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ComCom testing programme improves NZ broadband performance

By Shannon Williams
Fri 11 Dec 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Commerce Commission's Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme has helped to identify and fix network problems that were preventing premium Fibre Max broadband products from performing at advertised speeds.   

"Since our independent testing programme was launched in 2018, our testing has shown that the performance of Fibre Max plans has varied greatly," says Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson. 

"For example, just over a third of households on Fibre Max plans achieved download speeds higher than the expected 800 Mbps," he says.

To help identify the cause of the inconsistent performance, a working group of retailers and fibre wholesalers worked with the Commerce Commission and independent testing partner, SamKnows. 

Gilbertson says multiple factors were discovered during the investigation and the resulting network changes are helping to lift the performance of Fibre Max plans. Two retailers have already seen their average download speeds improve by 150-250 Mbps.

"There are further changes planned to enhance the performance of Fibre Max plans including improvements to wholesale equipment," he says.

"We are also making improvements to the programme by and adding a new test server in Christchurch to reduce the tested latency for South Island consumers.

"This investigation has highlighted the value of the programme for improving internet performance for all New Zealanders," Gilbertson says.

"The Commission and SamKnows would like to thank the telecommunications industry for the time and effort spent to identify and address these issues," he adds.

"Without their commitment, these issues may have remained unresolved, harming the customer experience and perceptions of the Fibre Max products."

The Commission has also released its Spring report for the programme, which covers the period 25 July to 24 August 2020, and therefore does not reflect the recent Fibre Max improvements. 

The report shows the performance of other plans remained stable throughout New Zealand's evolving response to Covid-19. The report also includes tests showing the performance you can expect to see on popular social media, online gaming, video streaming and video conferencing services. 

The next testing report, due to be released in the first quarter of 2021, will further assess the improvement of Fibre Max plans and results by retailers.
 
The Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme is delivered by independent testing partner SamKnows. 

"It is designed to provide consumers with independent information on broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies, to help them choose the best broadband for their homes," the Commission says.

"Shining a light on actual broadband performance also encourages providers to compete on performance and not just price."

Fibre Max products are advertised under different names by different providers. These products generally promise download speeds of around 700-950 Mbps.

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