There was no change in specific speeds in the three months including March, April & May 2016 in spite of 9 of our panelists who had their connections updated by the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). Only one had a very minor change in performance.
Time of Day variations improved for all RBI funded DSL similar to that of Urban DSL seen in the May 2016 Urban report. Contention is almost completely absent in the rural RBI funded areas we test.
The continuing development of internet connections in the latest quarter has seen consistent improvements in performance. The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is growing by about 7% per quarter, these improvements are from wireless connections over Vodafone's 4G mobile links or Chorus' fibre to rural cabinets.
This quarter, Wireless RBI performance has reduced in the evening busy hour, but with higher speeds, this may not be noticeable.
Broadband has been available throughout the country on ordinary telephone lines since 2001 when the only access was delivered using a technology called ADSL. A few years later Telecom launched VDSL as a faster alternative, but take-up was limited due to its high price. Since then the Government provided a subsidy for the rollout of Fibre throughout NZ, but 5 years into the roll-out just 50% of the country has access to fibre, with an estimated 5 more years to complete coverage.
The current spend on Fibre promotion is hiding the opportunity for NZ consumers to take advantage of an existing fast broadband technology - VDSL, without needing to wait for fibre to be installed in your street.
"VDSL is sold with similar or identical pricing to ADSL"
Many ISPs are now showing signs of congestion in their fibre products. Only Spark was immune in August 2015. Early users of Fibre connections (supplied via the Ultra Fast Broadband rollout sponsored by Government) found that their usage was consistently close to full speed at all times of day, despite the product being sold as delivering "up to" the speed they bought. Now that demand is growing and many connections are sharing the same backhaul, congestion is reducing speeds in the evenings on many ISPs networks. Chart 7 shows the impact.
Vodafone Cable has a similar network structure to Fibre, where all users share a backhaul from a local node. Vodafone Cable continued to have serious congestion in the evenings right throughout August after having insufficient capacity to support the major increase in on-line video that started with Netflix launch in March.
New Zealand data use soared immediately Netflix launched in mid March 2015, according to Spark, and over the next two months there was not enough capacity for supply to meet demand on some ISPs connections we monitor. But by May the shortfall in supply was mostly satisfied, just a month and a half after the NetFlix launch, demonstrating the highly competitive nature of the ISP market in New Zealand.
Rural Broadband is reported this month with a fresh look at Satellite which, despite high latency, manages to achieve website downloads competitive with ADSL.
The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) funded by Government is having an immense impact, halving download times for upgraded connections, but still not as good as urban broadband.
Older rural ADSL connections take more than twice as long to load webpages than RBI upgraded connections, and approaching 3 times that of Urban services.
TrueNet's quarterly Rural Broadband report shows a big mismatch between standard rural and urban ADSL. In November, Panelists with Rural ADSL took twice as long to load our group of Live Webpages compared to Urban ADSL Panelists.
TrueNet measures broadband in both urban and rural locations. Standard (Full Speed) Rural ADSL speed performance has declined in the last 2.5 years while at the same time Urban ADSL performance has increased markedly.
Rural broadband users see their speed drop in the evenings to just 82% of the speed the connection is capable of. This will often mean websites do not download, files take a long time to appear, or even fail to be delivered due to timeouts.
Regional differences show a need for more investment by ISPs to support Ultra Fast Broadband in Northland and broadband in the South Island.
The new Rural broadband speeds that will result from the RBI using 3G wireless broadband delivery, the planned Telecom/Vodafone 3G service, will deliver one third of the speed of urban ADSL services and one half of Cable speeds. That is the best that can be expected if the user is within line of sight of the tower and not too far away.