Home Get better internet Tips and guides All about speed The facts on broadband speed and performance

The facts on broadband speed and performance


7 mins average read time

The facts on broadband speed and performance

Having fast and reliable broadband is essential in the digital world we live in. 

The fact is though, while broadband plans are often described as being fast and super-fast, to ensure you get the advertised speeds, a number of things need to line up. 

That’s because there’s lots of moving parts to the process of connecting you to the Internet, all of which can contribute to the performance of your broadband.  

These include: 

  • the technology used to deliver the broadband service 

  • the network connection  

  • the service provider 

  • your wifi or in-home/in-office network and devices/equipment you use 

Network technology

Network technology is the actual physical cable or technical method used to transport data as part of your internet connection. It can be a big driver of how your broadband performs, with some technologies being more prone to capacity and speed limitations than others. The most commonly used network technologies in New Zealand are: 


The Chorus fibre network is congestion free, which means that we constantly monitor performance in our network and forecast future demand, and proactively increase capacity before it is required. That’s a big reason why fibre offers the fastest and most reliable broadband available according to independent testing (see below for further details). 


If you’re on an ADSL or VDSL broadband service these use the copper network. This means how far you are from the equipment building (exchange or cabinet) can really impact performance.  


A range of environmental factors can impact wireless broadband service performance:  distance from the cell tower, signal, thickness of the walls of buildings, users per tower (affected by population density), and the frequencies of spectrum that your provider runs their network on.   


This is an effective way to reach remote areas as coverage can extend to anywhere in New Zealand but you will need a satellite dish installed at your property. Like wireless broadband services, environmental factors can affect satellite broadband more than fixed line broadband services, like fibre and copper. 

The network connection

As outlined in this infographic, wholesale network operators like Chorus provide a network connection for fibre and copper broadband services.  

Chorus and other fibre network operators design these network connections to ensure they deliver a certain speed/level of service all the way to your home or office.  

However as we on-sell these wholesale network connections to internet service providers (ISPs), the actual service you receive is also dependent on what your service provider does and other factors like the in-home network. This is outlined further below. 

How your service provider manages your connection

Once ISPs purchase a connection from network operators like Chorus, they combine it with their own network links and services to create a broadband service. They then sell it to you as a broadband plan. 

As part of the work they do, ISPs are also constantly doing things behind the scenes to optimise a broadband service like: 

  • managing unanticipated demand 

  • working to protect you from viruses or spam 

  • making decisions on how to move and store data depending on the server you’re trying to connect to and download from. For example, if Netflix is experiencing high demand, or your computer is talking to a server located in the US rather than here in NZ, your ISP will be doing what it can to ensure you don’t see drop outs or delays. 

Each ISP will have slightly different ways of carrying out the above, a point worth considering when you’re choosing an ISP and broadband plan.  

Specifically for wireless broadband services which rely on the mobile phone network, ISPs may also manage their network in different ways to deal with demand and quality of service (e.g. they may prioritise or deprioritise specific types of traffic at certain times). This should be set out in their T’s and C’s or fair use policies. 

For further information on comparing a service provider and plans, go to https://broadbandcompare.co.nz/ and https://www.glimp.co.nz/ 

Your in-home or in-office network and devices

This is kind of like the “last mile” part of your internet connection. It’s the actual set up you have in your household or workplace, to connect your devices to your broadband service.  

To do this, most people use wifi via a router to connect devices but this can be done directly via a cable directly into the router too.  

As wifi uses radiowaves to connect those devices with your router, there’s lots of different factors with your wifi set up which can affect your broadband, including how far the device is from the router or how thick your walls are. There is equipment like wifi extenders and mesh systems which can help address these issues but there’s also other factors at play too such as the age of your devices and the type of router you use.  

Learn more about simple troubleshooting exercises to fix issues with in-home equipment, networks or wi-fi set up.  


What level of performance can I expect from my broadband service?

Now that you know how your broadband service performance can vary depending on the different parts of the internet connection process, you may be asking, what actually is the level of speed or service I should expect?   

To help, the Commerce Commission publishes a quarterly Measuring Broadband New Zealand (MBNZ) Report

These reports are an excellent reference point as they provide average broadband speeds at peak and off-peak times, based on network technology and the type of plan you’re on. 

Under new guidelines, service providers should be referring to the reports when selling speed benefits of broadband services. 

Speed’s not all that’s measured in the reports -- there’s also latency (how long it takes data to travel from your house to a server; lower is better, particularly for gaming and calling) and disconnections (how often different kinds of connections drop out).   

Key conclusions from MBNZ reporting 

  • Fixed wireless, advertised as Wireless broadband plans by service providers, should not be preferred to fibre on performance grounds. 

  • Fibre Max plans continue to offer the highest download speeds of those measured – and fibre plans overall have the highest upload speeds. 

  • HFC Max, a cable broadband service, offers higher download speeds than Fibre 300 plans, however is only available in some areas (Wellington, Upper & Lower Hutt, the Kapiti Coast, and parts of Christchurch). 

  • Fibre 300 plans can stream from Netflix in Ultra High Definition more reliably than fixed wireless and copper broadband plans. Fibre 300 can also support latency-sensitive applications such as online gaming and “can cover most users’ requirements”. That’s why for those switching to a fibre broadband service, Chorus recommends plans from 300 Mbps up for the best online experience.  

  • Fibre plans have the lowest disconnection rates and the lowest latency even across lower speed plans, meaning you are less likely to experience delays and drop-outs, a point we reckon makes fibre a reliable and high-performance broadband option.   

The reports don’t measure all services and technologies (for example, it doesn’t measure broadband provided over satellite, business fibre connections, 5G fixed wireless, or newer Hyperfibre plans). 

What if your broadband or internet isn’t working as it should?

The first thing to do is to try troubleshooting the problem yourself by going through a list of potential things that could be causing it. 

If you’ve tried troubleshooting and that hasn’t worked, you can contact your ISP to see if there’s anything they can do around how the connection is managed their end. 

If a network fault is identified as being an issue, they will contact us at Chorus or another local fibre company to fix it. 

If you’ve tried the above and are not getting anywhere, and feel the broadband service levels and speeds advertised don’t align with this code applicable to ISPs (or the related commitment by Chorus in its role as a wholesaler) you can always escalate the issue via the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution service


More tips and tricks

All about data
All about data

Understand home data usage and what it means for you.

 For gamers and streamers
For gamers and streamers

Guides on the latest entertainment devices and platforms.

All about speed
All about speed

How to test and improve your internet speed.