December 2016 Urban Broadband Report

Spark Leads for Speed

To continue our focus on the performance of webpage downloads, we have changed our reporting to show the Webpage Average Speed from our key markets, NZ, Australia and USA.  On this measure Spark is the leader for ADSL and equal best with 2Degrees on VDSL.  The best fibre depends on the location of the websites - see table 1 below.

To choose the best ISP for you, first decide what technology you can purchase at your location (the options are here the NZ broadband map), then choose the ISP based on their performance with that technology using this report, or the trend page above, match that with price located on the dropdown above.  Note: ISPs do not always have the same performance, or price position on every technology, and price specials may be attractive to you.

Index

Webpage Average Speed

  • NZ
  • USA
  • AUS

NZ File Peak Speed by Time of Day (ToD)

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

International File Peak Speed

  • Fibre & Cable
  • Copper (ADSL and VDSL)

Upload Median Decile Speed
Glossary

Summary of Performance Measures

The market is changing rapidly for Fibre services, with many more connection speeds offered than ever before.  ISPs are not always informing customers of their speed changes making it difficult for TrueNet to be sure about the purchased product.  There is also many errors in allocation of speeds, where customers are supplied with a differenct speed from that purchased - no surprises when only those with speeds slower than the advertised product are corrected at the panelist's request. 

The top speed offered is based on GigE technology, this enables speeds up to 1000Mb/s in theory, but rarely in practice because most links are only 1000Mb/s and have to be shared.  While most users will see results of over 900Mb/s on Speedtest, this is not a measure of internet performance because it is intended to find faults in your line.  

TrueNet measures the File Peak Speed from the home PC modem passing through the ISPs interface and out through the Internet Exchange at either Wellington (WIX), or Auckland (APE) where large public websites interface with their customers via ISPs who are also connected to these exchanges.    TrueNet's end to end tests rarely record File Peak Speeds above 300Mb/s, despite speedtests on the same lines measuring over 900Mb/s.   

Note: Speedtests measure the connection speed of a line from a home based PC modem through to the connection interface of an ISP where it terminates.  ISPs divert speed test traffic off the internet at the earliest opportunity to enable Speedtests to be used for their intended purpose - to find line faults on the connection not to identify your internet speed.  

We are changing speed reporting to compare speed by hour with the fastest hour recorded by each connection.   Fibre and Cable services are included in the same chart and are compared to maximum speed as is ADSL & VDSL. High Speed Fibre and Cable services include all those advertised as 100Mb/s or greater.  

Reporting of Webpage results has also changed for the December report. Webpage results will now be displayed as "Webpage Average Speed", while File speeds remain as "File Peak Speed".  

Do not compare actual speeds between countries (ie across columns on the Summary chart), the actual speeds are dependent on the speed of the selected websites that we use for testing and will vary for reasons independent of the ISPs.  This is fair because each website is the same for every ISP, we are comparing the ability of each ISP to download the selected websites.

File Peak Speed: The best speed reached in any file download when sampled every quarter.  A sample is calculated as the amount of file downloaded in Megabits (Mb) divided by the time in seconds.  A typical file download is shown in the small chart opposite, each dot representing a quartile result, the Peak was recorded as 42.30Mb/s.

Webpage Average Speed: This is the total bits of the webpage that is downloaded divided by total time taken to download.  Webpages often include downtime while the server is checked for addresses of parts of the webpage.  Many webpages are fully or partly cached, that means they are stored by the ISP for a time while they remain accurate, increasing the potential speed of the download, a factor we encourage by testing with caching on.

Websites are hosted by companies un-related to ISPs or TrueNet, (eg Sydney Morning Herald owns and runs smh.com.au) so the actual speed of each webpage is limited by its design and by the hosting server as well as the route from the ISP to the site.  These remote servers speeds and capacity are the same for all ISPs, in theory the same webpage should be delivered by all ISPs at the same speed, but this does not always happen so TrueNet measures this variation.

