After four years of monitoring broadband technology TrueNet's impact on the quality of performance across all products and technologies is now obvious, as all ISPs that TrueNet reports on are achieving the targets we have set. Congratulations to the major ISPs for reaching a successful product performance standard. We will continue to monitor to ensure that standard is maintained.
We monitor a small sample of Australian connections, and their performance remains below that of all NZ ISPs with the exception of the obvious - downloading of Australian websites.
Congratulations should be extended to the Commerce Commission for having the foresight to start the process; to Vodafone and the Commerce Commission for purchasing our data, making it possible to continue publishing.
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"
NZ broadband speed continues to increase as more users take up faster broadband services such as Fibre and VDSL. Although ADSL (copper connections) still command over 80% of total market share in New Zealand, Fibre customer numbers are increasing, and more frequently they are choosing a faster speed than last time TrueNet published this chart. In TrueNet's measurements to September 2015, New Zealand's average peak Broadband speed increased by over 38% pa to 16.3Mb/s.
Fibre speeds are sold to consumers by retail ISPs, but they in turn are dependent on the wholesale LFC to provide the connection as well as the base speed to enable a service to be delivered. Only Ultra Fast Fibre (UFF) provides a service that matches the advertised speeds for all 100Mb/s services. In other LFC regions, only some panelists have speeds above 100Mb/s, many with only 94Mb/s, suggesting the wholesale speed is 100Mb/s.
Upload speeds of 10Mb/s and 20Mb/s are consistently above the advertised speed, but only Enable delivers an upload speed of at least 50Mb/s for the 100/50 service.
UFF and Enable based panelists achieve advertised download speed for the 30Mb/s products sold by their retail ISPs.
Performance of Vodafone 100Mb/s Cable download is now equivalent, if not better than competitive 100Mb/s UFB fibre services. On October the 2nd, Vodafone Cable fixed their major network problems that have been evident since March (NetFlix launched it's services in March) when speeds dropped from 110Mb/s to below 5Mb/s for many users.
Other improvements include reduction in congestion on almost all remaining products and suppliers, to a level not seen before as ISPs are clearly investing in sufficient capacity to meet demand. Orcon, MyRepublic and some Other ISPs have more work to do, but all have improved.
Copper services show a very different trend with Vodafone now requiring more investment to resolve congestion after months of good performances, and Slingshot continuing their major improvement from last month to now lie within the leading bunch of ISPs.
Latency (delay) and Domain Name Server (DNS) response times are two background parameters that affect Web Browsing performance. There is a lot of focus on "Speed" in the press, though both DNS response time (time to find the IP address of the server) and Latency (time to receive a response from the remote server) influence the responsiveness of the internet. Latency (or lag) is very important to gamers, and DNS failures are very conspicuous when they occur.
TrueNet note an impressive Slingshot improvement with their performance on copper connections in September compared with their August result.
Congestion on the internet continues to be a major issue for many users, but not for all ISPs, Spark continues to be free of congestion on all technologies while 2Degrees is good on copper and Slingshot have almost caught up
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.
Provisioning errors remain an issue for Fibre connections.
For international file downloads from the USA on copper connections (ADSL & VDSL), the best ISPs by quite a margin are Slingshot & Vodafone. This translates to also being the best ISPs for downloading the websites we test that are based in the USA.
Only two plans remain with apparent congestion after the launch of multiple movie providers in March; Vodafone's Cable is degraded to a level causing significant consumer complaints, and Slingshot copper services performance variation is greater than other ISPs, although we have not observed complaints.
The May report noted that congestion issues seen since March 2015 appeared to be on the mend and mostly gone. Matching the capacity requirements of consumers is an imperfrect art, and this month there are lingering signs of contention in the evening period. However, network congestion is still better than that experienced a couple months ago.
We include an Other ISP group this month, where we group results from 62 panelists on 19 ISPs. As a group they are the worst performers on all technologies and tests, although while some are not very good, others are able to deliver as good as the best.
Fibre provisioning errors are so frequent TrueNet has resorted to holding back on reporting results until we have confirmed with a panelist that they have the correct service. ISPs need to ensure they are filling orders correctly more often.
DNS Response Time and Latency is reported this month, looking at the difference between North and South Islands. The South Island has greater latency to test points because of greater physical distance, but DNS times show that some ISPs provide for customers better than others.