What is broadband?

Broadband in the telecommunications world refers to high-speed internet access. Just how fast (megabits per second or Mbps) your web experience is and the sort of data (email, movie, gaming etc.) you can access, will depend on how you receive broadband. This can be over fibre, copper wire, wireless or satellite connection.

What is broadband?

The term broadband refers to the wide bandwidth characteristics of a transmission medium and its ability to transport multiple signals and traffic types simultaneously. The medium can be coaxial cableoptical fibertwisted pairDSL local telephone networks or wireless. - Wikipedia

Broadband
Speed (Mbps)
Technology
Distance from exchange/cabinet
Fibre > 100 GPON Service doesn't degrade with distance
Copper > 20 VDSL2 Approx 750m
Copper > 10 ADSL2+ Approx 2km
Copper > 2 ADSL1 Up to 6km

Fibre

With fibre optics or Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB), information is carried faster than ever before. You can use multiple devices accessing rich media such as online TV or movies without slowing down. Fibre also doesn't degrade over distance like copper does so no matter how near or far you are from the exchange, you'll get the same speed.

Fibre is being rolled out gradually around New Zealand. Find out when it's coming to your street by using our broadband capability map.

If fibre is in your street, contact your broadband provider to place an order so we can connect you.

Copper

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology delivers broadband over our copper network at higher frequencies than voice. This is better than dial-up and you get to use the phone while on the internet. However, the main limitation with copper is your distance from the exchange or cabinet - the further away you are, the weaker the signal.

Speed and capacity vary a lot (between 2 and 20 Mbps) depending on which generation of DSL you're using. The three most widely available are:

VDSL2 

VDSL2 gives you the fastest copper connection speed over short distances (less than 800m). VDSL broadband speed is in excess of 20 Mbps but if you are close to the cabinet or exchange delivering your service you could get 50 or 60 Mbps. The greater capacity  mean faster image uploads, music and movie downloads, enhanced gaming and multimedia.

For the best experience, we recommend upgrading wiring at your property and installing a VDSL2-compatible splitter.

Use our broadband capability map to see if you're within 750m of an exchange or cabinet to receive VDSL2.

Find out how you can get VDSL2 by contacting your broadband provider.

ADSL2+ 

ADSL2+ gives you broadband speeds of 10Mbps over short distances of approximately 2km. Upgrades to this was a big part of our 2011 fibre-to-the-cabinet programme which made faster broadband available to 80% of Kiwis. This work continues with the Rural Broadband Initiative.

Actual speeds are affected by things such as line length, cable size, service type and home wiring. If you're experiencing slow broadband, find out what impacts your speed.

Use our broadband capability map to see your ADSL2+ availability.

ADSL1 

This is the first generation of DSL technology and is our entry level copper broadband offering speeds of 2Mbps over distances of approximately 6km. ADSL1 is most likely to be found in rural areas where we haven't installed new cabinets under the Rural Broadband Initiative.

Other broadband

You can also use broadband via mobile, wireless and satellite. However, these services are not offered by us so you'll need to contact your broadband provider for more information.

Mobile

Mobile broadband uses a wireless connection between the nearest mobile phone site and your mobile device to access the internet including mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers, tablets and personal digital assistants (PDAs). You'll need a data card or modem for your computer and you can tether to a tablet from your smartphone. You should be able to connect to the internet with good mobile coverage.

Wireless

Wireless broadband uses a wireless connection between the nearest wireless broadband transmitter and a wireless broadband modem that connects to your computer. It uses radio waves travelling from a transmission tower to a receiver in your property and operates a separate network to the mobile phone network.

Satellite

This is the best way to reach remote areas as coverage extends to anywhere in New Zealand. Satellite beams emitted are picked up by a satellite dish installed at your property.

What impacts speed

Many things can impact your broadband speed, from our network and how your broadband provider configures their service, to your property or just how the internet works. It can be difficult to pinpoint the issue impacting your speed as it may be a combination of factors.

Distance 

Attenuation is the gradual loss in intensity of any kind of flux through a medium such as the reduction in signal strength due to length of the copper network.

If your broadband is being delivered over copper, the biggest factor impacting your speed is your distance from the cabinet or exchange. The further away you are, the greater the attenuation on the copper and the slower your broadband speed.

We're installing new fibre cabinets in some rural areas as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative. These will make distance much less relevant as fibre sends data as lightwaves that are less sensitive to distance. Use our broadband capability map to see if you're within reach of our fibre network or when it's coming to your area.

Capacity

The time of day or night when you use the internet can impact your broadband speed. In busier periods of the day you can experience slower speeds, for example in the afternoon when school and work finish and more people get online at home. Internet traffic reaches a point where a component within our network, your broadband provider's network or even the website you're accessing, exceeds capacity.

