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Monday, 06 July 2015 22:01

Were OZ ISPs naive to not expect massive Netflix traffic?


A report quotes iiNet CEO saying no-one anticipated the massive data growth caused by Netflix, but is this credible?

An article over at the Australian Financial Review quotes iiNet CEO David Buckingham stating the industry is ‘running around trying to deal with [Netflix]’, that ‘6-to-12 months’ worth of [data] growth’ was seen in ‘six weeks’.

He was also quoted saying no-one could forecast that and it was an ‘unprecedented shift in the market that no-one anticipated.’

ISPs are now effectively demanding they be charged less by NBN, the company, to carry all of this data across the network.

The article notes that NBN Co already cut its CVC charge by 12.5% earlier this year, while noting Superloop’s Bevan Slattery suggesting charges should fall by 70%.

Personally, I have no problem or issue with ISPs seeking a dramatically better deal from NBN Co, as it would theoretically mean cheaper pricing for end-users.

What I have an issue with is the statement that this was beyond anyone’s forecasting.

The fact that Netflix takes up over 30% of internal US Internet traffic was widely reported last year, as were figures of between 200,000 and 300,000 Australians accessing the US Netflix service via VPN before it became legally available in Australia.

Recent reports have put legal Australian Netflix traffic at well over one million users, or approximately ten times the traffic of competitors such as Presto or Stan.

So, why the surprise that Netflix was popular in Australia and that it would consume massive amounts of traffic when that is exactly the case in the US?

Part of the whole reason for the NBN in the first place was to deliver a very high speed network capable of delivering gobs of bandwidth for modern day purposes, one of which would be streaming multiple HD or even 4K streams of video content to multiple devices in someone’s home.

Where the problem appears to lie is with NBN Co under both the current and previous federal governments, along with those governments and other government agencies, that failed to price the NBN properly in the first place - despite widespread knowledge of Netflix’s rampant US popularity and its availability on virtually any device sporting a screen and Wi-Fi connectivity.

So - NBN Co, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, ACMA, ACCC, ACCAN, Australian ISPs and everyone else - please get your act together so that delivery of massive amounts of video traffic across the NBN will not bankrupt ISPs nor make the Internet too expensive for end-users.

Also, it would be good if we can stop pretending no-one could have foreseen such dramatic growth in traffic - especially when literally hundreds of thousands of Australians ‘illegally’ were accessing Netflix well before its officially availability.

iiNet says it has purchased the bandwidth it needs to deliver Netflix and fast speeds, but it clearly didn’t foresee this.

If this was truly not foreseen by anyone else, as has obviously been the case, then ISPs and NBN Co and governments and everyone in Australia interesting in video streaming and annoyed by the slow-downs the popularity of streaming has caused have been living in some kind of la-la land.

Of course, given the extremely slow pace of NBN’s rollout and the abandonment of an FTTP network (despite the fact there are now very interesting technologies such as pCells from Artemis Networks), Australia’s dilly-dallying with ultra high speed broadband connectivity has been a joke, and we clearly deserve to be in the mess that we’re in now.

Let’s just hope ISPs, NBN Co, government and everyone else can pull their respective fingers out and get the damn thing sorted, otherwise 2020 will roll around we’ll all still be complaining that ‘NBN’ will still stand for the No Broadband Network!!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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