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Are gamers to blame for regional Australia’s crap NBN?

The head of the National Broadband Network appears to have laid the blame for crappy broadband speeds squarely at the feet of Australia’s gamers.

Appearing before a parliamentary committee to discuss how the NBN was being rolled out in regional Australia, Bill Morrow said “extreme users” could have their data consumption decreased.

According to The Guardian, the CEO was grilled over what the company planned to do about spikes in usage during peak times on the NBN’s fixed wireless network.

NBN says the fixed wireless network “utilises data transmitted over radio signals to connect a premises to the nbn broadband access network”, which Stephen Jones, the shadow minister for regional communications, said in a statement was intended “to give regional Australians the best technology available”.

“In the fixed wireless there’s a large proportion [of users] that are using terabytes of data… during the contended period,” Morrow told the parliamentary committee.

“One of the things we’re evaluating [is] a form of fair use policy to say we will groom these extreme users.”

When pressed by Jones as to who these “extreme users” were, Morrow responded, “It’s gamers predominantly, on fixed wireless”, explaining that high-definition gaming led to more bandwidth being chewed up.

Jones wasn’t having it however, saying gamers were as entitled to use the service they paid for as anyone else.

“I’m so concerned that we do not characterise these people as ‘gamers’, which [would mean it] is a less legitimate use than somebody who’s trying to run a home-based business,” he said.

“[I’m] keen to get some hard information about what the profile of these users [is], if the NBN Co is making significant decisions about cancelling 100 megabits per second services and diverting scarce capital, and around infrastructure upgrades.”

The real issue, as highlighted by Jones, was how Morrow knew it was gamers who were causing the slow-down.

Morrow admitted he didn’t actually have any data to support his theory.

“With great respect to everything you’ve said over the last 15 minutes, you’ve been saying to us the problem here is gamers,” Jones said.

Morrow responded: “I never said that. Hold on. I never said that. I said there are super users out there consuming terabytes of data and the question is, ‘should we actually groom those down?’. It’s a consideration, so don’t put words in my mouth.”

It’s an issue Jones has shown himself keen to pursue, calling the NBN out last month for “their fixed wireless backflip”.

“At Senate Estimates last night, NBN Chief Executive Officer, Bill Morrow, revealed NBN had “killed off” plans to offer 100Mbps on the fixed wireless network,” Jones said in a statement.

“Only 12 months ago, NBN launched the policy heralding it as ‘game-changing.’ Mr Morrow previously described the policy as one which delivers for ‘tomorrow and in the future.’

“Then again on 12 January 2018, NBN supplied evidence to the Senate stating that 50 per cent of fixed wireless users would have access to 100 Mbps speeds by 2020 – that is 300,000 regional households and small businesses.

“Now they are saying something completely different.”

About the author

Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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