Need to know
- After three years, the CHOICE Broadband Performance Program comes to an end
- CHOICE members who volunteered their connections report having had an overall positive experience with the program
- We're looking for new opportunities to continue providing valuable information on broadband performance and NBN plans
Three years ago, CHOICE and Honesty Box partnered up to show how broadband service providers were performing in their various connections and technology types. We did this so we could help consumers make decisions about the best broadband provider, based on how each provider's technology performed in consumers' homes. Practically, this involved members volunteering to connect a device to their router, and having their connection monitored each hour.
This service was funded from private contracts, and that funding has now run out.
We're looking to other avenues so we can continue providing readers with this valuable and in-demand information on broadband performance and NBN plans.
We sent a survey to over 2000 volunteers to discover what they liked about the service. We're pleased to learn that respondents appreciated the personal feedback on their NBN connections to see how their connections fluctuated over time, and that the data let them demand better performance and, in some cases, refunds.
Honesty Box had more than 2500 people volunteer to have their connections monitored over the past three years. CHOICE sought out the members who were interested in participating, and Honesty Box built and sent out the devices to hook up to volunteer's routers and sent individualised reports based on data recorded from their routers.
The devices would test once per hour to get granular detail on each connection. Once a month, Honesty Box would send us the data and we'd publish the latest results in our Broadband Performance review and Best NBN plans.
Over time, this review and article has become among the most popular on choice.com.au and was regularly featured in our emails to members and supporters to give guidance on how broadband service providers were performing.
What we learned from the survey
In response to the survey we sent out to all volunteers, we had 655 respondents, and the results were generally positive.
- Overall, participants have positive views towards the Honesty Box program and are disappointed that it's ending. The vast majority would like to take part again if it were to resume.
- The program's vision of making broadband internet better resonates well with the participants. They also loved receiving regular feedback on their internet's performance with very little effort required from their part.
- It seems that participants are more interested in knowing how their internet performs, rather than comparing and switching their internet provider/plan.
- There are areas for improvement, mainly around providing more specific data on internet performance, presented in an easier-to-understand way.
Most people told us that they joined the program to find out about their own broadband performance in particular, followed by helping others find the best performing broadband in the market. Most also enjoyed the regular monthly reporting and the fact that it was an easy, low-effort setup to measure their broadband. Nine out of 10 respondents rated the program as valuable.
CHOICE is currently looking for alternatives to the Honesty Box partnership.
No, it was separate. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has funding for a Broadband Performance Measuring Program.
Why is my internet slower than promised?
There are many reasons why the speed claims of providers may not match the results presented, including:
- high demand on the connection by the household (constant downloading or streaming)
- the broadband provider doesn't have sufficient capacity to meet demand
- the service is faulty or not capable of reaching a high speed due to congestion or being a long distance from the node (in the case of Fibre to the Node).
And there are many more reasons that can impact individual broadband performance.
It's also worth considering that the theoretical maximum speeds are recognised by providers to be theoretical, and some give good guidance on what speeds you should expect at different times.
Why we've partnered with WhistleOut
We've partnered with search engine WhistleOut to help you find and buy the right plan for you. The 'Search Providers' button above will take you to their site. While we make money if you buy through WhistleOut, this doesn't influence our rankings. 100% of the money we make goes straight back into our nonprofit mission.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.