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Faster fibre plans, says Commerce Commission

By Ryan Morris-Reade, 13 Apr 2021

The performance of Fibre Max plans has substantially improved, according to the Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand report.

The findings follow a collaboration between the Commission, its independent testing partner, SamKnows, and the industry, to identify and fix performance issues with premium fibre plans.

According to the report, overall performance is now in line with advertised speeds, it shows the average download speed of Fibre Max plans has increased by more than 200 Mbps, or 35%, since the previous report, to around 840 Mbps.

The results show that average download speeds are similar across the tested providers’ Fibre Max plans.

“There is no noticeable dip in performance during peak hours and performance differences across the country have been smoothed,” says Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson.

“We’re pleased that for the first time the programme can now also compare Fibre Max plan results by provider, as well as the performance of Vodafone’s cable technology,” he says.

While delivering speeds significantly higher than copper technologies Vodafone’s cable Ultrafast HFC Max plan is around 160 Mbps slower than premium fibre plans.

Fixed wireless technology (broadband delivered via the 4G mobile network) continues to experience significant latency. This has been illustrated in previous reports. 

Higher latency can have a real impact on consumers who use the internet for video calling, online gaming and watching high-definition video. So while 4G fixed wireless can offer higher download speeds than copper broadband, it is not comparable to fibre in its performance in real-time applications. 

Changes to the way in which Netflix delivers its ultra-high definition and 4K video has contributed to an improvement in its streaming results for copper broadband and fixed wireless technologies, according to the report.

Independent testing partner SamKnows delivers the Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme, which is designed to provide consumers with independent information on broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies, to help them choose the best broadband for their homes. 

According to the Commerce Commission, shining a light on actual broadband performance also encourages providers to compete on performance and not just price.

The Summer Report provides an overview of the findings from data collected between 1 and 31 December 2020.

Fibre Max products are advertised under different names by different providers. These products generally promise download speeds of around 700-950 Mbps.

Cable is available in some areas (Wellington, Upper/Lower Hutt, the Kapiti Coast, and parts of Christchurch). Cable is also referred to as DOCSIS and Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC). Vodafone is the only provider which operates a cable network in New Zealand.

The Commission and SamKnows are deploying a third test server location in Christchurch. Results from this server will be reflected in MBNZ reports starting from this year’s Winter report.


 

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