February 2017 Urban Broadband Report

Video Buffering? Check your Wifi

We continue our tests of Video buffering in Chart 9.  Minor buffering is only evident in ADSL and Fixed Wireless.  If you are experiencing buffering regularly on any technology, try these handy tips.   Obstructions can obscure wifi more than you expect, especially hidden obstructions - any metal or moist materials.

Following the special report on Fixed Wireless, this month TrueNet has added Fixed Wireless to our stable of internet performance measurements. This independent measurement will be ongoing and now appears alongside the other technologies for easy comparison.

Our charts are now interactive, and make pinpointing data more accurate and accessible for readers.  Try the Summary Table sorting and search capability.

TrueNet needs more volunteers with copper access on major ISPs - ie ADSL or VDSL internet over normal telephone lines - go here to help

Index

Note: Charts use the name "Wireless" to indicate "Fixed Wireless", a new service being delivered over mobile 4G networks.

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

Video test results
Glossary

Summary of Performance Measures

Table 1: Summary of Performance Measures - Hint: type in your technology in the search box

 

*Note: Webpage average speed is the website size divided by the time to download.  Webpages are often sent from the owners site in many small files, which means the speed is not as fast as that of a single file download.

Speed Min/Max compares slowest hour to the fastest hour (as fast as your line will allow).  

The 9pm column is the actual average speed at 9pm for each product.  The average is taken over all ISPs because for copper, actual speed is subject to the distance between our test points and the exchange equipment.  The range of offered speeds for Fibre is large so we have provided an average speed for all fibre connections, which matches the methodology used for copper.

Webpage Average Speed

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 size of each webpage, and the time to fully download all files on the page.  From this we calculate the speed.  These pages are changed from time-to-time so the actual average webpage speeds cannot be compared between months.  This month there are 7 NZ pages, 3 Australian, and 5 USA pages.  DO NOT COMPARE SPEEDS BETWEEN COUNTRIES because average webpage speed is dependent on the actual webpages downloaded, not the ISPs.

We download webpages from each connection, and compare the average speed achieved for each download.  This test replicates daily activity for many people, and we group the webpages into the 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

 A comparison of average speed of the main access technologies when downloading a set of NZ Webpages is shown in Chart 1a.

Fibre and cable again show a slow decline during the day and into the evening, although Fibre is showing a slight improvement on January. 

ADSL and VDSL remain consistent throughout the day.

Fixed Wireless is also consistent throughout the day at a speed comparable (or slightly slower ) to ADSL 

 
Chart 1a: Technology Comparison - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by ToD

 Chart 1b Once again Orcon and  2 Degrees have averaged better download speeds than the other ISPs.  My Republic is still showing a possible congestion issue with an 8pm dip, and both Vodafone's fibre and cable network show a broad slow down in performance for a large portion of the day 
 
 
Chart 1b: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by ToD

 

ADSL - 2 Degrees (in chart 1c) is leading the pack with a consistently reliable performance.  

VDSL - Spark is the best, well up from last month with VDSL showing speeds of more than twice that of ADSL. Vodafone shows less drop off in VDSL performance this month but still, for ToD results, sits below the other major ISPs for copper services.

 
Chart 1c: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by ToD

Chart 1d - Spark Fixed Wireless results are slightly better than Skinny, but both match each other in the gradual slow down that occurs during daylight hours and into the evening. 

Chart 1d: Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by ToD

 

US Webpages

We download popular US webpages from each connection, and compare the average time taken to download all webpages.  This test replicates the daily activity of many people accessing webpages from the USA, and includes the impact of good network design at an ISP, where NZ caching improves international website performance.

Chart 2a: ISP groupings are very similar to January, Vodafone, Orcon, Voyager, and Spark, have the best average speeds for US Webpages, with 2Degrees not far behind.  Slingshot sits in the middle between that group and Vodafone Cable.  My Republic  shows a lower average speed than last month's 15.9MB/s, and is still experiencing a dip around 8pm.

 
Chart 2a: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected US Webpages by ToD

VDSL: Vodafone (chart 2b) has the best and most consistent performance, leading in both VDSL and fibre this month.  2Degrees has a lower average speed than last month, coming in behind other ISPs, and only Spark shows a dip around the busy 8pm hour. Voyager VDSL is comparable to ADSL speed this month.

 ADSL: As with NZ Webpages, 2Degrees is up from the previous month, generally consistent with no obvious blips.

 
Chart 2b: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected US Webpages by ToD

In Chart 2c Fixed Wireless performance in downloading US webpages shows the same pattern as Chart 1d with a reduction in speed during the day, and into the evening

Chart 2c: Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected US Webpages by ToD
 

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.

Remember: DO NOT COMPARE SPEEDS BETWEEN COUNTRIES because average webpage speed is dependent on the size of webpages downloaded, which are different for each country.

Chart 3a: A drop in speed across the board is shown with our Australia webpage results this month, with Spark and Orcon still leading the pack. My Republic again improves on last months results.

 
Chart 3a: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected Australian Webpages by ToD

 VDSL: Again the results showing a drop in average speed with all ISPs, the most notable being Vodafone VDSL  coming in behind other ISPs for both technologies.

