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There are a range of broadband technologies to suit different needs and locations

This guide aims to help you understand the difference between the various technologies available in New Zealand for accessing the internet.


What type of broadband is right for me?

When selecting a broadband plan, it’s a good idea to think first about what activities you use the internet for:

  • If you’ve got several people living in your home all wanting to get onto the internet at the same time, and they watch lots of videos or movies online and/or play online games, then you’ll probably need a high-end broadband plan that offers faster speeds with unlimited data (or a large monthly data cap).
  • If there’s fewer people living in your home and you only occasionally watch movies or videos and/or play online games, then you could probably make do with a mid-range plan that offers slightly slower speeds and a monthly data cap.  
  • If you have a small household and you just want to use the internet for things that don’t consume a lot of data like email and web browsing, then a lower-end broadband plan with slower speeds and a lower monthly data cap should suffice.

In today’s world, broadband usage is growing rapidly as the way we use the internet keeps on changing – so it’s important to think not just about how you use the internet right now, but also how that might change in the months ahead.

Your broadband provider can advise you on what plan is suited for you.


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Fibre (UFB)

Fibre broadband uses fibre-optic cable to deliver 'ultra-fast broadband' (UFB) to New Zealand.  As part of the multi-year UFB rollout, about 87% of New Zealanders will be able to obtain a fibre connection by the UFB rollout’s completion in late 2022.

Fibre cable delivers broadband speeds much faster and with more consistent performance than the copper network. The exact speed depends on the speed of the fibre input that your broadband provider has purchased from the fibre company; generally, the faster the input speed, the higher the price you pay. With fibre you can use multiple devices at the same time without any loss of quality or buffering. Unlike copper lines, fibre performance doesn’t degrade over distance. This means that no matter how near or far you are from the exchange, the speed is consistent.


Learn more about fibre

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Mobile Networks

New Zealand has world-class mobile networks that provide 3G and 4G coverage across much of the country, with the latest 5G technology being progressively introduced starting with cities and towns.  These mobile networks make it possible to provide home or business broadband services without the need for a physical connection, as well as “on the go” coverage via smartphones or other mobile devices.

Wireless Broadband

Wireless broadband, also known as Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) because it is to a fixed address, enables home and business users to obtain high-speed data access through the airwaves, without relying on any physical connection.  You still have a WiFi router (modem) installed, but this device connects with your broadband provider via radio waves rather than via a fibre cable or copper line.

Typically, wireless broadband devices connect over cellular networks, but other radio wave technologies can be used, dependent on your broadband provider and local coverage area.


The internet can also be accessed when you’re on the move away from home or business through smart phones, tablets and laptops. The speed of access is dependent on the technology used by the network (i.e. 3G, 4G, 5G) and the strength of the mobile signal when it is in use.  Data charges for mobile broadband tend to be higher than for fixed broadband services, reflecting the higher costs incurred by mobile providers in building cellular networks that offer quality coverage as you move around the country.

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Copper broadband uses technologies that operate via traditional telephone lines and until recent years was the main way that most New Zealanders connected to the internet.  Copper connections are progressively being superseded by fibre and other technologies such as wireless and, over time, will ultimately be phased out in some areas of the country.


ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is an older form of copper broadband, now used by a small minority of New Zealand’s homes.  While it uses telephone lines, you can make and receive landline calls and use the internet simultaneously.


VDSL (Very high bit rate digital subscriber line) is a newer technology that also uses copper telephone wires, but delivers a faster connection speed.

Copper broadband speeds

Speeds for copper broadband can vary widely depending on where you live. Speeds are especially dependent on factors such as the distance between your home and the nearest telephone exchange or roadside cabinet that contains the broadband networking equipment, as well as the technological age of that equipment. Find out the broadband speed available in your area using the National Broadband Map. Chorus also provide a check your broadband connection service on their website.

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Other broadband technologies

You can also use cable, satellite, wireless broadband and public WiFi to access the internet.

HFC Cable

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) uses a cable installed into your home rather than telephone lines. It provides faster speeds than ADSL and VDSL.

HFC Cable supports high bandwidth requirements. Service providers offer different packages at different speeds, depending on your requirements.

HFC Cable is only available within areas of Wellington, Christchurch and Kapiti. Use the National Broadband Map to check whether you can get cable at your address.


Broadband is delivered via a satellite to a dish on or near the consumer's home. It is particularly useful in remote locations where fixed or wireless broadband solutions are either unavailable or of poor quality.

Public WiFi

Public WiFi, sometimes known as WiFi hotspots, are offered by a range of providers including businesses and councils. Hotspots are usually located in busy areas such as airports, transport hubs, cafes and other public places. Each hotspot only covers a small area. Public WiFi can be accessed through smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Because Public WiFi is usually easily accessible to anyone, it may be more vulnerable to security issues, so you should be wary of using it when confidentiality is a concern (e.g. internet banking or sensitive emails / documents)


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Looking for something else?

Choosing a plan

Know what to consider when choosing a broadband plan.

Find out more

Why switch to fibre?

How fibre broadband is changing the way we live, work and play.

Find out more

Find Available Services

Use online tools to help you work out what telecommunications services you can get at your address.

Find out more

Rural Broadband

Learn about the Rural Broadband Initiative and what it means for rural communities.

Find out more

Last Modified On Wednesday, 14 April 2021