NBN blames streamers and gamers for poor service

Around two years ago, former CEO of NBN Co blamed online gamers for creating congestion on the National Broadband Network (NBN) and threatened to throttle internet speeds:

NBN Co is “evaluating” slowing down or limiting downloads for users during peak times in order to overcome these fixed wireless congestion problems.

At a parliamentary hearing in Sydney this afternoon, NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow said that the heavy users likely targeted by a fair use policy were “gamers predominantly”…

Last year, the blame was shifted to online streaming services, with Dr Steven Conway from Swinburne University of Technology warning that the NBN is facing a “congestion time bomb”:

“In a nutshell, the future is dire. In contemporary terms, it’s not great”…

FTTN is a “a community shared service”, and its performance depends on how many people are using it, Dr Conway explained…

“If everyone’s on it you’ll face severe limitations and hit congestion”…

Now both issues have come home to roost, with NBN Co launching a plan to throttle heavy internet users supposedly in breach of “fair use”:

“We have observed a number of examples of single users consuming the majority of capacity resources in their given cell through consistent and prolonged high usage,” NBN Co said.

In August this year, NBN Co said 2.24 percent of users – some 7185 – “consumed 12.3 percent of total downlink capacity resources.”

Additionally, 1.65 percent or 5375 users “accounted for use of 18.5 percent of total uplink capacity.”

NBN Co said it had “no current mechanism” at its disposal to address the issue now, “other than balancing the number of users within each cell”…

The company is instead proposing to introduce a new management framework that would give it more power to enforce the fair use policy for fixed wireless.

It would target heavy users – defined as those breaching 400GB download or 120GB upload thresholds in a calendar month – and, in particular, the applications they are using…

The ACCC’s latest Communications Market Report for 2018-19 did show a strong increase in download volumes as “Australians binge on streaming”:

The question is: why offer “unlimited” internet plans when NBN Co can throttle speeds if/when a household breaches 400GB download or 120GB upload thresholds in a calendar month? Isn’t this false advertising?

This is blame the victim stuff from NBN Co. Australian taxpayers have already spent more than $50 billion on the NBN and it is already obsolete, straining under load.

Using the same logic, we might as well blame recent overcrowding on Australia’s trains, roads, schools and hospitals on too many people wanting to use them.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

    • There’s nothing wrong with the $3 million a year peg:

      Prior to joining NBN Co as CEO, Mr Rue spent 17 years in various leadership roles, including a decade as Chief Financial Officer, at News Corp Australia. He has also served as a Director on a number of boards including Foxtel and REA Group, as well as Chairman of the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.

      • How else could it be? Soon as I read the heading for this article I knew there would be a lead up to a Foxtel ‘tax’ just like the Harvey Norman tax. May as well have the mafia running the place.

  1. Would you stop posting these damned articles about the NBN. I will hold you accountable for the mass homicide that may result if you tip me over the edge!!!

  2. Switched from NBN to TPG FTTB about 2 months ago, noticeably quicker and no peak slowdown. NBN used to almost grind to a halt around 4pm.

  3. Additionally, 1.65 percent or 5375 users “accounted for use of 18.5 percent of total uplink capacity.”

    They must be using a similar usage and value distribution model as superannuation.

  4. macrofishMEMBER

    Outside of downloading the game (once) and updates, gaming netcodes use 3 fifths of fuck all bandwidth.

    Its the streamers are the ones using most of it but since netflix and co are use by EVERYONE they dont want to admit to it.

  5. I have a really dumb question that I’m sure there is a simple answer for. Why is Telstra selling off, other than decreased divvy when they are leading 5G?

  6. I just signed up for FTTC NBN with Aussie Broadband. Was feeling pretty good about my 100 Mbps plan (the fastest available at my address) until a UK friend on Facebook said that the slowest plan he could get was 100 Mbps!

    • Heh, that sounds like my friend in Singapore – a “slow” plan is the equivalent of our fastest offering at 100Mb – and that was a decade ago. We truly are a technological backwater.

    • No it does not.

      The problem here is wireless – whether Skymuster, fixed wireless or 5G – is shared spectrum; my use affects your use. This is not easily changed as spectrum is finite.