This could be caused by backhaul which is how we connect your property to our core network. Please contact your broadband provider and ask them to investigate.

If you're accessing an international website, their peak time will be different to ours. Try accessing a local website to see if that makes a difference.

Broadband plan 

If your speed drops suddenly and you've been downloading lots of content, you may have exceeded your broadband plan's data limit and as a result, your speed is decreased. Please contact your broadband provider if you want to upgrade your plan.

Modem

Your modem can impact your broadband speed and like most technology, age is a factor. If your modem is five years or older, you may need to upgrade to a newer model. Chat to your broadband provider as some provide modems with plans or shop at an electronics store.

If you've upgraded to VDSL you'll definitely need a VDSL modem. Contact your broadband provider as they have tools to confirm if your modem is the issue.

Wiring 

Poor wiring is one of the leading causes of broadband speed issues. Unless your property is less than 10 - 15 years old, it's likely the wiring and jackpoint/s were installed to deliver a good phone service, not high speed broadband. This contributes to increased attenuation and slower broadband speeds.

You can reduce the impact of home wiring by adding filters to all jackpoints used to deliver phone-based services including any used by your home alarm.

If you're building or renovating, please read our information on home wiring including information on star-wiring and Cat6 cables.

Hardware and software 

Older computers and software can impact your broadband performance as they tend to have less RAM. Improve your broadband speed by:

  • regularly updating your internet browser
  • cleaning out old software you no longer use
  • using less memory-heavy software while browsing
  • regularly deleting cookies and internet browser history

Copper quality 

The quality of the copper delivering your broadband can impact attenuation and speed. If you think there's an issue with our copper, please contact your broadband provider and ask them to investigate. They have diagnostic tools they can use to confirm a specific problem.

Better broadband VDSL

Very High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL) is a nifty broadband technology on our copper network that can deliver very fast download and upload speeds. So, if you want a better broadband experience now, or while you wait for ultra-fast fibre broadband, then you should talk to your broadband provider today about upgrading to VDSL.

Why VDSL? 

Connecting Kiwis to fibre is well underway but VDSL can also offer significantly fast broadband speeds and greater capacity while you wait for fibre to reach your street.

Roughly two-thirds of our lines are within reach of VDSL capability. Your broadband should be much faster, depending on the distance you live from our broadband equipment in the exchange or cabinet. Your property needs to be within approximately 750m of an exchange or cabinet for you to achieve potential broadband speeds of 20Mbps. Use our broadband capability map to see if you can get VDSL.

VSDL is delivered over copper phone lines but unlike older generations of this technology (e.g. ADSL), it can offer higher downstream speeds in excess of 20Mbps and upstream speeds of 10Mbps.

Can you get VDSL? 

While you may be in area that supports broadband speeds of 20Mbps, you need to contact your broadband provider to see if they can offer you VDSL.

" Please note the coverage areas indicated on our broadband capability map are approximate and an indicator of service. It's not a guarantee or commitment of VDSL being available at your address. Your broadband provider will run a test to confirm availability. "

How to get VDSL 

1. Chat to your broadband provider

Once your broadband provider confirms you can get VDSL at your address, you'll need to get a VDSL modem. They can tell you the type of modem/router/gateway that'll work with their service.

2. Our technician visits

Your broadband provider will order your VDSL installation with us. We'll send a technician to work in your local cabinet or exchange that supplies broadband to your property.

Appointments are booked with you for the morning or afternoon. VDSL installation can be quite complex so you'll need to allow several hours for this to be done.

Work carried out at the exchange to enable VSDL may mean you won't have phone and broadband temporarily. This will affect things like an alarm, monitoring system or eftpos service for a short time.

At your property our technician will rewire from the external termination point (ETP) where our network is connected to your property and install a new RJ45 jackpoint and master splitter. You can then connect your new modem to the new jackpoint.

Our technician will do a line speed check to ensure VDSL is available. They may give you an indication of downstream and upstream speeds. Keep in mind what you actually get is dependent on a range of factors such as your Wi-Fi connection, computer and software and wiring at your property.

3. What to expect

Your broadband provider will move you from your ADSL2+ plan to a VDSL-specific plan. Usually this is an automated service that happens overnight so you won't experience any change until the next day.

During the first ten days after VDSL is installed, smart functionality in our network measures and optimises the performance of the line including speed and power settings of your service. This is to avoid it being impacted by, and creating interference with, other lines in your neighbourhood.

Please contact your broadband provider if you have performance issues with your VDSL.

Broadband at home

Online TV, high definition movies, gaming, shopping, smart home appliances - we are more connected than ever before and the internet's role in our lives will continue to rapidly evolve. As we do more online we need better broadband speed to ensure that every member of the household is getting a great experience.

With the launch of a number of online TV viewing options, it is now possible that every member of the household could be watching a different programme. Faster broadband is the key to getting a good online experience and avoiding the frustration of buffering. For a growing number of Kiwi households this means fibre and broadband plans of 100 Mpbs or more.

