May 2017 Urban Broadband Report

Vodafone Surfing Speed up 30%

Vodafone Cable connections show a 31% increase in NZ webpage average speed this month compared to last month.  Vodafone Fibre shows a 29% increase month on month.

In April we reported that for Vodafone Cable and Fibre, surfing NZ websites was much slower than the best ISP Orcon.  The improvement by Vodafone shown this month is easy to spot.  

Special Chart: The 3% average speed decrease in All Excluding Vodafone is due to the average website download speed reducing, rather than ISP performance. This makes Vodafone improvement better by that amount as well.  Trustpower also improved by about 12% (9 + 3), meanwhile Spark and 2Degrees effectively did not change.

Note, we download 7 NZ websites that are popular, relevant or just representative of typical surfing - they are listed in our Glossary here

Index

Note: Charts use the name "Wireless" to indicate "Fixed Wireless", a service being delivered over mobile 4G networks by Spark, Skinny and Vodafone.  We now have enough Vodafone panelists to report.

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, search on anything like ISP or technology to filter options in this table)

 

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 achieved during a single file download (Peak Speed).  

A simple analogy to explain Peak vs Average speed, assumes you have a very fast car like a Ferrari

Peak speed is the speed reached during a time trial on a track - say 100's of km/hr
Average Speed (webpage surfing speed) is the average speed you would achieve in Featherston street, Wellington, after navigating lights. say 30km/hr

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 Surfing (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.  The list of test webpages is in the Glossary

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 then 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 Webpage Surfing

ADSL and VDSL show consistant speed throughout the day.
Fixed Wireless continues to experience a broad reduction in speed during the day, with speed dropping below ADSL.
Cable shows much improvement this month, however there is still a drop off through the day, but not as much as last month.

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

We have sufficient Panelists to report Slingshot again this month, and they have similar speed to Orcon and My RepublicVodafone are showing improvement on last months TOD results, both fibre and cable now remaining fairly consistant throughout the day.

 Chart 1b: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by Time of Day

Copper webpage Surfing speed is limited by the speed of copper, VDSL has an average peak speed of 30Mb/s and ADSL about 10Mb/s, but there is a wide range of speeds about these averages.  We do not report the actual average speed of each ISP on these technologies, because that is dependent on the location of our panelists, not the ISP's network.  The speed relative to the maximum speed possible is however within the control of the ISP on DSL.

 

VDSL (Solid lines)- For NZ webpage surfing  2Degrees still remain ahead of the other ISPs. Vodafone continues to show great improvement in speed and consistency, but Voyager has dropped right back with speeds on par with Sparks' ADSL

ADSL (dotted lines)-  Much the same across the board, but again Vodafone shows improvement.

 

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

 

Chart 1d  Welcome Vodafone to fixed wireless reporting. At present there is quite a gap between Vodafone and Spark and Skinny. They all show the steady slow down that occurs during the day and on into the evening, but Vodafone's comparative surfing speeds are averaging twice that of Spark or Skinny.  *Note most of our panelists with Vodafone connections also have a Skinny OR Spark connection at the same site removing any location bias.

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

US Webpage Surfing

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  Spark is still ahead of the other ISPs this month on fibre, although overall in May, speed results have decreased slightly on April. The stand out in this chart is Trustpower fibre remaining below the other ISPs in this test.

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

Chart 2b - VDSL shows  US webpage surfing is slower across the board this month for all ISPs, due to change in website content, more loosely grouped than last month with Vodafone now leading and with Slingshot and Voyager showing average website speeds slower than Sparks ADSL speed.

ADSL US webpage surfing in May shows an improved performance from Spark, improving by about 1Mb/s, conversely all the other ISPs have slowed down by about the same. Recall that an overall change in speed month to month is likely to be due to a change in website speed rather than the ISP's connection speed, this suggests Spark's improvement is greater than 1Mb/s.

