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Fibre (UFB) vs VDSL vs ADSL

When it comes to internet in New Zealand, things have come a long way!

For a reasonable price we can expect to get very fast download speeds, unlimited data, and great dependability - all in all we're able to get a great broadband connection to let us work and play online reliably.

Many people aren't clear on what the different types of NZ broadband actually are, and which they should choose...

So today, we're going to demystify what ADSL, VDSL and Fibre (also known as UFB) are, and when you'll want to use each.

Fibre (UFB - Ultra Fast Broadband)

Running over fibre optic lines that are connected to your home, Fibre broadband is the gold standard of New Zealand internet connections.

Let's put it this way - if you have Fibre available at your property boundary (or better yet, a Fibre ONT already installed in your premises), Fibre is without a doubt the one to go for! Even if it hasn't yet been installed into your home, in most cases now the install technicians are able to complete their installation in a single visit of a few hours.

The upload and download speed of Fibre is just awesome.

When selecting a Fibre broadband plan you can choose from a range of speeds depending on your needs, but personally I wouldn't recommend you go for anything less than 100/20, which is a fantastic starting point. This will have most people happily downloading, streaming videos, and having video calls to their hearts desire.

When you have really heavy internet users in your home (teenagers, gamers, flatmates for example!), then you'll probably want to look at Fibre Max which is up to roughly 10 times faster than even Fibre 100! This is what I have, and for only $20 more it is absolutely worth it in my opinion.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go - check out this rough guide for potential max download speeds to see what I mean:

The cost of Fibre Max has recently fallen too, making it only slightly more expensive than Fibre 100 - and as you can see, it gives your household a LOT more headroom for multiple people to be constantly downloading, streaming media, gaming and uploading without degrading anyone elses online experience.

The UFB initiative is a nation wide rollout of this high speed broadband across New Zealand, making sure that the vast majority of properties can easily get access to the sort of connectivity that was extremely hard to come by only a few short years ago (and is still the stuff of dreams in many countries around the world!)

If you're not sure whether your property can get Fibre, just use our broadband checker to instantly find out. (Spoiler alert - most NZ homes and businesses can get Fibre now, with more being added every day).

The uptake of Fibre has been widespread, with more kiwis connected via Fibre broadband than are connected over ADSL and VDSL combined now.

VDSL

If you don't have Fibre available at your place, VDSL is a good option. It's the fastest broadband connection type that can run over copper lines - which of course almost every property in NZ has already running into their premises.

In most cases it is considerably faster than an ADSL connection at the same property would be, both for download AND upload speed.

Because it runs over copper "phone line" infrastructure, it's speeds are more constrained by distances. The best example of this is the distance between your house and your local Chorus exchange or cabinet (Chorus owns and operates most of the copper lines and related infrastructure throughout New Zealand).

The further that distance is, the weeker the signal on the line is essentially, meaning that max speeds possible start to drop off.

Like any type of broadband connection running over copper such as ADSL, it's also more likely than Fibre to have occasional disconnections due to bad weather and other situations, for example water getting into the copper infrastructure where it shouldn't be.

Fibre (which sends light signals down the fibre optic lines) isn't nearly as susceptible to this sort of issue.

ADSL

Now starting to show it's age somewhat, ADSL broadband is largely going to only be used if your don't have Fibre available at your property yet (a small percentage of New Zealand homes and businesses at this point) - and if you're just too far away from your nearest exchange to be able to get VDSL (now a very rare situation). This is most common in rural properties, but does happen in some rare cases in suburbs and towns too.

On an ADSL connection, you'll still be able to do more than on the very slow internet connections of days gone by, but you'll likely find that if you have a more than 2 people in your household who are regularly wanting to stream HD shows, download games and their updates, and so on, that you can run into buffering issues and other annoyances from time to time, when one of you is hogging the lions share of the available bandwidth.

Obviously for some people this is not going to be the end of the world, and for others they use their internet connection only occasionally and would hardly notice the difference. For example if you still watch broadcast TV, have never used Netflix, rarely use YouTube, and aren't into downloading things or gaming - then an ADSL connection will probably be just fine from a bandwidth perspective.

So now what?

Alright, so you now know what the main differences between Fibre, VDSL and ADSL are, so you might be wondering where to from here?

First things first, check what broadband you can get at your address currently. It only takes a moment to do.

If it comes back saying that Fibre is not available yet, I'd recommend you go with VDSL - but otherwise, definitely go for Fibre broadband.

If you love all the awesome HD and 4K streaming content out there on Netflix etc, downloading files, gaming, backing up your data etc to the cloud, or if you have more than a few people in your household, then go for Fibre Max - it just gives you so much capacity to all enjoy the glorious internet and all it has to offer us!