Whether you’re checking your email or using multiple devices to stream your favorite media, a fast, reliable broadband connection is essential. Most providers in New Zealand offer a range of packages catering to different needs in terms of budget and speed, but terms and availability vary. Understanding the differences between connections will allow you to choose the best ISP to support your Internet use.
The most affordable type of broadband Internet for New Zealand residents is ADSL, short for asymmetric digital subscriber line. Since the signal is sent over existing copper telephone wires, most homes are already equipped to handle the connection. When you sign up for ADSL, a microfilter is installed on the line to enable you to use both the Internet and the phone at the same time. Speeds may vary depending on location and provider, but you can generally expect to get up to 20 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.
A very high bitrate digital subscriber line connection, or VDSL, is also delivered over phone lines but provides much faster speeds than ADSL. However, only about 60 percent of homes in New Zealand can currently get VDSL. The connection requires a VDSL-enabled telephone cabinet at a distance close enough to prevent the signal from slowing down too much as it travels through the wires. With VDSL, you can get upload speeds of 10 Mbps and download speeds that exceed 50 Mbps.
Ultra-fast broadband, also called fibre, is the fastest Internet you can currently get. As part of a government initiative, fibre cables are being run to 75 percent of New Zealand homes and businesses. The goal of the project is to bring better broadband speeds to as much of the country as possible, thereby increasing efficiency, improving communications and boosting commerce. The fibre network is able to deliver superior speeds by using optical signals sent over plastic or glass cables. Transmitting the signal with light instead of electricity minimizes degradation by removing the resistance experienced with traditional phone lines.
Access to UFB is limited because the initiative is still being rolled out, but if you can get the service in your area, you have your choice of download speeds ranging from 30 Mbps to 200 Mbps. Prices can be $70 to $140 per month depending on the speed you choose, and there may be an additional fee to run cables from the road to your home.
When comparing plans, you’ll come across packages with home phone service and those offering only broadband, sometimes called “naked” broadband. Bundling phone and Internet together is the cheapest option if you still use a home phone. Providers like Trust Power specialise in bundled phone, power and internet package deals. Most providers offer a wireless router as part of their packages, but you can also choose to use your own device.
The price you pay for broadband depends not only on the type of connection but also the speed. If the most you do on a regular basis is check your email and a few social media sites, your best bet is an ADSL connection. VDSL provides support for a bit more, including streaming media, but it may not be able to handle an avid gaming habit. UFB opens up the greatest number of possibilities for use, but getting access to the highest speeds can mean paying a premium.
Although the number of broadband plans in New Zealand without data caps has increased from 155,000 to 628,000, many low-cost plans still put a limit on how much data you can use per month. Additional data use incurs overage charges, and upgrading to unlimited data increases the price of your plan.
If you choose ADSL or VDSL, the distance of your home from the signal source will affect the speed and quality of the connection. Only UFB can offer virtually uninhibited connections, but availability of fibre will remain restricted until all the new cables have been run.
As you shop around for the right ISP, consider speed, price, availability and any additional services offered. Start with a package that covers your current level of use to see how it works, and upgrade as needed to the levels of speed and data that offer the best Internet experience.