A brief history recap
Over the past 10 years there have been a lot of changes in the delivery of broadband internet within New Zealand. Just 10 years ago the vast majority of homes were still on dial up internet with broadband being delivered using ADSL v1 (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology. Next came ADSLv2 technology allowing faster download and upload speeds. With many existing ADSL modems supporting ADSL v1 & v2 this allowed connections to be upgraded without too much disruption. Finally, the last widely deployed ‘DSL’ technology in New Zealand was VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line) allowing even faster download and upload speeds compared to ADSLv2. Whilst VDSL required a new type of modem, it is also a technology where the speed of the service is more heavily dependent on the length of the copper line between the modem and the telephone exchange. Each of these technologies are copper based and limited in their connection speeds, factors such as; length of cable, quality of the cable, closeness to electrical cables and any moisture that might have found its way into the cable over time all impact connection speeds.
Light years ahead
UFB or Ultra Fast Broadband has introduced a move away from copper to fibre based services allowing faster connection speeds and eliminating many of the factors that affect copper circuits. With UFB comes a mine field of acronyms and abbreviations and its important to understand how these impact the internet service you purchase.
UFB is split into several bands of service named ‘bit streams’, each bit stream is a group of products designed to meet market demand & price point. To achieve this, the underlying technology offers extra features to each product set.
Bit Stream 2 (BS2)
This is the base product group and is intended to provide similar services and capability as the ‘DSL’ products. Within the BS2 group of products different speed connections can be purchased e.g., 30Mbp download / 10Mbps upload, 50Mbps download / 10Mbps upload, 100Mbps download / 50Mbps upload. Initially bit stream 2 products were designed with faster download than upload, these were later updated & expanded into the ‘evolve’ products allowing same speed download and upload.
Services delivered over bit stream 2 are best effort meaning you are not guaranteed to receive Internet capacity over the physical service into your modem. This means BS2 internet is better suited for residential internet use.
Bit Stream 3 (BS3)
Stepping up from BS2, BS3 is business grade internet service with download and upload speeds equal and available from 2.5Mbps to 100Mbps in steps of 10Mbps – e.g. 2.5Mbps, 10Mbps, 20Mbps…
Services delivered over bit stream 3 are classed as high priority or committed, meaning if a service is connected at 50Mbps, that will be the maximum speed seen on a speed test and is treated by the fibre company as dedicated capacity on the circuit.
Bit Stream 3a (BS3a)
As a variation of BS3, BS3a allows for high priority (committed) and low priority (burst) capacity. An example of this would be a circuit is connected at 100Mbps/100Mbps of which 30Mbps is committed (dedicated capacity). When using a service like this, a customer might see an internet speed test up to 100Mbps, however anything above 30Mbps is considered best effort.
BS3 & 3a products are suitable for business as they provide committed data rates across the fibre which benefit services like voice over IP (VoIP).
I have 100Mbps, why don’t I get 100Mbps on a speed test?
It’s important to understand that all of the numbers and speeds associated with UFB are called ‘speed of access’ and are only related to the connection between the end user and the exchange.
Once the connection reaches the Internet Service Provider (ISP), the Internet is ‘shared’ in a pool with many other connections and users with the Internet provider managing how this capacity is shared. This results in Internet providers offering the same products at different prices, as one provider might share internet between 1000 customer and another between 2000 customers. This sharing is called ‘contention’ and is not publicly published.
The bottom line
UFB is a widely available set of products, it’s important not to get caught up in the technical details however it is important to understand what is being sold or offered by a provider as this could impacted applications or services a business or residential user will use over the Internet service.
Here at Lucidity we have the expertise to consult on any complex network requirements, provide guidance on how best to link up a multi-site business as well as how best to secure that network. We partner with Fortinet to deliver enterprise grade site connectivity and security, which is the same equipment we use to protect our own environment.