August 2017 Urban Broadband Report

More Bang for your Buck

Price is sometimes related to quality, and this is true with internet services over an ordinary telephone line.  Search our interactive Table 1 for VDSL or ADSL and you will find when it is sorted by Surfing NZ, the column "Prices" is almost high to low, ie the highest price has the highest speed.

Price is not always related to quality however! Try typing Fibre into the Search box and prices are definitely not in order, in fact the lowest price is Orcon, which is also the fastest.

If you are interested in Latency comparisons (NZ, International and Gaming sites), then use the Dropdown menu above, labeled "ISP Performance", these are updated a few days after the report is published.

Index

Summary of Performance Measures

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

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, this includes 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: 

  • Fixed Wireless has a faster peak speed than ADSL, but is about the same for surfing speed. This can be expected due to the higher levels of Latency on Fixed Wireless - see https://truenet.nz/story/2017/03/first-report-fixed-wireless-technology, Chart 7
  • Peak speeds at 9pm are very close to advertised peak speeds, but these speeds have little impact on speed experienced when surfing.
  • Fibre 100 and Copper (ADSL & VDSL) are all achieving better than 95% minimum/maximum peak speeds
Table 2: Technology

EDIT: Surfing NZ Figures corrected to same NZ Webpage set used in this report. Speeds all increased as a result of this change.

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
Average Speed (webpage surfing speed) is the average speed you would achieve in Featherston street, Wellington, after navigating lights, say 30km/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.

 

Webpage Surfing (Webpage Average Speed)

Methodology

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.

There is minimal difference in average surfing speed between Fibre 100Mb/s & 200 Mb/s services.  200Mb/s Cable (known as FibreX) was again slower than Fibre including during off-peak hours.

Fixed Wireless and ADSL Surfing speeds were the same with Fixed Wireless achieving slightly better speeds in off peak hours. 

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

EDIT: Surfing NZ Figures corrected to same NZ Webpage set used in this report. Speeds all increased as a result of this change.

Fibre and Cable (FibreX)

Orcon, MyRepublic and Slingshot all had similar Average Speed, with 2Degrees, Trustpower, Spark, and Vodafone very tightly grouped with the next best Average Speeds. Leaving VoyagerBigpipe and Vodafone cable Average Speed below the main group. 

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.  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 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 (Solid Lines) - NZ Webpage Average Speeds were more closely grouped this month.  2Degrees and Spark are top of the chart. Slingshot and Voyager had much lower Average Speeds on the NZ Webpage tests, on par with the top performers on ADSL.

ADSL (dotted lines) - Spark has the best speed overall in ADSL while Orcon speed is last at approximately half the speed of Spark.

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

Fixed Wireless

Vodafone Average Surfing Speed continues above that of Spark and Skinny throughout the day.  All carriers are converging over time as demonstrated in Chart 6 here

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.

 

Fast Broadband: The relative performance of ISPs changed compared to July results. Orcon averaged the best speed, much on a par with with July's results. Spark and MyRepublic speed dropped to join the main cluster of ISPs. Trustpower Average Speed improved, to join the main group, while Bigpipe and Vodafone Cable Average Speed remain below that of the other services, see Chart 2a.  

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

Copper:

VDSL (Solid Lines) - The relative order of ISPs are unchanged from July, and results by time of day were very stable for each ISP's service.  Spark is in a clear lead, while Slingshot is last.

ADSL (Dashed Lines) - Spark had fastest Average Speed, while Orcon is last.

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

Fixed Wireless

Vodafone has the faster speed, but Spark's International Webpage Surfing were closer to Vodafone's in August.

Chart 2c: Fixed Wireless - Webpage Average Speed of Selected International 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 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.

 

NOTE:

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 3 compares Peak Speed of technologies in Off-peak, Business, and Peak hour (6pm to midnight) periods. Fibre 200Mb and Fixed Wireless results change the most between Peak Hours and Off-Peak periods.

Note that Peak Speed comparisons can be deceptive, as your line speed is being measured here, but that does not necessarily correspond with your experience of the internet. Webpage Surfing is far more likely to correspond to your experience online.

