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May 2014 Broadband Report


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2014-06-17

Merging Slingshot & Orcon a Winner

Slingshot, Orcon & their stablemate Flip are all the best performers for webpage downloads this month, the only ISPs achieving less than 5 seconds to download all the websites we test.

Speed performance by time of day remains excellent for most ISPs we report.

Vodafone Cable webpage download times take longer than all VDSL suppliers, while oddly Vodafone VDSL is the best VDSL supplier this month.

Index

Summary of Performance Measures - All ISPs

The time to download the front page of the webpages selected last month varies by ISP from Flip at 3.6 seconds to Snap at 5.6 seconds.  This represents a fair comparison of the download speeds possible from popular sites.  While the difference appears small it is likely that this difference will extend to all pages on these websites, including any larger pages than the usually optimised first page.

Speed variation by ISP from peak to off-peak remains very small with the worst performance being 90% from Orcon ADSL, this is OK, but a further drop-off in peak time performance will be critical.  

Orcon's 30Mb/s fibre average median speed is usually well above 30Mb/s, so the speed reached is actually 96% of the contracted 30Mb/s despite the difference between peak and off-peak being 86%.

Orcon 100Mb/s Fibre performance also shows at 86% of maximum speed (72Mb/s), but this is for the 100Mb/s service, ie well below the advertised speed.  

Table 1: Summary of All Performance Measures

 

Webpage Download Time

Webpage download time can have a major impact on internet users when times are excessively long.  TrueNet measures webpage download performance using Live Public Webpages as well as our Test Webpages.

TrueNet regularly changes the choice of Live Public Webpages, and their size constantly changes. The Live Webpage tests measure download times for these pages just like a standard computer downloading them.

Test Webpages are all the same size and content, and provide a long term comparison. However they are easily cached, or stored by the ISP for delivery, unlike a popular website that changes all the time.

The total download time for the sum of time taken to download all webpages, measured in seconds, is shown in the stacked bar charts below.

Live Webpage Download Times

This test uses 8 popular public websites (Blogspot, Wikipedia, The Warehouse etc).
Chart 1: Orcon Fibre is best again this month, with Fibre outperforming all other technologies.

Vodafone VDSL as the best VDSL supplier continues to outperform Vodafone cable services when downloading webpages.

Chart 1: Live Webpage Download Time in Seconds

 

Test Webpage Download Times

TrueNet Test Webpages are identical files, downloaded from our servers in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney and Dallas.   

Vodafone VDSL had the shortest loading time again this month, by a comfortable margin. Note the almost identical load times for all four locations, including International sites, in contrast to the Vodafone Cable services. 

Chart 2: Test Pages Download Time in Seconds - National & International

Speed (File Download Performance)

Fibre - Cable - VDSL Comparison

This section compares the speed achieved by the high speed broadband technologies.

For the TrueNet speed test, a 1MB file is downloaded from both Auckland and Wellington hourly, or every 5 hours per probe depending on the data made available by each volunteer. The best download speed from Auckland or Wellington is used from each test run, and the data points below are the medians of these in Mb/s. The relative performance of Fibre, Cable and VDSL technology demonstrates the speed advantage of the 100Mb/s services.  The difference between FTTN VDSL and Exchange based VDSL is due to the shorter lengths of copper on FTTN connections.

ISP File Download Comparison

Vodafone 10M/130M Cable has further lifted in speed this month, acheiving greater than 100M (104M) during the busiest hours of the day.   With daytime speeds exceeding 125Mb/s, this makes it the fastest product we test by a considerable margin.

Snap is quickest this month with the 100Mb/s Fibre and Orcon is with the 30Mb/s Fibre service, however the gaps for both speeds have increased between respective ISPs.

We have an increasing sample of VDSL probes, especially the faster FTTN probes.  We have 66 FTTN probes and 21 Exchange based probes.  There are 8 separate ISPs with VDSL probes (2 probes changed ISPs in the month & 1 changed location):

  • Telecom 32
  • Snap 28
  • Orcon 10
  • Slingshot 5
  • Vodafone 5
  • Voyager 4
  • Xnet 3
  • Big_Pipe 2
Chart 3: Fibre, Cable, and VDSL File Download Speeds

 

Technology File Download Comparison

Chart 4 below compares the actual speed delivered from faster technologies using the average of all available probe medians by time of day.

The gap between VDSL speed from an exchange or FTTN has reduced since last month.  

Fibre speeds include results from 10 separate ISPs, but with more than 20 probes from both Snap & Orcon.  Other ISPs with probes include:

  • Telecom  4
  • Voyager  4
  • Vodafone  2
  • Kinect  2
  • Slingshot  1
  • Inspire  1
  • Vibe  1
  • EOL  1
Chart 4: Comparison of File Download Speeds by Technology

 

VDSL File Download Speed

The VDSL Time of Day (ToD) download test takes the best 1MB file results from TrueNet's Auckland, or Wellington servers. Data points are calculated by taking the median hourly results of each probe, and the average of all probes; then dividing each hour by the maximum average speed of all hours.  DSL speed is dependent on distance to the exchange, however the ToD performance we report is dependent on the ISP.

