How fast should my ADSL speed be?

ADSL speeds max out at 24Mbps, but only average around 10Mbps in Australia.

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If you're having problems with a slow ADSL connection, there are a couple of ways to improve it. If none of them work for you, we'll point you to a good alternative.

What is a good ADSL speed?

All ADSL plans these days are ADSL2+, an improved version of the original ADSL technology. ADSL uses telephone lines to send and receive data.

The maximum speed that ADSL can deliver is 24Mbps, similar to an NBN 25 connection, but the average ADSL speed in Australia is only around 9.5Mbps. A good ADSL connection will have speeds somewhere in this range.

Test your ADSL speed now

Worried that your ADSL connection is underperforming? See how fast it is using our Internet speed test.

What affects ADSL speed?

There are a number of things that can make your ADSL speed slow, although many of them are outside of your control. These include:

  • Weather conditions. Rain and storms can flood copper cables, which will slow down your connection.
  • The number of people with Internet services on the same cables as you. The more people sharing the cables, the slower your ADSL will be.
  • Your distance from the exchange. The farther you are from your local exchange, the worse your connection will be. We'll elaborate on this in the next section.
  • Old or outdated equipment. If you've been using your ADSL equipment for a while now, it might just not be working as well as it used to.

ADSL speed vs NBN speed

As mentioned above, ADSL maxes out at 24Mbps, which is close to the NBN 25 maximum speed of 25Mbps. However, ADSL's average speed is much closer to that of an NBN 12 plan, at around 10Mbps. This means that ADSL only covers the slowest two speeds available on the NBN. Most NBN connections will be faster than ADSL, with NBN plans offering maximum speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.

ADSL speed and your distance from the exchange

With ADSL, data from your house is sent through telephone cables to your local exchange, where it's switched from your local telephone lines to the larger cable network.

The farther you are from your local exchange, the worse your connection will be. This is because signals degrade the farther they have to travel, especially through the copper cables that ADSL uses.

As you can see in the graph above, you get pretty good speeds up until about 1km away from the exchange, after which it drops sharply. If you're more than 3km away from the exchange, you're basically out of luck for getting a decent speed on your ADSL plan.

How to increase your ADSL speed

Unfortunately, most of the reasons for slow ADSL speed are out of your control. About the only thing you can do is to make sure that the equipment in your house is up to date and working with the help of a technician or electrician. These are the things you should focus on:

  • Your modem/router. You can check this yourself. If you've had it for quite a number of years, it might be time for an upgrade.
  • The cables in your walls. You'll need your cable company to check this out.
  • Power sockets. Get a licensed electrician to check this for you.

Switching ADSL providers won't really guarantee faster speeds for you, but if you're sick of your current provider, you can compare ADSL plans in the table below.

Home Internet alternatives to ADSL

If your ADSL connection is not working out and you're sick of dealing with slow Internet, there are alternative Internet options available. Consider switching to a mobile broadband or home wireless plan as an alternative.

Both these options can offer faster speeds than ADSL (twice as fast or more) and can also be more reliable than a shoddy ADSL line.

If you're using your Internet quite regularly, we'd recommend looking at home wireless plans, since they offer higher data limits and are priced more competitively than mobile broadband plans. You can compare home wireless broadband plans below.

Fortunately, most Australian households will have access to the NBN by the end of 2020, so you shouldn't have to live with ADSL for too much longer.

FAQ about ADSL speeds

What ADSL speed do I need for Netflix and video streaming?

Netflix recommends a minimum speed of 3Mbps for standard video streaming and 5Mbps for HD streaming. Most ADSL connections will be able to deliver sufficient speeds for Netflix, averaging 8-10Mbps.

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