Rural users shortchanged on broadband, analyst finds

Slingshot, Orcon named top broadband providers by broadband analyst Epitiro

Slingshot and Orcon are leading the broadband performance rankings, according to broadband measurement firm Epitiro.

However, Epitiro says it has only included data from "Big Five" providers: Telecom, Vodafone, TelstraClear, Orcon and Slingshot in its analysis.

“Orcon’s performance is particularly strong in Auckland, where its unbundled services perform well, but it also tends to be a good performer in most other regions of New Zealand too. Slingshot also performs well,” says Epitiro's managing director Mike Cranna.

Cranna also warns that broadband performance is highly variable. Consumers should run tests from their home and compare the results to other ISPs locally before making a purchase decision, he says.

"We encourage all users to download our freeware if you want your service experience to be included in our data.”

Epitiro has also identified significant differences between ISP performance in regions that contain one of New Zealand’s five large cities, and those that don’t. He characterises this as an "urban/rural divide".

Download speeds outside the big five city regions are a third slower than those within them, he says. Upload speeds are half as fast.

“2008 was a big year for broadband investment. Cabinetisation, content caching, ADSL2+ and unbundling have all had positive impacts on consumer experience of broadband services," he says.

"But the impacts of these thus far have been felt more in the larger urban areas.”

Cranna says Epitiro has has changed its methodology, looking at ISP performance from two perspectives. First, In the home user experience analysis and, second, in the lab service performance analysis.

“Broadband is tricky to measure, because the ISP doesn’t always have control over all the factors that determine the quality of their service. This was one of the main drivers behind LLU. So when ranking ISPs, we use different methodologies to assess service performance on the one hand, and user experience of that performance on the other.”

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