New Zealanders now have four options for rural broadband access: fixed-line, wireless broadband, mobile broadband, and satellite. How do you know which Internet connection is best for you? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about your options and how to know which broadband will have you surfing the web the fastest.

1. Fixed Line (DSL & Fibre)

Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL, and Fibre are fixed-line rural broadband options that are provided per a direct, physical connection between the source and the subscriber. DSL may be available as either ADSL or VDSL.


What Is ADSL?

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is a broadband Internet connection that can support speeds up to 24Mbps.

How ADSL Works

ADSL provides an Internet connection over existing copper telephone lines.

Connection speeds with this type of broadband connection can be up to 24Mbps for downloads, but the speeds are ultimately determined by the distance the data has to travel. The further you are from the cabinet, or your local exchange, the slower your connection will be.


  • Since ADSL broadband can be delivered over copper phone lines, it’s less expensive and easier to access than options that involve adding additional lines or a lot of equipment
  • ADSL may have sped up to 24Mbps


  • The maximum distance for a DSL connection is about 5.5 kilometres from an exchange
  • The further you are from an exchange, the slower your Internet connection will be


What is VDSL?

VDSL stands for Very high bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line and is newer and faster than ADSL. Internet activities such as video streaming, Netflix, VoIP, and high definition TV channels require a lot of bandwidth, and that’s where VDSL comes in.

How VDSL Works

VDSL, like ADSL, uses copper phone lines but is approximately twice as fast as ADSL with top download speeds of up to 70Mbps. Since it is transmitted with copper telephone lines, internet speed will vary depending on your distance from the exchange.


  • VDSL is delivered with existing telephone lines which makes installation less expensive than options that require additional lines or equipment
  • VDSL can provide much faster download and upload speeds than ADSL


  • Internet speed is best within 800 meters of an exchange. Further than that, speeds may be reduced to the ADSL range of around 24Mbps
  • The further you are from the exchange, the slower your connection will be


What is Fibre?

Using fibre optic cables to transmit digital data, Fibre is a fixed-line broadband service that is much faster than DSL. Faster Internet makes Fibre a popular choice, and more than 1.3 million businesses and residences in New Zealand have access to Fibre.

How Fibre Works

Digital data is transmitted through fibre optic cables with light instead of electricity. For this reason, it’s possible to send not only larger amounts of data than with copper cables, but it travels faster and goes further.

Fibre Pros

  • Much faster Internet connections than DSL, up to 1Gbps
  • Can support bandwidth-heavy activities, like video conferencing

Fibre Cons

  • Fibre is a physical connection that has to be installed
  • Cables are typically buried, so installation cost and time to complete depending on how rural the property is and how far it is from an exchange


2. Wireless Broadband

What is Wireless Broadband?

Wireless broadband is a high-speed, 4G internet connection that can provide speeds up to 100Mbps under ideal conditions.

How Wireless Broadband Works

Wireless Broadband uses the same network as your cell phone to provide broadband Internet service. Users do not need a fixed line to receive the Internet but will need a modem and an antenna to receive the signal. However, some providers can send data directly to the modem eliminating the antenna, but that option is based on provider and location.

Wireless Broadband Pros

  • Wireless Broadband is a good option in areas with poor quality DSL connections
  • Installation is easy and can be done quickly
  • Wireless broadband has the potential to deliver high-speed connections

Wireless Broadband Cons

  • Signal quality and speed will be affected by the same things as mobile phones – geography, cell network strength, and peak usage times


3. Mobile Broadband

What is Mobile Broadband?

Mobile Broadband, like wireless broadband, transmits data over the cellular network. The difference is that Mobile Broadband is utilized via a USB modem or SIM card so that you can access the Internet anywhere you have service.

How Mobile Broadband Works

You can access Mobile Broadband with a USB modem that you plug into your device, or with a SIM card that turns devices into mobile hotspots. Sim cards can be inserted into devices like phones, tablets, or portable wireless hotspots.

Mobile Broadband Pros

  • Mobile Broadband is a completely portable solution that you can take anywhere
  • Easy to access and quick to install

Mobile Broadband Cons

  • Speed and reliability depend on cellular coverage, so Mobile Broadband is not a great option for areas with poor cell phone reception
  • Mobile Broadband plans can be more expensive than fixed-line options and may have data limits


4. Satellite

What is Satellite?

Satellite Internet is a wireless broadband internet provided by Satellites orbiting the earth with speeds up to 20Mbps.

How Satellite Works

Orbiting satellites send digital data to a small, specialised satellite dish on your property. Satellites communicate with each other to find the best path for digital information delivery.

Satellite Pros

  • Satellite Internet works in remote areas that have no, or poor fixed-line and wireless service such as rural
  • Satellite provides reliable connections with speeds up to 20Mbps and is easy to install, even in remote regional or rural areas

Satellite Cons

  • Subscriptions to Satellite Internet can be more expensive than other options
  • Although service isn’t affected by day-to-day weather patterns, it can be affected by very extreme weather conditions


Now that you’ve got the basics on how and where the different rural broadband options work best, which one will you choose?

You can find out more about which rural broadband option would work best for you here.