Broadband monitor puzzled by lack of VDSL service in NZ

TrueNet director surprised at ISPs' lack of VDSL promotion

Broadband measurement specialist TrueNet has expressed surprise that more New Zealand ISPs are not offering VDSL services. Its most recent series of measurements show VDSL offers significantly faster speeds than ADSL or even dedicated cable.

TrueNet director John Butt acknowledges, however, that his few VDSL measurement points are within one kilometre of an exchange. VDSL is widely recognised as offering reliable service only over relatively short distances from either an exchange or a roadside cabinet.

TrueNet testers are volunteers, so the company cannot test VDSL further out until someone with a suitably placed connection joins its programme, Butt says.

VDSL’s more symmetrical configuration means upload speeds offer even more advantage over the other technologies, says TrueNet. “While VDSL download speeds for TrueNet probes are better than cable or ADSL, VDSL upload speeds averaged 14Mb/s which is 22 times the ADSL average upload speed of 0.6Mb/s, and seven times the 2Mb/s offered with cable,” says TrueNet.

VDSL achieved download speeds of 17-20 megabits per second, according to TrueNet’s figures. Cable speeds, it says, are between 14 and 16 Mbps and ADSL speeds range between 1 and 17 Mbps, depending, again, on how close the connection is to the cabinet or exchange.

These speeds are for bulk file download and show a clear differentiation between technologies, Butt says. This contrasts with TrueNet’s measurements of web-browsing speeds, where the most marked difference is between different internet service providers.

Butt expresses surprise that ISPs are not promoting VDSL and its successor VDSL2 more assiduously. A look at the websites of the larger ISPs uncovers few mentions and no overt promotion of the technology. TelstraClear retails VDSL service in appropriate situations under its BizNet brand, says spokesman Gary Bowering.

Auckland-based WorldNet offers VDSL2 service for between $61 and $159 a month, depending on the length of the contract and the data cap. It claims to support the maximum speed of which the multiplexer (DSLAM) in the exchange or cabinet is capable, but appends a disclaimer: “Actual speeds may vary, depending on factors such as CPE [customer premises equipment] and wiring, the presence of a VDSL2 compatible splitter, service provider environment, volume of traffic, end-user location and network congestion.”

Telecom spokeswoman Anna Skerten says Telecom is trialling VDSL2 with a view to offering it to retail customers next year. "We see it as a great interim step to fibre in the home," she says. However, the user does need to be within 1Km of a cabinet or exchange and to have "really high-quality" wiring on their premises to get good performance, she says.

Meanwhile, TrueNet has recruited its first tester on the UltraFast Broadband (UFB) network, near Whangarei. “For the first time in his life, he’s watching YouTube and NetFlix,” Butt says – the latter through a proxy server in the US, as the service is not supported in New Zealand.

Again, bulk transmission speeds are higher than other broadband technologies, but there seems to be little or no advantage over older services such as ADSL or cable for web-browsing, Butt says.

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