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ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line service. It is called asymmetric because the download and upload speeds are not symmetrical (download is faster than upload).
ADSL broadband comes entirely through the copper broadband/telephone network, which isn't hugely efficient. Advertised speeds in New Zealand generally hover between 'up to 24Mbps', but you'll likely see an average of about 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speed. This is plenty for emailing, surfing the web and checking social media. But remember, the copper network was designed for carrying our voices back and forth, not for you to stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
Technically speaking there are two types of ADSL Broadband services within New Zealand but these are now generally grouped simply as ADSL. The more modern type of ADSL is known as ADSL2+ whilst the original is just called ADSL.
ADSL is the most basic broadband connection available on the copper network. It delivers around 2Mbps for distances up to 6km from the local cabinet. ADSL is mostly found in rural areas where new cabinets are yet to be installed.
ADSL2+ delivers speeds of up to 10Mbps to properties located within a 2km radius from a broadband cabinet. It delivers faster speeds but its performance can be influenced by a number of factors like how far away you are from the cabinet, the devices you are using, the quality and age of your modem and your home wiring.
Copper is much more than just a type of metal!
Copper is the term that you will have heard used to describe the original broadband network in New Zealand (and in most places across the world).
Copper is basically the original telephone network within New Zealand. It was the original communications network that delivers voice calls on your landline. The first broadband network, the one that the majority of Kiwis still use is the copper network. This is basically using the existing copper telephone lines to deliver broadband service. Because this network is using existing infrastructure it is the most widely available broadband service, but broadband performance over copper can vary a lot, and there are 3 different types of technology that run on it - VDSL, ADSL2+ or ADSL – you can read more about those by clicking their ‘name’.
The copper network has a number of limitations, not the least distance. In the case of distance on the copper network, the further away you are from the telephone cabinet or telephone exchange, the slower your broadband speed will be. The copper broadband network in New Zealand can deliver VDSL services within approximately 800m of the nearest telephone cabinet; ADSL 2+ within two kilometres of the cabinet and ADSL within six kilometres of the cabinet;
The copper network was designed for voice calls and the achievements made in repurposing it to deliver broadband internet should not be devalued, but it is a technology in terminal decline and fibre is very much the future of broadband in New Zealand.