Progress is very swift in the Internet access business. In 2009, the average Internet access speed in Australia was about 12 Mbps. So at the time, a boost to 25 Mbps, the minimum national speed promised by the National Broadband Network, sounded pretty good. Now networks are targeting 100 Mbps. In other words, during the time the NBN was conceived, and began to be built (seven years or so) speed expectations changed by an order of magnitude.
In 2009, the average Internet access customer In the United Kingdom was getting 4 Mbps. So a boost to “superfast” (24 Mbps to 30 Mbps) likewise sounded pretty good. That same year, typical U.S. speeds were in the 5 Mbps range. By 2015, though, average U.S. downstream speeds had climbed to nearly 36 Mbps. Now, customers in both countries can buy service at hundreds of megabits per second, and networks are being built out to a gigabit per second.
So we don’t hear much about 24 Mbps or 30 Mbps being “superfast.” The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, in fact defines broadband as being a minimum of 25 Mbps downstream. In 2016, the biggest cable TV ISPs offer downstream speeds ranging between 49.6 Mbps and 39 Mbps. Verizon matches the top average speed of 49.6 Mbps.
Among other ISPs, Google Fiber is the absolute fastest, offering average downstream speeds of 354 Mbps. In other words, what once was a “goal” now is simply a “fact.” And speed targets have grown by an order of magnitude in a bit more than half a decade.