October 2017 Urban Broadband Report
Good to know!
Here's a chart that shows our panelists come from every region around the shaky isles! Help us boost these numbers! We constantly need ADSL volunteers because of the regular migration off this technology as the UFB fibre rollout continues.
Summary of Performance Measures
- Technology comparison
- Fibre & Cable
- Copper (ADSL and VDSL)
- Fixed Wireless
- Fibre & Cable
- Copper (ADSL and VDSL)
- Fixed Wireless
Summary of Performance Measures
Our interactive charts enable comparisons according to your preferences. The default sort of both Table 1: ISPs, and Table 2: Technologies, prioritises Surfing on NZ websites, because this is the most likely activity that users will experience. Our test sites include Trademe, ISPs, and Banks amongst almost 30 sites.
TrueNet's Table 1 compares broadband performance with unlimited, naked, long-term price by ISP, for each of the technologies.
To explore Table 1, first type into the search bar to filter the table (eg AD will get only ADSL or Fi will compare Fixed Wireless and Fibre, sp will get all Spark services and so on.) You can check technology performance with price at this point.
Click on any header in the blue bar to sort by each column, (e.g. prices will show ascending or descending price).
HINT for researchers: Right click on the table to select "Open frame in new tab" then select 25 lines to see the full table (Note - this does not work in Chrome).Table 1: ISPs
Notable features of Table 2 when comparing technologies:
The fastest technology for everything is Fibre, with those lucky enough to live in the right suburbs of Wellington and Christchurch, Cable (Vodafone sell Cable as FibreX) is the next option. It is a significant drop to the other technologies.
The new 4G based product we call Fixed Wireless, sold by Mobile carriers, has a faster peak speed than ADSL but is about the same for surfing speed (note this product is delivered using a SIM card, just like your mobile phone and has a variety of names with each carrier). Higher levels of Latency are expected to be an issue for Fixed Wireless - see our page showing Latency by technology here
Peak speeds at 9pm are very close to advertised peak speeds for most technologies, but peak speed (raw data speed) has little impact on the overall speed experienced when surfing.
Fibre and Copper (ADSL & VDSL) are all achieving better than 95% minimum/maximum peak speeds.
Note: Webpage average speed is the webpage 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
Peak Speed Ratio compares the slowest hour to the fastest hour (as fast as your line will allow) in the File download Peak Speed test.
The Price column is the price of Unlimited, Naked services for the given ISP and technology. A full list of ISP Prices can also be seen here.
Responsive website surfing is valued by most Internet users, and conversely, slow-loading sites can be extremely frustrating.
TrueNet tests Internet surfing by downloading a selection of Live Webpages from NZ, Australia, China, UK and 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, 1 UK, 2 China 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 NZ and International, 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
Technology Comparison - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by Time of Day.
Please click on the different time periods in the interactive chart (Peak, Business, Off-Peak) to see the performance changes during each period.
Once again there is minimal difference in average surfing speed between Fibre 100Mb/s & 200 Mb/s services. 200Mb/s Cable (sold as FibreX) is still slower than Fibre including during off-peak hours in October.
Chart 1a: Technology Comparison - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by Time of Day
Fibre and Cable (FibreX)
We often see a wide range of results by ISP in this test. Changes in ISP performance can be seen from month to month based on the precise mix of Webpages used. Orcon and MyRepublic have been consistently best for a few months, while Slingshot, Vodafone and Voyager have improved to be part of the top group of ISPs. TrustPower, 2Degrees, Spark and Bigpipe are forming a separate group at the bottom of the chart.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 internet over copper (a standard telephone line connection). VDSL has an average peak speed of 40Mb/s and ADSL about 10Mb/s, but there is a wide range of speeds about these averages. The actual average speed of each ISP on these technologies is dependent on the location of our panelists, not the ISPs network. The speed at any time of day, relative to the maximum speed possible, is however within the control of the ISP on copper.|
Copper (VDSL and ADSL)
VDSL and ADSL results from all ISPs we measure are consistent at all times, unfortunately the sample sizes for ADSL are now too small to show the actual speeds, due to samples being too dependent on the distance from the exchange.
VDSL results are all excellent with all ISPs performing at about the same speed.
Chart 1c: VDSL over copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by Time of Day
We need more volunteers to become panelists for copper connections - please volunteer here
Fixed Wireless (4G Mobile based services)
Fixed wireless performance is in a holding pattern, all ISPs continue with the steady decline in speed throughout the day, and Vodafone is still in the lead for average surfing speed, however there is clear improvement from Spark during the non-busy periods of early morning.
Chart 1d: Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected NZ Webpages by Time of Day
International Webpage Surfing
|Popular Webpages from Australia, China, US, and the UK are downloaded, and we compare the average speed to download all webpages. This test replicates the daily activity of many people accessing webpages from various countries, and includes the impact of network design at an ISP, where NZ caching, international links and other enhancements improve international website performance.|
Fibre & Cable
Voyager rose to join the best performers at the top of the chart 2a. Another apparent big change from last months results is the large dip in Bigpipe average speed around 9pm. 2Degrees, Trustpower and BigPipe remain slower than the 5 top performing ISPs on international surfing, with Vodafone Cable in a league of its own, somewhat below all other ISPsChart 2a: Fibre & Cable - Webpage Average Speed of Selected International Webpages by Time of Day
Copper (VDSL and ADSL)
VDSL - October results show Spark and 2Degrees were quickest, with nearly identical speeds, on the other end of the scale Slingshot and Voyager are again on par with ADSL speeds this month.