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

Chart 2c - Spark and Skinny in May show the same results as April with similar speeds, sitting well below the speed of Vodafone, consistant with the NZ webpage results.

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

Australian Webpage Surfing

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 - My Republic has improved results in May by around 10 Mb/s, along with small improvement from Vodafone cable and Truspower. Voyager continues to show the unusual slow down between 4-11 am this month.

Chart 3a: Fibre & Cable - Average Speed of Selected Australian Webpages by Time of Day

Chart 3b - VDSL Australian webpage surfing shows similar results to previous months. 2Degrees and Spark achieved faster speeds but Orcons average speed was about 5-6 Mb/s slower than seen in April's report, the grouping of the these browsing results are also present in the International Speed test results. Slingshot results were included this month, sitting between Orcon and VoyagerVoyager results continue display the 4am to 11am slowdown as seen in the Fibre results in chart 3a above, with speeds less than the top three ISPs on ADSL.

ADSL For Australian webpage surfing again Vodafone has improved, by almost 5Mb/s, performing closer to Spark 

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

Chart 3c - Again Vodafone Fixed Wireless average speed was above that of Skinny and Spark, the same is reported for NZ and US Webpage average speed in the charts above.

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

Peak Speed

For TrueNet's peak speed tests each panelist's probe regularly downloads a 2MB and/or 5MB file from Auckland, Wellington, Dallas and Sydney.  We identify the fastest quartile/decile as the Peak Speed.  The faster the connection, the larger the file we need to download to ensure that the maximum speed is reached during our test for most ISPs. 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.  

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.  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.

New Zealand Peak Speed

NZ peak speed can be influenced by how well ISPs peer at the internet exchanges, where they connect to TrueNet's server provider for our file test. 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 however, recommends you compare ISPs based on webpage surfing speeds rather than peak speed.  To make the comparison fairer,  hosted webpages are popular sites that all ISPs have equal access to.

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.  

Technology Comparison

Chart 4 compares the Time of Day performance of Fibre, Cable, VDSL, ADSL, and Fixed Wireless. Fibre, Cable, VDSL and ADSL were each above the 95% of best hour Peak Speed, a great result.  Fixed Wireless declines during waking hours to a low of 73% of best speed at 8pm.

Chart 4: Fibre, Cable and Copper (DSL) Peak Speed by Time of Day  from NZ

Fibre & Cable Comparison - Peak Speeds by Time of Day

Chart 5a - Another month of good results for Fibre ISPs, most staying above 95% of best peak hour speed. Slingshot - reintroduced this month - had similar results to other Fibre ISPs. MyRepublic and Vodafone both improved on Time of Day performance compared to April.

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

DSL Performance by Time of Day (ToD) Indexed to 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.  Hence every line reaches 100% at some hour.

High Speed Copper (VDSL) Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

Chart 5b - 2Degrees has another great result in May, consistently above 99% of peak speed. Spark also remained well above 95% of best hour Peak Speed at all times. Vodafone VDSL improved on April, with a slight dip in the evening to just below 95%, which is still a good result.

Chart 5b: VDSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

Low Speed Copper (ADSL) File Peak Speed by Time of Day  from NZ

Chart 5c - Another month with excellent performance. Each ISP consistently above 95% at all time of day. Slingshot reintroduced to the chart with similar results to Spark, rarely dropping below 99%.

Chart 5c: ADSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

Fixed Wireless Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

All ISPs continue to show the day long decline to the 8pm low point continuing the pattern established in the previous charts.

Chart 5d: Fixed Wireless File Peak Speed by Time of Day  from NZ

International Peak Speed

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

The connection between the ISP and the Sydney peering exchange is critical to many services based in Australia, and the rest of the world.  Many services are "cached" in Sydney on servers that are supplied by third parties to improve download speeds in remote places.  Two examples are Apple or Microsoft software updates, which are cached by Akamai in NZ.  We test by downloading our file from a server connected to the Sydney exchange. This file is random and has checks on it to ensure it is not cached in NZ, which means it is an honest measure from Sydney.

