Your Complete Guide To Wireless Broadband In New Zealand

Mar 23, 2021
By Staff writer

If you live in an area that doesn’t have wired services yet, wireless broadband is the only way to go! It allows homes and businesses to connect to the internet through the provider’s mobile networks including 2G, 3G, 4G, and even 5G!

Unlike fibre, ADSL, and VDSL that need wires to deliver internet to your devices, wireless broadband connects you to the internet through the provider’s towers that beam signals to your home modem. This is a perfect option in rural areas where some major provider’s fixed broadband lines aren’t available yet. 

Take a look at the best features, caveats, and all you need to know about wireless broadband in New Zealand.

What is a WISP?

Wireless internet service provider (WISP) specialises in connecting areas where big providers can't reach. They are usually smaller businesses, supplying the most rural and most remote communities of a region.

As WISPs are owned and operated by small local providers, they use less efficient and dated equipment. Their staff is also composed of locals, who may not be as familiar with the technology used by bigger broadband providers. However, their edge is their commitment to making the internet better for rural living.

The great thing is, some bigger providers like Spark and Vodafone now have specialised rural and wireless broadband plans. Your location may be able to take advantage of their modern internet technology and experienced staff.

How does wireless broadband work?

Wireless broadband starts from the cell towers that providers set up across town. These are usually placed in high elevation to distribute signals more efficiently. These towers can transmit and receive data, acting like a chain of signals to ultimately connect you to the internet.

Once your area is within the distribution reach of these towers, a router or a modem in your home or office receives these signals. You can wire up your devices like laptops and desktops, or connect your smartphones and tablets through wi-fi. 

Most companies utilise this method in sparsely populated areas where a wiring system is impractical and expensive. This type of broadband is also often referred to as “fixed wireless internet” because it connects two fixed points. 


What is satellite broadband?

If your home isn’t within direct reach of the provider’s towers, you may boost up your connection through satellites. A satellite dish amplifies the signals from the nearest tower and connects your address to the internet. This is usually mounted on the roof of your property, as it’s where signals are received most effectively. 

This type of broadband is often referred to as “satellite broadband” because it uses satellite dishes to connect you to the internet. However, some broadband providers may use a long-range router rather than a satellite dish. Either way, the concept of how this broadband type works remains the same.

Is wireless broadband fast and reliable?

Unlike popular belief, wireless broadband can be fast and reliable, too. Depending on your location, you can experience speeds as fast as 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload. Although on average, the majority of NZ wireless broadband plans deliver 36Mbps download and 10Mbps upload.

For satellite broadband, speeds can reach as fast as 10Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. However, it may still vary depending on the time of day. Plans are available almost everywhere across New Zealand, but only a few companies may offer them.

Of course, this doesn’t reach as fast as wired broadband, with fibre racing as fast as 1Gbps for households and 4Gbps for businesses. If you want to get connected to the internet in your rural abode, this isn’t a bad choice at all! It can still accomplish the most basic online tasks and even some advanced ones without a single hitch.

What are the advantages of wireless broadband?

Wireless broadband has plenty of great features you can take advantage of. As long as you have good reception, expect optimum performance from a wireless broadband plan. Check out the pros of getting wireless broadband in your rural community.

It’s easier to set-up

Without needing cables, it’s no surprise that wireless broadband has an easier set-up process. Some providers even make use of plug-and-play features. Simply plug the wireless modem, and you’re all set.

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No problems about cables

Cables are prone to problems — be it from natural causes like corrosion or human intervention like cable tapping. As wireless broadband doesn’t rely on cables, you can worry less about these problems of being connected to wired services.

Generous data caps

Most wireless broadband providers are generous about data caps, compared to other wired services in rural areas. This works great as you can accomplish more with your internet without worry about running out of data in the middle of the month.

Plenty of competitive plans

Competition is tough within the local community internet, so expect competitive plans as well! The competition includes not only improving the quality of broadband but also lowering the prices, so even low-income earners can afford one for their needs.

What are the disadvantages of wireless broadband?

Of course, wireless broadband has also its fair share of caveats. Not needing wires can be both an advantage and disadvantage for your overall broadband experience. Here are some of the biggest caveats of wireless broadband in New Zealand.

It relies on line of sight

Wireless internet towers often rely on line of sight. If you can see the tower from your property, you can take advantage of their services reliably. The farther you are from the tower, the less reliable and slower your internet becomes.

Towers have limited reach

Even if you can see towers, you may not be able to take advantage of them if you’re out of reach. Most towers can only reach up to 50kms from all directions effectively. Some newer towers can max their reach up to 100kms, but that’s about it.

It’s subject to interference

Interference such as mountains, large trees, and tall buildings can easily affect the quality of your broadband, especially if it’s within the line of sight. This makes it almost impossible to connect the router in your property to the internet.

Weather can affect broadband too

Strong winds, light rains, or fog can easily affect your broadband. If you have satellite broadband, the dish may not be able to receive signals at all. This isn’t ideal, especially if you live in an area with frequent rains.

It may be more expensive than wired plans

Although wired broadband plans have become cheaper and less susceptible to interference, the price may still not be up to par with wired broadband. You may have to pay more for your broadband in your rural abode.

Should you still get wireless broadband?

Wireless broadband is still a great choice if you live in an area where it’s the only option. If you’re in one of these situations, you should highly consider getting a wireless broadband plan.

  • You live in a remote community where wired services aren’t available
  • You live in a location with rough and hard-to-explore terrain
  • You live in a sparsely populated region

If you’re under one of these circumstances but can take advantage of wired services, get wired services instead. Although it has its own share of problems, it still experiences less interference and problems than wireless internet.

What are the top wireless broadband providers in NZ?

If you’re connecting to wireless broadband, you should get plans from these providers. They offer great value for money deals with specialised coverage for each location. This isn’t a list so make sure to conduct your research as well.

  1. BlueDoor
  2. Connecta
  3. WIZwireless
  4. Farmside
  5. Wireless Nation

To know the best wireless broadband provider in your rural address, know your best options using our free comparison tool, right here at glimp. We give customised broadband plan results in just a few minutes.

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Shane Egan (Popup) , 2023-07-10

Excellent service. Responsive and easy to deal with. Got me an awesome deal on Broadband. Well worth calling to see what they can do. 👍

Jamie Martin , 2023-06-18

Really great service, helped us save about 30% on power plus a free $100 sign up bonus. Very fast and efficient.

Kat W , 2023-06-20

Very helpful and informative. Lovely chatting with them on the phone, helped me find a power supplier, pretty simple and straight forward

Dee Painter , 2023-08-08

So easy to use, very helpful and got a great deal with my power and gas