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What happens when your internet glitches?


3 mins average read time

What happens when your internet glitches?

Key points

  • Disconnections in the broadband network line between the home modem and the server are a cause of annoying internet glitches
  • Independent reporting now measures these sorts of disconnections by broadband type.
  • Most ADSL and Fixed Wireless broadband connections experienced a higher rate of disconnections than most VDSL, Fibre, and Cable connections.
  • Fibre connections had the lowest outage rate for New Zealand based servers.

They’re frustrating and all-too-familiar moments, you’re streaming TV or gaming and your screen freezes or glitches. You might put up with it but really, it’s not ideal.

So what actually happens when your internet glitches like this?

Well, there are the more common explanations such as your Wi-Fi set up in your home or the age of your devices, but from time to time it can also be due to a drop-out or disconnection in the network that brings the internet to your home.

Every time you use the internet, data travels from the modem in your home to a server over a telecommunications network such as the Chorus fibre network, the copper broadband network or mobile phone networks.

While all online activities benefit from a consistent internet connection, real-time applications like video calls especially need reliability and you really notice disruptions to the connection between the home modem and the target server.

As the Commerce Commission says in the latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand (MBNZ) report, if the connection drops, even for a few seconds, the real-time application will show some form of stuttering. In the worst instance, you might be disconnected and have to reconnect or wait for their broadband line to come back online.

While this may seem a minor hassle in the scheme of things, the consequences can actually go far beyond that. For example, if you’re in an important video call with a customer, potential client or even employer, having your call disrupted can have hugely negative consequences. Such disruptions can also be felt in the atmosphere at home. Think about the stress in the household at screen time in the evening, a time of the day when you want to relax, only to have the kids screaming about their internet being glitchy.

With that in mind the following graph from the MBNZ report from August 2021 compares median outage (i.e. disconnection) rates over the course of an hour for New Zealand based servers across different broadband types.

MBNZ disconnection graph



The graph shows there are notable differences between the broadband technologies in terms of outage rates. Fibre is and the latest in fixed line broadband technology and New Zealander’s most popular broadband type. Thistesting for New Zealand based servers proves that with an impressive outage rate for fibre of just 0.01. Not far behind was hybrid fibre coax (HFC) broadband with a rate of 0.02, followed by VDSL (copper) broadband on 0.05.

ADSL broadband is an older copper-based technology and explains a relatively high outage rate at 0.14. 

Fixed Wireless comes in last with an outage rate of 0.22.

What does this all mean then?

While there are differences between broadband technology types, overall, our broadband performs pretty well when it comes to disconnections. The MBNZ report saying the level of outages is still at a level whereby user experience will not be unduly affected.

However, if you do want to reduce the likelihood of the dreaded internet glitch, you may want to be think about what type of broadband, you’re on. You can learn, compare and find out more here.

If you’re happy with your current broadband connection and it’s more a case of troubleshooting advice to make it perform better, we’ve got plenty of tips here.

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