Mobile Network Experience Report New Zealand May 2021

New Zealand

Mobile Network Experience Report
May 2021

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Sam Fenwick Senior Analyst

Key findings

2degrees users are the first in New Zealand to enjoy an Excellent Video Experience

2degrees has much to celebrate as far as streaming video is concerned. In addition to winning the Video Experience award outright for the second time in a row, our users on its network are the first in New Zealand to have had an Excellent (75 or above) Video Experience. This indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling. Finally, 2degrees more than doubled its lead over second-placed Spark— from the 1.9 points seen in our previous report to 4.2 points.

Spark and Vodafone are joint winners for Download Speed Experience

Spark, the winner of our Download Speed Experience award in our previous two reports, no longer wins outright and is instead a joint winner along with the previous runner-up, Vodafone. This change was principally driven by a 3.3 Mbps (8.1%) drop in the overall average download speeds seen by our Spark users. As a result, Spark has dropped below the 40 Mbps mark. 2degrees continued to lag behind with a score of 33 Mbps compared to the roughly 38 Mbps reported by our users on the two front-runners’ networks.

Vodafone forces a tie on Games Experience

Vodafone and 2degrees are joint winners for Games Experience — our measure of the experience when playing multiplayer mobile games over a cellular network. In our last report 2degrees won the award outright but this time Vodafone has managed to close the gap to the point where the two operators are statistically tied. As was the case in our previous report, our users in New Zealand observed a Fair (65-75) Games Experience across all three operators’ networks.

Vodafone replaces Spark as a joint winner for Voice App Experience

This is the third consecutive report in which no operator has won the Voice App Experience award outright. Last time, 2degrees and Spark shared the top spot, but Vodafone now shares the glory with 2degrees, thanks to a 1.2 point increase in Vodafone’s score. None of the operators’ scores returned to the highs seen in our April 2020 report, but 2degrees’ score was only 0.2 points away from doing so.

Introduction

2degrees remains the dominant force as far as our awards table is concerned, given that it has successfully defended its hold on our Video Experience, Upload Speed Experience and 4G Availability awards. However, Vodafone has caught up with 2degrees for the Games Experience award and forced a statistical tie — resulting in a joint victory. While 2degrees is again a joint winner for Voice App Experience, Vodafone has taken Spark’s spot on the winner’s podium. For the first time since we began reporting on New Zealand’s mobile network experience in April 2020, we have joint winners for Download Speed Experience — Spark and Vodafone. Meanwhile Spark wins the 4G Coverage Experience award for the third time in a row, this time with a score of 9.2 points out of 10 — giving it a lead of 0.5 points over second-placed Vodafone (slightly down from the 0.6 points seen in our previous report).

In mid-April, 2degrees announced that it has selected Ericsson as its vendor partner for its 5G rollout and that its first 5G sites will be built this year in Auckland and Wellington. The operator has plans to upgrade 700 sites with 5G and intends to cover the country’s main population centers.

Meanwhile, Spark and Vodafone have been busy with their 5G rollouts: Spark went live with 5G coverage in central Christchurch in early March, while in the same month Vodafone switched on 5G in parts of Tauranga.

New Zealand has escaped much of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, both the week-long lockdown in Auckland in early March and the ~80% growth in data traffic observed by Vodafone during New Year’s Eve compared to a year earlier show that it has still been an unusual time for New Zealand’s mobile industry. While the operators have made uneven progress since our last report, all three have seen their 4G Availability and 4G Coverage Experience scores increase and we recently reported that our rural users’ 4G Availability improved markedly between late 2019/early 2020 and late 2020/early 2021.

In this report, we’ve analyzed the mobile network experience provided by New Zealand’s three national operators — Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees — at the national level in the 90 days starting January 1 and ending on March 31, 2021. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each award.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, New Zealand
May 2021, New Zealand Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
May 2021, New Zealand
Video Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
May 2021, New Zealand
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
2degrees
75.1
Spark
70.9
Vodafone
64.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

2degrees is once again the winner of the Video Experience award and its score of 75.1 out of 100 has made it the first operator in New Zealand to earn an Excellent (75 or above) rating. This indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling. In contrast, our Spark and Vodafone users reported having a Very Good (65-75) and a Good (55-65) Video Experience, respectively — both of which were unchanged from our previous report. 2degrees more than doubled its lead over second-placed Spark — from the 1.9 points in our previous report to 4.2 points— mainly driven by a 1.6 drop in Spark’s score.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
2degrees
75.1
Spark
70.9
Vodafone
64.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience

This time, 2degrees — the previous outright winner — shares the Games Experience award with Vodafone. This change was triggered by a 3.2 point drop in Spark’s score and a 2.3 point rise in Vodafone’s.

