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Network changes fix fast fibre roadblocks identified by Comcom

Network changes fix fast fibre roadblocks identified by Comcom

Tow retailers and one local fibre company make changes to improve performance of elite plan

Tristan Gilbertson (Telecommunications Commissioner)

Tristan Gilbertson (Telecommunications Commissioner)

Credit: Supplied

An investigation into the variable performance of super fast Fibre Max plans has helped multiple providers  identify changes that could be made to improve performance.

A report by Commerce Commission monitoring agent SamKnows identified variable optical network terminal (ONT) performance (the modem in the user's premises), peering issues and a potential Linux kernel bug and said most of these have been resolved while fixes were under development for the rest.

The bugs meant some Fibre Max services were not achieving the advertised speeds.

SamKnows reported it believed that one factor in particular, identified by both an unnamed retailer and a local fibre company, was the main cause of varied performance seen on the Fibre Max tier. 

This relates to packet loss occurring under high-burst conditions on certain models of ONT. This was caused by burst parameter configuration, rather than any congestion factors.

This affected broadband connections with higher round-trip latencies to the test servers much more than connections with lower latencies.

The retail service provider made two key changes to their network in response to this discovery, resulting in Fibre Max performance improving to levels comparable with 1Gbit/s services in other countries. 

The local fibre company was is looking at a design change that, for some RSPs depending on their specific network configuration, may also improve Fibre Max performance. 

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) welcomed the Commerce Commission’s ‘Measuring Broadband New Zealand Spring Report’ last week which it said confirmed New Zealand telecommunications consumers continued to receive good performing broadband services.

TCF CEO, Geoff Thorn said the willingness of the industry to come together to identify the issues, and find solutions demonstrated what can be achieved when the industry and the Commerce Commission work together. 

"The final outcome of the investigation is now indicating results much closer to what we would expect and confirms that Kiwis have access to world-class broadband," he said.  

He said New Zealand broadband speeds were continuously improving and fixed line broadband speeds were above the OECD average and rated 23rd in the world out of 222 in a recent study.

The Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme helped to identify and fix the network problems.

“Since our independent testing programme was launched in 2018, our testing has shown that the performance of Fibre Max plans has varied greatly," said Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson.

"For example, just over a third of households on Fibre Max plans achieved download speeds higher than the expected 800 Mbit/s."

The resulting network changes are helping to lift the performance of Fibre Max plans. Two retailers had already seen their average download speeds improve by 150-250 Mbit/s, Gilbertson said.

“There are further changes planned to enhance the performance of Fibre Max plans including improvements to wholesale equipment. We are also making improvements to the programme by and adding a new test server in Christchurch to reduce the tested latency for South Island consumers.”


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