Getting connected to the Internet in New Zealand

This page looks at what is involved in getting connected to the Internet in New Zealand. Several sections below deal with the type of link - either dial up or permanent, what special equipment may be needed, and what computers and software will be needed.
It is biased more towards a description of permanent connections and the equipment associated with such links the types of connection that KCCS provide.
The home user type connection using a PC and modem to dial up an Internet Service provider is not discussed. Support for this type of connection is available from the many ISPs that concentrate on providing this type of service (See the Links to other ISPs connecting to KCCS)

Data links to the Internet

Connecting to the Internet in New Zealand will mean either using some type of dial up service to Reach an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or installing some type of (semi)permanent link to an ISP.

  • Dial up
  • The two major dail up services available in New Zealand are the PSTN using standard analogue modems and ISDN using digital modems or routers. Both are provided by Telecom NZ and Clear can provide an alternate trunk call charging system. Clear have announced that they will be providing ISDN services in the near future.

    The most popular is analogue services as most people in NZ will have no per-minute call charges when connecting to an ISP in their local calling zone.
    ISDN is a relatively new service and as yet has not become very popular for home users or small businesses mainly because of its pricing based on business telephone charges.
    However, with the availability of lower cost ISDN modems and routers over the last few months AND persistent rumours that Telecom will be announcing lower cost and perhaps special 'home ISDN' services, there is a growing interest from many Internet users in ISDN.

  • Permanent Connection
  • Dial up connections are not always suitable for many companies and individuals who wish to use the Internet. Where is significant volumes of data being moved or there are many users at one site wanting access to the Internet then the only solution may be some type of permanent connection.

    The major factors in deciding what type of permanent connection usually come down to link throughput versus ongoing link costs.
    The highest speed/lowest cost link is to get a direct ethernet connection to an Internet Service Provider's ethernet LAN. This is usually only feasible if the ISP is in the same building or campus as the user site or if there is existing wiring trunks between the ISP and new Internet site. Installation costs depend on cable length requirements but ongoing costs would be very low or zero.

    The next highest speed/lowest cost link is the WaveLan based and other short range Radio Link systems. These are excellent where there is line-of-sight between the ISP and customer and are especially useful in areas where a link has to be made between adjacent buildings but direct wiring is not feasible. In suburban areas the range of these radio modems can exceed 8 Km and further with suitable antennae. Throughput can vary between 64Kbit/sec up to in excess of 1Mbit/sec. Link installation cost can be relatively high but ongoing costs are next to zero.

    If neither an ethernet connection or a radio link is possible then life can start to get expensive as Telecom New Zealand become involved.
    The saddest aspect of using Telecom services is that you never purchase a service. you just keep paying a monthly rental and in some cases you pay a per-minute connect time charge often in additional to a monthly rental. The tradeoff between link speed and cost will become a major factor in deciding how to get connected. Costs are very variable depending on location and where the ISP is located.
    DDS link speeds are generally available from 2.4Kbits up to 2Mbits although for Internet use only speeds of 9600 and above are useful.

    Long distance connections, for example between two cities, really only have two options. Either a DDS circuit, ie one of the DDS variants, OR a frame relay service. The standard Digital Data Service (DDS) can provide a reliable dedicated link with speeds up to 128Kbits, with 48Kbit, 64Kbit and 128Kbit being the available standard speeds.

    Beyond this the Wideband Digital Data Service (WDDS) can provide dedicated link speeds up to 2Megabits per second starting at 64Kbits and increasing in 64Kbit steps to whatever bandwidth is requirecd up to the maximum 2Mbits per second.

    An alternative to DDS is Frame Relay, where each end of the link plugs into a switched network. The customer can then purchase a bandwidth amount for the link to the network at as many locations where link access will be required. The maximum throughput between any two delivery points can be separately defined (the committed information rate - CIR). Frame relay can be very cost competitive when compared to the dedicated types of DDS circuit. However, experience in NZ has shown that the overall throughput of a frame relay link does not come up to the performance of a DDS circuit even though an CIR has been purchased. There would appear to be times when the FR Network is either overloaded generally or at specific points.

    Frame Relay Resources

    Within the major cities in New Zealand there are lower cost options for Internet connections. Metropolitan Digital Data Service (MDDS) is a low cost DDS variant which provides speeds up to 128Kbits with actual MDDS speeds of 9K6, 48K, 64K and 128Kbits being the most popular. The 9k6 and lower speeds are really not suitable for an Internet connection as they are simply too low throughput. Lower cost is a relative term but lower it is when compared to standard DDS charges.

    A variation on standard dial up is Centrex ISDN.
    This service is available in the central business district (CBD), as defined by Telecom, of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This really is a low cost option if connecting to an ISP in the same CBD since there will be no per-minute charges for using ISDN if part of the ISP's Basic Business Group. (BBG).
    Probably the biggest problem with Centrex ISDN is actually finding an ISP to connect to who provides this service. From the ISPs view it would only be feasible to get involved with Centrex ISDN if the service was hosted on one or more Primary Rate ISDN connections, giving scalability in blocks of thirty 64K channels for each PRI.
    A second issue for ISPs is that Telecom NZ appear to have problems in providing PRI circuits and in provisioning them reliably. It appears that the NEC neax61e PRI switching equipment is a major source of headaches for Telecom and interfacing to certain manufacturer's PRI routers and modem servers has been less than enjoyable for all parties involved.

    ISDN Resources

    Down at the bottom end of the permanent link options to the Internet are the Analogue leased lines. These are essentially ordinary telephone circuits that are permanently kept open between two sites. The customer has to provide suitable modems for the leased line, modems that support a two wire leased analogue line. Most reasonable quality modems will do this.

    Special equipment - routers

    A full time permanent connection to an Internet Service Provider will usually mean that the connecting site will be allocated its own range of IP numbers for use on computers connected to the LAN.
    Often a complete Class C network will be allocated. To connect this network to an ISP a router is needed - to route between the networks. A router has a minimum of two interface, often one is a LAN type, ethernet or Token ring, the other a WAN type, a serial port or ISDN port. Since most DDS services provided by Telcos use a synchronous serial connection it is usual for a router to have a sync serial port for direct connection to the DDS. See the Router pages for details.

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    Last modified: 12 March 1997.