I was somewhat shocked by the report into our nation’s broadband. The comparison with Australia was put together by our Commerce Commission with their Australian equivalent, the ACCC and uses real-world data taken from technology partner SamKnows, which offers monitoring services in both countries.
The shocking part is just how poorly Australian broadband compares with our own.
I’m not adverse to giving those in the Lucky Country a ribbing for the state of their broadband networks. The Next-generation Broadband Network (NBN) is horribly over-budget (current spend is north of A$50 billion) and doesn’t exactly have the footprint to match our own Ultra Fast Broadband network (around one third of Australians can get NBN service while UFB is just about at 87% of Kiwi households) – facts I sprinkle about liberally when talking to Australian media colleagues.
But what really shocked me is how slow their network speeds are and how much they pay.
Over here you can get a 1Gbit/s plan for around $90 a month. That’s a plan that delivers almost 1000Mbit/s in both directions and has unlimited data. That’s more than enough for most families and small businesses and means you don’t have to think twice about your phone bill – it’s always there, it’s always fast and you never run out.
There is no equivalent plan in Australia. The nearest has an upload speed of a laughable 40Mbit/s and costs a whopping A$180 a month from Telstra, and that’s if it’s available at your address.
While we move to a minimum entry level plan of 300/100Mbit/s on the fibre network, Australians are talking about an entry level of 25Mbit/s, for about the same price.
But wait, as they say, there’s more (if you’re a Kiwi). Because our UFB now offers Hyper Fibre plans, which means 1Gbit/s is only the beginning. You can get double that, or double it again, or even more. Top of the heap is 8Gbit/s which is so far removed from anything on offer in Australian residential circles that it’s all excluded from the report so as to not upset anyone over that side of the ditch.
All the plans in the “Very high speed fibre plans” section of the report are sub-1000 Mbit/s so as to allow the Aussies to play.
This is what happens when politicians make decisions on technology rollouts based on which party they’re in rather than on what technology is right for the situation. We are blessed to have a world-leading fibre to the home network that is designed to deliver speed and reliability and to be the backbone of our communications infrastructure for the next century at least.
Earlier this week Chorus showed off its 25Gbit/s gear which it’s testing with network partner Nokia. It’ll be commercially available for Chorus in around 18 months’ time and on the market not long after that.
I can only imagine when Australia will see anything of the sort.