VDSL - the Forgotten Technology

VDSL - the Forgotten Technology

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.

In the meantime, the Internet is becoming more critical for NZ consumers.   However, 80% of consumers remain on ADSL limiting their choices by:

  1. Lack of download speed for high value downloads (eg. computer updates, Video)
  2. Very slow upload speeds, under 1Mb/s, limiting the performance of two critical services:-
    • Cloud storage - uploads on cloud storage are performed for every save command
    • Person to person video - the far end gets poor video, often leading to dropouts
  3. Webpage opening times - due to slow speeds in both directions, but often due to the slow upload speed.

VDSL is available in most places where ADSL is sold, only a small proportion of the population is limited to ADSL - usually, but not always in rural areas, but with the rollout of the Rural Broadband Initiative this is changing, and increasingly rural people are able to access VDSL as well.

UPDATE 22nd June 2016, Chorus have also published details on better, faster broadband via VDSL


VDSL is sold with similar or identical pricing to ADSL, although it may need a replacement modem which may be an extra expense.  However the update is likely to include an improved Wifi to take maximum advantage of VDSL.  

We compare prices using the unlimited naked broadband because ISPs add extra features to create multiple products, making it almost impossible to compare pricing options.  

  • Naked broadband is where the service is supplied without a telephone, mobile price discount or any other inducement.  
  • Unlimited products do not have a limit on the amount of data you can use and are becoming so popular they look like the new standard.
Chart 1: Prices for ADSL and VDSL Unlimited data services without a phone - 1st December 2015


VDSL is not only more than twice as fast as ADSL, but more importantly, the upload speed is 10 times as fast as ADSL.  Chart 2 compares VDSL download speeds of our panelist connections with the range of ADSL upload speeds.   The range includes 95% of all panelists, ie it excludes some outliers that are better or worse and has a sample size of around 100 for each technology.

The range of speed measured for VDSL  is two and a half times faster than ADSL.  This is important if you have more than one person in your houshold watching video.  Also notice in Chart 2 that even the worst VDSL  (approximately 11Mb/s) is better than the average ADSL (approximately 10Mb/s).

Our comparison of speeds in Charts 2 & 3 is constrained to exclude outliers - 5% of panelists. 

Chart 2: Download speeds of VDSL and ADSL - November 2015

In Chart 3  the upload speed of VDSL is ten times that of ADSL.  Also, the minimum VDSL speed is faster than the maximum ADSL . This was found to be true for all VDSL connections we monitor.  Upload speeds are important for many activities, especially uploading photos, large files, and for communicating with friends on video chats (Facetime and Skype).   Some panelists get very low VDSL speeds, so we ask why they persist with VDSL, their answer has always been "because we get an upload speed that enables us to use the internet", long distance lines can have very slow ADSL upload speeds, but may get better VDSL upload speeds.

Chart 3: Upload speeds of VDSL and ADSL - November 2015

This data is taken from November 2015, when Chorus was in the middle of a major upgrade of VDSL to improve download speeds with a minor reduction of upload speeds. Updated data is shown in the dropdown menus above.


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