Briefing paper
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apo-nid181401.PDF 1.16 MB

Broadband is a rapidly developing telecommunications service that is becoming increasingly important to New Zealand consumers – it has almost become a necessity. At least 82% of New Zealand households have a broadband connection and there are more options available to consumers than ever before.

Kiwis love being connected to the internet. The World Internet Project New Zealand 2017 found 94% of the population use the internet. We spend more than $1.2 billion a year on home broadband bundles to get this connectivity. However, many consumers find broadband baffling. Products and pricing can be complex and in-home performance can be hard for consumers to measure.

Traditional fixed-line broadband use for households has developed from web browsing and emailing to now commonly include activities such as streaming video, video calling and virtual reality gaming.

Consumers now have a lot more choice with broadband bundles, retail service providers and different service technologies. Crown Infrastructure Partners reports that there are 92 retail service providers selling fibre broadband around the country.

Despite the availability and importance of broadband for consumers, the factors that determine good broadband performance are not well understood. Unlike buying a tangible product such as a fridge, it is often harder for consumers to know and compare options of what exactly they are purchasing when they purchase a broadband connection. Differences in broadband technology and terms such as throughput, latency, and even speed can often be overwhelming for consumers to engage with, as well as potentially misleading.

The aim of our broadband performance testing is to provide consumers with accurate, accessible and independent information on broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies, to help them choose the best broadband for their household. Shining a light on broadband performance also helps make broadband better across the board, by allowing comparisons between providers and encouraging providers to compete on performance and not just price.

On 30 May 2018 we announced a new provider for our independent broadband performance testing – SamKnows. SamKnows currently runs testing in over 40 countries on behalf of telecommunications regulators and retail service providers. Collectively their testing programmes cover almost half of the world’s internet population. SamKnows expect to start reporting on New Zealand broadband performance testing from October this year.

This topic paper describes the broadband network and explains basic broadband service metrics and performance measures. The paper also considers the underlying technology and how this has developed over time and improved broadband performance in New Zealand and internationally.

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