DSL vs VDSL - Commerce Commission tester rates fastest types of copper broadband


Chris Keall

Testing by TrueNet, one of two companies that carries out internet testing on contract to the Commerce Commission, confirms that at new(ish) type of broadband technology can approach fibre-like speeds.

It's called VDSL. Almost all of us today have the older ADSL broadband on our copper lines.

But it also underlines that copper wire broadband speed degrades rapidly with distance.

The futher you are from your nearest exchange, or roadside cabinet, the slower your internet (fibre doesn't suffer this problem).

TrueNet has found VDSL gets some very handy speeds for downloads and, most noticeably, for uploads.

The tester - which uses a network of volunteers with modems supplied by TrueNet - found an average VDSL upload speed of around 10Mbit/s, or around 10 times the crummy upload speed offered by plain-vanilla DSL.

So, both up and down, VDSL delivers a good whack of bandwidth, especially if you compare it to the cheapest fibre plans from Orcon, Slingshot and others that cap fibre speed (potentially 100Mbit/s in both directions) at 30Mbit/s down and 10Mbit/s up.

The Telecommunications Users Association (Tuanz) sees VDSL as a useful stepping stone while most of us wait two years, or a lot longer, for fibre. CEO Paul Brislen says it will help people appreciate the potential of ultrafast broadband.

But unfortunately, VDSL is not a universal panacea.

About half of us live too far from an exhange or cabinet to get any speed boost from VDSL.

And roughly half the population is on Telecom's retail broadband sevice, which does not offer VDSL as an option.
(There's also the issue of contention, or overcrowded lines getting glugged up and slowing down during peak times. Although fibre has some contention issues under the rollout scheme being used for the government's $1.35 billion Ultrafast Broadband rollout, they are far, far less. More here.)
During an October "Ask Me Anything" NBR session, TrueNet principal John Butt asked Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin about the technology:

John Butt, TrueNet : Is Telecom Retail going to offer VDSL? If so when?
TrueNet's latest release shows the value of VDSL for those unable to get UFB in the near future. With the cloud becoming critical for many small businesses, VDSL is a viable option to increase upload speeds to sufficient for many cloud features.

Chris Quin: John, Hi no question that Ultrafast BB is critical to business and many at home, and performance of any technology matters. Our focus has been on DSL performance and the benefits of the Cabinetisation benefits, we have talked about our Fibre product build investment of over $20mil and that we will be in market early next year with fibre which is our primary focus. Copper will be around for many customers for a substantial time, and its performance will matter, Fibre is top priority, VDSL and options to deliver service where fibre isn't available we will keep looking at. Chorus don't offer a commercial VDSL service at this point. [NBR's bolding.] So we dont have a planned launch date.

Telecom says it will launch its residential UFB fibre service during the second quarter of next year.

My guess is that will further diminish its enthusiasm for VDSL.


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5 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

What does he mean by, "Chorus don't offer a commercial VDSL service at this point"? Chorus owns the lines leading up to my house, and I subscribe to a commercial VDSL service from an ISP called HD.

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VDSL.. lol??

It was meantioned like 6-8 years ago about offering VDSl and 6-8 years later we are back to just talking.... only...

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That is the key question - VDSL can be very easily rolled out - but Chorus havent' yet got anything that can be wholesaled. Gee, I wonder why they are dragging the chain... This should be looked into Chris - would be an interesting story.

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funny thing is for me it isnt raw speed but volume. I am on an unlimited plan and given I am within spitting distance from my exchange, the speed I get with ADSL2+ is just fine

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VDSL2 is a commercial offering that is technically still in a soft launch phase.

There currently are 20+ ISP's offering it. If you want it there is nothing stopping you.

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