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December 2013 Broadband Report


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2014-01-23

Improvement in Vodafone Cable Service

TrueNet's broadband speed tests show Vodafone's cable service has improved in several areas this month. Peak Speed of the 10Mb/100Mb service, DNS response time, and Test page download times each showed significant improvement.

Summary of Performance Measures - All ISPs

The table below provides a summary of broadband speed measurements for the month of December 2013. Results are the averages of the medians from each probe.

Fibre 50Mb/100Mb remains the fastest service offering, with Vodafone Cable 10M/100M a close second after improvements showing through in December.   Both services still under reach the advertised speed. In contrast, the 10M/30M Fibre services are now approaching the advertised speed on a consistent basis.

Vodafone Cable had the best total Testpage download time beating fibre for the first time (1.4 sec after being 2.4 sec last month).  Improvements in file download speeds & DNS performance can be seen in the respective report sections below.

ADSL file download speeds continue to achieve better than 90% of advertised speed by time of day (now consistently for four months). Telecom & Snap VDSL are maintaining the most consistent speed over the course of a day.

Table 1: Summary of all Performance Measures

Speed (File Download Performance)

ADSL

The ADSL speed test is based on each probe downloading a 300kb file from our Wellington server once every hour of every day.

Telecom & Orcon maintain the most consistent performance.

The time-of-day consistency remains good in December, with a less pronounced evening reduction in speed, with the exception of Vodafone.

Chart 1: ADSL Speed by Hour

VDSL

The TrueNet VDSL test downloads a 1MB file from both Auckland and Wellington every 5 hours per probe. The best download speed from Auckland or Wellington is used from each test run, and the data points below are the medians of these.

VDSL performance was very consistent this month; both providers offered speeds over 95% of the best top speed for most of the day. Telecom midday results rebounded from last month, with Snap & Telecom achieving approximately equal results during the month.

Chart 2: VDSL Speed by Hour

Fibre - Cable - VDSL Technology Comparison

This section explores the relative performance of Fibre, Cable and VDSL technology, reporting on actual speeds achieved by the test probes, by time of day.  The test used is the same as the VDSL test described above, the best test from Auckland or Wellington of a 1MB file every 5 hours.

ISP Comparison (File Download Performance)

Chart 3 shows the December performance of the High speed broadband services.

The Vodafone 10Mb/100Mb cable service was greatly improved this month, achieving speeds about 70Mb/s for most hours of the day. There is a trend for Vodafone's file download speeds to drop significantly around 9pm.

Snap 50Mb/100Mb Fibre service was a top performer this month, averaging more than 10Mb/s faster than rival Orcon.

Note that both Snap and Orcon 30M fibre services reached the advertised speed for most hours of the day.

Chart3: Fibre, Cable, and VDSL Actual Speeds

Technology Comparison (File Download Performance)

Results by Broadband technology are given in Chart 3a. The results from all probes and ISPs per technology are aggregated in these results, with VDSL broken down to services connected directly to an exchange and FTTN (or connections to a cabinet).

There is a clear speed distinction by technology, with 100Mb Fibre and 100Mb Cable services superior to other offerings. Although VDSL is capable of reaching download speeds up to 70Mb/s (as mentioned by ISPs), the combined experience of TrueNet volunteers shows VDSL from the cabinet (FTTN) is notably slower than the 30M Fibre service. FTTN VDSL continues to offer a slightly higher speeds than Exchange-based VDSL.

Averaging across all ISPs, Chart 3a shows that Fibre and VDSL services have consistent time-of-day speed , while Cable loses speed during the evening busy hour, dropping to just 50% of the speeds at other times of day.

Chart3a: Comparison of Speeds by Technology

Webpage Download Time

Webpage download results are grouped into TrueNet test webpages, and live public webpages.  Each chart shows the time to download multiple webpages, measured in seconds, with the stacked bars in the chart chart yielding total download time for the set of pages in the test.

TrueNet Test Page Download Times

Vodafone cable service improved since last month, and achieved the best overall results in this test.

Chart 4: Test Page Download  - National & International

Live Public Webpages Download Times

For the Public webpage test, TrueNet measures the download time of 8 popular Web sites (e.g.Trademe, Stuff, Banking sites). 

Orcon & Snap Fibre services performed best, with similar times as reported in November.

Vodafone Cable service takes comparatively longer to download live pages compared to testpages.  This is most likely due to caching of the testpage, whilst live pages are not easy to cache.

Chart 5: Live Webpage Download Times in Seconds - National & International

Download - Summary of 2013 Results

As reported last month, the four ISPs with the slowest ADSL performance at the start of the year doubled and tripled their performance during 2013.

ADSL performance has remained very consistent since September, as shown in the chart below, and also in the time-of-day performance. 

Chart 6: ADSL National Testpage Download times in seconds, by month

Latency

Latency is the time it takes for a packet of data to be returned by a remote server to a Volunteer's probe.

