Fast reliable internet has never been more crucial to Kiwis but with multiple providers offering many broadband options, knowing if yours is up to scratch can get a little confusing.
Luckily the commerce commission provides regular reporting on the performance of NZ broadband services against a range of key metrics so consumers can have an impartial view of the best possible product for their needs.
The latest numbers are in, and fibre - the service utilising the new ultra-fast congestion free network, has come out on top in every category, showing there’s good reason for it being New Zealand’s favourite broadband.
There are three main groups of broadband available in NZ and covered by this report.
ADSL and VDSL – An older form of broadband, delivered over copper wires
Fibre – fixed line broadband over the new ultra-fast, congestion-free fibre network,
Fixed wireless - broadband delivered over the 4G mobile network
The report looked at many aspects of broadband performance but the areas which typically have the greatest impact on the everyday consumer are speed, latency, and capacity.
But what do they mean?
For many internet users, 'fast' is a synonym for 'good'. The faster your internet is the more quickly you download large files, load web pages and your online experience will generally be more fluid.
In technical terms broadband speed is measured in how much data - measured in 'megabits' - is transferred via the broadband every second and is usually abbreviated to Mbps. The fastest fibre connection measured, Fibre Max, has a download speed of 840 Mbps, which allows users to download a mind-boggling amount of data in moments.
ADSL languishes at the bottom of the pack on 8.8 Mbps per second average. This means if a user was downloading a 2GB file, it would take approximately half hour on ADSL vs less than 30 seconds on an ultra fast fibre connection.
Latency basically describes the delay between you taking an action online and getting a response, whether it’s clicking a webpage or controlling a video game character.
You’re probably most familiar with latency if you have gamers in the household, as latency directly affects the delay between pressing a button and a corresponding action in game. High levels of latency can make competitive online games almost unplayable.
However, latency affects virtually all everyday aspects of internet use.
"If your top download/upload speeds are like the top speed in your car, then Latency is a bit like your acceleration," says Chorus spokesperson Kurt Rodgers
"So broadband technologies with high latencies will just feel laggy and unresponsive. As if you’ve got in a car and put your foot on the gas and it’s taken 30 seconds to get up to 50kms an hour."
Latency is measured in milliseconds and a lower score is better, since it means data took less time to travel between the server and your home network. Based on the Commerce Commission's report, fibre broadband had the lowest levels of latency at approximately 7ms while fixed wireless had the highest at 47ms.
While losing your Fortnite match due to lag might just be an irritation to some, high latency can also have more serious effects, as it can make you more prone to stuttering and drop outs in video conferencing.
More Kiwis are working from home and living increasingly digital lives, with everything from doctors’ appointments to award ceremonies and board meetings taking place virtually so a reliable connection is more vital than ever.
So if you've been noticing issues with your video call and you're on a fixed wireless or ADSL plan, it might be worth speaking to your provider about switching services.
While speed might be king to many internet users, the capacity of your broadband arguably has just as great an effect on the quality of your internet experience. Basically, capacity affects many separate people who can be online at once without experiencing any slowdown. This becomes particularly noticeable with video streaming in higher definitions.
The commerce commission report found households on the fastest fibre plans handled up to 4 Ultra HD streams on the same network simultaneously 99 percent of the time while households on ADSL or fixed wireless struggled with any more than one stream at a time.
This means on a fibre plan the younger kids can be watching cartoons downstairs, mum and dad can watch Netflix while the older kids game online and everyone will have a smooth experience.
As we head into the colder months, it’s a great time to ensure the whole family can be indoors, online and happily streaming, gaming or browsing at the same time. And as we’ve seen from this report, when it comes to broadband, one option is clearly head and shoulders above the rest.
"Based on every possible performance metric you can think of, fibre is the best ranking broadband service available in the market," says Kurt.
Luckily for those not yet on it the fibre network now reaches 80 percent of the country so your household is most likely covered. And better yet, fibre plans aren’t typically more expensive than other broadband services.
If you want to learn more about fibre or check if it is available in your area head on over to Chorus.
If you want to dig more into the numbers from the commerce commission, you can find it here.
This article was created for Chorus