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Australian gamers could face throttled data usage

UPDATE: NBN confirms capacity upgrade plans to tackle congestion

Original story (05/06/2018): Australian gamers could see their connections throttled during peak hours after the National Broadband Network boss suggested they were partly responsible for a significant increase in data consumption on its network.

Speaking at a parliamentary committee on Monday, chief executive Bill Morrow said the company may restrict data consumption of "extreme users".

Morrow was answering questions on the planned rollout of the national broadband netowrk in rural areas -- as reported by The Guardian -- and was asked about his plans to deal with spikes in data use on the fixed wireless network.

When asked to define what an "extreme users" was and what constituted heavy use, Morrow replied: "It's gamers predominantly, on fixed wireless."

He added that gamers require high bandwidth because they typically use high-definition video streaming.

Morrow said NBN Co was considering a "fair use" policy for fixed wireless which would see heavy users restricted to the same usage as everyone else during peak times.

"In the fixed wireless there's a large proportion [of users] that are using terabytes of data ... during the contended period," he said.

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

Stephen Jones, the shadow minister for regional communications, said he didn't want to focus on gamers as they were no less legitimate than other data users and asked for "hard information" on the profile of these users.

However, Morrow said NBN Co was lacking the data to run a full analysis, raising the question of why he mentioned gamers in the first place.

"I never said that," Morrow replied. "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."

Update (06/06/2018): An NBN spokesperson has confirmed that only six per cent of fixed wireless cells experience congestion during peak times, and the company is currently investing in a capacity upgrade.

"In addition to the capacity upgrade program, we are also considering a number of other options to help manage congestion going forward," the spokesperson told "Shaping high data usage is one of those options but as per our usual approach, we would undergo an extensive consultation process before applying any such initiative.

"As a government business enterprise, NBN Co operates within a funding envelope and does not have access to unlimited resources. That is why, as well as upgrading the capacity of the network, we also need to consider other options in order to make sure people get fair access to what is a finite resource."

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Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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