Tuesday, 07 December 2021 11:28

Fibre outperforms other tech during lockdown in NZ

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson

Auckland experienced no significant drop in broadband performance compared with the rest of New Zealand during lockdown, the latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand report from the Commerce Commission shows.

However, the report shows that fibre broadband connections performed significantly better than other broadband technologies, such as copper-based ADSL or fixed wireless, when the connection was being used for multiple purposes at the same time. This was observed across the country, including in Auckland, which was in lockdown during September when data was collected for the report.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said the results from the Spring Measuring Broadband NZ report, which measures broadband performance across technologies, plans and providers throughout New Zealand, confirms that New Zealanders enjoy access to world-class broadband services with ample resilience baked into the system.

“The sustained performance of broadband networks in Auckland during lockdown was not a surprise, but it was pleasing to see confirmation of that in our latest report,” he said. “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.”

Enhanced insights into the experience of multiple users on a single connection came from a new latency under load test that was reported for the first time in this report, the Commission says.

The Spring Measuring Broadband NZ report comes shortly after the Commission issued marketing guidelines to the industry aimed at reducing the incomplete, confusing or potentially misleading information that is being provided to consumers about alternative technologies as the old copper network is progressively phased out in areas that have fibre.

“The Spring report is timely given our ongoing work with industry to improve the way alternative technologies are marketed,” Mr Gilbertson said. “We encourage consumers to do their research before settling on their preferred technology or plan, especially if they are considering moving off copper, to ensure the service they choose is suitable for their needs.

“While fibre performs better with multiple users, sticking with an ADSL connection over the copper network until it is withdrawn or switching to a fixed wireless connection may still make sense for many consumers.”

The Spring Measuring Broadband NZ report also showed that the download speeds of Vodafone’s HFC Max plan has dropped about 50% since the last quarterly report as a result of changes to its network. The Commission says that it and independent testing partner SamKnows have reached out to Vodafone to investigate the cause.

The Spring report and an online dashboard to explore the results in more detail are available on the Commission’s website.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 3 December 2021.

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Chris Coughlan

A versatile technology executive with extensive experience in most disciplines and technologies in the Information and Communications Technologies sector. Roles have encompassed general management, product management, business development, sales management, industry marketing, operations management, research and development, business case development, market research and forecasting, regulatory, strategy management, solution development, major project construction, process design and management, technology and management consulting, and engineering.

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