Once again, our users in New Zealand observed a Fair (65-75) Games Experience across all three operators’ networks. This means that our users in New Zealand found their experience when playing multiplayer mobile games over cellular connections to be ‘average’. In most cases the game was responsive to the actions of the player with most users reporting that they felt like they had control over the game. The majority of players reported that they noticed a delay between their actions and the outcomes in the game.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
2degrees
71.1
Spark
65.2
Vodafone
69.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience

2degrees and Vodafone are joint winners of the Voice App Experience award, with statistically tied scores of 80.5 and 79.8, respectively. The award has yet to be won outright and Vodafone has knocked Spark off the top spot as last time 2degrees and Spark were joint winners. This change was due to a 1.2 point increase in Vodafone’s score and a 0.2 point drop in Spark’s. None of the operators’ scores returned to the highs seen in our April 2020 report, but 2degrees’ was only 0.2 points away from doing so.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
2degrees
80.5
Spark
79.1
Vodafone
79.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience

A 3.3 Mbps (8.1%) fall in the average download speeds seen by our Spark users means the operator — which had been the outright winner of the Download Speed Experience award in our previous two reports — is now a joint winner alongside Vodafone. The fall in observed speeds has pushed Spark below the 40 Mbps mark. 2degrees has remained at the back of the pack as its score of 33 Mbps was some way away from the roughly 38 Mbps reported by our users on Spark and Vodafone’s networks.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
2degrees
33.0
Spark
37.6
Vodafone
38.1
0 10 20 30 40
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Upload Speed Experience

While 2degrees is the outright winner of the Upload Speed Experience award for the third report in a row, Vodafone has edged into second-place after previously statistically tying with Spark in our last report. This was principally due to a 0.4 Mbps drop in Spark’s score. 2degrees’ lead of 0.6 Mbps (6.5%) over Vodafone is less than half the lead of at least 1.3 Mbps (14.4%) it commanded in our previous report, mainly because of a 0.6 Mbps (5.8%) drop in the average upload speeds seen by our 2degrees users. We see different winners for our Download Speed Experience award — highlighting why it is important to look at different aspects of the mobile network experience. While download speed is important when acquiring new apps or retrieving office documents, upload speed is the key measure for uploading photos or videos on social media or messaging apps.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
2degrees
10.0
Spark
8.5
Vodafone
9.4
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Availability

Since our last report, all three operators have made incremental progress on 4G Availability — the average proportion of time that our users spent connected to 4G. Their scores rose by 0.6-1.9 percentage points with our Vodafone users observing the largest increase. As a result of these changes, 2degrees was only half a percentage point away from hitting the 90% mark and the operator’s lead over second-placed Spark shrank from the 2.1 percentage points seen in our last report to 1.7 percentage points. As we’ve recently noted, rural users’ 4G Availability improved markedly between late 2019/early 2020 and late 2020/early 2021. While our users reported a significant rural-urban gap, our analysis showed that this had shrunk by seven percentage points for our 2degrees users, 5.8 for those on Spark and by 4.8 for our Vodafone users between these two periods.

4G Availability
% of time
2degrees
89.5
Spark
87.8
Vodafone
80.5
0 22.5 45 67.5 90
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Coverage Experience

Spark has won the 4G Coverage Experience award for the third time in a row and remains the only operator in New Zealand to hold the award. However, both 2degrees and Vodafone have seen their scores rise by 0.2 points since our last report, narrowing Spark’s lead slightly — from 0.6 points to 0.5.

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
2degrees
8.3
Spark
9.2
Vodafone
8.7
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Opensignal’s 4G Coverage Experience metric is a measure of how mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator’s network. Measured on a scale of 0-10, it analyzes the locations where customers of a network operator received a 4G signal relative to the locations visited by users of all network operators.

