Broadband performance is important, and so is monitoring it. However, I'm not convinced that the local contenders, TrueNet and Epitiro provide a great deal of useful information beyond limited snapshots, but the New Zealand regulator, the Commerce Commission still seems to like them.
Over the States, the Federal Communications Commission has released the July 2012 "Measuring Broadband America" report which is more what we need: lots of detail, and it talks about different technologies and the effect they have on broadband performance. Plus, the tests are done with large samples over long periods.
There's a breakdown of the types of content traversing the Internet such as HTTP data, VoIP and streaming video, which is great. A report along the Measuring Broadband America would be great for New Zealand, so maybe the Commission should have word with FCC and SamKnows which worked on it?
Interesting things in the report: US ISPs are becoming better at and more consistent with their delivery of advertised speeds. Yes, that's actually a desired outcome there, unlike in NZ where we go "best-effort service" and pretty much leave it at that, without any performance guarantees.
Also interesting: customers in the States are subscribing to faster speeds and getting them. That's one in the eye for those who say 2-3Mbps should be enough for anyone and it's silly to invest in technologies that bring faster broadband.
So which technology delivers the most consistent experience and advertised speeds then? This chart from the report say it's fibre-optic networking:
Cable is OK, but DSL really doesn't cut the mustard.
In terms of consistency, fibre is what you want:
DSL, not really, unless you're happy to get only 85 per cent of the advertised speed.
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The problem with naming and shaming
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