The one-year contract extension with independent testing partner SamKnows was announced alongside the release of its latest Autumn report, covering broadband performance across New Zealand in March 2021. The Autumn report confirms ongoing high levels of performance comparable to the previous Summer report. 

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said the report also includes an analysis of dropouts and disconnections across technologies for the first time. 

“Short dropouts affect the performance of real time applications like gaming and video conferencing so we wanted to get a picture of how much of an issue this is for New Zealand users across different technologies,” he said. 

“While dropouts are more frequent with ADSL and Fixed Wireless connections than for fibre, the incidence is so low that most users won’t encounter any problems. It confirms that New Zealanders have access to world-class broadband services no matter what technology they decide to use.” 

Mr Gilbertson said that in addition to helping consumers compare the performance of broadband technologies, providers and plans so that they are not limited to selecting a plan based on price, it is also a useful tool for providers to see how they compare against their competitors, and to identify and fix performance issues. As an example, the programme identified poor performance across Fibre Max services last year and the Commission worked with industry to boost data speeds.

“Fibre Max data speeds increased by one-third between September and December last year after industry fixed performance issues highlighted by the programme,” Mr Gilbertson said. “It’s great to see this report confirming that industry has locked in these gains for Fibre Max customers.  It shows the programme is working for New Zealand consumers and should be extended.”

Mr Gilbertson said the extension of the SamKnows contract will provide continuity for consumers while the Commission considers longer-term options for measuring broadband, including in-home WiFi experience and, potentially, the measurement of mobile coverage and performance. 

The UK-based SamKnows is a world leader in internet performance measurement, covering almost half of the world’s internet population. The Commission contracted SamKnows to measure the performance of broadband connections of approximately 3,000 New Zealand households in 2018 following a tender process for an initial three-year period.

Mr Gilbertson said that the Commission still has space for volunteers to install a SamKnows Whitebox in their homes. He said that the box does not record any personal information or browsing history or interfere with internet services. It also gives volunteers access to their own personal broadband performance information in real time through a personalised online performance dashboard. 

More information about Measuring Broadband NZ, including registering to become a volunteer, can be found on the MBNZ website. The Commission’s volunteer recruitment video can be watched here.

The Autumn report and an online dashboard to explore the results in more detail are available on the Commission’s website.