If you live rurally or plan to do so, you may have a choice of these internet options at your property: Fibre, Wireless (3G/4G), ADSL, VDSL. Let's explore the differences in these Internet Connection types, how they work, and where on earth Satellite Internet fits into the picture.
Meet the Head of Sales & Marketing of Gravity who explains this for us.
People think that anything "internet" related is 'the internet'. It has been given to us in such volume and accessibility that we have increasingly higher expectations. We always expect it to be there. We expect it there when we turn our computer on, when we walk into our homes (on our mobiles), when we enter a shopping mall or even a park. We expect to have wifi readily available to us and to have access to the internet.
However, 'the internet', so to speak, isn't just the internet, it comes to us in so many different forms. Those forms come in different speeds, capacities and prices. These forms can also take on different availabilities depending on where you are in the country (or the world). Let us take a look at the different forms of Internet in more detail.
Fibre is the newest and the fastest type of Internet, Fibre Internet is also known as: Fibre Broadband, Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) and Fibre to the Home (FTTH). It comes through fibre optic cables which go under the ground and into your property. It is now available to 67% of New Zealanders, with a target of 87% by the end of 2022. Fibre is still being installed around New Zealand but is often reserved for areas with higher density of population like cities and towns, which is why only some rural areas will get access to this type of Internet.
Fibre is designed for large capacity Internet use and can handle many simultaneous connections, which means you could have up to 25 people using the Internet all at once. Fibre Internet allows for HD and 4K video streaming (including Netflix), online gaming, video calling and the capability to send and receive large files.
ADSL or (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) has long been the most widely used and readily available Internet in New Zealand. The Internet connection comes directly through our phone lines using copper cables and into our homes, it can deliver speeds anywhere between 7.5 Mbps and 24 Mbps but the majority of connections today will be struggling up to 5 Mbps. ADSL would not meet the requirements of most Internet dependent kiwi households today however it is satisfactory for basic Internet usage such as browsing, basic video streaming and emailing.
ADSL technology is being phased out nationally. This is because the copper wires are degrading and instead of regenerating them the government has started to roll out Fibre nationwide, while people have also started utilising wireless technology wherever they can.
VDSL or (Very High Bitrate Digital Subscriber Line) is the upgrade to ADSL Internet. It is available to the majority of urban New Zealanders and much easier to install than Fibre. Like ADSL the Internet connection runs through copper cables that come directly through phone lines. VDSL is connected to a roadside unit or cabinet (big metal box), if your property does not sit within 1.2km of this cabinet you will be unable to get VDSL.
VDSL is much faster than ADSL as it can reach download speeds of up to 50 Mbps so it’s an ideal alternative to Fibre for small households or low Internet users. This Internet connection is capable of streaming ultra-high-definition (UHD) videos, video calling and gaming.
Wireless technology comes in different forms; 3G, 4G and now 5G. This type of Internet is delivered through cell phone towers, so it comes the same way that you get your mobile phone reception. Wireless gives you the ability to receive data through your phone or through tethering, you can also receive a wireless Internet connection in your home using a router to disperse a wifi single.
Wireless Internet also comes from ‘wireless towers’ which are provided by wireless Internet service providers or (WISPs), these companies set-up their own towers in addition to the major providers in the market (e.g., Vodafone and 2degress). Quite often an antenna will be installed on your roof so that you can receive wireless Internet directly to your home.
Satellite Internet has been around for a very long time. It has come down exponentially in price over the last few years, becoming more affordable for everyday users. Satellite Internet technology has increased in capacity now allowing you to stream Netflix on multiple devices within your home no matter where you are in the country.
The beauty of having space-based Internet is that you can get an Internet connection wherever you are without any cables, fibre optics and or any line of sight to a tower on the ground.
In summary, the four main rural broadband types (Fibre, ADSL, VDSL and Wireless) are what we call terrestrial-based services which means they are all ground-based. Satellite Internet on the other hand provides you with space-based Internet, which means that you will receive an internet connection directly from a satellite in the sky.
Gravity is a Satellite Internet provider that has customers living across New Zealand and can get broadband connectivity to even the remotest parts. From the West Coast on the South Island all the way up to Cape Reinga (and even Chatham Islands), Gravity gives you fast and reliable broadband coverage.