How Do NBN Speeds Compare To Uniti?Che Metcalfe
When choosing your ISP it is important to understand how your ISP is going to perform during peak times. After all, this is when you want to use the Internet the most! It is very frustrating coming home from a long day at work and sitting down to stream the latest episode of your favourite TV show, only to find out your promised 100Mbps service is running at 16Mbps. Or perhaps you have to download an important file from a client or log into your office network remotely. All of these activities require your ISP to be on top of their game, ensuring you have the speeds you need and are paying for. At Uniti we have been hearing horror stories from new customers that churn to us, so we thought it was time we spoke up about this. Here we reveal some facts and experiences that compare the performance of an NBN fibre to the premise service to our Uniti fixed wireless broadband service.
Every ISP relies on a contention ratio. A contention ratio allows the ISP to share network resources across multiple customers. This way they can afford to provide the service to ‘many’ at ‘at the same time’. When you own the majority of your network (like Uniti does) it is easier to control this ratio to deliver a great service, but also so it is profitable for the service provider. This is really important if you want to stay in business! So what happens when the cost to deliver a service at a good contention ratio for the customer is too high? The provider needs to raise this ratio to a level that makes them a profit. This means a higher volume of customers will be allowed to connect at the same time to create a higher profit. Unfortunately this leads the network down the path to congestion during peak times. The flow on effect is that customers will see lower speeds. Sometimes much, much lower! Imagine a highway. To pay for the cost of the highway, they let more cars drive on it. This means at peak times, too many cars will congest the highway and it will be slowed to a crawl. So what do you do? Choose an alternative route. In this case, the new affordable, faster route is Uniti.
Let’s take a look at a real world example of what we are talking about. In this example we are comparing an NBN 100Mbps/50Mbps plan to a Uniti 50Mbps/10Mbps plan both connected at the same residence. The NBN service is connected to the home by fibre to the premise and the Uniti Air service is fixed wireless broadband, installed on the roof.
On the surface you would assume the NBN plan is faster and will allow you to download content faster. Our initial testing has shown this is NOT the case. Whilst this is a single comparison and we need to gather more data, the results back up what many industry leaders have been talking about for some time now. The price of the connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) is too high, which forces the NBN reseller/retailer to adopt a higher contention ratio. This means slower peak time performance for NBN customers. Think of CVC like a wholesale charge that retailers of the NBN have to pay to deliver it to their customers. There is a good article on CVC pricing here, which goes into more detail on the issue.
Here are the results of our test:
NBN 100Mbps/50Mbps service at 8:11 PM
Uniti Air 50Mbps/10Mbps service at 8:15 PM
Both tests were carried out using the same device and internal network.
The Uniti service outperforms the NBN fibre service on download speed and ping time. Ping is especially important for gaming and VoIP services. Would you rather pay to get roughly 17% of your 100Mbps service or almost 100% of your 50Mbps service?
How do ISP’s get away with this I hear you ask? The very thing that is meant to protect you, actually provides an out for some ISP’s. An ISP needs to advertise their speeds as “up to”. There is a genuine reason for this. Firstly, it is very hard for an ISP to deliver 100% of your speed 100% of the time. Many things can cause this, we list some of them here. Secondly, what happens when you have to wholesale the whole service or even part of your network from a wholesaler like the NBN or Telstra? Should the ISP be forced to guarantee the speeds when they do not control the network you are connecting to from end to end? If you call your ISP to ask why you are getting lower than expected speeds, they will probably tell you the service was advertised as “up to” and that it is not a fault. Or a common and often honest explanation will be that they have to log a fault report with the wholesaler, who could have the issue upstream.
At Uniti we have largely solved this issue. We own and have 100% control over our network other than Internet transit and some of our fibre backhaul. We ensure that these portions of our network have redundancy and not a single point of failure. This means that we can fix issues as they arise and we can fine tune network performance to deliver a great result for you, even during peak times. So whilst understandably and by law we have to say our plans are “up to”, we more often than not deliver the speeds we are advertising because of the above. At Uniti, while fluctuations are to be expected, we treat any consistently poor speed result as a fault and actively work on your service until we resolve the issue.
As well as owning the majority or our network, we also shape customers ‘down’ to a speed we are confident we can deliver the majority of the time. Most of our services are capable of 80Mbps/20Mbps. We could sell our plans as “up to” 80Mbps/20Mbps and our customers would see these speeds some of the time. We think it is far more honest to sell it as a solid 50Mbps/10Mbps service. We want to deliver for our customers so they only experience the most optimal conditions based on our network environment.
The moral of the story. Do not to assume that the NBN is the answer to better broadband to achieve a reliable high speed Internet connection. Ask around and do your own research on what speeds friends or family are seeing during peak times with different providers. There are alternatives for Australians and Uniti is one part of the solution.
You be the judge.
Have you got a poor performing NBN service? Call us on 1300 847 201 about setting up a Uniti service for you. We are so confident that we can deliver… we won’t ask you to pay anything, until we can show you that you are getting plan speeds. What have you got to lose?