Regional Analysis

When we examine the mobile experience of our users in five regions (Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Waikato and Wellington), outright wins are few in number. 2degrees is the outright winner in Auckland and Waikato for Video Experience and ties with Spark in the remaining three regions.

2degrees is also the only operator to win outright on Games Experience, doing so in Waikato with a score of 71.9 points out of 100. In three regions — Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington — our users reported three-way ties. There was even fiercer competition on Voice App Experience, as all three operators statistically tied with each other in all five regions.

Meanwhile, Vodafone and Spark are joint winners in all five regions for Download Speed Experience. The race was even tighter on Upload Speed Experience, with our users reporting three-way ties in every region save Canterbury, where Vodafone and 2degrees are joint winners. Finally, 2degrees and Spark are joint winners in all five regions for 4G Availability — the proportion of time that our users spent connected to 4G.

Select any region or city below to display individual breakdown

Auckland

Video Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
2degrees
76.5
Spark
72.8
Vodafone
69.7
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Games Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
2degrees
75.7
Spark
73.8
Vodafone
72.7
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Voice App Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
2degrees
81.2
Spark
80.9
Vodafone
80.1
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Download Speed Experience
in Auckland
in Mbps
2degrees
34.5
Spark
42.8
Vodafone
42.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Auckland
in Mbps
2degrees
11.8
Spark
11.0
Vodafone
11.0
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4G Availability
in Auckland
% of time
2degrees
91.4
Spark
92.3
Vodafone
85.3
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Bay of Plenty

Video Experience
in Bay of Plenty
in 0-100 points
2degrees
70.8
Spark
69.3
Vodafone
59.5
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Games Experience
in Bay of Plenty
in 0-100 points
2degrees
66.4
Spark
61.8
Vodafone
71.9
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Voice App Experience
in Bay of Plenty
in 0-100 points
2degrees
78.7
Spark
78.8
Vodafone
80.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Bay of Plenty
in Mbps
2degrees
25.7
Spark
33.4
Vodafone
37.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Bay of Plenty
in Mbps
2degrees
7.9
Spark
7.2
Vodafone
7.0
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4G Availability
in Bay of Plenty
% of time
2degrees
87.8
Spark
84.8
Vodafone
76.1
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Canterbury

Video Experience
in Canterbury
in 0-100 points
2degrees
74.0
Spark
72.4
Vodafone
60.0
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Games Experience
in Canterbury
in 0-100 points
2degrees
69.0
Spark
64.1
Vodafone
68.5
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Voice App Experience
in Canterbury
in 0-100 points
2degrees
80.5
Spark
79.0
Vodafone
80.1
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Download Speed Experience
in Canterbury
in Mbps
2degrees
33.8
Spark
37.8
Vodafone
43.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Canterbury
in Mbps
2degrees
10.4
Spark
8.3
Vodafone
9.1
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4G Availability
in Canterbury
% of time
2degrees
87.6
Spark
87.6
Vodafone
82.4
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Waikato

Video Experience
in Waikato
in 0-100 points
2degrees
74.7
Spark
69.2
Vodafone
64.2
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Games Experience
in Waikato
in 0-100 points
2degrees
71.9
Spark
63.9
Vodafone
65.7
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Voice App Experience
in Waikato
in 0-100 points
2degrees
80.9
Spark
79.0
Vodafone
78.9
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Download Speed Experience
in Waikato
in Mbps
2degrees
28.8
Spark
34.7
Vodafone
33.2
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Upload Speed Experience
in Waikato
in Mbps
2degrees
8.4
Spark
7.6
Vodafone
8.0
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4G Availability
in Waikato
% of time
2degrees
86.4
Spark
84.0
Vodafone
77.2
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Wellington

Video Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
2degrees
76.5
Spark
74.3
Vodafone
66.3
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Games Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
2degrees
71.6
Spark
68.6
Vodafone
71.6
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Voice App Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
2degrees
80.6
Spark
80.0
Vodafone
81.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Wellington
in Mbps
2degrees
33.7
Spark
42.9
Vodafone
37.1
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Upload Speed Experience
in Wellington
in Mbps
2degrees
11.4
Spark
9.9
Vodafone
10.2
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4G Availability
in Wellington
% of time
2degrees
91.1
Spark
90.0
Vodafone
77.7
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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