      FTTP OTOH, moves the problem to backhaul, but backhaul can be upgraded.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Yes. It will likely be fast at first (as there are not as many customers using it) but it will slow down as more folks come on line as there is a fixed and finite capacity.

          • Sorry DD, wasn’t what I was asking / implying, perhaps too subtly.
            This is more or less true for any wireless service, which is the implied issue in the article as another commenter pointed out below. I hoping to get that answer from above, but they seemed to be commenting from a perspective of fixed line service.

    • RobotSenseiMEMBER

      The 5G radiation scaremongers would be the major profiteers out of this. Portable Faraday cages are the new black.

  7. This article seems to be talking about FTTN and NBN wireless users where resources are to some extent shared ie by cell tower or the node itself or trunked copper lines running along the street interfering with each other.

    Does not appear to apply so much to either FTTC or FTTP users.

    Just need to be more rigorous making sure NBN resellers don’t over promise on their plans.

    The same problem that is going on here to NBN is looks to repeat in a much greater size with the roll-out of the 5G networks. Compared to 3G/4G the device count accessing the network is much larger and the requirement from vendors to deploy a much greater number of more localised towers.

    • More fibre is clearly the answer. FTTP is no enough.

      With users like Haroldus, what is called for is FTTLeftHandedMouse (FTTLHM)!!!

      All the way, bro!

  8. Could these morons not anticipate an exponential increase in watching streaming services? It was the most obvious thing in the world. Yes, I am saying this now, but it was easily predictable beforehand.

    • These people clearly thought analogue TV was going to be a thing well beyond 2050.

      At the same time paying themselves rock-star salaries … noice!

  9. alwaysanonMEMBER

    My provider gave me the choice of 500GB or unlimited for $14/month more. I guess I should just take the 500GB because if I go beyond that they’ll throttle me anyway eh?

  10. I thought they said the NBN was not being built to watch TV…..or watching porn in HD but it seems doing both will crash the system

  11. We should just go 5G lol like all the deniers say.

    I looked at by downloads the other month, 1 Terrabyte for the month, which included Gaming, Work, 4K streaming

    I would max out a 5G plan in a single day.

    Building a new house with FTTP, and I am already looking to up the anty beyond 100/40.

    Not deploying FTTP to each house is like not deploying electricity to each corner of the country. It’s up there with one of the biggest policy failures this country has experienced.

  12. pfh007.comMEMBER

    Does anybody know what percentage of houses actually joined the NBN when the copper was turned off?

    I suspect quite a few houses who were only using mobile phones may not have bothered to get connected.

    Connecting houses to FTTC is easy once FTTN infrastructure is in place as we are only talking about relatively short extensions of fibre.

    Perhaps allowing people to request a free FTTC upgrade if they want it is the easiest solution.

    There may not be a lot of demand for the upgrade.

    FTTN is fine for light users.

    • Does anybody know what percentage of houses actually joined the NBN when the copper was turned off?

      I suspect quite a few houses who were only using mobile phones may not have bothered to get connected.

      I’d actually be surprised if that was true. It was free to be connected and the process started when mobile data was still pretty restrictive and expensive.

      I reckon there’s few houses that remain disconnected to the NBN and the most common reason for this will be because they’re unoccupied or in such poor condition they couldn’t be connected.

      FTTN is fine for light users.

      FTTN isn’t really a decision you can make on a per-user basis. It’s a fundamental architectural decision that affects, at a minimum, whole neighbourhoods.

  13. Hi Leith, as an economist I am sure you understand that monopolies maximise profits by restricting supply. NBN Co is doing what any monopolist would do and looking to only serve those willing to pay more for the quantity of data where marginal revenue is greater than marginal cost.
    By the way NBN Co is not a natural monopoly in most geographic areas – it is one by virtue of govt regulation and legislation. Competitors are able to introduce technologies that will lower marginal costs and hence compete away this privilege but our govt is readying NBN Co for privatisation and it knows that a monopoly will sell for more (just like we saw with Telstra’s privatisation 20 years ago when the Minister now in charge of NBN Co was in the office of the then Minister in charge of Telstra). They are following the same playbook.