The Commerce Commission’s latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand report, from their independent testing partner SamKnows, reveals a 10% drop in the peak time broadband speeds of high-speed Fibre Max plans since the last report.
"While Fibre Max plans are achieving the fastest download speeds of the plans we test, this deterioration is a concern given the premium price consumers pay for this service," Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson says.
"The drop in performance is apparent across all retailers and wholesalers. Testing shows there is also significant variation in results for these plans. For example, Fibre Max plans are around 200 Mbps slower in the South Island than in the North Island.
"We are continuing our work with SamKnows and industry stakeholders to understand the reasons for these variations and the drop in speed. We expect this will result in providers achieving average performance that is more in-line with advertised speeds."
The report says that a decrease in 24/7 speed was expected due to the change in internet usage patterns following Alert Level 4 in late March 2020. The drop is apparent for all RSPs and wholesalers, so cannot be attributes to any single provider.
In short, we’re not sure why there is a drop in performance. The Commission and SamKnows are running further experimental tests on Fibre Max plans with input from Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and fibre wholesalers. Stay tuned as we wait for further insights from the Commission.
Fibre Max is a type of Fibre Broadband that providers higher raw speeds than Fibre 100. You may also see Fibre Max referred to as Gigabit Fibre plans. The performance of Fibre Max varies greatly between Service Providers and across different parts of the country.
Fibre 100 plans are usually the best option for a home broadband plan. It’s usually only worthwhile upgrading to a Fibre Max plan if your Fibre 100 plan isn’t meeting your needs and there is a genuine need for additional performance. Fibre Max doesn’t necessarily outperform Fibre100 for intensive applications like high definition video streaming or online gaming. Examples of situations where Fibre Max might provide benefits over Fibre 100 include frequently uploading large files or using data-heavy applications hosted overseas.
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It’s important to keep in mind that with the exception of Fibre Max, testing shows that overall internet performance has remained stable, despite changes in broadband use as a result of COVID-19. So overall performance for popular Fibre plans like Fibre 100 has remained stable.
If you are new to Fibre Broadband plans then a ‘standard’ Fibre100 or Fibre200 broadband plan is a good option to start with. These plans will comfortably provide the level of performance you need in a standard Kiwi home.
If you do need a higher level of performance, Fibre Max plans are still comfortably the best option, despite a 10% drop in performance. According to the report Fibre 100 plans delivered an average of 98.5 Mbps compared to 607.9 Mbps delivered by Fibre Max Plans. So, they are still the best option for high speed plans in NZ.