Chart 3: Fibre, Cable and Copper (DSL) Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

Fast Broadband: - Peak Speed by Time of Day

Fast Broadband connections with an advertised speed of 100Mb/s are shown in chart 4a. Slingshot had the top results. All ISPs in the chart except TrustPower had peak speeds above the advertised speed of 100Mb/s. There are no indications of Time of Day congestion. 

Chart 4a: 100Mb/s Fibre & Cable File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

DSL Performance by Time of Day 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 95%.

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

VDSL Time of Day performance continued an excellent run of performance in August, with all ISPs above 95% of best hour speed during the month.  We also plot this perfromance along with other technologies over time here

Chart 4b: VDSL File Peak Speed by Time of Day from NZ

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

ADSL also had excellent Time of Day performance in August. All ISPs maintained at or above 96% of best 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

Fixed Wireless Peak Speed varies from a peak around 2am, to a low of around 70% to 80% of peak speed at 8pm, depending on ISP.  

Chart 4d: 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 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

Peak Speed from Australia for 100Mb/s Fibre connections are shown in Chart 5a. There are a group of 5 ISPs that are roughly comparable between 85Mb/s and 95Mb/s, however Voyager speed was below 75Mb/s. 

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.

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

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). 

Spark and 2Degrees achieve 90-95% of Best Hour NZ Peak Speed.   OrconSlingshotVodafone and Voyager had similar results, around 50%-60% of NZ Peak Speed. There are no Time of Day problems observed in these results.

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

Peak speeds for Australian downloads achieved very close to NZ Peak speed in our tests - 90% up to equal or better than NZ Peak speeds. 

Chart 5c: 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 Peak Speed from Australia are also compared to the NZ Peak speed, because the actual speed of each connection is different for each Fixed Wireless user.   Peak Speed from Australia as a percentage of NZ Peak Speed for Skinny and Vodafone are roughly equal in August, but results for Spark were below those of the other two ISPs during day and evening periods.

Chart 5d: Fixed Wireless FIle Download performance from Sydney, Australia (2MB file size only) by Time of Day 

Upload 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

Upload Speed Performance of monitored Technologies has been stable over long periods of time. Results have shown increases in VDSL over time, while the highest speed Fibre and Cable services show small changes up and down over time. 

The 50Mb/s Fibre upload service averages slightly under the advertised speed at 46Mb/s, but other Fibre upload speeds are equal to, or greater than the advertised speed.  VDSL upload speeds now average above 10Mb/s Fibre.  Note that these are averages, and there will be much greater range of results in a VDSL service, while fibre results are fairly consistent between users.

Cable results have been separated into 20Mb/s and Full Speed Upload Services. Cable Full Speed upload averaged 31Mb/s, and the 20Mb/s service was at advertised speed. 

Chart 6: Upload Speed by Technology

 

Upload Speed - by ISP

Fast Broadband upload speeds are compared in Chart 7.  20Mb/s service results vary between 21Mb/s and 24 Mb/s, and Orcon 50Mb/s was right around advertised speed.

Chart 7: Fibre & Cable Upload Speed by ISP

 

Fixed Wireless Upload performance by Time of Day is shown in Chart 8. Performance of each Fixed Wireless ISP is similar. Skinny and Spark Upload speed performance decreased in the evening  compared to last month while Vodafone evening period results have improved on July results. 

Chart 8: Fixed Wireless Upload Speed by 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

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 events for Fixed Wireless were very low in August. Other technologies showed almost no evidence of buffering. There were very low levels of buffering in other technologies on specific days, but otherwise none.  The background buffering rate for Fixed Wireless increases from Off-peak (1%) to Business Hours, to Peak Hours (5%).

For technologies other than Fixed Wireless, our experience is that Youtube buffering problems are often unique to a few panelists rather than spread throughout the technologies.

Chart 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 95% of the time.

Chart 9b: Buffering Events by Time of Day

Note: All Fixed Wireless data collection is supported by contract with Chorus.  All other technologies are supported by contract with the Commerce Commission.  Analysis of the data and the production of reports are the work of TrueNet.

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