June 2017 Urban Broadband Report

MyRepublic, hands up most improved!

By comparing our USA webpage charts from February to June (below Special Charts 1 to 3) we can see the improvement in performance of MyRepublic (almost 100%).  On par with cable in Februarys results, averaging 14.5 Mb/s, they shot up to 30 Mb/s in May, and sit at 26 Mb/s in June ( all ISPs show a drop off in average performance in June, this is likely to be due to websites changing, rather than ISP performance.) The third Special Chart 3 shows MyRepublic improving performance across all websites we test.  (We chose to use the USA webpage charts because they show the rise of MyRepublic more succinctly than other charts)

If you have MyRepublic fibre you can help us report the facts by volunteering here!

 

Special Chart 1: From Last February US websites - (MyRepublic highlighted in a thicker darker colour)

Special chart 2: To Now June 2017 US Websites
Special chart 3: The USA Website Trend since May 2016 - from our ISP Performance/ISP Speed Trend page 

 

Index

Webpage Average Speed

  • NZ
  • USA
  • AUS

NZ File Peak Speed by Time of Day (ToD)

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

International File Peak Speed

  • Fibre & Cable
  • Copper (ADSL and VDSL)
  • Fixed Wireless

Upload Median Decile Speed

Video test results

Glossary

Summary of Performance Measures

Table 1: Summary of Performance Measures (Hint, *click on any header in the blue bar to sort this table, type into the search to filter the table - eg AD will get only ADSL)

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 15 NZ pages, 3 Australian, and 10 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 100Mb/s, 200Mb/s, and Full Speed (sometimes called GigE) services.

NZ Webpage Surfing

In our Tech Comparison of Webpage average speeds, both ADSL and VDSL  have excellent time of day performance. Fibre, Cable, and Fixed Wireless each experience some degree of roll-off in speed in the evening, with Fibre being the least affected, and Fixed Wireless the most affected. Vodafone Cable time of day performance has improved again this month, though average speed is still noticably below fibre.

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

Fast Broadband: Orcon and MyRepublic Average Speed were the best in June, above the tight grouping of the other fibre providers in chart 1b. Vodafone Cable had steady performance over most of the day, but along with Vodafone fibre rolled off slightly in the evening busy period.

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 ISPs network.  The speed relative to the maximum speed possible is however within the control of the ISP on DSL.

Copper:

VDSL (Solid lines)- NZ webpage surfing speeds show a large spread, with 2Degrees and Spark having the best performance in our June results, closely followed by Orcon and Vodafone

ADSL (dotted lines)-  Much the same this month.

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

Fixed Wireless:  A gap remains between Spark/Skinny and Vodafone, but the speeds are closer this month. Junes results show Vodafones comparative surfing speeds averaged nearly twice that of Spark or Skinny, and while all experienced a slow down during the day and through the evening, it appears more pronounced in Vodafones results.  

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.

 

Fast Broadband:  Junes results of US Webpages show there were big differences in speed between the Fibre providers, Spark the fastest, and Slingshot the slowest. Cable results were again slower than fibre, but note the speed is now very consistant by time of day.

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

Copper:  VDSL average speeds fell slightly in June with further changes in Webpages used for TrueNet tests. Vodafone improved during the month to have the best average speed, with the relative positions of other ISPs unchanged from May results.

ADSL  Spark ADSL remains at the top of the ADSL results. All ISPs had consistent performance by time of day in June.

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

Fixed Wireless - Vodafone results dropped slightly to be closer to those of Skinny and Spark in June, following the pattern shown in the other Fixed Wireless charts.

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.

 

Fast Broadband:  

Spark fibre had the best average speed from Australian Webpages in June. Trustpower and Voyager fibre and Vodafone Cable still remain below the other providers. Most ISP services showed an evening time of day variation from Australian Webpages, with only SparkMyRepublic and Voyager (difficult to tell) avoiding an evening dip. 

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

Copper:

VDSL Australian webpage surfing shows similar results to previous months. 2Degrees and Spark are ahead with faster speeds achieved, Orcon and Vodafone results were very similar, Slingshot and Voyager have speeds less than the two top performing ISPs on ADSL. The grouping of the these browsing results are also echoed in the International Speed test results from TrueNet's Sydney server.

ADSL - For Australian webpage surfing, the four major ISPs maintained their relative positions, with Spark the fastest, and Orcon the slowest for this measurement.

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

Fixed Wireless:

Skinny and Spark had similar average speed to last month. Although Vodafone average speed was faster than Skinny and Spark, it fell about 2Mb/s compared to last month, around half the difference between them. All still experience the broad slow down throughout the day into the peak busy time between 8 and 9pm.

