Network Speed v Internet Speed

All communitation rates are calculated in bps (bits per second) or multiples thereof (Kbps, Mbps, Gbps). In any communication over the internet your communication "conversation" will be transmitted over a number of different connections and vehicles at varying rates. Apart from the effect of each segment of the connection, rates will be impacted by the amount of traffic on each of the segments.

1) Local Network

The first of these is your own local network, from your computer to the router/ ADSL modem. This connection can be wired or wireless. If it is wired it will be at a rate of 10Mbs, 100Mbps or 1Gbps. If it is wireless it will be at a rate of up to 54Mbs (802.11g), up to 600Mbps (802.11n) or up to 1.4 Gbps (802.11ac).


The second rate is that between your ADSL / VDSL modem and the local telephone exchange. These rates vary based on the plan you have with your internet service provider (ISP), what is available at the local exchange and the distance you are from the exchange. The plan sets a maximum rate that you can achieve, in reality the rate you get is somewhat less. If your plan has shaping the maximum rate on the line will be reduced to a lower speed when you exceed your download limit. In some areas there are not enough high speed connections (DSLAMs) for all those who desire them, so you may have had to settle for a slower link. The distance you are from the exchange affects those who are connected by copper cable. It has little affect on those connected by optical fibre (e.g. the NBN). The table below details how distance affects rates. ALso note that the age of the copper wire will affect the speed. At this point I have no speed tests for VDSL over fibre to the node.

Plan Highest Speed @1km @2km @3km @4km @5km Dropout
ADSL 1.5 Mbps 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 0 4.1 km
ADSL2 8 Mbps 8.0 8.0 7.0 4.0 1.2 5.4 km
ADSL2+ 24 Mbps 23.5 16.5 9.0 4.0 1.5 6.2 km
VDSL 1000 Mbps            

3) Telecommunications Network

The rate at which you communicate across the internet is variable. The location of the server you are communicating with and the different paths that packets of data travel to reach their destination make the rate change from second to second.

4) Server's Connection

Each server like your computer has a connection to the internet as well as its own local network. It will have its own bandwidth and workload which could impact the speed of communication.

With the advent of the NBN and fibre connections there are also a number of options which replace / supplement the ADSL/VDSL connection:

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP): fibre runs all the way to your home and connects to the connection box.
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN): Similar to FTTB, fibre runs to a node, and service is distributed over copper.
  • Fibre to the Building (FTTB): Fibre runs to a multi-unit building into an nbn™ co-installed device called a DSLAM. From there, service is delivered to customers over existing copper wires.
  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC): FTTC is a nice compromise between the challenging installation of FTTP and the reduced performance of FTTN. FTTC connects a distribution unit, usually housed in a pit in the ground, with the existing copper network via fibre.
  • Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC): Fibre runs to an nbn™ optical node within a given distribution area, then the service is delivered over the coaxial (TV) network via DOCSIS 3.0.
  • Fixed Wireless: A wireless antenna is installed on the home, giving in-home Internet access via the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network.
  • Satellite: The Sky Muster™ satellites provide network access to remote areas such as Norfolk Island and other hard-to-reach destinations.
(Published 04 Sep 2021)