Increased competition has improved broadband quality, with TelstraClear's cable service consistently providing the best performance, a report released by the Commerce Commission yesterday shows.
Minimum, average and maximum web browsing speeds achievable on DSL have all increased, with maximum speed increasing from 5.5Mbps to 6.5Mbps.
"The report shows that increased competition from unbundled copper local loop services has improved broadband performance,” says telecommunications commissioner Dr Ross Patterson.
The report discovered a wide variation in browsing performance depending on the access service (TelstraClear cable, unbundled copper loop (UCLL) or Telecom wholesale service) being used.
TelstraClear’s cable service consistently provided the best performance in the areas where it is available, but was at times closely matched by ISPs using Telecom’s unbundled copper local loop service—a service that allows companies to supply voice and broadband services to retail customers without the need to replicate Telecom’s loop.
Telecom's wholesale broadband service was identified as the worst performer; its design includes speed limitations which affect average browsing speed.
However, TelstraClear's cable service has very limited coverage, only serving areas of the Wellington region and Christchurch. UCLL, on the other other hand, is widely available, serving around 65 percent of total lines and Telecom's wholesale broadband service is available nationwide.
The average speed of web browsing in New Zealand improved slightly, with the average upper speed at test sites increasing by nearly 1Mbps. (This was measured by recording the speed at which a standard website homepage can be accessed at each of the cmmission’s test locations.)
Not surprisingly, this diminishes with increasing distance from infrastructure in Auckland. "Limitations" were identified for the South Island, as well as for international browsing. The report shows browsing to international sites is considerably slower than to local ones, with average speeds of between 1Mbps and 2Mbps compared to more than 3.5Mbps. This is highly dependent on caching of popular content, without which speeds fall to around 0.5Mbps.
There was also a marked reduction in network availability over the testing period, with all tested ISPs falling below the Commission’s benchmark at times.
The Commerce Commission report is part of a continuing series measuring broadband performance in New Zealand. Covering the period from July–December 2010, it provides a summary of the performance of ISPs in delivering broadband in New Zealand’s major cities. See it in full here.