ADSL - the sample size is too small to showChart 2b: Copper - Webpage Average Speed of Selected International Webpages by Time of Day
Spark and Vodafone are now competing for top spot. Spark has improved a lot since July when international browsing speeds were the same as Skinny.Chart 2c: Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected International Webpages by Time of Day
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 can be reached during our test for 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.
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.
We set the "Zero" line at 70% because panelists with less than 70% report difficulty using the internet.
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 surfing 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.
Chart 3 compares Peak Speed of technologies in Off-peak, Business, and Peak hours between 6pm to midnight. Fixed Wireless results had the biggest relative speed swings between Peak Hours and Off-Peak periods. Fibre and DSL remain stable across time of day results. Cable 200 speed is lower than in September, and just below Fibre 100 during peak hours.Chart 3: Fibre, Cable and Copper (DSL) Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
Fast Broadband: - Peak Speed by Time of Day
Orcon, Slingshot, and Voyager are at the top of the chart. Voyager results show a small Time of Day dip, from an average around 120Mb/s, down to 107Mb/s in the evening, but this is still above advertised speed. Only Trustpower has an average speed below 100Mb/s, in practice almost all of our Trustpower probes are approximately 95.5Mb/s with none above 100.Chart 4a: 100Mb/s Fibre & Cable File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
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 95%.
High Speed Copper (VDSL) Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
All but Voyager have better than 95% of peak speed by Time of Day - again excellent results.Chart 4b: VDSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
Excellent Time of Day results for each ISP in October, and the Spark result is exceptional, remaining above 99% of peak hour speed at all times.Chart 4c: ADSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
Fixed Wireless Peak Speed by Time of Day
This month Fixed Wireless results are shown in Speed, with Vodafone averaging above Spark and Skinny. During Off-Peak hours Spark averages well above Skinny, but by evening the results from both brands are very close.Chart 4d: Fixed Wireless File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ
To compare international performance, TrueNet downloads files every hour to measure Peak Speeds from Sydney.
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
ISP results are grouped around 90Mb/s from Australia, or about 90% of advertised speed, with Voyager an exception at around 70Mb/s. Most ISPs are grouped among the best results, achieving similar speeds downloading from Australia compared to the NZ advertised speed.Chart 5a: 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.|
|Australian Peak speed needs to be compared to the best NZ Peak speed by ISP due to the influence of distance from the exchange, which has a direct affect on Peak Speed. We show the Australian Peak speed as a percentage of the NZ Peak speed (Chart 5b).|
VDSL (High Speed Copper) Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day
Spark and 2Degrees results are again well above the other ISPs, though 2Degrees' result is down when compared to September. The remaining group of ISPs achieved between 50%-60% of Best Hour speed in NZ.Chart 5b: 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
Orcon results were more variable than last month, but ADSL Australian download results are still similar to downloads from within NZ.Chart 5c: ADSL- Australia Peak speeds
Fixed Wireless: Australian Peak Speeds by Time of Day
Skinny improved on last month's results marginally ahead of Vodafone, with Sparks results again below those of the other two ISPs throughout the day, and into the evening period.Chart 5d: Fixed Wireless FIle Download performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by Time of Day
|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 Speed Performance of monitored technologies remains stable. In October, Full Speed Cable has improved again to 37 Mb/s.
The 50Mb/s Fibre upload service averages slightly under the advertised speed at 47Mb/s, but other Fibre upload speeds are equal to, or greater than the advertised speed.
While Fixed Wireless is often comparable with ADSL, in Upload speeds there is no comparison, with Fixed Wireless uploads averaging 10 times the speed of ADSL. This makes a big difference in some situations, eg the quality of the video while chatting with friends, or the speed of uploads for dropbox, file sharing and posting photos.Chart 6: Upload Speed by Technology
Upload Speed - by ISP
Fibre and Cable results are given by ISP (where available) in Chart 7. The 20Mb/s services continue to meet or exceed advertised speed. Once again the order of ISPs is unchanged from September results.Chart 7: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP
Upload performance of Fixed Wireless by Time of Day is shown in Chart 8. Upload speed reduces during waking hours, as with Fixed Wireless download speed, but to a lesser extent. Spark performance during the day appears lower than in September.Chart 8: Fixed Wireless Upload Speed by Time of Day
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
Buffering on fixed internet lines in NZ is usually very rare on any of our 480 test sites. If you have buffering on your connection, check your wifi. We do not test over wifi and that is often the culprit when it comes to buffering.
The rate of buffering for all technologies is very low, though there are a few days of buffering on Cable and Fixed WirelessChart 9a: Buffering Events by Day
Buffering for different times of day is shown in Chart 9b. Click on the different periods (Peak, Business, Off-Peak) in the chart to see changes in performance. This means that even during peak hours, the worst technology, Fixed Wireless, does not buffer 97% of the time.Chart 9b: Buffering Events by Time of Day
Note: All Fixed Wireless data collection is supported by a contract with Chorus. All other technologies are supported by a contract with the Commerce Commission. Analysis of the data and the production of reports are the work of TrueNet under the Commerce Commission contract.