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New Zealand's broadband speed and quality improved in the last quarter of 2008 as newer, faster ADSL2+ technology was installed.

The fourth Epitiro/IDC quarterly report for the Commerce Commission on New Zealand broadband quality, released today , said the New Zealand Broadband Index showed a significant increase in broadband performance across most measures by the end of 2008.

It was partly the result of a change in measurement technology to the use of high-speed broadband ADSL2+ modems for the first time, the report said.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL1) technology allows broadband over a copper line but offers slower speeds up to a maximum of 8Mbps.

ADSL2+ is a newer, faster upgrade that can deliver up to three times that speed under optimum conditions.

Telecom says that 58 per cent of its ADSL capable lines have now been upgraded to ADSL2+ and it has now distributed 220,000 ADSL2+ modems, up from 170,000 in July.

However the higher speed can only be used with ADSL2+ modems on appropriate broadband plans and are relatively close to a Telecom exchange.

The survey captured information from the twelve ISPs every 15 minutes on a 24-hour basis across eleven sites in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Broadband quality was evaluated on eight parameters that collectively affect the use of popular services, such as email, browsing, gaming and viewing video.

Key findings:
- Telecom, TelstraClear DSL, Vodafone, Orcon and Slingshot have boosted their broadband scores between 99 per cent and 166 per cent over 2008.

- TelstraClear, which uses an entirely different coaxial cable technology, also saw a 60 per cent improvement from an already higher base.

- In 2008, the "other" group of second tier ISPs have improved their aggregated score by 53 per cent, although there is wide variation of performance within this.

- The step-change impact of the use of new ADSL2+ modems was perhaps most apparent in the service variability charts for the fourth quarter.

The December quarter results showed New Zealand's broadband scores have doubled over 2008 - a reflection of both the change in measurement technology to higher-speed ADSL2+ to reflect Telecom's investment in this technology , and also ongoing significant network investment from Telecom and other players in other areas of the network.