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What is the first thing that you do when your shiny new nbn™ service is activated? You run some form of speed test to determine if it is really as fast as touted by the Industry experts over the last 7 years. The National Broadband Network (nbn™) since its inception has been advertised as a fast and reliable Internet service for Australians regardless of their location.
The available bandwidth-to-end-user on nbn™ has greatly improved many services for end-users and changed the way we consume most services. For example, this has completely obliterated the DVD-rental industry in Australia as high definition media is now available to be streamed online at a fraction of cost and more conveniently.
Not only has nbn™ greatly improved many services for end-users, it has also resulted in cost-savings for businesses with the availability of Cloud based services. Cloud services eliminate the need for physical server/IT Infrastructure for businesses locally and shared synergies for the provider means the fees for Cloud services are not as high as they used to be, allowing more users to come on-board.
nbn™ is currently being delivered over different technologies like Fibre Optic (Fibre to the premises or FTTP), Combination of Fibre to the Node and Last-mile Copper (FTTN), Wireless and Satellite etc. The end-user speed testing methods I will discuss in this article will apply to most technologies except Satellite.
nbn™ Plan Speeds Explained
nbn™ plans come with speed tiers. For example a 25/5 tier means up to 25 megabits per second downloads and 5 megabits per second uploads. Available plan tiers with iiNet are 12/1, 25/5 and 100/40.
It’s important to note that the unit of speeds mentioned are Mbps – “Megabits per second” but when you download from the Internet the speed presented to you is usually MB/s – “MegaBytes per second”. Mathematically 8 Bits make up 1 Byte. So on a 25 Mbps connection, the theoretical maximum download speed would be 3.125 MB/s – that is you divide the plan speed by “8”.
However the theoretical maximum speeds aren’t what you will always receive when connecting to the Internet. So what are the factors that impact your actual speed? Well answer is a bit complicated and depends on the activity you are performing.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Any activity you perform on the Internet, involves the following steps: data is requested by your device when you initiate the activity, the request is sent to a server over the Internet and the server then responds with the content that is delivered to your device over the Internet.
For example when you enter iiNet’s web address in the browser, a request is sent by your computer to iiNet’s web server(s). The server that receives your request then responds by sending the content to you which is eventually presented as a website on your computer.
The same steps are involved when you watch a video on Youtube or Netflix, listen to Music on Pandora or Spotify, play games online or when you download from iTunes, etc. Therefore Internet speed in essence is how quickly your request is sent to the server and how quickly all of the content will be delivered back to you. For this reason, Major ISPs like iiNet already partner with popular content providers (Google, Microsoft, Apple, ABC, Netflix etc) to collaborate and design their networks such that content is readily available and delivered faster between ISP and Server. This is known as a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
An example of a CDN is shown above: nbn™ provides you connection to your Internet Service Provider, who has a CDN in place for popular services. This means popular services will work faster on nbn™ because the connection is much faster on nbn™ compared to ADSL technology. However, content for services that are not served by a local CDN, either within the ISP Network or in Australia, need to be sourced from overseas servers and therefore may not see as much improvement on an nbn™ connection.
Let’s talk about connections within your household. The medium of connection between your device and your router is crucial to the actual speeds you will receive. Only an Ethernet (CAT5e/CAT6 type) cable will provide up to 100Mbps download speeds at a constant rate. WiFi does not operate at a constant rate nor does it support 100Mbps throughput. A good WiFi router can provide you relatively good speeds for your mobile, tablet and laptop use, however, running an Ethernet cable from the router to the media intensive platforms is the most important step to significantly improve speeds on the media devices.
This step is highly recommended for below type of devices:
The total number of concurrent devices and users will also affect your household Internet experience. Remember the nbn™ speeds are from your router to ISP only and thus the available bandwidth will be shared across your devices if they are to connect to the internet simultaneously.
There are tools available to determine if there is a problem on your nbn™ connection. If you feel your Internet experience is worse or gets worse only during certain times of the day you can take below steps to establish if there is an issue.
Here are some of the issues you can pick up from a speed test:
For both scenarios you may need to contact your ISP and provide your testing. You may also want to do the below additional step which will help to further troubleshoot.
From a networks perspective, technologists will agree that nbn™ is faster compared to the majority of technology used in Australia 7 years ago. nbn™ allows an end-user to have constant and guaranteed throughput from their ISP Network regardless of their location – something which was not possible over existing ADSL infrastructure. As long as we are tech savvy about how our personal devices connect to the router within premises and have some knowledge of how the services that we consume are delivered to us, we can greatly improve and utilise the full potential of the speeds nbn™ has to offer.
For more information about troubleshooting nbn™ speeds, check out our iiHelp articles.
To see where your exact location stands in the nbn™ rollout process, check out the nbn™ Coverage Checker. This will let you pinpoint exactly where sites have been built or are in stages of preparation or construction. Make sure to register your interest on the nbn™ Wait List and check out iinet’s nbn™ plans to be ready to roll when the nbn™ hits your neighbourhood.