ACMA study on modems for peak NBN performance

In BICSI Bytes, Newsby info@bicsi.com.au

A recent Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) study highlighted the impact modems can have on the performance of internet services delivered over the National Broadband Network (NBN). This may be useful information for BICSI members to retain and refer to customers who ask for guidance on internet connections.

The study is part of a package of measures introduced by the ACMA to improve the experience consumers have when migrating to services delivered over the NBN.

Commenting on the study, ACMA Chair, Nerida O’Loughlin said: “This ACMA-commissioned study considered how modems may affect a consumer’s experience of their NBN-based service. It looked at performance when connecting directly to the NBN as well as Wi-Fi performance.

“All modems except one in the study performed strongly when directly connected to NBN. However, the Wi-Fi performance of the modems tested ranged from mediocre to excellent.”

The ACMA commissioned Enex to test 43 modems used for fibre-to-the-node (FttN) and fibre-to-the-building (FttB) connections—including modems supplied by telcos and modems for sale at retail stores. The testing took place in December 2018 and January 2019.

The study found that Wi-Fi performance can be seriously affected by interference, obstacles and the frequency that it operates on—either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. The study showed that the 5 GHz band provided superior coverage.

The study also tested the performance of these modems in what might be both typical and more challenging circumstances inside a consumer’s home. This included testing through walls, at long distances and in the presence of interference in cabling and from common household devices.

“Telcos and modem suppliers need to provide good advice to consumers about the features and performance of individual modems, especially Wi-Fi performance,” continued O’Loughlin. “Consumers should also ask their telco about the performance they can expect from the modem supplied to deliver their service.”

To assist consumers, the ACMA published advice for consumers on how to improve the Wi-Fi performance of their modem.