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Understand broadband performance

Find out how to get the best out of your broadband connection.

There are several factors that can affect your broadband performance. Some of these factors may be within your home. Others may be external factors.

 

Types of connection

The first factor to look at is the type of broadband connection you have. There are four main types of broadband in New Zealand:

  • Wireless broadband

    This is high speed broadband that connects to your modem from the nearest cell tower. This can be the same 4G or 5G network that your mobile uses.

    Learn more about wireless broadband

  • Fibre broadband

    Fibre carries information through lightweight fibre optic cables. It provides reliability and has different speed options to choose from.

    Local Fibre Companies (LFCs) install Fibre in New Zealand. The LFCs Spark uses are Chorus, NorthPower, Tuatahi First Fibre, Enable and Unison.

    Learn more about fibre broadband

  • VDSL and ADSL broadband

    These are older technologies that transfer information using traditional copper lines.

The types of broadband that are available to you will depend on your location, the wireless network coverage and the availability of fibre in your area. To see what's available at your address, use the address checker.

Check address

Your household and usage

Each household will have different needs from their broadband. Some of the factors within your home that can affect your broadband performance are:

  • The number of people using the internet at the same time.
  • What they're using the internet for. For example, gaming or streaming high-definition movies uses more data than browsing websites.
  • The number of devices in your household. Most people have mobile phones and laptops. You might also have WiFi devices such as smart TVs, security cameras and smart lighting.
  • The size and layout of your house. If you're far away from your modem, or on a different level of the house, your WiFi speed may slow down.
  • Your broadband plan. To perform well, your plan needs to have enough speed and data for what your household needs.

    If you use the internet on a single device it can access the majority of the speed that's available. When you have multiple devices using the internet at the same time, they share the available speed between them.

    To find the right broadband plan, consider your household's current usage and needs. If you've had your current plan for a while, these needs may have changed since you got it.

    See how to change plan

Your hardware and devices

The hardware and devices in your household can impact your broadband performance. These are some factors to consider:

  • Modem compatibility

    Modems have maximum speeds they can support. Older modems might not be able to achieve the speeds that some plans are capable of delivering. If you've had your modem for a while, check whether it can support the speed of your broadband plan.

    Check modem compatibility

  • Modem location

    If you're using WiFi, where you put your modem can make a difference to your performance. Make sure you put the modem in a central location and off the ground. Keep it away from items that might interfere with its signal.

    If you have wireless broadband, where you put your modem is particularly important. It needs to be in the right place to be able to get a strong connection with the cell tower.

    • Put your modem close to a window in a central location in your house.
    • Don't place it in a cupboard or drawer or behind blinds or curtains.
    • Try moving it to different locations and turning it to face different ways until you get a good signal. For a 4G modem this means you'll have three signal bars. For a 5G modem the 5G signal light will be green.

      Learn more about where to put your 5G modem

  • Older devices

    If a device you're connecting to the internet is older, it may work but not be compatible with higher speeds. This means you might get a limited speed compared to newer devices. Check your device's specifications to see what speeds it can support.

    Older or outdated software on your devices can also cause poor performance. Make sure you keep your software updated to the latest version.

  • Software and web browsers

    Having too many apps or software using your internet at the same time can affect your experience. They may run in the background without you noticing. Having too many browser tabs open can also slow down your browser and speed.

    Closing some apps and browser tabs may help improve your broadband performance.

  • Connecting via ethernet vs WiFi

    There are two main ways to connect your device to the internet. The first is connecting an ethernet cable from your modem to your device. The second is connecting wirelessly over WiFi. To see the ways your device can connect, check your device's user manual.

    If you're connecting via WiFi, there are many factors that can affect performance.

    Understand WiFi speeds

  • Viruses, spyware and malware

    Viruses, spyware, and malware can slow your device down. They can also impact your broadband speed. These run in the background and use your broadband, resulting in poorer performance.

    Make sure you have anti-virus software installed on your device. Keep it up updated so you stay protected.

  • Interference from other devices

    Concrete or metal barriers like walls, floors, TVs or fish tanks can get in the way of your WiFi signal. Other devices in your household can also interfere with your WiFi. For example, cordless phones, refrigerators and baby monitors.

  • Cables and wiring

    If you have fibre broadband and connect using an ethernet cable, the cable can affect your speed. Check the category printed on the cable. For the best performance your cable needs to be Cat 5e or above.

    If you have ADSL or VDSL broadband, you'll need filters. These go on your jackpoints to stop your phone line interfering with your broadband.

    To help you set up your broadband for your modem and technology, see our support pages.

    Go to modem device help

External factors

Factors outside your home can also affect your broadband performance. Some of these are:

  • Distance from the cell tower and physical interference

    If you have wireless broadband, your broadband signal comes from a cell tower. The further away from the cell tower you are, the weaker the signal will be. The number of users who are also connecting to that cell tower at the same time as you can also impact performance. There are also factors such as trees, buildings or hills being between your house and the cell tower.

    If these factors are degrading your broadband performance, consider switching to a different type of broadband. Check your address to see what's available.

    Check address

  • Distance from the exchange

    If you have ADSL or VDSL broadband, it's connected by copper cables. The further away you are from your local telephone exchange or roadside cabinet, the slower the connection will be.

    If performance is an issue, consider changing to a different type of broadband. Check your address to see what's available.

    Check address

  • Weather and outages

    Weather events are more likely to affect ADSL and VDSL broadband. Severe weather events and natural disasters can also affect cell towers and exchanges. There may be temporary outages.

  • Peak hours and congestion

    Congestion happens when there are more people in your area using broadband at the same time. The times when this happens are known as peak hours. During peak hours your broadband may not perform as well as it does at less popular times.

    All broadband technologies can slow down during peak hours. You may notice it less if you're on a type of broadband that has faster speeds.