 
Chart 3b:  Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected Australian Webpages by ToD

 

 
Chart 3c:  Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected Australian Webpages by ToD

Speed (File Peak Speed)

For TrueNet's speed tests each panelist's probe regularly downloads a 2MB and/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

NZ file peak speed can be influenced by how well ISPs peer at the internet exchanges, with TrueNet's server provider where our file test originates. Without effective peering a file can travel from a TrueNet test probe located in Wellington, through to Auckland, on to Sydney then back to the Wellington exchange, creating a problem with slowdown in service delivery during busy hours. 

TrueNet recomends you compare ISPs based on webpage download speeds rather than peak speed.  Webpages are hosted by popular sites that all ISPs have equal access to, making the comparison fairer, so that if a file is sent via say Sydney as above, then that is the ISP's problem.

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. In February ADSL and VDSL remained well above 95% of best hour Peak Speed.  Fibre and Cable dip below the 95% around the evening busy period, but otherwise staying above 95% of best-hour peak speed at other times.

 
Chart 4: Fibre, Cable and Copper (DSL) File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

 

Fibre & Cable Comparison - File Peak Speeds by ToD

Chart 5a:  We see similar results as in recent months. Voyager shows little change from January results. There is a deep 9pm drop in MyRepublic results, but they are much improved on January.

 

Chart 5a: 100Mb/s and greater Fibre & Cable File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

 

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

TrueNet uses 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 by ToD from NZ

VDSL - Chart 5b shows excellent results, and an improvment on January results in particular Voyager and Vodafone , though Vodafone's relative speed reduces through the day, but not as extensively nor as deep as in January results.

 

Chart 5b: VDSL File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

Low Speed Copper (ADSL) File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

 Chart 5c: Great results for ADSL this month - with performance leaping above 95%. Vodafone, in particular shows excellent results in February 

Chart 5c: ADSL File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

Fixed Wireless File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

Chart 5d: Both ISPs have almost identical performances with speeds dropping to almost 70% in the evening busy hour. (Based on 20 probes per ISP)

Chart 5d: Fixed Wireless File Peak Speed by ToD from NZ

International File Peak Speed

To compare international performance, TrueNet downloads files every hour to measure Peak Speeds from Dallas and Sydney.

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 - Australian File Peak Speed by ToD

Chart 6a:  Most users are getting the eqivalent of 60% - 70% of the maximum NZ speed. MyRepublic and Vodafone cable are lagging behind, delivering under 50% of maximum NZ speed

Chart 6a: Australian File Peak Speed for High Speed Connections (2MB file size only) by ToD

ADSL & VDSL (Copper Connections) - Australian File Download Speeds by ToD

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 have little 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 (High Speed Copper) Australian File Download Speeds by ToD

Chart 6b: 2Degrees leads delivering around 94% of maximum NZ speed. Spark is a close second delivering around 85% of maximum NZ speed.

Chart 6b:  VDSL File Peak Speed from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by ToD

ADSL (Low Speed Copper) Australian File Download Speeds by ToD

 Chart 6c:L Excellent results again with Vodafone improving to best in this test, achieving very similar to NZ peak speed (i.e very close to 100%)

Chart 6c: ADSL File Download performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by ToD

Fixed Wireless Australian File Download Speeds by ToD

Chart 6d: A very similar performance from Spark and Skinny with both experiencing a gradual slowdown during daylight hours.

Chart 6d: ADSL FIle Download performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by ToD

 

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

Chart 7: The Upload Speed performance measured for each technology is one of the few measures that remains stable over long periods of time.

The 50Mb/s Fibre upload service averages under the advertised speed, but other Fibre upload speeds are equal to, or greater than the advertised speed.

Cable 100Mb/s upload is included in these results, averaging around 35Mb/s. Note that a 1MB test file was used, hence may not have sufficient time to ramp-up depending on latency. However, the average upload of the 50Mb/s Fibre out-performs this group of Cable users.

Chart 7: Upload Speed by Technology

 

Upload Median Decile Speed - by ISP

Chart 8: Fibre & Cable upload service speeds show small differences between the ISPs in the average speed of 20Mb/s Upload services, with each providing better-than-advertised speed. The 10Mb/s Upload services also achieve, or exceed the advertised speed.

Chart 8: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP

 

Video Test Results

 

Methodology

TrueNet's video test chooses specific videos ( This month two videos, a HD one and an identical content 4K video)  The video will be cached (stored locally) by ISPs in NZ for all viewers, simply because we are downloading the video seven times a minute from 400+ different NZ addresses.

Each test downloads 10 seconds of content at a time, to fill any buffer to last 40 seconds.   So on startup, the test will immediately download (at full speed) 40 seconds of content, after a time gap (to allow for playback) it will then download a second 40 seconds of content, simulating keeping the 40 second playback buffer full.  This appears to be an international standard for consumer video testing.

TrueNet records buffer events by counting "Stops", where the simulated buffer would become empty.   We also record Resume and Finished events.   Chart 1 shows a count of the number of "Stops" (sometimes more than one in a single download attempt).

We also measure the start delay, ie the time taken for a video to start downloading so it can play.  The typical period for this is so small, usually less than 1 second, that we are unlikely to continue publishing this statistic.

 

Buffering Events during Youtube watching

 

Chart 9a: Buffering Events by Day

Chart 9b: Buffering Events for the Month

Glossary available here

Chorus continue to fund our Fixed Wireless probes, these are purchased by our panelists then refunded by TrueNet for exclusive testing.

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