RAW DATA: TrueNet June 2014 Broadband Report - Australia internet speed falls well behind

(TrueNet is contracted to the Commerce Commission to monitor broadband performance. It uses a network of probes attached to 400 volunteers' internet connections to rate ISPs — Editor.)

New Zealand median speed for ADSL is 9Mb/s but for Australia it was just 3Mb/s in TrueNet's June results.  Copper services in NZ include VDSL over FTTN, so the difference is much greater.

A substantial 2% growth in fibre probes occurred in June with 9 probes upgrading from DSL. TrueNet now has 420 probes with 74 of those on UFB fibre and 90 on VDSL, nearly all volunteer upgrades from ADSL.

The premium UFB fibre product continues to fall below the advertised speed of 100Mb/s for most users.

This month SlingshotOrcon & their stablemate Flip continue as the best ADSL performers for webpage downloads.  Vodafone is easily the best VDSL competitor, comparable with 100Mb/s services on Fibre & Cable.

It's noticeable that competition drives improvements with Vodafone and Telecom now downloading all the websites we test in less than 5 seconds.

Speed performance by time of day remains excellent for most ISPs included in TrueNet's report. It shows Telecom ADSL and VDSL first equal with Xnet ADSL, achieving a minimal slowdown during peak demand of 98% of best speed.

For ADSL, Snap and Slingshot's speed reduces severely in the evenings.  

We compare Australia's iiNet for the first time, which has an excellent Time of Day performance, but this is based on a peak average ADSL speed of an extraordinarily slow 3Mb/s, compare that with New Zealand ISPs at 10Mb/s.

Index

Summary of Performance Measures - All ISPs

The results from the live front webpages selected last month show an increase in the spread of download times, ranging from Flip at 3.7 seconds to Xnet at 5.8 seconds.  It is likely that this difference will extend to all pages on these websites, especially any pages larger than the optimised first page.  The gap between ISPs should be considerably less.

Speed variation by ISP, from peak to off-peak, has grown with the worst performance of 88% from Slingshot ADSL which has reached a point where some users are experiencing exceptionally poor service.

Orcon 100Mb/s Fibre performance is at 89% of maximum speed (66Mb/s), well below the advertised speed.

Table 1: Summary of All Performance Measures

Webpage Download Time

Webpage download times can have a major impact on internet users when times are excessively long.  

TrueNet measures webpage download performance using a selection of Live Public Webpages, downloading them in the same way as a standard computer. The choice and size is regularly changed.

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

ADSL & Cable 2/15Mb/s -  Live Webpage Download Times

This test uses 8 popular public websites. We split the chart into two parts: Chart 1 for the slower technologies -  ADSL and 15Mb/s Cable, and Chart 2 for high speed broadband - VDSL, Fibre and 130Mb/s Cable

Chart 1: Flip is best again this month, with stablemates Slingshot and Orcon close behind.

Chart 1: Live Webpage Download Time in Seconds - ADSL & Cable  2/15Mb/s

Webpage Download Times - High Speed VDSL, Cable & Fibre

Vodafone VDSL is the best VDSL supplier who, along with Orcon, continue to outperform Vodafone cable services when downloading live webpages. 

Chart 2: Live Webpages Download Time in Seconds-High Speed VDSL, Cable, Fibre

 

Speed (File Download Performance)

Fibre - Cable - VDSL Comparison

For the TrueNet speed test, a 1MB file is downloaded from both Auckland and Wellington either 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.

High speed File Download Speed Comparison

Both Orcon & Snap 100Mb/s fibre suppliers show an improvement due to some probes improving from sub 100 to close to 100Mb/s.

For all other products, June performance is similar to May.

TrueNet's VDSL sample continues to grow with Vodafone doubling this month.  There are now 8 separate ISPs with VDSL probes:

The sample of Fibre probes is also growing with nine ISPs now being tested. 

Chart 3: Fibre, Cable, and VDSL File Download Speeds

DSL Performance by Time of Day (ToD)

Both ADSL and VDSL top speeds are very dependent on the length of the line connecting the modem to the exchange. ISPs decisions on the level of investment in network capacity also impact on performance at the busiest time of day around 9pm.  

This section compares the median speed measured at the slowest period of the day (9pm), with the fastest speed, usually around 5am.

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. 

VDSL ToD performance is excellent with Orcon having the worst performance, but at a still creditable 93%.  The best performer is Telecom at an exceptional 98%, measuring peak demand speed as a percentage of the fastest speed during the day. 

Chart 5: VDSL File Download Speed by Time of Day

ADSL File Download Speed

TrueNet upgraded the ADSL test this month to the same 1MB file used for Fibre, Cable & VDSL services.

Slingshot performance has dropped a long way from 93% to just 88%, well below the typical speed shown earlier in the year. 

The order changed, with Xnet taking the lead after being well down last month with Telecom also improving to beat Flip.   Snap's performance dropped from top last month at 96%, to just 91% in June.

Speed performance was very predictable from January to May, but results appear to have changed for the worse, so more focus is needed on speed performance in future reports.

Chart 6: ADSL File Download Speed by Time of Day

Speed Distribution - New Zealand v Australia

Publishing a comparison of Time of Day speed performance for Australian probes has led to an anomoly.  New Zealand ISPs generally provide both VDSL and ADSL services over either Chorus DSLAMs in Cabinets or Exchanges; or their own DSLAMs in Exchanges.  Either way the length of copper between the DSLAM, and the user, is similar between ISPs. 

Australian ISPs do not have the "luxury" of cabinets, or VDSL, or FTTN, so speeds are A LOT slower on average than NZ.  To show the difference, Chart 7 compares the distribution of tests on ADSL between NZ and Australia, as well as VDSL in NZ.  

Results from our Australian test probes show speeds predominantly in the 2-5Mb/s range with NZ test probes more evenly distributed in the the 6-14 Mb/s range. 

For the technologists, ADSL1 normal distribution shows up as the first peak in each ADSL curve and ADSL2+ shows up as the second peak.  

VDSL is available to over 80% of NZ homes and businesses from FTTN Cabinets, or from the exchange.    The planned rollout of VDSL over FTTN in Australia may be arriving too little too late.

Chart 7: Distribution of Speed for ADSL in NZ and Australia

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.

Snap improves to Best National Latency Overall

Snap achieved top honours for Fibre, ADSL and VDSL.  The large differences between best/worst performers in Fibre, ADSL and VDSL continues.

Chart 9: National Latency Performance - by ISP and Technology

International Latency

The latency measured between our volunteer probes, and TrueNet's servers in Sydney and Dallas is given in Chart 10.

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

Contrary to the National results, and continuing from last month, Orcon's results are best for fibre. Flip has the best performance for ADSL, with results similar to VDSL.  Vodafone and Orcon are equal best for VDSL.

This month's best ADSL speed performance from Telecom is not supported by international latency results, with Telecom coming in last again.  While Snap is top for national latency, they are almost last in international latency.

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 bars indicates insufficient probes for that region. Unfortunately, volunteer migration from ADSL to other technologies is increasing.  We are seeking more volunteers in areas where there are missing bars.

Otago DNS performance continues to suffer due to the distance between Otago and the Auckland based DNS servers for all ISPs other than Snap.

By ISP

Snap is best on average, and has the quickest response time in Canterbury and Otago, but the numbers of ADSL volunteers in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga have dropped below five this month due to migration to faster technologies.

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

Vodafone performances in all but Auckland are below the TrueNet target of 25ms, as is Telecom's performance in Wellington.  However only Snap achieves the below 25ms target in Otago.

Chart 11: Regional Domain Name Server Response Time by ISP

By Technology

Continuing 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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