July 2016 Urban Broadband Report

Big Variation between ISPs for ADSL 

The 2:1 spread of times taken to download websites on ADSL suggests important differences between ISP connectivity to NZ and USA websites.  This is much larger than would be expected for random events.

TrueNet is looking for volunteers for our ADSL panelist pool because many of our panelists have migrated to new technologies.  Upgrading is not possible for many consumers, and we want to continue measuring ADSL.  If you are interested please visit our Volunteering or our FAQ page  for more detail - being a panelist helps improve NZ internet performance, but also has personal benefits.

After a couple of months of very high quality copper performance from all ISPs, this month congestion is rising again.  ISPs need to maintain capacity as demand growth increases over time.

The MyRepublic speed issue continues, but with a small improvement.  Our speed tests are from a location common to all ISPs in New Zealand, and our NZ website tests are from some of the most popular websites, yet MyRepublic fibre is not of the same standard compared with other NZ fibre services. TrueNet tests show that MyRepublic fibre performance for popular activities like downloading files, and browsing sites in NZ, is closer to VDSL rather than fibre.

Index

Webpage Download Time

  • NZ
  • USA
  • AUS

International Download Speed

  • Fibre & Cable
  • Copper (ADSL and VDSL)

NZ Download Speed by Time of Day (ToD)

  • Technology comparison
  • Fibre & Cable
  • Copper (ADSL and VDSL)

Upload Speed
Glossary

 

Summary of Performance Measures

Performance this month is again very good for all Copper connection types - ADSL and VDSL, see our trend charts in the ISP Performance dropdown above.  However, the spread of performance for the time taken to download our NZ based websites on ADSL continues to be very large.

Table 1: Summary of Performance Measures

*Notes: Cable and Fibre speed comparisons show minimum hour (slowest) speed to Advertised Service Speed; ADSL & VDSL compare minimum hour (slowest) speed to the hour with maximum (as fast as your line will allow) speed.

Webpage Download Time

July results show little variation by time of day apart from a strong variation by MyRepublic fibre services.  The 2:1 spread of times taken to download websites on ADSL suggests important differences between ISP connectivity to NZ or USA websites.  Notice there is not a lot of difference from Australia, or the order between ISPs in NZ and USA.

Methodology

Responsive website browsing is valued by most Internet users, and conversely, slow-loading sites can be extremely frustrating.

TrueNet tests Internet browsing by downloading a selection of Live Webpages from NZ, Australia, and the USA, measuring the time to fully download all files on the page.  These pages are changed from time-to-time. This month there are 7 NZ pages, 3 Australian, and 9 USA pages (recently doubled to reflect survey opinions).

The charts in this section have three points for each ISP entry showing the Min. Hour (minimum time to download a webpage); the Max. Hour (maximum time to download a webpage); and the Median of all hours.  The best ISP has a low median, and a short arrow showing the spread between peak and off-peak performance.

We download websites from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download them.  This test replicates daily activity for many people, and we group the websites into regions, NZ, Australia and USA, so that readers can compare ISPs based on their own preferences.

NZ Webpages

The spread usually shows the performance in the evening at the top diamond, while the lower cross is the time to download in the middle of the night when no-one is using the internet.

Variations of performance through the day are reducing, but not for all ISPs, a lot of variation for MyRepublic on Fibre remains, as expected from the speed results in Chart 9 below.  ADSL suppliers Flip and Slingshot are outstanding compared to all other ADSL suppliers, not only taking less time for NZ webpages, but also taking a similar time during the busy hour.

Chart 1: NZ Webpage Download Time - in seconds

US Webpages

We download 4 popular US websites from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download all websites.   This test replicates daily activity for many people, but to provide the ability for readers to compare between ISPs based on their own preferences, we group the websites into regions, NZ, Australia and USA.

Both Slingshot and Vodafone ADSL are as quick to download USA websites as VDSL.  That is a great performance.

MyRepublic stands out on fibre with longer website download times for the US sites than any other ISP, as you would expect from their speed performance below.

