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Akamai report fails to do justice to NZ broadband speeds

Everyone living in New Zealand knows broadband is getting faster. A lot faster. Regular Truenet reports documenting ISP performance underline this.

Many people move from copper to fast fibre networks every day. This week sees new gigabit fibre plans which will further boost speeds.

It isn’t just fixed-line broadband. New Zealand’s mobile networks deliver more data faster than ever before.

Despite this, New Zealand fell in Akamai’s broadband speed rankings in the second quarter of 2016.

According to Akamai, the average broadband connection speed in New Zealand is now 10.6Mbps.

Not keeping pace

It is a big 26 percent jump on a year earlier. Yet Akamai reports that’s not enough to keep pace with speed improvements in the rest of the world. Akamai places New Zealand at 42 in it global league table. In the last survey we were 41.

The numbers are worse when Akamai measures the average peak connection speed. We only rank at 47.

In both cases we are well ahead of Australia. The gap between us is growing. Or, more to the point, Australia is tumbling down the global table at an alarming rate. But then Australia is a case study in how not to roll out fast internet.

Akamai’s New Zealand numbers fail to do justice to our broadband industry.

It's all about what you measure

There are reasons for this. A survey is only as good as what you measure. The traffic Akamai measures does not tell the whole story. Not by a long chalk.
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The overwhelming bulk of New Zealand’s data traffic is streaming video. At peak times as much as 90 percent of all traffic in this country is streaming video. Even at quiet moments, streaming is significant.

None of this streaming traffic touches Akamai servers. Nor does much cloud computing traffic or services like Voice over IP.

Life in the slow lane

In effect, Akamai is only measuring the slowest New Zealand web traffic. And much of it is at the margins of our overall internet experience.

Most of the traffic Akamai measures concerns HTML requests from personal computers, laptops, tablets and phones. What you see is an average of everything hitting Akamai servers.

Much of this traffic will travel over wi-fi connections. Often wi-fi is far slower than the broadband networks.

Cafe internet

In cafes and public places a lot of traffic might share the same wi-fi and broadband connection. The numbers will even include some dial-up users. Although there can’t be many these days.

While Akamai has servers located in Auckland and other main centres, they are often a long way from users. At least some of the traffic Akamai measures is on the other side of the world. The routes from here to there are not always direct.

Our numbers are never going to scrub up well when compared to compact city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong who are number one and two for average peak speeds.

Akamai’s reports are more useful when it comes to marking our own progress. New Zealand broadband speeds are getting better at a decent pace. As already mentioned, there is a 26 percent year-on-year increase.

The average speed is 150 percent up on the same quarter in 2012, at the start of the UFB and RBI projects. So, some clear progress there then.

Akamai report fails to do justice to NZ broadband speeds was first posted at billbennett.co.nz.

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