High Speed Fibre & Cable - Australian Peak Speed by Time of Day 

Chart 6a - In this chart, results are compared as a percentage of NZ speeds so care needs to be taken interpreting the results: Trustpower stands out because their actual speeds are slower than others (e.g. 100, 200Mb/s and GigE) with a lower average NZ speed than the larger ISPs (110Mb/s compared to about 140 for others).  Time of Day variation is negligable for most ISPs, which is a great result. Note that Vodafone Cable was somewhat lower than in April results.

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

ADSL & VDSL (Copper Connections) - Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day

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 Peak Speeds by Time of Day

Chart 6b - VDSL speeds from Australia have been showing two different ISP grouping in the results, and May was no exception. 2Degrees and Spark had higher results, and Slingshot, Orcon, Vodafone and Voyager are grouped together with lower results. 2Degrees has improved to match Spark, with a small ToD dip seen in this Australia test, but not present in NZ speed test results. Orcon and Voyager results were down slightly compared to April.

Chart 6b:  VDSL Peak Speed from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by Time of Day

ADSL (Low Speed Copper) Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day

ADSL typically achieves similar speeds in the Australia and NZ speed tests (near 100%), as was the case in May. Slingshot results were somewhat lower than the other ISPs in the chart below, but still represents good speed compared to peak NZ speed.

Chart 6c: ADSL peak speed performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by Time of Day

Fixed Wireless Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day

Chart 6d - Each of the Fixed Wireless services reveal a similar Time of Day pattern. Vodafone achieved a higher percentage of Australia speed to best NZ speed in this test, whereas Skinny & Spark results remain almost identical.

Chart 6d: Fixed Wireless FIle Download performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by Time of Day 

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

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 slightly under the advertised speed, although very quick, but other Fibre upload speeds are equal to, or greater than the advertised speed.

Cable results have been separated into 20Mb/s and Full Speed Upload Services. Cable Full Speed upload averaged around 37Mb/s, and the 20Mb/s service was at advertised speed. Note that a 1MB test file was used, hence may not have sufficient time to ramp-up depending on latency. 

Chart 7: Upload Speed by Technology

Upload Speed - by ISP

Chart 8 - 20Mb/s Upload speeds on Fibre had a wider range of results in May, but all averaging at or above advertised speed. This month both Vodafone Fibre & Cable averaged right at the advertised 20Mb/s. Full Speed Cable upload speed was marginally higher than seen in April.

Chart 8: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP

Fixed Wireless was the only technology that exhibited a reduction in Upload speed by time of day. The median Upload speed by time of day - Chart 9 - has the familiar ToD shape of other Fixed wireless results, though not as deep a reduction. Note that most of the speed reduction has occurred by the time users go to work, such that changes during the day are not as significant and users may not notice.

Chart 9: Fixed Wireless Upload Speed - Time of Day

Video Test Results

Methodology

TrueNet's video test chooses specific videos (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 more than 400 different NZ locations.

Each test downloads 10 seconds of content at a time, to fill any buffer to last 40 seconds of viewing.   So on startup, the test will immediately download (at the comnnection's full speed) 40 seconds worth 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 stop 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 have ceased publishing this statistic.

Buffering Events during Youtube watching

ADSL and Fixed Wireless are the only technologies with much evidence of buffering, remaining at a low level on average. Our experience is that Youtube buffering problems are often unique to a few panelists rather than spread over many technologies, so if you have an issue with buffering, try these tips, check your Wifi, your Connection (eg the line to the street) or ask for help from your ISP.  Note, only Fixed Wireless appeared to experience increased buffering during the evening peak period, tripling the average rate of buffering events.

Chart 10a: Buffering Events by Day

Chart 10b: Buffering Events for the Month

 

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