Website download times are independent of speed for most ISPs, because speed is usually not significant for websites due to the very small size of the components of each site.

Chart 2: USA Webpage Download Time - in seconds

Australian Webpages

We download 3 popular Australian websites from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download all websites.  This test replicates daily activity for many people, but to provide the ability for readers to compare between ISPs based on their own preferences, we group the websites into regions, NZ, Australia and USA.

The Australian websites on ADSL have the greatest Time of Day (ToD) spread of the three countries webpages being reported on.   The spread usually shows the performance in the evening at the top diamond, while the lower cross is the time to download in the middle of the night when no-one is using the internet.

All high-speed services (Fibre and Cable) report almost identical download times for the US websites we download, with very little variation throughout the day. 

Chart 3: Australian Webpage Download Time - in seconds

Speed (File Download Performance)

For TrueNet's speed tests each panelist's probe regularly downloads a 1MB or 2MB file from Auckland, Wellington, Dallas and Sydney.  The faster the connection, the larger the file we need to download to ensure that the maximum speed is reached during our test. 100Mb/s connections easily reach full speed before 2MB of data is downloaded.  Slower connections can test accurately with much smaller files. Our tests on Satellite, Wireless and ADSL can tolerate a file size of just 300k, although these days with higher caps we can use a 1MB file.

International tests take the result from each test run from Dallas or Sydney. 

International File Download Speed

TrueNet tests File Download Speeds from our overseas servers to measure performance from our international neighbours.

We ensure the download file is not held in New Zealand (cached), so that the test truly measures international performance. 

Unfortunately we are having issues with our Dallas server and have abandoned US reporting until we can replace it.  We plan to replace with an LA server, and later on a server in New York for better comparisons.

100Mb/s Fibre & Cable International Speeds

Following on from last month, we include a Time of Day chart as a percent of Advertised speed.

Vodafone Fibre remains top, with a slight roll off in the evening. MyRepublic, Orcon and Vodafone Cable dip noticeably in the evening.   Spark, 2Degrees, and Voyager are relatively stable throughout the day, averaging around 60% of advertised speed from Sydney.   The MyRepublic result is off-set by an hour, as though it were competing with peak period Australian traffic.

Chart 4: 100Mb/s Fibre & Cable File Download Speed from Sydney Australia

Slower Fibre and Cable Speeds (30Mb/s and 50Mb/s)

Fibre speeds < 100Mb/s, each achieved excellent ToD performance on the Trans-Tasman test. 2Degrees 30Mb/s users were able to receive almost advertised speed from Sydney.

Vodafone 50Mb/s Cable had a noticeable evening dip, but otherwise similar to Spark 30Mb/s Fibre against advertised speed.

Chart 5: Slower Fibre & Cable File Download Speed from Sydney Australia

ADSL & VDSL (Copper Connections)

Copper connections (ADSL & VDSL) have a speed that is dependent on the distance between the home modem, and the exchange equipment which means that ISPs do not have any influence on the peak speed of each connection.  To overcome this limitation, the Australia, and USA speeds are referenced to the average NZ download speed of the respective ISPs.  The speed reported is from the 8pm-10pm evening period.

VDSL

Voyager maintain a significantly higher relative speed from Sydney (relative to their panelists best NZ speed).  Orcon, the only Vocus brand we are able to publish, has evening congestion more pronounced than last month.

Chart 6: VDSL ToD performance from Sydney Australia

ADSL

Our Australian results are compared to the best speed available for each panelist within New Zealand.  For our Australian ISP, we swap that around to get a fair comparison.  TPG actually achieves much better than NZ ISPs when downloading from NZ vs NZ downloading from Australia.   

Within the NZ ISPs, there are two groups, we have not explored why, if you have ideas, please suggest in the comments below.  There is significant evening congestion for Vocus ISPs Slingshot, Orcon and Flip

Chart 7: ADSL ToD performance from Sydney Australia

New Zealand File Download Speed

Comparing performance by time-of-day is important as it shows the service degradation when everyone is using the Internet during the evening hours of 8pm to 10pm.  TrueNet uses the best of a pair of Auckland and Wellington download tests to calculate the median NZ results by hour over the month for each monitored connection.  We take the average of all median results with each ISP for each hour.

