Spark fixed wireless broadband

New Zealand fixed wireless broadband speeds are on a par with ADSL services delivered over copper lines.

In tests broadband monitoring firm TrueNet found it is: “considerably slower than VDSL and far behind fibre”.

High latency

TrueNet says wireless services slow more than other technologies at busy times. This is because customers jostle over shared bandwidth.

The tests also found fixed wireless has the highest latency of the broadband technologies tested.

TrueNet is an independent broadband performance measurement company. It holds a contract with the Commerce Commission to report on speeds.

In the latest test TrueNet added fixed wireless broadband to its tests. It already measures speeds on fibre and copper networks and the Vodafone HFC network.

Fixed wireless broadband uses the mobile phone network to deliver broadband to homes.

Spark and Vodafone sell fixed wireless

Spark and Vodafone sell fixed wireless to Rural Broadband Initiative customers. They also offer services to residential customers in urban areas. Spark’s Skinny subsidiary also sells fixed wireless broadband.

When fixed wireless first appeared delighted customers reported high speeds. In part this was because of light networks use. As more customers share the limited wireless bandwidth, the speed per user drops.

ADSL download speeds

TrueNet found fixed wireless services download web pages at an average speed of between seven and eight mbps. ADSL copper connections run at roughly the same speed.

Copper customers with VDSL can expect to download web pages at around twice the speed. Even the most modest fibre connection would be four or five times the speed of wireless.

Most fibre connections now running at 100 mbps or faster. Users can download at close to 20 times the speed of a wireless connection.

Fixed wireless has a general speed of 22 mbps. This compares to 11 mbps for ADSL and 37 mbps for VDSL. Fibre and cable speeds are higher again.

Spark has been aggressive selling fixed wireless in recent months. The company says it prefers fibre. Yet it has pushes wireless to low-use customers as an alternative to copper connections.

Many low-use urban fixed wireless customers are not concerned about speeds. Another large slice of users choose fixed wireless because they don’t have a better alternative.

Of course wireless technology is evolving, it can improve with network upgrades.

Most of TrueNet’s funding is from the Commerce Commission. Chorus funded the company to test fixed wireless connections.

6 thoughts on “Fixed wireless laggard in independent broadband test

  1. At waimarama (pictured above) taylor broadband does 45mbit speeds there on fixed wireless, but not on RBI fixed wireless

  2. I think you would find that latency concerns are a ‘feature’ of lte/3g/4g networks. Fixed wireless provided by other competitors to spark/vodafone do not generally have these concerns.

    • That’s a good point. We need to draw a clear line between the mobile carriers who offer fixed wireless broadband and the niche service providers or wisps.

  3. Our Amuri.net wireless connection gives us 90/90Mbps at the modem, pings 15-25ms, and there’s an upgrade path in a year or two when the next gen radios are low enough power for the solar install on the hill above us.

    • One thing that’s been made clear since I wrote the story is that the small scale fixed wireless broadband providers offer a distinct service from Spark, Skinny and Vodafone. In most cases the performance is better and the support is in a different league.

      • Absolutely. And WISPs have tech options to beat 4G RBI connections. A 5G rollout, if and when it comes, might shift the balance, though…

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