Whether you’re looking for ultrafast fibre, wireless broadband, or even a satellite internet plan, it pays to compare broadband deals so you can get the best plan for you at the best price. Read on to find out more about the technologies available in New Zealand, how to compare plans and how to find the best deal.
In New Zealand, you can find plans that use fibre, copper, wireless or satellite broadband.
Fibre, also known as Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB), has become the new face of broadband in New Zealand. Offering speeds far greater than we were used to with ADSL and VDSL, fibre has been rolling out throughout the country over the last few years thanks to a government initiative to update New Zealand’s broadband infrastructure and improve the lives of Kiwis.
Rather than delivering broadband through the copper cables that ADSL and VDSL use, fibre has its own network of optic fibre cables. As these cables use light signals that are not affected by the factors that influence the performance of copper broadband, fibre provides a more reliable experience.
It also allows for multiple people in your household to use devices simultaneously without seeing a dip in quality. This is why fibre is becoming increasingly popular for busy households with members that want to stream, download, game or surf without having to worry about buffering or lagging.
Fibre is not available everywhere in New Zealand just yet, but it is available to around 80% of the population in various regions. If it is available in your street but you haven’t had it installed in your home, you may have to wait a few weeks or a few months for this process. You can find out more about how it works and where it is available in our guide to fibre broadband.
Like with copper broadband, the maximum speed that you can get for fibre depends on the type of plan you choose and with which provider. It is typical to see two or three fibre plans available at an ISP, but some may offer only one.
As a starting point, the majority of providers offer standard fibre with download speeds of up to 100Mpbs and upload speeds of 20Mbps. The next step up is a plan with download speeds of up to 200Mpbs. This is sometimes referred to as Fibre 200 or Faster Fibre.
The fastest fibre plan, called Gigantic Fibre, Ultra Fibre or Fibre Max by some providers, offers download speeds of up to 900-950Mbps and upload speeds of 450-500Mbps.
Copper broadband was the first type of broadband available in New Zealand and is still the most widely available service. The three types of technology, ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL, are delivered into your home using the same copper cables that deliver voice calls to your landline phone.
The speed and performance of copper broadband can vary depending on how far away you are from the telephone exchange or cabinet. While ADSL can be delivered within six kilometres of the exchange, ADSL2+ can only reach two kilometres and VDSL can only be delivered within 800 metres. Other factors like the capabilities of your modem and the environment also influence the type of speed that you are able to experience.
While copper broadband was relied on by Kiwis for many years, it’s fast becoming an old technology as more and more people are able to access fibre and faster wireless services.
However, since fibre is not available everywhere just yet and the installation time sometimes taking up to a few months, copper broadband is still available through many providers. Plus, for people who aren’t heavy internet users and don’t mind the slower speeds, copper is still a suitable option for many households.
Want to learn more about copper broadband? Check out our guides to ADSL and VDSL for more information about how these technologies work and how to compare copper broadband deals.
For ADSL, the maximum speed that you are likely to see is 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. For ADSL2+, speeds increase to 24Mbps download and 3Mbps upload.
VDSL is faster than ADSL, but the maximum speed can vary provider to provider. It’s possible to get download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 30Mbps, but some ISPs only advertise a maximum download speed of 50-70Mbps. If you live in an area with vectored VDSL, you could be able to get download speeds of up to 130Mbps.
Wireless broadband allows you to access the internet without a physical connection. It’s delivered through the 3G, 4G and 5G networks, and can be a good solution for those who live in areas where there are no cables or fibre lines. It’s also useful for renters that are unable to get permission from their landlord to install appropriate cabling for other connections.
Since there are no cables like with copper or fibre broadband, your wireless modem has an antenna that picks up the radio signals transmitted via your closest cellphone tower. A big chunk of wireless broadband is now delivered through 4G, although 3G is still the only option in some areas. While 5G has only just started to be rolled out in New Zealand, this is likely to become the new normal for wireless broadband in the future.
It’s important to remember that the speed and performance of wireless broadband can be influenced by a number of factors including:
How far you are from a cell tower. Being closer to a cell tower generally means that your connection will be stronger. However, even if you are close, buildings, trees and hills can affect the connection quality.
How busy the network is. When many people are using the network at the same time it can become congested. During peak-use times, you may notice a decrease in speed, for example, in the evenings when people are at home.
Your device capability. Some older devices and modems may not work as fast as newer models.
Environmental factors. Weather can play a part in how good your connection is. You may find that there is reduced speed or performance during periods of heavy rain or strong winds.
The speed you will experience with wireless broadband depends on whether you are using 3G, 4G or 5G.
3G. 3G is much slower, with download speeds of up to 20Mbps depending on the signal conditions.
4G. 4G has a maximum download speed of 100Mbps, but typical speeds sit around 30-80Mpbs. However, Vodafone boasts that its fastest 4G has a download speed of up to 300Mbps in some areas.
5G. 5G has the potential to be 100 times faster than 4G with download speeds of up to 100Gbps, but from the evidence we’ve seen so far, it looks to be only around 5-10 times faster. This may change in the future, but if you have it available in your area, you will be able to notice an improvement on the 4G service.
When copper, fibre and wireless broadband are not available because you live in a remote location, you can still have access to the internet through satellite broadband.
Satellite broadband is available throughout New Zealand and on the Chatham Islands – all you need is a line of sight from your home to the satellite in the sky. A satellite dish is installed on your roof to transmit signals from the satellite to the modem inside your home, and the system can be run on solar power.