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 also compare ISPs based on webpage surfing speeds rather than peak speed alone.  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 again this month.  Fixed Wireless declines during waking hours to a low of 76% of best speed at 8pm.

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

Fast Broadband: - Peak Speeds by Time of Day

This month due to changes in the mix of speeds on many probes, we have standardised the chart to only show connections where the Panelist is purchasing an advertised 100Mb/s.  That means we can simply use actual speed in our comparison.  We note that Slingshot has excellent results, this is partly due to the impact of a couple of connections that are bought as 100Mb/s (checked with Panelist) but for some of the month they were definitely getting well above 200-250Mb/s.  However, the majority of 100Mb/s Slingshot connections were close to the average shown. 

Incorrect speed allocation is quite common on fibre, but some ISPs manage it better than others.  EDIT 28th July 2017: We have completed further research on the interesting result below where some ISPs have many connections above 100Mb/s.  Our resuts are confirmed on every connection every month prior to publishing, but we decided to "get further behind the data" and now believe our comment that some ISPs manage speed allocation differently is correct but it may not be "better".  The research confirms connections are as bought, 100Mb/s and that the measure is an accurate portrayal of the average connection speed for each ISP for June.  There appears to be many changes so far in July, which we will report next month.

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.  

The Copper network is becoming "deloaded" as more users upgrade to Fibre.  This generally means that performance is excellent.  Where once we hoped that ISPs could achieve 90%, we now see most doing better than what once seemed a difficult reach of better than 95%.

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

Great result in June for all ISPs VDSL Peak Speed, where the speeds remained above 95% of best hour Peak Speed for all but one ISP. This represents an improvement for Orcon and Slingshot compared to May. Vodafone VDSL experienced an evening dip to 94% at 8-9pm, but otherwise stayed above 95% of best hour speed.

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

ADSL continues the run of fantastic results in June. Another month with excellent performance. Each ISP was consistently above 95% at all times of day. Slingshot remained above 99% of best hour speed for the whole of June.

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

Fixed Wireless Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

Fixed Wireless shows greater Peak Speed time of day variation than the other technologies tested. While all ISPs are roughly equivalent, there is greater different between Skinny and Spark than in other speed charts. The evening dip in speed for Spark was less severe in June, at 73% of best hour speed, up from 66% in May.

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.

Fast Broadband - Australian Peak Speed by Time of Day

This month due to changes in the mix of speeds on many probes, we have standardised the chart to only show connections where the Panelist is purchasing an advertised 100Mb/s.  This chart clearly shows differences in performance between ISPs for files downloaded from Australia.  Voyager are well behind other ISPs at about 70Mb/s compared to the more typical 80-90Mb/s.

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

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.  

VDSL (High Speed Copper) Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day

We need to compare Australian Peak speeds with the NZ Peak speed because for Copper, the distance to the exchange for each connection makes such a difference.  To overcome this issue we show the Australian Peak speed as a percentage of the NZ Peak speed (Chart 6b). 

VDSL Peak speeds from Australia continue to show two different ISP grouping in the results. 2Degrees and Spark stand well above other ISPs in the chart, with SlingshotOrconVodafone and Voyager grouped together with lower speed results. The time of day dip seen in May for 2Degrees was not present in June. Orcon results have improved this month by 10 MB/s on average.

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 - There is very little percentage difference between the Australian and NZ peak speed performance (near 100%) shown in Chart 6c. Slingshot results have improved to be closer to the other ISPs in the chart below, where all ISPs achieved excellent results.

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

Fixed wireless is also compromised by the last part of the connection, in this case the connection between the cell-tower and the modem, so a comparison with NZ based speeds makes better sense.  Each of the Fixed Wireless services show a similar Time of Day pattern. The Vodafone result was much closer to that of Skinny and Spark than in the May results.  However the Vodafone speed is a higher percentage of a faster base speed.

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, but we note that VDSL Upload Speed has been slowly increasing over time, it was once 10Mb/s for all, but has now improved to 13Mb/s, improving further on the Fixed Wirelss speed of just 9Mb/s.

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 36Mb/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 are spread between 21 - 25 Mb/s, all above advertised speed, which is excellent for users. This month both Vodafone Fibre & Cable averaged right at the advertised 20Mb/s. 

Chart 8: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP

Fixed Wireless remains 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. The worst hour speed averages about 85% of best hour speed. 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 the reduction in upload speed.

Chart 9: Fixed Wireless Upload Speed - Time of Day

Video Test Results

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 connection'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. Buffering on ADSL remains at a low level on average, but there appears to be an increase in the background buffering rate for Fixed Wireless. We will know better over the next few months if this is a trend or a one off event.

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 during Peak Hours

 

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