The world of broadband has its very own language, which can sometimes be a little confusing to decipher - especially if you're not overly familiar with computers and all things tech.

Have no fear though, we've put together the following guide which will decode all those techy terms and show you how these will come together in your own home broadband setup.

First Of All, How Does It All Work?
Like radio, the internet also relies on hardware to transmit and receive the information being broadcast. If you’re sending an email, your computer works like a mini radio station, decoding the email into 1’s and 0’s and sending it through a wireless network (WiFi) to your router.

What Is an ONT and What Is a Router?
An ONT is your fibre box. ONT stands for Optical Network Terminal. It brings fibre into your house.

A router connects to your ONT and distributes WiFi across your home, giving you wireless access to the global internet network. It works a bit like Google Maps –choosing the fastest and most efficient route for the data to take through the various cables and networks.

A better router is a better navigator, boosting your internet speed and giving you a more reliable connection to the internet. With a number of router options available, the right one for your home will depend on how you use the internet and the layout of your house.

Which Router and Why?
For most Kiwi homes the most common setup is to have one router in a central location looking after the whole house. There are some downsides to this, such as the further you are from the router the weaker the signal becomes. In a large house with multiple floors, certain building materials such as thick plaster walls and metal wiring can block the signal creating what’s called ‘WiFi dead zones’ - where the signal is limited or non-existent.

A good way to combat this is by having several routers in different parts of your house. Our Total Home WiFi router is available in both a 2-pack and 3-pack, so that you can position the routers on opposite ends of the house, or even on different stories, helping ensure that you can enjoy crystal-clear internet in every corner of your house.

Ever had your internet suddenly drop out only to have to reset the router? With a multipack even if one unit drops out, the other unit ‘self-heals’ and keeps your internet running. Avoiding awkwardly dropping out of important work-from-home meetings. 

How does the internet reach you?
Most of us think of the internet as a wireless network using satellites. But it’s actually much more physical, with a worldwide network of cables making it all work. Currently, 97% of the world’s communications travel through a vast network of interconnected underground and submarine cables. Connecting you to the rest of the world and letting you enjoy the magic of the internet.

Why Fibre?
Technology has come a long way since dial up and now there are several different options to access the internet, with each type affecting the speed of the data reaching you. With fibre, data can travel at almost the speed of light, as data is delivered via pulses of light across fibre optic cables.

Fibre should deliver faster internet compared with copper services, which is another way you can access the internet. Fibre means that you should be able to watch your favourite online shows or join that family Zoom session in HD with less interruption (and without Aunty Jeana turning into a pixelated mess). By the end of 2022, 87% of New Zealand’s population should have access to fibre, giving more and more Kiwis access to this speedy network!

And what is Mbps?
Mbps stands for “megabits per second”, it’s a measure of your internet speed. Counting how fast you can download or upload data between the internet and your computer or personal device.

Say you’re downloading some software onto your computer; the faster your Mbps speed, the sooner your download will finish (and the less waiting you’ll have to do!). Having a faster download speed also improves your online experience by having less lag and interruption while browsing or streaming videos. 


The information provided in this article is of a general nature and not intended to be a substitute for personalised, professional advice. Mercury recommends that you always seek appropriate advice from a qualified professional to suit your individual circumstances. Links to external, non-Mercury websites are provided as a reference only, and do not imply a partnership or endorsement of their content.