The number of New Zealand internet users with datacaps of 50 gigabytes (GB) or more increased by almost 800 percent compared with a year ago, an annual Statistics NZ survey of internet service providers has found. More than 50 percent of customers now have a datacap of 20 GB or more per month.

This is a consequence of a greater range of offerings from ISPs, coupled with a rising user demand for high-volume data, says Statistics NZ. "With the increasing availability of higher data-cap (and no data-cap) plans, we are starting to enjoy unlimited digital streaming of movies and TV shows," notes to the survey. In June 2012, when the measurements were taken, users consumed an estimated 16GB of data on average per month, compared with 9GB last year.

The survey shows that a fast growing proportion of internet use is mobile. "The total number of mobile broadband users increased 34 percent this year, to more than 2.5 million -- more than half the population," says the survey.

The move to broadband speeds continues, says Statistics NZ. "The majority of subscribers (96 percent) are downloading data at speeds between 1.5 to 24 megabits per second (Mbps), up from 86 percent in this speed category last year. The total number of subscribers in the lowest downloading speed category (less than 1.5 Mbps) decreased to just 2 percent, compared with 12 percent in 2011."

Uploading speeds are continuing to rise, with 27 percent of broadband subscribers in the 1.5 Mbps or more category, compared with 18 percent in 2011, the survey results indicate. Though this proportion is still small, it is growing. "The number of subscribers signing up for lower [upload] speeds is rising at a lower rate than those signing up for higher speeds," Statistics NZ says. "The total number of subscribers in the 'less than 1.5 Mbps' category rose 3 percent in the past two years, while those in the '1.5 Mbps or more' category rose more than 180 percent."

The number of fibre-optic subscribers increased by 46 percent, the survey finds, making it the fastest-growing sector of broadband, but it is still small in absolute numbers, having grown from 3,700 in 2011 to 5,400 subscribers this year. "DSL remains the most popular connection type, with a 9 percent increase to more than 1.1 million subscribers this year," Statistics NZ reports.