February 2014 Broadband Report
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Vodafone Cable Speed Matches Fibre
A significant improvement in Vodafone Cable file download speeds, and Time of Day performance sees Cable speeds matching high speed Fibre.
TrueNet's Live Webpage download tests show Orcon Fibre to be the quickest browsing product. They have held the lead since September 2013. Over a similar period Snap ADSL Testpage downloads have dropped significantly from best in November to second worst this month.
TrueNet introduces regular File Upload tests for the first time with Fibre 100Mb/50Mb showing Upload speeds far superior to any other ISP service.
Summary of Performance Measures - All ISPs
File Download speeds at 9pm show a big improvement in Vodafone's 10Mb/100Mb performance, from 49Mb/s in January to 70Mb/s in February 2014.
Snap Livepage download speed for ADSL has slowed by nearly 1second since January, and their Latency has increased by 15ms. This trend continues for Snap Fibre with February's Livepage download speeds slowing from last month.Table 1:Summary of all Performance Measures
The time it takes to download a webpage is inherently related to a user's internet experience. TrueNet separates webpage download results into two groups - Test webpages, and Live Public Webpages.
Test Webpages are kept at the same size, and are easily cached by the ISPs. TrueNet regularly changes the Live Public Webpages which link to ISPs from a wide range of network connections. The live webpages are used as a cross check, and measure uncached download times.
Each chart shows the time to download all webpages, measured in seconds, with total download time shown as stacked bars in the charts.
Live Pages Download Times
The TrueNet Live Public webpage test measures the download time of 8 popular Web sites (e.g.Trademe, Stuff, Banking sites).
Orcon Fibre remains fastest, and has held the lead since Live page download tests began in September 2013. Slingshot is best amongst ADSL. Snap VDSL and Fibre are almost identical.
Vodafone Cable is comparable to the slower ADSL for live webpages compared to their top performance for our Testpages.Chart 1: Live Webpage Download Time in Seconds
TrueNet Test Page Download Times
Test pages are downloaded from specific TrueNet servers in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney and Dallas.
Vodafone Cable continues to lead in these tests, having done so since September 2013, except for the November Broadband Report where Orcon beat them by a small margin.Chart 2: Test Page Download Time in Seconds - National & International
Fibre - Cable - VDSL Technology Comparison
This section looks at the relative performance of Fibre, Cable and VDSL technology, reporting on actual speeds achieved by Volunteers' probes, by time of day. The TrueNet Speed test downloads a 1MB file from both Auckland and Wellington every 5 hours per probe. The best download speed from Auckland or Wellington is used from each test run, and the data points below are the medians of these. We compare the worst speed during the day to the best to get a Time of Day (TOD) comparison.
ISP File Download Comparison
In a significant change, Vodafone Cable has improved in average speed and Time of Day (TOD) performance, and is now often faster than the 100/50M Fibre service. 100Mb cable still shows a pronounced dip in the evening busy period, but much less so than in previous months.
Cable File Download Speed - September 2013
Compare Chart 3 performance below to the performance reported as recently as September 2013 above.Chart 3: Fibre, Cable, and VDSL File Download Speeds
Technology File Download Comparison
Results by Broadband technology are given in Chart 3a. The results from all probes and ISPs are aggregated in these results.
VDSL is separated into services connected directly to an Exchange and those connected to a local cabinet (FTTN). Cabinet based VDSL is typically closer to users homes than Exchange based VDSL. Speeds are dependent on distance from the users home to a Cabinet, or Exchange.
The 100Mb services (Fibre and Cable) clearly provide faster speeds than any other technology options at all hours of the day, although there is a Time of Day speed dip for Cable during the busy time around 8pm.
VDSL provides lower speed than the 30Mb Fibre service, though it is capable of achieving faster speeds. Based on results from our Volunteers, VDSL from the cabinet (FTTN) is quicker than Exchange-based VDSL, averaging about 7Mbit/s faster this month (24Mb vs 18Mb averages)Chart 3a: Comparison of File Download Speeds by Technology
The results are based on a 1MB file downloaded by each probe every 5 hours, from both Auckland and Wellington servers. The best speed from Auckland or Wellington for each probe is used, and the median of these is reported.
Telecom and Snap show similar file download speeds except for a couple of downward spikes in Telecom's Time of Day performance.
The number of VDSL users (converting from ADSL) is expanding, and next month TrueNet anticipates including additional ISPs in the VDSL speed comparison.Chart 4: VDSL File Download Speed by Hour
The ADSL speed test is based on each probe downloading a 300kB file from our Wellington server once every hour of every day.
As with last month, Flip a newcomer to TrueNet monthly reports, continues to impress on performance
Vodafone is affected by a deep busy period in the evening. Orcon and Snap also exhibit more variation than in recent months. However all ISPs continue to achieve better than 90%.Chart 5: ADSL File Download Speed by Hour
This month TrueNet introduces regular reporting of file upload speeds from Volunteers probes to our test servers. TrueNet Uploads a 1MB file once every 5 hours per probe.
File Upload Performance by Technology
The following chart shows the Upload speeds achieved by Fibre, Cable, and VDSL technologies.
