providers are not equal

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

During this period, I have conducted routine download tests and recorded the speed. It is interesting to compare performance of the vendors.

This is an end to end file transfer test, and may depend on other organisations for part of the connection. In all cases, the server was provided by an Australian organisation, and probably located in Australia.

Telstra 8Mb/s

Telstra was a monopoly supplier of fixed broadband during this period of service, and it shows in the performance figures.

iiNet 12Mb/s

Above, iiNet never really got their act together. reports of poor speed were variously ignored, or resulted in a short term improvement which degraded within weeks.

Amaysim 25 & 50Mb/s

The Amaysim service was initially 25Mb/s and upgraded by them to 50Mb/s in mid May 2018.

Above, Amsysim was better than any previous supplier, and although not wonderful, it was good enough to not give them the shove. Amaysim though left the business explaining to the stock exchange that they could not make money in the market.

Southern Phone 50Mb/s

Southern Phone acquired us as a customer from Amaysim and although they claimed everything would work as it did, it did not. The independent VOIP phone service that I had used for nearly 20 years did not work with Southern Phone, and they could not fix it.

It is pointless showing graphs as the service was dysfunctional.

Exetel 50Mb/s

Above, service with Exetel suffered performance problems in clusters of days, performance degradation that was evident and annoying in interactive browsing.

Sumo 50Mb/s

The independent VOIP service did not work reliably with Sumo, it would work for two or three days and stop, and the only fix was a reboot of the router (although the VOIP was on a stand alone SPA122 ATA).

It is pointless showing graphs as the service was dysfunctional.

Kogan 50Mb/s

Above, Kogan’s performance in the first few weeks has been acceptable, and better than any of the other six providers that we have used.

The speed improvement on 27/2 was due to replacement of Kogan’s supplied VR500v router with a customer purchased VR600v.

Lessons learned

I have learned:

  • there are around 180 Retail Service Providers of NBN access providing a false impression of competition,  they are layered on a government owned essentially monopoly access provider with a low quality infrastructure (eg long reach FTTN);
  • providers are unlikely to fix speed problems reported to them;
  • providers are likely to try escape from commitment to speed, eg using the “coexistence” crutch handed them by nbnCo;
  • although it is easy enough to obtain a no cost exit from a contract that does not deliver what it claims, it is likely to involve the TIO which takes a lot of effort and several weeks enduring poor service (eg no independent VOIP phone)
  • because we have needed to sack so many providers, I would not consider any provider with a significant up front cost or contract period (up front costs are the way of dealing with ACCC “no-cost exits”… the up front costs are probably not refundable);
  • providers and nbnCo do not provide a smooth transition with minimised disruption when churning from one provider to another on an existing access service (nbnCo is essentially a monopoly supplier and not customer facing, why would it be sensitive to customer service issues); and
  • essentially, any provider who delivers most of what they promised most of the time, and maintains market competitive pricing does not need up front costs or contracts to retain customers… good service at good prices works a treat so be wary of significant upfront costs and contracts.