VDSL ToD performance is excellent with only Slingshot dropping below a very high 95% standard to 93%.  Best performer is Vodafone at 96% peak demand speed as a percentage of the fastest speed during the day.

Voyager probe numbers dropped below our limit this month, meaning we cannot report.  

Chart 5: VDSL File Download Speed by Hour

 

ADSL File Download Speed

The ADSL speed test uses a smaller 300k file than that used for Fibre, Cable & VDSL services. The 300k test file is dowloaded from TrueNet's Wellington server every hour, conserving data for our volunteers.

Speed performance by time of day continues to be excellent.  Although no ISP maintained performance compared to last month.   The order changed, with Snap leading again after a few months below top, Flip close behind after a few months on top and Vodafone running in third.  Orcon comes up the rear with their performance dropping from 94% to 90% being the only cause for concern.

Chart 6: ADSL File Download Speed by Hour

 

File Upload Performance (Speed)

Upload speed is important for users moving files and content to the internet.  Upload speed impacts the time taken to upload a photo or synchronise your data with the cloud.

The upload test sends a 1MB file to our server in Wellington, and records the results using a similar method to the download tests, but timed from our Wellington server.

File Upload Performance by Technology

The Upload performance of each technology is given in Chart 7 (below).  There is little change from last month.

High Speed fibre (50Mb/s/100Mb/s plan) is clearly fastest, achieving between 37Mb/s & 38Mb/s averaged over all users and times.

10Mb/s/100Mb/s Cable is second, but virtually the same as 10Mb/s/30Mb/s fibre and VDSL.

Chart 7: File Upload Speed by Time of Day, by Technology

 

ADSL File Upload Performance by ISP

The relative performance of each ADSL provider's Upload performance is in Chart 8.  

Flip & Slingshot continue to be the best, though Flip has reduced to 0.9Mb/s in May from 1.1Mb/s in April. 

Snap & Orcon have the slowest average Upload speed amongst the group.

Chart 8: ADSL File Upload Speed - ISP Comparison

 

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.  High Latency can make gaming impossible, adding to reaction time, meaning that 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 latency between probes and our Auckland and Wellington test servers is depicted in Chart 9.

Fibre and Cable best within NZ

Snap achieved top honours for both Fibre and VDSL.  Flip has the best latency for ADSL. There are significant differences between best/worst performers in ADSL and VDSL.

Chart 9: National Latency Performance - by ISP and Technology

International Latency

The latency measured to TrueNet's servers in Sydney and Dallas is given in Chart 10.

The greater distance to these locations increases the latency compared to the NZ measurements. With the greater overall latency, the differences across technologies is minor.

Contrary to the National results, Orcon results are best for fibre. Flip has the best performance for ADSL, with results similar to VDSL.  Snap VDSL, while best for National latency is marginally worst for International.

As reported last month, Vodafone Cable 10Mb/s/100Mb/s shows slightly higher latency than both the 2Mb/s/15Mb/s Cable, and Vodafone VDSL.

Chart 10: International Latency Performance

 

Domain Name Server (DNS) Response Time

Quick DNS Response Times improve the internet browsing experience of users, very slow DNS can cause timeouts, making the internet almost unusable.

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

Chart 11 shows the relative performance by ISP, and results by Broadband Technology are included in Chart 12. The missing bar for Vodafone Otago indicates insufficient probes for that region only.

While many ISPs have addressed the poor performance of the South Island by locating equipment in Christchurch, the distances are long so performance in places like Central Otago continue to suffer.

By ISP

Snap is best on average, and has the quickest response time in Canterbury, Otago and Auckland, although is worst in Waikato/Bay of Plenty.

The best DNS response time for each ISP is given at the end of the relevant bar in Chart 11, and are the figures used in the Summary Table.

TrueNet is setting a target for the average DNS response from any part of NZ to be less than 25ms.

Chart 11: Regional Domain Name Server Response Time by ISP

 

By Technology

With a similar performance to recent months, Fibre & Cable DNS response times are  often less than half that of VDSL or ADSL 

Chart 12: 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.

Cabinet - In NZ there are two cabinet types, an Active Cabinet, which has electrnics inside, usually a DSLAM, and a Passive Cabinet, which is simply a flexible cable joint.  They are common in suburbs as large steel cabinets with usually two doors for accessing the insides.  Chorus is often having them painted with pictures to reduce graffiti.

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.

FTTN - Fibre To The Node 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.  Approximately 50% of NZ homes are able to be served by FTTN

FTTH - Fibre To The Home (or 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.  In NZ this is known as UFB.

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. The roundtrip Latency between Auckland and Dunedin in fibre optic cables is roughly 15 msec.

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

LLU - or Local Loop Unbundled lines are DSL lines where the ISP uses their own DSLAM in the exchange to deliver DSL services.   The ISP then leases the copper line (Local Loop) between the exchange and their customer's premises.

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.

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.

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.

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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