Ever wonder why your download of DayZ or Fallout is taking ages? As a country, our average Steam download speed is 6.6Mbps, or about 0.825 megabytes per second.
Steam’s global traffic map and download stats only collates data from the last seven days, but it’s still a decent look at how our ‘net performs — purely because its sample size is so large, with 1500 terabytes of Steam data making its way into Australian PCs in the last week.
That 6.6Mbps average download speed is an aggregate of all the ISP results across Australia, but front runners include Telstra with 7.1Mbps and Optus with 8.1Mbps, although the iiNet-owned TransACT tops the list with 9Mbps — not surprising, since it’s predominantly fibre-to-the-premises and high-speed VDSL2 across its install base.
Those numbers are interesting; as a whole, they’re a long way from the 16.3Mbps download speed that Ookla’s NetIndex suggests is the average across the country. Steam has no reason to measure uploads, obviously, so there’s no comparison there.
The difference in Steam’s speeds from the broader Internet might stem from the fact that a bunch of Aussie ISPs maintain their own local Steam caching servers. 3FL, Internode, Telstra, IX, Adam Internet, Gamespace and EGN all have their own local hardware and storage, which hosts at least the most popular files for users of Steam to access, sometimes without impacting their download quotas.
Whether caching servers are a good thing or not depends on who you ask — since they’re locally hosted they have the potential to be much faster than downloading from overseas, but in peak times their relatively small bandwidth and data throughput makes them more vulnerable to saturation, actually slowing down gamers’ download speeds.
In terms of sheer volume, Aussies have downloaded 1.5 petabytes of data from Steam in the last week — that’s around about 1500 terabytes — but we account for a mere 1.8 per cent of global traffic to Valve’s content servers. We’re eclipsed by the US, obviously, with 16.8PB and 16.7Mbps average speeds, and similarly Japan’s 33.5Mbps average beats ours although Australia does more Steam traffic. Unsurprisingly, there’s no data available on downloads from Antarctica or Cuba.