Shopping around might give you a cheaper, faster internet connection
Broadband providers competing hard for fibre customers are driving down the price of high-speed internet.
Ultra-fast broadband is expected to be available to 75 per cent of New Zealanders by 2019. More than 20 per cent of those who already have access to fibre have connected.
The amount of data used per New Zealand household has doubled over the past 18 months.
But if you're thinking about signing up or switching to a new fibre plan, it pays to know what you are looking for.
Unlike ADSL connections where the only thing that might vary is the data cap, with ultra-fast broadband, you also have to choose the speed you want.
Providers usually list plans with their upload and download speeds. Download speeds are the thing that will affect you if you watch videos online or want to load websites quickly.
Upload speeds come into play if you're sending files across the internet. If you select a plan with a 100Mbps download, that will be about ten times the normal ADSL rate.
But you may cost you less than your standard connection did.
Gavin Male, founder of comparison website broadbandcompare.co.nz, said there were savings to be made for people who shopped around. "One of the biggest ones people are not taking advantage of is the switch to fibre."
He said with the specials on offer, people could save a couple of hundred dollars a year, and end up with a much faster connection, if they opted to move to fibre.
"MyRepublic and 2Degrees are offering six months at half price on a two-year contract, over the length of the contract that works out to be about $75 a month for a high-speed fibre plan, that's very competitive when you look at the headline rates from the bigger operators," he said.
He said it was also worth looking around for the best speeds on offer because it was often possible to find faster plans at the same price as slower options.
"There are lots of different ways to improve the bang for your buck. Sometimes they don't make it as obvious as they could. Lots of people think it's the internet, they've got broadband, that's all they need to worry about but it's like buying a car. You can buy a Ferrari or you can buy a Skoda. You'll get from A to B with either but one is in more comfort and style."
Michael Speight, co-founder of another comparison site, Glimp.co.nz, agreed fibre deals were where the most savings could be made. "You're not going to save moonbeams but there are savings there."
He pointed to Trustpower, which is offering unlimited data with an 100Mbps download speed for $69 a month to customers who also have their power accounts there.
Data caps used to be common but were now rare, said InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter. He said the value for money people were getting had improved.
"You can get for $90 what used to be $110."
He said people should consider what type of package they needed but accept that once they had a higher-speed internet connection, they would start to use more data.
Technology commentator Peter Griffin said people choosing a broadband provider could also consider things such as the customer service they offered. "A lot of small ISPs do well in surveys – they put a lot more effort into support because they want to keep their loyal but small customer players. The bigger players lag behind."
He said it was possible that providers would start to offer other sweeteners with their broadband deals, especially if Sky and Vodafone were to merge. "We may not see a decrease in the monthly fee because they are paying fixed wholesale charges to Chorus but we might see more bundled in for the same amount of money. You might get a better Sky deal because you're a Vodafone customer.
Griffin said Spark had been successful offering Spotify with some mobile plans and Lightbox with its broadband. "Lots of people wouldn't pay for it but it's enough to keep them there."
Things to find out about your provider:
Do they tell you how to check your bill online and make it easy to access account information?
Do they tell you if they lose your data?
Does the ISP have a policy to notify you any time your personal information might have been accessed without your permission?
Does your ISP filter websites with images of child exploitation?
Is it easy for security researchers to tell your ISP the details of vulnerabilities they discover in the company's network?