Not surprisingly, the Fibre 100Mb/50Mb service is clear by a large margin from the rest of the field. The Cable service upload speeds are very steady by time of day, with the 100Mb/10Mb service meeting the advertised speed, and bettering both 30Mb/10Mb Fibre plan and VDSL.Chart 6: Comparison of File Upload Speed by Technology
ADSL File Upload Performance by ISP
The following chart shows Time of Day upload speeds reached by the ISPs versus three time periods during the day, representing middle of the night, morning business period, and evening busy period. It shows very little Time of Day variation, but far greater variation between the ISPs.
Providers Slingshot & Flip (same owners) had superior upload speed in the test, with Flip around 30% faster than the competitors.Chart 7: ADSL File Upload Speed Comparison by Time of Day
Latency is the time it takes for a packet of data to be returned by a remote server to a Volunteer's probe.
Latency can impact many internet activities. Very poor latency will make browsing the internet difficult if page requests fail due to timeouts. High latency can make gaming impossible, adding to reaction time, meaning if someone else has lower latency they may see a game change, and react well before a slower connection is able to show the change (ie you can be shot and killed in a game before your computer shows the shooter)
Overall Latency test results have been stable for a few months. Newcomer Flip does well amongst the ADSL providers, particularly to Australia and the US.Chart 8: Latency Performance
DNS response times, like latency, can affect the user browsing experience when slow.
TrueNet measures the time taken to receive a response from all of the ISPs DNS servers, and records the best result for each hourly test.
There are a number of small changes to ISP performance in the different regions. For example, Orcon showed improvements in Otago and Cantebury, while Telecom had increased DNS reponse times in Auckland and Otago.
South Island centres show poor performance by ISPs apart from Snap. This may be due to a lack of, or insufficient capacity on local DNS servers for other ISPs. We need more Vodafone Volunteers in Otago.Chart 9: Domain Name Server Response Time by ISP
The Auckland region scores the best Response Times for both Fibre and VDSL services, but Wellington is quickest for ADSL.
ADSL has the slowest DNS response times in each region, followed by VDSL, with Cable and Fibre vying for quickest response times.
The gaps in this chart are due to insufficient Volunteers in Otago. Cable is available in only two regions.Chart 10: Domain Name Server Response Time by Technology
TrueNet measurement service shows that ISP performance varies over time. In the past year some ISPs that showed top performance have started to slip in the rankings, as others are rising. Similar changes have occured in the past 3 years and we expect to see this change in lead continue.
Regular reporting by TrueNet is providing the incentive for ISPs to strive for the premium position in rankings, helping all Internet users to gain the best performance possible.
Volunteer to test in Australia here - (any technology)
Details on how we measure are available on our Technical page.
ADSL, VDSL, DSL - the standard broadband service provided over a telephone line from an exchange or a cabinet (FTTN), VDSL is a faster version than ADSL. They use similar technology and backhaul, so sometimes DSL is used when referring to both.
Capped Plans - the most common ADSL service, where you have a monthly plan having a GigaByte (GB) limit of usage each month before your speed is slowed or you must pay more.
Unlimited Plans - ADSL service where there is no monthly limit on the amount of data used. Specifications for this service include that it may be "Managed" and have "performance reductions applied during peak demand periods."
Cable - Cable is offered by Telstra & Optus, and is available in a limited number of cities.
DNS - Domain Name Server. As the Internet is based on IP addresses, a DNS service translates domain names into the corresponding IP addresses.
DSLAM - the exchange or cabinet based equipment that your modem is connected to, over the pair of copper wires that are exclusively allocated to your premises.
Ethernet - The wiring used to connect computers to a network, typically an Ethernet cable is coloured (often blue), with small square connectors at each end.
ISPs - Internet Service Providers. TrueNet has probes measuring almost 20 ISPs but only reports on those where there are 5 or more probes working during any particular month.
Latency - The time for a packet of data to be returned by a remote server to the probe when a "Ping" command is issued. TrueNet sets targets for maximum median latency that are known to be achievable.
Median - The Median is found for each probe and this is input to any analysis to calulate the average performance. This means that any result represents the “middle” performance measure applicable for that probe. Using median ensures that the result is more representative due to the often skewed nature of measurements by probe.
Speed - Throughput or the median peak connection speed achieved during our standard test downloading an image from our test servers. TrueNet normally reports speed as a comparison at low vs high demand times to show any capacity constraints evident in speed performance, often called the Time of Day analysis.
UFB Fibre (NZ) - Ultra Fast Broadband connections are the service offered by some ISPs over the Fibre to the Home (FTTH) network built by LFCs over government subsidised fibres. Services now being offered include 100Mbps and 30Mbps.
NBN Fibre (AUS) - "NBN co is a single entity rolling out fibre nationwide and then wholesaling it to ISP’s" from a good comparison here.
FTTN - is based on fiber-optic cables run to a cabinet serving a neighborhood. It uses existing coaxial or twisted-pair infrastructure to provide connections from the cabinet to the home.
FTTH - Premises are connected using a gigabit passive optical network (GPON). A fibre cable, known as the "drop fibre", goes from the premises to the street. The "drop fibre" cable joins a "local network" which links a number of premises to a splitter in the fibre distribution hub.
LFC - Local Fibre Company. These companies are rolling out FTTH connections subsidised by the government, but must sell services through ISPs.
Webpage Download - TrueNet maintains a Standard Test page which is used for measuring the time to download the entire page. This page is visible here, we use a copy located on our test servers for test downloads. The time to download excludes the time for a browser to generate the page on a screen, some are faster than others.