Australia beats US for broadband access | Australian IT

The release of this media report on Australia's international broadband standing raises some interesting issues.

While I agree that broadband penetration should be measured by households, not individual connections, there are several other issues concerning how broadband is measured.

A major problem is how 'broadband' is actually defined. The OECD still uses 'always on' with a download speed above 256kbps. Hardly broadband in the Web 2.0 era.

Synchronous (two-way) 1.5mbps is generally accepted as the minimum speed for adequate teleconferencing facilities, and this is the measure Canada adopted in the early 2000s. The ACCC's earlier reports on broadband adoption in Australia have used 200kbps or above. This measure significantly lowers the bar.

Further, the methods of collecting data are problematic. The OECD relies on 'theoretical' best speeds and advertised prices, in addition to government-produced estimates and statistics, in ranking member countries.

The Akamai 'State of the Internet' report, I understand, uses data actually collected from participating servers worldwide. The Quarter 4, 2008 report records Australia as well below both the US and Canada in terms of 'fast' broadband. To make matters worse, Palmerston via Gungahlin (see earlier post) has theoretical speeds of 1.5mbps which drop to below dial-up each evening.

Until the problems of data collection and reliability are resolved, I remain very sceptical about reports which claim Australian broadband is more accessible than in the US.

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