Copper describes the original broadband network in New Zealand (and in most countries).
It is basically the original communications network that delivered calls on your landline. Most Kiwis still use the copper network to deliver broadband. Because this network uses existing infrastructure, it is the most widely available broadband service. However, performance over copper can vary considerably. There are 3 different types of technology that run on it – VDSL, ADSL2+ and ADSL.
The copper network has limitations, not least distance. The further you are from the telephone cabinet or exchange, the slower your broadband speed will be. The copper broadband network can deliver VDSL services within about 800m of the nearest telephone cabinet; ADSL2+ within 2km of the cabinet, and ADSL within 6km of the cabinet.
ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. It is called asymmetric because download and upload speeds are not symmetrical (download is faster than upload).
ADSL broadband comes through the copper broadband/telephone network, which isn't hugely efficient (copper loses signal over long distances). Some advertised speeds in New Zealand claim “up to 24Mbps”, but you'll likely see an average speed of about 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speed. This is plenty for emailing, surfing the web and checking social media. But remember, while you can stream, the copper network wasn’t designed for 4K streams of the latest Game of Thrones episode.
Technically there are two types of ADSL services within New Zealand. The more modern ADSL2+ and the original ADSL.
ADSL is the most basic broadband connection available on the copper network. It delivers about 2Mbps for distances up to 6km from the local cabinet. ADSL is mostly found in rural areas where new cabinets are yet to be installed.
ADSL2+ delivers speeds of up to 10Mbps to properties located within a 2km radius from a broadband cabinet. It delivers faster speeds but its performance can be influenced by factors such as how far away you are from the cabinet, the devices you are using, the quality and age of your modem and your home wiring.
VDSL is the best broadband service available on the copper network. It’s faster than ADSL. While it significantly improves speed, you have to be located within 800m of the cabinet or exchange to take advantage of speeds upwards of 20Mbps. With 7000 cabinets in New Zealand, nearly two-thirds of the New Zealand network lines are capable of getting VDSL.
Depending on line quality, you could get download speeds of around 70Mbps and upload speeds up to 10Mbps. Speeds rely on several factors, such as the condition of the copper cables. The closer you are to the cabinet, the better.