A poor result typically shows the line drop below 90%, which usually occurs in the busy period between 7pm and 10pm, i.e. if this is true, the average user for that ISP is getting less than 90% of their line capability.

Technology Comparison

Wellington speed results are included from our new server this month, included in the best of Auckland or Wellington. The Technology Time of Day comparison below demonstrates speed throughout the day relative to advertised speed, ie the fastest hour for ADSL and VDSL.

Cable - only present in Wellington & Christchurch cities - includes improved results with our new Wellington server included. Speeds to Auckland are slower than to Wellington. 

The 200Mb/s service is well below the advertised speed but continues well above 100Mb/s.  At higher speeds, backhaul becomes a critical factor where the maximum backhaul is usually over a 1000Mb/s link, if this is shared with other services, then 200Mb/s is going to be difficult to reach.  Is there value in an increase from 160Mb/s (the slowest speed we measure for the 200Mb/s service) compared to the advertised speed?

Chart 8: Fibre, Cable, and Copper (DSL) File Download Speed

Fibre & Cable Comparison - Actual Speeds

MyRepublic panelists continue to experience a speed drop from mid afternoon, though the speed drop during the busy hour is actually much less than in June results.  MyRepublic has the fastest 100Mb/s speed on UFB in the morning (4am to 9am), but the slowest in the evening (6pm to midnight), by considerable margins in both cases.

This month we have our new Wellington server reporting so Vodafone Cable shows a result more comparable to April, the last time we reported using a Wellington server. It shows a slight evening dip just getting below the advertised 100Mb/s, this was better in April though with speeds varying then between 108-118Mb/s.  

New Voyager results (based on a relatively small sample, hence the variation) lie between Spark and 2Degrees, averaging about 100% of advertised.

Chart 9: 100Mbs Fibre & Cable Performance from NZ

 

Slower fibre speeds don't experience much speed variation, although 30Mb/s and 50Mb/s fibre services are often slower than VDSL, so it is surprising that consumers purchase the product. However, these products may be quicker than VDSL at their specific address due to the layout of the copper network.

Chart 10: Other Fibre & Cable Performance from NZ

DSL Performance by Time of Day (ToD) Indexed speeds

We use an index for copper reporting because ADSL and VDSL are sold using the phrase "as fast as your line will allow", so we find that number, and compare each result with it.

High Speed Copper (VDSL) File Download Speed

VDSL shows generally good performance during July but welll down on June.   Orcon & Vodafone each have periods below 95% of maximum speed, Vodafone service showing a dip in the evening.  Deeper analysis shows the Vodafone dip being limited to southern panelists only, eg Wellington

Chart 11: VDSL File Download Speed by Time of Day

Low Speed Copper (ADSL) File Download Speed

Another solid month for ADSL services. As with VDSL, Vodafone has an evening dip, but with less impact than in VDSL above. Otherwise, each ISP stayed at / above 95% of maximum speed at all hours.

Chart 12: ADSL File Download Speed by Time of Day

Upload Speed - Performance

Upload speed is important to users sending large amounts of data through the Internet, or loading files to the Cloud.   TrueNet's upload test sends a 1MB file to our Wellington server, and records the results using a similar method to the download tests, but measured from Wellington only.

By Technology

Only small changes in speeds by technology and service speed. The average of 50Mb/s upload services has fallen below 40Mb/s. The number of panelists with 50Mb/s upload service is falling, with many preferring 20Mb/s, or having upgraded to much faster plans such as 200/200.

Chart 13: Upload Performance by Technology

Upload Time of Day Performance - by ISP

Upload speeds remain stable by time of day. Orcon delivers around the advertised 50Mb/s upload speed, while the aggregate of Other ISPs averages well below, but is consistent by ToD.

Chart 14: Fibre & Cable ToD Upload Speed by ISP

 

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