 

Table 1: Summary of Performance Measures

*Note: Speed Min/Max compares minimum hour (slowest) speed to the hour with maximum (as fast as your line will allow) speed.  The 9pm column is the actual average speed at 9pm for each product, for ADSL and VDSL that average is taken over all ISPs because actual speed is subject to the distance between our test points and the exchange equipment - we do not compare ISPs directly on speed because distance sets DSL speeds, not the ISPs.

Webpage Average Speed

This month Fibre results of service speeds above 50Mb/s have been merged, as we have not seen any performance difference between fibre speeds, the only previous differences observed were between ISPs.   In another significant change, results are now displayed as an Webpage Average Speed as explained above. 

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 5 USA pages.

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 webpages from each connection, and compare the average speed achieved of the download.  This test replicates daily activity for many people, and we group the webpages into regions, NZ, Australia and USA, so that readers can compare ISPs based on their own preferences.

Fibre webpage average speeds show no material difference based on fibre speeds sold, so we show them inclusive of 100, 200Mb/s, and GigE services.

 

 

NZ Webpages

Chart 1a: Shows the webpage average speed by technology.  This is a new chart and shows how your browsing will improve as you upgrade from ADSL to VDSL and ultimately to Fibre.

Chart 1a: Technology Comparison - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Pages
 

Chart 1b: This shows the webpage average speed of a selection of NZ webpages by Time of Day for Fibre & Cable services. December results apear to show a large difference in speed between Vodafone Cable (28-34Mb/s) and Vodafone Fibre (40-55Mb/s).   Amongst the fibre providers, Orcon (about 55Mb/s) averaged the highest webpage average speed. Time of Day variation is generally small, though Vodafone cable slows during the evening busy period from 34Mb/s down to 28Mb/s.

Chart 1b: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Pages

 

Chart 1c: Copper services - ADSL & VDSL - have quite a range of speeds. The file peak speed of these services is limited by line length, where the average speed of ADSL (11Mb/s) and VDSL (40Mb/s) are shown in the Summary Table. Generally the websites TrueNet test don't achieve those speeds as webpage average speed, so other factors will influence webpage average speed. We see that VDSL was around 3 times faster than ADSL when downloading NZ pages.  Time of Day variation wasn't strong, but Orcon had a lot of variation, while Vodafone declines a little toward evening time.  There is a big gap between 2Degrees VDSL at 26Mb/s and Voyager VDSL at 17Mb/s.

Chart 1c: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Pages

US Webpages

We download popular US webpages from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download all webpages.   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 webpages into regions, NZ, Australia and USA.

Webpage average speeds attained when downloading US webpages showed significant differences between ISPs for Fibre services - see Chart 2a.  These differences could be due to better capacity, lower latency, or peering arrangements.  As seen in the NZ Webpage result, Vodafone Fibre was signifcantly faster than Vodafone cable for these sites. The fastest Fibre service was Orcon (54Mb/s), while Bigpipe (30Mb/s) was the slowest. None of the fibre or cable results appeared to dip in the evening busy period.

Chart 2a: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected US Pages

Chart 2b: For US Websites, the relative performance of the ISP copper services changes compared to those of NZ Websites. Vodafone rose to quickest of the VDSL providers, while Orcon relative speed was similar to Voyager. In ADSL, 2Degrees is well below the others (was middle for NZ), and Spark was well faster than the others for this selection of US Websites. 

Chart 2b: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected US Pages

Australian Webpages

We download popular Australian webpages from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download all webpages.  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 webpages into regions, NZ, Australia and USA.

Chart 3a: Australian webpages are limited in quantity for now, but they are key sites for NZ users.  There is again a very large gap between the best Spark or Orcon at over 85Mb/s, and BigPipe at about 60Mb/s.  Vodafone Cable again comes in behind Fibre

Chart 3a: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected Australian Pages

Spark stands out in ADSL and VDSL as having the best speeds from the Australian websites compared other ISPs, apart from Vodafone VDSL.

Chart 3b: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected Australian Pages

Speed (File Peak Speed)

For TrueNet's speed tests each panelist's probe regularly downloads a 2MB or 5MB 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 from NZ or Australia.  Slower connections can test accurately with much smaller files. 