Latency can impact many internet activities.  Very poor latency will make browsing the internet difficult if page requests fail due to timeouts.  It can make gaming impossible, adding to reaction time, meaning if someone else has lower latency they may see a game change, and react well before a slower connection is able to show the change (ie you can be shot and killed in a game before your computer shows the shooter)

The apparent increase in latency reported in November has mainly reversed, though Vodafone cable latency to TrueNet's Dallas server remains similar to last month, significantly slower than all other technologies. 

Chart 7: Latency Performance

2013 - Monthly Latency by ISP

TrueNet started testing latency between all NZ probes, and our Sydney servers in July 2013.  Testing relative to Dallas and Wellington started three years ago, while we are just completing the first month of testing to Auckland.  We discuss international historic testing this month, domestic testing will be in next month's report.

Latency to/from Sydney

Snap, Orcon and Slingshot have similar performance at around 50ms, but Telecom and Vodafone are well behind at around 60ms, but heading in opposite directions.

Chart 7a: 2013 ISP <-> SYD Latency Performance, by Month

Latency to/from Dallas

Testing of Latency from Dallas has continued for three years.  Changes in the last year involved a significant improvement for all ISPs apart from Telecom from March to October, but since October, the order has completely changed.  Vodafone now has a greater delay than others while Orcon and Slingshot have become the best ISPs for international latency by December.

Chart 7b, 2013 ISP <-> USA Latency performance, by Month. 

Domain Name Server (DNS) Response Time

TrueNet measures the time taken to receive a response from all of the ISPs DNS servers, and records the best result for each hourly test as indicated in the charts below. 

Chart 8 shows the relative performance by ISP, and Chart 9 breaks down results by Broadband Technology. Missing bars indicate insufficient probes in that region.

By ISP

Results are similar to previous months, with Snap having strong performance in all regions served. Note that Vodafone was best in Wellington, and Orcon best in Waikato.

Chart 8: Domain Name Server Response Time by ISP

By Technology

Fibre generally offers superior response times to other technologies. This month sees major improvements to Vodafone Cable, which now has equal to, or better DNS response than fibre in Wellington and Canterbury.

ADSL had the slowest time response in every region, possibly because of latency performance.

Chart 9: Domain Name Server Response Time by Technology

 

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Glossary

Details on how we measure are available on our Technical page.

ADSL, VDSL, DSL - the standard broadband service provided over a telephone line from an exchange or a cabinet (FTTN),  VDSL is a faster version than ADSL.  They use similar technology and backhaul, so sometimes DSL is used when referring to both.

Capped Plans - the most common ADSL service, where you have a monthly plan having a GigaByte (GB) limit of usage each month before your speed is slowed or you must pay more.

Unlimited Plans - ADSL service where there is no monthly limit on the amount of data used.  Specifications for this service include that it may be "Managed" and have "performance reductions applied during peak demand periods."

Cable -  Cable is offered by Telstra & Optus, and is available in a limited number of cities.

DNS - Domain Name Server. As the Internet is based on IP addresses, a DNS service translates domain names into the corresponding IP addresses.

DSLAM - the exchange or cabinet based equipment that your modem is connected to, over the pair of copper wires that are exclusively allocated to your premises.

Ethernet - The wiring used to connect computers to a network, typically an Ethernet cable is coloured (often blue), with small square connectors at each end.

ISPs - Internet Service Providers. TrueNet has probes measuring almost 20 ISPs but only reports on those where there are 5 or more probes working during any particular month.

Latency - The time for a packet of data to be returned by a remote server to the probe when a "Ping" command is issued.  TrueNet sets targets for maximum median latency that are known to be achievable.

Median - The Median is found for each probe and this is input to any analysis to calulate the average performance.  This means that any result represents the “middle” performance measure applicable for that probe.  Using median ensures that the result is more representative due to the often skewed nature of measurements by probe.

Speed - Throughput or the median peak connection speed achieved during our standard test downloading an image from our test servers.  TrueNet normally reports speed as a comparison at low vs high demand times to show any capacity constraints evident in speed performance, often called the Time of Day analysis.

UFB Fibre (NZ) -  Ultra Fast Broadband connections are the service offered by some ISPs over the Fibre to the Home (FTTH) network built by LFCs over government subsidised fibres.  Services now being offered include 100Mbps and 30Mbps.

NBN Fibre (AUS) - "NBN co is a single entity rolling out fibre nationwide and then wholesaling it to ISP’s" from a good comparison here

FTTN - is based on fiber-optic cables run to a cabinet serving a neighborhood. It uses existing coaxial or twisted-pair infrastructure to provide connections from the cabinet to the home.

FTTH - Premises are connected using a gigabit passive optical network (GPON). A fibre cable, known as the "drop fibre", goes from the premises to the street. The "drop fibre" cable joins a "local network" which links a number of premises to a splitter in the fibre distribution hub.

LFC - Local Fibre Company.  These companies are rolling out FTTH connections subsidised by the government, but must sell services through ISPs.

Webpage Download - TrueNet maintains a Standard Test page which is used for measuring the time to download the entire page.  This page is visible here, we use a copy located on our test servers for test downloads.  The time to download excludes the time for a browser to generate the page on a screen, some are faster than others.

 


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