Akamai’s State of the Internet Report ranks Australia 44th in terms of average Internet speeds worldwide. If you’re traveling to the Land Down Under soon, be sure to plan ahead to know where and when you can get online.

A Minefield of Copper

Current download speeds in Australia average around 17 Mbps, while global broadband speeds reach 23.7 Mbps. In a side-by-side comparison, global broadband speeds have continued to increase while Australia’s have remained virtually stagnant over the past few years.

Engineering experts claim copper-based networks are to blame. While many nations are implementing broadband services, Australia still operates primarily on a copper-based system.

However, the National Broadband Network has begun rolling out across the country and giving higher speeds to more areas. The NBN plan uses both fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and copper systems, depending on which is more affordable, to upgrade current networks. Some residents are arguing they’ve lost speeds due to the government-backed NPN rollout.

Netflix recently launched in Australia and ranks the country 18th out of 29 in terms of video streaming abilities. Australia received average speeds of 2.87 Mbps while the U.S. achieved 31.6 Mbps, for comparison.

Where to Get Online

Not only is Internet in Australia a tad slow, it’s also expensive. In fact, it’s the most expensive in the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t get online. Many cafés, libraries, and fast food restaurants including McDonald’s offer free Wi-Fi to customers. Like most places, the further away from big cities you get the slower your connection speed might be, so prepare ahead for that.

A company named Telstra has the best coverage in the country, so consider unlocking your phone and purchasing a SIM card through them to get online in rural areas. You might also be able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot for your laptop.

Purchasing a personal Wi-Fi device is also a good option. Many of these are prepaid with a certain amount of data available each month but, again, coverage varies by area. Telstra offers devices ranging from 1GB for $25 per month up to 15GB for $105 per month.

Optus is the second best choice of provider in the country, but they have less coverage than Telstra. Doing your research is essential to figuring out which provider will work best with your travel plans.

Have a Game Plan

There’s enough to keep you busy in Australia that you might not need to get online at all. If your plan is to spot kangaroos in the wild you’ll likely need to travel so far from civilizations you can’t access the Internet in any case. They’ve also got wonderful beaches to explore.

Of course, your hotel will probably include Wi-Fi if you feel the need to upload picture to make your friends jealous. Many of the larger capital cities in Australia do have wide access to Wi-Fi, so if it’s a necessity you’d do best to book a room in one of those areas.

Wherever you’re going be sure to sit down before you leave and figure out how you’re going to deal with the lack of Internet on your trip. There are perfectly good solutions through mobile devices if needed, but you should definitely plan ahead before getting stuck with expensive services in poorly connected areas.

Photo Credit: Michael McDonough/Flikr