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

New Zealand File Peak 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 quartile of a pair of Auckland and Wellington 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

Time of Day performance of Fibre, Cable, VDSL, and ADSL is compared in Chart 4. Overall performance was good in December - all but Cable remained in the 95% - 100% range, and cable remained above 90%

Chart 4: Fibre, Cable and Copper (DSL) File Peak Speed

 

Fibre & Cable Comparison - File Peak Speeds

Performance in fibre and cable is good for all ISPs. 

Chart 5: 100Mb/s Fibre & Cable Peak Speed from NZ

DSL Performance by Time of Day (ToD) Indexed Peak Speeds

TrueNet use an index for copper (DSL) reporting because ADSL and VDSL are sold using the phrase "as fast as your line will allow", so we find the maximum speed, and compare each result with that maximum.

High Speed Copper (VDSL) File Peak Speed

Most of the ISPs maintained service above 95% of maximum peak speed over the month, a great result. 

Chart 6: VDSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day

 

Low Speed Copper (ADSL) File Download Speed

As with VDSL, ADSL results were generally above 95% of max-hour peak speed for each ISP. Compared to November, the evening period was somewhat lower for 2Degrees, Orcon, and Vodafone. Slingshot & Spark improved on November, with excellent Time of Day results.

Chart 7: ADSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day

International File Peak Speed

TrueNet Downloads Files every hour to measure Peak Speeds from Dallas and Sydney to compare international performance.

The File Peak Speed reported is compared to the maximum NZ peak speed, ie this is the potential peak speed for each connection.

We ensure the download file is not held in New Zealand (cached), so that the test truly measures international performance.   Tests are based on a 2MB file size.

High Speed Fibre & Cable Time of Day

TrueNet widened the scope of Fibre and Cable peak speeds reported in the Sydney results. Chart 8 includes all Fibre and Cable services equal or greater than 100Mb/s.  Performance is indexed to the hour with Maximum NZ peak speed. Thus the newer Cable peak speeds of 200M and over are included.  

There is a wide range of peak speeds relative to the best hour peak speed of their connections in NZ, from around 80% to below 40%. There are minor indications of evening slowdown in 2Degrees, Orcon, and Spark results. Vodafone Cable also experienced a tiny evening dip. 

Notice Vodafone Fibre is one of the best, yet Vodafone Cable is one of the worst. 

Chart 8: Australian File Peak Speed for High Speed Connections (2MB file size only)

ADSL & VDSL (Copper Connections) - File Download Speeds

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.

VDSL

VDSL peak speeds from Sydney maintained similar relative speeds for the ISPs, see Chart 9. 2Degrees averaged above 90% of best NZ hour speed, with Voyager around 60%.

Chart 9:  VDSL ToD File Peak Speed from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only)

 

ADSL

ADSL Sydney File Peak Speed is slightly higher than November, with Orcon showing the biggest improvement. Slingshot continued to show signs of evening hour slowdown, but also averaged slightly faster than last month.

Chart 10: ADSL ToD performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only)

 

Upload Median Decile Speed - Performance

Upload speed is important to users sending large amounts of data through the Internet, or uploading files to the Cloud.   TrueNet's upload test sends a 1MB file to our Wellington server, and records the results as the median of the 10 deciles measured for each download.  

By Technology / Service Upload Speed

Upload speeds for each technology and service speed remain stable, within similar results to previous months. 50Mb/s fibre averages just below advertised, while other high speed internet services all achieve or exceed advertised speeds.

Chart 11: Upload Speed by Technology

Upload Median Decile Speed - by ISP

Fibre and Cable upload speeds by ISP are in Chart 12 below. Each ISP's 20Mb/s upload speed averaged above advertised speed. Thus consumers with a 20Mb/s upload service can be confident it should achieve or exceed the advertised rate, and choice of ISP does not appear to be a factor in getting 20Mb/s Upload over fibre. 10Mb/s Fibre upload was also above advertised speed in December, Cable achieved almost exactly 10Mb/s.

Chart 12: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP

 

 

 

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