Research companies Epitiro and IDC have released New Zealandís first report into the state of its broadband market - and it shows it is up to 50% behind the performance of the UK, Australia and the US in some key areas.
The Epitiro-IDC New Zealand Broadband Index for the March quarter, released by the Commerce Commission today, shows average industry NZ performance is 28% behind the UK.
Epitiro's Managing Director, Mike Cranna, says this is consistent with Epitiro data on other markets including Australia and the US, which shows the country have a long way to go both in terms of absolute performance and performance consistency.
IDC's Telecommunications Research Manager, Rosalie Nelson, says the Epitiro-IDC NZBBI portray a market in transition.
"Million of dollars are being poured into infrastructure, technology and services, but this is not yet improving the experience for consumers and businesses. However we are still in the early stages: we believe the investment in fibre and the local loop will begin to take effect over the year."
Because of this "early stage" shes sees this first results as a benchmark against which to measure future progress.
The Epitiro-IDC New Zealand Broadband Index (NZBBI), commissioned by the Commerce Commission, examines the relative performance of New Zealandís ISPs. The Index measures thirteen ISPs every fifteen minutes around the clock across eleven sites in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Performance is evaluated on eight key performance parameters, including time to connect, email round trip times and packet loss levels, which impact the end user's broadband experience.
The report says Hamilton took top place among the five broadband cities measured.
ISP TelstraClear shows the strongest performance in Wellington and Christchurch - where it owns its own cable network - and Auckland. But it did not perform as well outside those areas.
Orcon also produced consistently strong results, indicating it has invested in the network areas it can control. It achieved the highest scores in Hamilton and Dunedin. Smaller ISPs such as MaxNet, Actrix, Snap, WorldxChange and Compass, consistently featured among the top five in the cities where they were measured.
As for the big ones Vodafone, Slingshot and Telecom produced average to below-average results, which the research companies say reflects their current size, growth and network congestion. Of the main ISPs, Telecom scored the lowest outcomes in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, but was slightly above average in Hamilton and Dunedin.
IDC's Telecommunications Research Manager, Rosalie Nelson, says that the report shows the ISPs with the strongest subscriber growth are not necessarily delivering the strongest broadband performance in this quarter. There are, however, a number of factors for this.
"One simple reason is that the sheer size and growth of the top five ISPs will have contributed to network congestion, with many users competing for bandwidth at peak periods, in contrast to the many smaller ISPs who have less users. "
Michael Cranna says users also need to be aware of the wide variability in each service provider's results, which reflect where they own the network or have focused investment to date.
"We are also seeing substantial investment by key players into improving traffic and content management, as well as network infrastructure. For example, Telecom has recently invested successfully in improving its browsing performance, so we are hoping overall performance creeps up in the next quarter," he says
"Consequently anyone wanting broadband really needs to evaluate all ISPs for the service that best meets their specific needs, be it email, browsing, gaming, or all three - but be aware that things are changing rapidly, and new deals and new prices will be on the table in the coming months."