Although it is more expensive than other connection types and you will need to have a dish installed on your roof, satellite broadband is worth considering if you have no other alternatives. It can also be a preferred option if you have trouble getting consistent coverage with wireless broadband.
While satellite broadband was considered to be slow in the past, it can now achieve speeds similar or faster than other connection types. Certain factors come into play, but you could experience download speeds of 30Mbps or faster.
How to compare broadband deals
When you’re trying to choose between broadband deals, here’s what matters.
🏎 Speed and connection type
This is the number one comparison point for any connection. How fast you can download and upload data will affect how quickly you can transfer files and stream videos, as well as how well your Internet works when many people are using it at once. It’s also what you have the least control over because it will depend on your connection type and location.
While fibre is becoming the new normal in the broadband world, you may not have it available at your place. Depending on where you live, your only option might be ADSL, VDSL or wireless, but connectivity is improving throughout the country thanks to the government rollout of Ultra-fast Broadband and rural broadband.
If you are not sure what is available at your house, you can enter your address into the National Broadband Map to find the best connection type possible. Not all providers cater for all connection types, but you can get an idea of which companies are able to supply broadband to your home from this website.
While your maximum monthly data in gigabytes is still important, the amount of data we use is higher and so you’re more likely to want to go unlimited for your home Internet plan. However, some providers have an “acceptable usage policy” if you’re running rampant. If you’re a lighter user, you can save by calculating how much data you’re likely to use. Generally, though, speed matters more. All the data in the world is useless if your connection crawls.
📜 Contract details
Broadband plans are offered on contracts, usually 12 or 24 months, but month-to-month casual plans are becoming increasingly popular. Month-to-month or open-term contracts are beneficial for those that are unable to commit to a longer term, perhaps if they are moving house or overseas in the near future, or who just want the flexibility to be able to change providers when they want.
When it comes to cost, you should always check the minimum total amount you’ll have to pay for a given plan. A longer-term contract may have a lower monthly cost but you’ll be stuck paying it out in its entirety even if you decide it’s not suitable. Early exit fees can be hundreds of dollars, and since you’ve signed a contract, you are legally required to pay these charges.
Does a modem come free with the plan? Or do you need to pay for one upfront? Many longer-term broadband deals come with a free modem, but if you are signing up for an open-term plan, it is likely that you’ll need to purchase your modem or lease it for an additional monthly cost.
You will also need to factor in if there are any installation costs applicable. Standard installation is often free for fibre and copper, but additional charges can apply for non-standard installations, and equipment costs for satellite broadband can be on the pricey side.
🎁 Signup bonuses
When browsing broadband deals, you’ll notice that there are often signup bonuses on offer. Some providers will give you free access to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video when you sign up on a 12- or 24-month contract, or entice you with a free gift like a new smart TV. You can also see deals that offer an account credit or half-priced broadband for a period of time. Other providers will give you a discount if you bundle your Internet plan with other services such as a mobile plan or energy.
Before you jump at these attractive broadband deals, check that you will actually save money over the course of the contract before making a commitment.
Who are the major broadband providers in New Zealand?
The number of broadband providers in New Zealand has increased immensely over the past decade. Many of the major players you’ll know, but there are also smaller companies grabbing their share of the market with broadband deals.
Some of the more well-known providers offer everything from ADSL to wireless, but some companies only offer one or two types of broadband. A few of the smaller ISPs cater only for a region in New Zealand, or specialise in a particular type of broadband such as satellite or wireless.
Want to know more about a specific broadband provider? Click on the blue links in the list above to be taken to a comprehensive review.
How do I find the cheapest broadband deals?
If you’re looking for cheap broadband deals, here are some ways that you can save and find the best plan for you:
Check out your mobile phone provider. It may be possible to save on your broadband by signing up for the service with your current mobile phone provider. Companies like 2degrees and Vodafone offer a monthly discount on your broadband plan if you also have a pay monthly mobile plan.
Consider your energy company. Trustpower, Contact and Nova Energy all offer discounted plans to their energy customers, and Orcon will give you a 10% discount if you sign up for broadband and power.
Pay attention to advertising. ISPs are regularly promoting deals for new customers, so keep an eye on any promotions that you see.
Do your research. Finding the best broadband deals will take some research as you weigh up the different options and work out what kind of plan you will most benefit from. In the section above you’ll find links to reviews of various broadband providers, so take your time to weigh up what’s on offer.
Compare broadband deals with Finder. If you’re in a rush and want to know what are the cheapest options available right now, head straight to our guide on cheap broadband plans.
Why should I compare with Finder?
Choosing the right broadband plan for you can take hours of research. When you’re busy with your career or raising a family, those hours might be hard to come by.
At Finder, we take the hassle out of finding your next plan by giving you all the information you need in one place with the latest broadband deals and offers. Our team works hard to examine all the pros and cons of broadband providers and plans, so you can quickly find the right deal to suit your needs without all the hours of unnecessary research.
Unlike other comparison websites, we don’t ask you for your name and contact details in exchange for information. And best of all? Our service is completely free as we strive to help Kiwis make better financial decisions.
Monique Law is a writer for Finder. Since 2016 she has written across numerous topics including consumer goods, personal finance, travel, personal development, lifestyle and health. After many years of living abroad and travelling on a budget, she's become an expert on researching and finding the best deals. Monique is studying a BA in Political Science and Communications and has a passion for travel, political/spy dramas and watching world events unfold live on CNN.
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