Residential fibre broadband services appear to be delivering less than 75 per cent of their maximum available speeds, based on the first findings from the Commerce Commission's monitoring programme.
The results, from an October test of 758 households, showed average peak-time speeds for fibre were 71 per cent of the maximum available, rising to 83 per cent for VDSL. Peak-time ADSL speeds were just below 80 per cent of maximum and 24-hour performance was little different across all technologies.
While that performance was less than the Commerce Commission had expected, the regulator noted the performance on popular 100-megabit fibre plans was typically about 85 per cent of maximum.
"The big finding from this report is that while fibre broadband is delivering much faster speeds than copper-based services, it is not yet performing at its peak," Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale said.
"This is especially the case for the highest speed fibre services, which consumers pay a premium price for."
More than 1.3 million homes and business are able to connect to ultrafast broadband as a result of the $1.7 billion roll-out the Crown has funded since 2010.
The programme is about 77 per cent through and earlier this month the government announced another $130 million of funding to add another 10,000 rural homes, 59 tourism areas and 365 kilometres of state highway to the coverage. That will take coverage to 99.8 per cent of the population.
The Commerce Commission started its Measuring Broadband New Zealand initiative to provide independent information on performance of different plans and technologies so that consumers could buy services based on both cost and service.
The survey draws on data gathered using SamKnows Whiteboxes installed in participants' homes. They connect to a homeowner's router and run regular tests when families are not using the internet.
The October data showed download speeds across all plans and technologies averaged about 160 megabits per second, with upload speeds at about 90Mbps. Peak period speeds were only marginally slower.
Fibre download speeds exceeded 240Mbps, compared with less than 10Mbps for ADSL and just over 40Mbps for VDSL.
The results showed that about 22 per cent of users were experiencing download speeds of close to 100Mbps, while more than 25 per cent had speeds of 10Mbps or less. More than half of test users fell within that range.
Less than 4 per cent of users tested achieved speeds of more than 880Mbps.
Within New Zealand, average latency – the time it took a packet of test data to reach a remote server and return to the user's device – was about 25 milliseconds for fibre, 40ms for VDSL and more than 60ms for ADSL.
The survey noted that while large-scale providers like Google and Facebook were likely to host content in New Zealand, many other gaming or website providers would be based overseas, increasing that response time.
While that latency was less than 50ms to a server in Sydney, it jumped close to 150ms to one in San Francisco. South Africa – at more than 450ms – was more than expected, and was possibly due to traffic taking an indirect route, according to the survey report.
"All other locations, including the United Kingdom, have latency slower than 200ms. This means that content hosted outside New Zealand and Australia is likely to take a noticeable amount of time for users in New Zealand to access.
"These latency results are approximately what you would expect given New Zealand's remoteness from these measurement locations."
The next survey is expected in April.