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NZ Broadband

Fibre outperforms other tech during lockdown

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December 13, 2021

Often, not until you’re in a crisis, do you discover the things that are really important to you.

Over the last two years, the world has gone through massive upheaval due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course this included repeated (and long) lockdowns, travel grinding to a halt and we were forced to live in isolated bubbles. On a top level, the functionality of our government was tested, businesses (both big and small) were forced to rethink how they operate. The list goes on and on.

And, at the centre of it all, has been a redefined model of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with an increased dependency on the internet to keep us connected. Broadband network operators, the world over, indicate as much as 60% more internet traffic than before the outbreak. The same trend is being seen here in New Zealand, with data use regularly peaking 30% above normal. In fact, in the first six weeks of lockdown this year, more data was being used on the Chorus network than for the entire year in 2015!

With our increased reliance on broadband, how did New Zealand’s networks perform?
To put it simply, they performed very well. This analysis is based upon the latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand report from the Commerce Commission which looked at broadband performance for September of this year. The report noted, fibre connections performed significantly better than other broadband technologies, such as copper-based ADSL or fixed wireless broadband. This was especially true when the connection was being used for multiple purposes at the same time.

The following is a synopsis of key sections of the report: 

The fastest fibre plans were shown to be speediest overall, with average download speeds of 807 Mbps at peak times. Cable Max broadband was next in the rankings with peak download speeds of 202 Mbps. However, the report also noted that there was a demonstrative decrease of around 50% in performance compared with that seen in previous reports.

Fixed Wireless Broadband plans had peak download speeds at around one-third of the speed of households on Fibre 100 plans and slower than VDSL connections with 38 Mbps peak download speed, with ADSL the slowest.

In terms of consistency of speed, fixed wireless and HFC broadband had much larger differences in speed between peak and off-peak times compared with the other broadband technologies.

Speed mBNZ Dec 21

As the report explains, latency is an indicator of the time it takes to transmit and receive messages between household and server. Latency can limit the responsiveness of real time applications when using the internet for things such as interactive webpages or video calls. Consistent with previous reports, wireless broadband had the highest latency compared to all other broadband technologies. That's not a good thing by the way as the lower the latency, the better the performance of the connection. 

Latency MBNZ report 21

So, in summary, according to the Telecommunications Commissioner, Tristan Gilbertson the results from the Spring Measuring Broadband NZ report, confirm that “New Zealanders enjoy access to world-class broadband services with ample resilience baked into the system.” He continued, “The sustained performance of broadband networks in Auckland during lockdown was not a surprise, but it was pleasing to see confirmation of that. However, with families cooped up at home for long periods, the report highlighted the superior performance of fibre broadband when there are multiple users on the same connection at once, especially if they are streaming video or making video calls.”

In closing, we ask, given our increased reliance on the internet to not just do our jobs, but to also stay connected with family and friends and access relevant news in real time - are you on the right broadband network technology for your needs?


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