When we talk about fibre delivering faster broadband, we mean a lot of faster:

Broadband speed (Mbps)

As we do more and more online we really need the broadband speeds offered by 100 Mbps fibre broadband services.

To watch a standard definition TV programme online you will need broadband speeds of around 5 Mbps. For a high definition online TV programme you will need a broadband speed of around 7 Mbps or more. This is almost the capacity of many of our ADSL2+ broadband connections. If others in the household are watching another programme at the same time you may experience buffering.

VDSL broadband should provide enough speed for more than one person to be watching online TV at the same time but fibre ensures that broadband speed is no longer an issue.

And it's not just about watching online TV, downloading movies, music and gaming, all becomes faster with better broadband:

Download activity Download speed
8Mbps
16Mbps
38Mbps
60Mbps
100Mbps
250KB webpage 0.3sec 0.13sec 0.05sec 0.03sec 0.02sec
5MB music track 5sec 3sec 1sec 0.7sec 0.4sec
25MB video clip 26sec 13sec 6sec 3sec 2sec
4GB HD movie 1 hour
11 min
35min 15min 9min 5min

Benefits of fibre 

Not only can your household be entertained by rich data on multiple devices, but you can enjoy the benefits of smart technology in your everyday life. Fibre opens up endless possibilities.

  • Manage your home remotely: Control devices in your home and operate security systems remotely from your mobile phone. Track what time the kids get home by setting electronic access to your home and your energy use by setting alerts for when you're near your limits.
  • Remote health checks: Install medical monitoring equipment which takes automated tests and alerts your doctor if anything is wrong. In the future this may also mean a teleconference call with your doctor from home.
  • Track things that matter: Sensors can connect, diagnose and help locate your cars, lost keys, pets or even family members.
  • Organise your life: Quickly and easily back up and store all your precious photos, work files, multimedia and home videos in the cloud via any device.
  • Upskill and learn remotely: You can learn languages, attend international universities, interact in lectures, be tutored for jobs, CV writing and interview skills. Broadband over fibre lets you talk, create and collaborate simultaneously on homework and school projects with teachers from home.

The first step in getting a fantastic fibre broadband experience is to chat to your broadband provider or find a broadband provider.

If your property is in a right of way, or if you live in an apartment block, there are a few things to note when getting fibre broadband, so take a look at the consents process. Our fibre network is new and we do need to come and connect your home or business to it.

Copper vs fibre

Many Kiwi homes and businesses will soon have a choice of broadband delivered over copper or fibre. So why do we need fibre when our existing copper network can deliver respectable broadband speeds, particularly when you can get in excess of 30Mbps using VDSL technology?

What can copper do?

Attenuation is the gradual loss in intensity of any kind of flux through a medium such as the reduction in signal strength due to length of the copper network.

Our copper network has been around for a long time and was originally designed and built to carry voice services over long distances, even to rural areas.

We've continued to innovate the services we deliver over copper by adding new electronics to our network and incorporating growing amounts of fibre. This has enabled us to deliver dial-up broadband access and various Digital Subscriber Line technology (ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL2) to deliver broadband with faster speeds.

But there's a limit to what copper can do and that's due to attenuation. The further away you are from our exchange or cabinet, the poorer your broadband speed is. We can push out an ADSL signal around 6km, ADSL2+ signal 2.4km and VDSL2 only around 800m.

How can fibre improve copper?

The fibre rollout puts us in an enviable position of having the choice to bring fibre into our homes, removing the challenges of copper.

We've used fibre to extend the reach of our copper with our most ambitious Fibre to the Node programme to deliver ADSL2+ broadband to 80% of Kiwi homes and businesses. We've deployed fibre-fed cabinets into suburbs and towns and used the existing copper network to deliver services to properties. This significantly increased average broadband speeds and has also enabled us to offer VDSL-based services.

Copper technology innovations over the last 20 years have delivered faster speeds but further advancements are challenging. The latest copper technology, G.fast, may deliver broadband speeds over 100Mbps but over distances as short as 250m.

Fibre needs to be used to get the equipment closer to your home. More fibre-fed cabinets would need to be installed in streets to bring G.fast technology closer to properties.

Copper vs fibre comparison

Fibre is future-proof and ubiquitous as the same service can be provided regardless of location or distance.

Broadband services over copper are highly variable due to:

  • distance
  • copper quality
  • home wiring issues
  • outdated modems

Fibre with bandwidths of 1Gbps are available now with 10Gbps and 100Gbps services highly feasible. Once the fibre network is in place, we can continue to innovate services by updating electronics that deliver this.

Fibre also underpins mobile networks as they need fibre to deliver good quality services. Fibre connects cell sites to fixed networks and provides backhaul.

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