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SamKnows - and soon we will too

Paul Brislen, Editor. 04 February 2019, 8:30 am

Being able to closely monitor traffic patterns is something that only a select few of us are interested in, but for those that do want to know, SamKnows is now monitoring home internet connections as part of the Commerce Commission's monitoring of the telecommunications sector.

SamKnows took over from incumbent testing provider TrueNet after winning the tender last year.

Would-be participants can sign up and take part in the service for free. All that is required is an internet connection and a willingness to send and receive data in the name of science, or rather in the name of testing your connection.

The results are interesting enough in isolation. This user's connection (a gigabit service with unlimited data) regularly clocked an average connection speed of 462Mbit/s during the month of January, which is a fair way from the 1000Mbit/s on offer but is still ludicrously fast for a home user's needs, even one with teenagers whose "homework" appears to consist of multi-screen contact time 24x7.

The SamKnows dashboard includes jitter, packet loss and a number of other factors to be poured over, and can be configured to display the metrics you want. Reporting is straight forward and can lead to endless hours deciding just how best to display your results.

However, the true reward comes from the amalgamation of services in the Commerce Commission's reporting, so we can review just how well (or poorly) New Zealand broadband services are delivered, compared with the advertising hype.

The initial report suggests that only 4% of connections achieve more than 880Mbit/s, while over half run at speeds of up to 100Mbit/s, suggesting most Kiwis are still content to use entry level UFB or are still on slower connections.

The good news is the drop off between peak speeds at quiet times and peak speeds at peak times (congestion being a factor) is minimal, meaning we still have plenty of room to add in more users at faster speeds on the network. And, as the UFB rollout continues apace, and wraps up in the next couple of years, we should see more users migrate across to the better services.

SamKnows doesn't test all ISPs at this point. The Commerce Commission has a 2000-unit fleet and is taking care to share the probes fairly across the network so as to maximise the spread of information coming back in, but the Commission is constantly looking for new users, particularly in the gigabit market, so sign-ups are still open.


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