Friday, January 03, 2014

Australian Broadband Report

The Australian Department of Communications released a Broadband Availability and Quality: Summary Report, 23 December 2013. The report found 91% of Australian premises have access to xDSL and 28% other high speed broadband fixed connections. In this report "availability" is a synonym for geographic coverage of premises and "qualify" for broadband speed. The report did not look at the affordability of broadband, which should be a factor in availability, nor does it look at reliability or latency. The issue of latency is one for satellite links and some terrestrial wireless links, where the data takes a long time to transit the network making some real time applications unworkable.
The report found the major issue with access and quality were regional areas and some pockets in urban areas. One option I suggest which could be used to address this is are 4G wireless networks. Rather than build a completely separate fixed wireless network which was the policy of the previous government, I suggest supplementing the 4G networks of the mobile phone carriers.
Curiously the DOC version of the report at 1.4 Mbytes is about five times as large as the PDF version. This is due to one image of a tag cloud being stored in the wrong format. The image is a 1.2 Mbyte JPEG file, when converted to PNG format it reduces to 180 kbytes (with no loss of quality). As I pointed out previously, on its own broadband will do little to benefit Australia. What is also needed is training in how to make use of computers and telecommunications. In this case it appears that staff at the Department of Communications have not been trained in how to format documents correctly.

The total of this section exceeds 100 per cent because the majority of premises have access to multiple broadband technologies.

  • Approximately 9.9 million premises (91 per cent) have access to fixed line broadband services delivered via xDSL technology.
  • Approximately 3.1 million premises (28 per cent) have access to a high speed broadband platform (defined as including fibre-to-the-premises, fibre-to-the-node, hybrid fibre coaxial networks and fixed wireless networks).
  • Approximately 8.8 million premises (81 per cent) have access to 3G mobile broadband services and about 6.4 million premises (59 per cent) have access to 4G services.
  • All Australian premises are covered by satellite broadband, although there is a ceiling to the capacity of these services and therefore not all premises can access a service.


  • Approximately 3.1 million premises (28 per cent) have access to peak download speeds of between 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and 110 Mbps.
  • Approximately 7.1 million premises (65 per cent) are in areas that have access to peak median download speeds of less than 24 megabits per second over the copper network.
  • About 0.7 million (6 per cent) premises are unable to get access to a fixed broadband service.
  • Of premises with access to xDSL broadband services over copper, about 3.7 million are located in areas with an estimated peak median download speed of less than 9 Mbps, and 920,000 in areas with an estimated peak median download speed of less than 4.8 Mbps.

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