Since it is a hassle to switch broadband providers you’ll want to research providers and broadband options to make sure you have the best choice. For starters it is important to know the different types of broadband, how they perform and how they are sold.
Types Of Broadband Connections
There are several types of connections to consider. Not all providers offer the same options. However, they usually specify which ones they use on their site. These are the commonly offered connection types in New Zealand…
A digital subscriber line uses the existing copper telephone lines in a home or business. DSL converts signals to digital and carries them directly across the lines. This brings the advantages of being able to use the phone and Internet at the same time, having access to faster data rates and having a connection that is always on.
ADSL uses a special modem that connects to a computer and phone line. If an Ethernet connection is required, a network card is required. For optimal service with this type of connection, a person must live in close proximity to the nearest phone exchange. This is typically not a problem for city residents but may be problematic for rural customers. The ISP can determine if a specific address is within an optimal range.
This is very fast broadband that maximizes the use of a copper phone line. It is mainly chosen to boost download speeds for people who need a faster Internet connection. VDSL works similarly to ADSL.
Fibre broadband is an increasingly popular choice, though at the time of writing is not available everywhere in New Zealand. You’ll need to check availability at your address with any provider your talk to.
Wireless broadband uses a radio link to connect customers to the ISP. The speeds are typically similar to DSL. Since wireless service can be fixed or mobile, it is a good choice for people who live in remote areas or need Internet access as they travel by train or bus. Fixed connections use wires and cords, and a mobile connection is possible with a special USB modem.
Broadband Performance Metrics
The main performance metrics to consider are the upload and download speeds. A download speed is how fast a customer pulls data from the Internet, and an upload speed is how fast the user sends data to the Internet. Since most people use the Internet to look at pages, check email or social media, stream movies and download files, a higher download speed is more important.
Download speed is measured in Megabits per second. Remember this when reading download speed options from ISPs. Using email and browsing simple pages requires atleast 0.5 and 1 Mbps, but is much better at higher rates. Basic streaming requires a minimum consistent speed of 1 Mbps, but again it will be much better at higher rates. For advanced gaming, video conferencing and streaming in HD each require about 4 Mbps. Think about the reason for using the Internet, and choose a speed package or type of connection based on that. Fibre and VDSL are faster than ADSL. Wireless is slightly slower than fibre or VDSL but can be close in its performance metrics. If in doubt opt for the fastest internet connection you can afford…no one ever regreted a faster connection.
How Broadband Is Sold
Broadband in New Zealand is usually marketed as a bundled service with a traditional phone line. However, some providers like Bigpipe may offer fibre or DSL broadband as a standalone service, this is often referred to as “naked broadband”. Naked broadband is especially popular with ‘cord-cutters’, people who no longer want a traditional landline at home, but you can buy your broad band from one provider and have a traditional phone service from another. If you do need regular phone service then the broadband/phone pages are usually pretty good value.