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What are the benefits of NZ broadband performance testing?

05 Jul 18

The Commerce Commission has published a paper looking at the past decade of broadband performance testing, ahead of the first round of information to be released by its new independent testing partner, SamKnows.

“Over the past decade, we’ve supported independent performance testing to help consumers choose the right broadband for their household,” says Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale

“We’ve done this because when you buy a fridge you can pop into a whiteware store to compare makes and models, but when you buy an internet connection it’s more difficult to compare plans, providers, and technologies.”

The paper explains how and why we do performance testing and reflects some of the benefits of testing over the past decade.

Notable events include Netflix’ arrival in New Zealand in 2015 which saw providers’ having to manage network congestion caused by large increases in video traffic over broadband networks, and increasing broadband speeds around the country mirroring the Government’s rollout of ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband initiatives.

“When consumers are thinking of switching broadband plans, things have often changed since the last time they were in the market,” Dr Gale says.

”New Zealand’s average broadband speed has increased threefold in the past five years alone, and with more options available than ever before we want to empower consumers to make good purchasing decisions.”

In May 2018, the Commission announced SamKnows as the provider to deliver an enhanced broadband testing programme with probes in 3,000 households.

Volunteers will have access to their own personal broadband performance information in real time through a personalised online performance dashboard.

This information may help diagnose problems and improve their home broadband performance.

To date, more than 2,600 volunteers have signed up for the testing programme. Volunteers can sign up on the Commerce Commission’s website.

The first round of testing information is expected to be made available in October 2018.

The Commission is required to monitor and report on competition, performance, and development of telecommunications markets under the Telecommunications Act.

The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill going through Parliament will also require the Commission to provide consumers with independent information to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

Its first ‘topic’ paper on telecommunications market developments in 2017 was published in April and it is aiming to develop additional papers over the next year on specific topics of interest, market developments, and trends.

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