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The Epitiro/IDC report on New Zealand broadband quality for the March 2009 quarter has been released. The report examines the quality of broadband services provided by New Zealand’s internet service providers (ISPs) as measured by Epitiro from central sites using premium residential plans.
This quarter, new graphs have been added to show national and international webpage download speeds for each main centre and a measure of service availability.
Commerce Commission Telecommunications Branch Director Osmond Borthwick said, “While there was only an incremental improvement in overall broadband performance in the quarter, some ISPs have been putting in work behind the scenes to boost broadband performance. The report also shows more clearly that a lack of sufficient capacity on national and international connections is a major constraint on further improvements to the speeds that can be achieved by consumers. The Commission will continue to monitor the effect of these constraints.”
Key findings for the March quarter are:
• The gap in performance between the best and worst performing internet service providers (ISPs) continued to widen, driven largely by significant investment in network performance by the best performing ISPs.
• A new measure for this report shows the level of broadband reliability – the amount of time the service is available - is good, averaging 99.97 per cent in March. This means an average network downtime of approximately 14 minutes per month for most ISPs.
• New caching solutions, which store popular international and national content locally, can deliver a two to threefold improvement in international download speeds, but appear to have only a marginal impact on national download speeds.
• International download speeds are usually less than half of national download speeds and national download speeds are significantly lower for Dunedin than the other main centres tested.
• The peak pressure periods for broadband services are 4pm to 5pm and again at 8pm to 10pm, with some service providers struggling more than others to meet demand during these times.
• Some ISPs are now turning off ‘interleaving’, a data management setting, to increase performance for most customers. Interleaving provides greater stability to broadband performance over longer distances, but decreases speed.
The report is designed to provide New Zealand consumers, businesses and industry observers with independent measurements of the changes in the quality of broadband services over time. The results should be viewed as the optimal broadband performance that can be achieved in each of the main centres in which measurements are taken. The performance of unbundled lines is not yet being measured.
The full report is available on the Commission’s website www.comcom.govt.nz at Industry Regulation/Monitoring and Reporting
Epitiro Technologies Ltd is a company with experience in internet performance benchmarking. The Commerce Commission contracts Epitiro to provide broadband quality reports. As part of Epitiro’s work in the area, Epitiro also provides services to internet service providers (ISPs) enabling them to benchmark customer performance across dial up, cable, broadband and wireless connections.
The ISP-I™ platform and technology from Epitiro emulates an internet user’s activity across eleven sites. The sites are located in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. It measures twelve ISPs every fifteen minutes on a 24-hour basis across the eleven sites. The platform gathers a range of detailed statistics on seven parameters – synchronisation speed, cached and non-cached HTTP download speeds, ping, DNS, packet loss and email delivery times for independent analyses.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a data communications technology that allows broadband to be delivered over a copper line. ADSL1 is an early standard, with maximum download speeds capped at 8Mbps and typical rates below 5Mbps. ADSL2+ is a newer and faster standard that can deliver a theoretical top download speed of up to 24Mbps, with users typically experiencing between 8Mbps and 15Mbps. However ADSL2+ performance is highly dependent on how far the signal has to travel over the copper connection to the home – the greater the distance, the slower the speed. Other factors like the nature of the broadband plan, the modem, the quality of computer and home wiring also affect the user’s experience.
Amendments to the Telecommunications Act 2001 have explicitly empowered the Commerce Commission to monitor the performance of telecommunications markets and report on this work. Accordingly, the Commission has been producing regular monitoring reports, including reporting on the quality of broadband services.
The views and opinions in the Epitiro/IDC report do not necessarily reflect those of the Commerce Commission.