back to article nbn™ CEO didn't mean to offend gamers, just brand them unwelcome bandwidth-hogs

Bill Morrow, CEO of the nbn™, the company building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), has learned to Fear The Wrath Of Gamers. Morrow angered gamers with comments to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the NBN, which he on Monday he told that some “super users” on its fixed wireless services are downloading “ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rightttt. get called out for your BS, and claim you never said it in the first place....

    Just one more lie after another with this guy.

    I suppose you can't blame him, he's just taking the lead, and toeing the party line, for Turnbull.

    "quicker, faster, cheaper" right?????

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      toing the party line

      So if we had fibre all the way into the home, network concurrency and latency would not be a problem right?

      And since the original political justification (per Kim Beasly), was "educaction and in-home medical care", clearly gaming and netflix have no place on the network anyway.

      1. mathew42

        Re: toing the party line

        Labor documented in the NBNCo Corporate Plan that the recommended minimum speed for education and in-home medical care was 100Mbps.

      2. Adam 1

        Re: toing the party line

        > So if we had fibre all the way into the home, network concurrency and latency would not be a problem right?

        Wireless will, by laws of physics, have concurrency limitations that a long shard of glass internally reflecting a laser beam will not suffer. The only way to avoid it is to build more masts, send up more birds, or free up new frequencies.

        Tbh, the anti FTTN mob (where can I sign up) accept the inevitability of concurrency limitations on the wireless parts of the nbn. The congestion we complain about is on the nodes themselves, requiring the total scrapping of the Optus infrastructure that they paid a metric ton of cash for, as well as massive overbuild of the Telstra's cable to get somewhat acceptable speeds in 2018, but with no cheap future upgrade path.

        Even mentioning gamers is frankly ridiculous. Games are very bandwidth efficient. They need good latency but the payload itself tends to be small. It's not like they're sending 4K streams to each other during gameplay. The big culprits are things like YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, torrents, etc. But I can well imagine the politics of "it's just a bunch of whining teenagers*" is an easier sell than "we choose technologies that cannot be cheaply scaled as data demands have gone up". I mean who could forsee that selling gigantic 4K internet connected televisions to everyone would result in everyone wanting to download online content.

        *In their mind, only teenagers play Conley games.

        1. Adam 1

          Re: toing the party line

          > *In their mind, only teenagers play Conley games.

          That'd be computer games. Freaking autocarrot.

      3. Nick Stallman

        Re: toing the party line

        FTTP can (and does) still have congestion at many different points.

        Firstly it's using GPON with a fibre running at 2.488gbps shared between up to 32 houses. If those 32 had 100mbit plans and decided to use them at the same time then you have a (small) problem.

        Then you have POI congestion where the ISP doesn't buy enough bandwidth. This happens all the time and affects FTTP and FTTN equally.

        And then you have ISP congestion from the cheap ISP's with garbage internal networks.

        Fixed wireless has a fairly fixed max total speed per tower however and its shared with a lot more people so it's most susceptible after satellite.

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      "quicker, faster, cheaper"

      In IT Project work, there are three options. Now pick two.

      clearly gaming and netflix have no place on the network anyway

      Bill can't "blame" Netflix because many people are using VPN to circumvent geoblocks.

  2. as2003

    Wasn't the network supposed to somewhat future-proof? And it's fallen over before it's even out of the gates? It's not even present-proof.

    Besides the fact that gaming uses a fraction of the bandwidth that video streaming uses. Some games require less bandwidth than even audio streaming. Hilariously, this is even published on the NBN Co's very own website

  3. cirby

    Gaming bandwidth?

    Not likely, pal.

    Almost all online games minimize bandwidth. When all you're doing is sending game location and input data, it's a tiny fraction of the size of, say, a decent-quality YouTube stream.

    Games companies try to use the least bandwidth because if you do big chunks of data, it nukes the servers that are carrying all of those online games and makes it nearly impossible to get good latency.

  4. Halcin

    Morrow had said as much during Monday's committee hearing, adding: “No-one designs a network to where everybody uses it at the same exact time”.

    When the $%£@ does he think users would be using the network?? Does he even know what happens to his very own employees? The majority get out of bed at the same time, go to work at the same time, go home at the same time, and go to bed at the same time (approximately).

    So evening is the only time the proletariat have for using his precious network. Or does he honestly think plebs should be required to get out of bed at all hours of the night to better manage network usage for him?

    A competent CEO would insist on a network to be designed to cope with real-world requirements.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      The residential evening internet peak has been known about for years. The counter to it is to diversify your customer base so that the investment required to support daytime business customers can be reused at night. However, if you don't have many daytime business customers to justify further investment or are constrained by poor financial planning or technology choices then I guess there is no other choice but to blame (implied) young people. It is what all governments in Australia do and they seem to get away with it.

      1. alexmcm

        Enron anyone?

        Made me think of of the excellent idea from Enron of trading in bandwidth from low usage areas to high usage areas. If it's peak time in Sydney, just buy bandwidth from Perth. Problem solved.

    2. mathew42

      Are you going to pay for that level of network performance?

      Less than 14% are willing to pay for 100Mbps speed tier.

      The reality is that under the Liberals, NBNCo have responded to RSP demands by cutting CVC pricing from $20/Mbps to $8/Mbps, resulting in NBNCo's revenue being significantly reduced.

      Want to really cause some chaos? Find a few friends connected 100Mbps or even 50Mbps plans on the same POI and run some heavy P2P sharing. Unlimited plans mean you will quickly congest the network all without even leaving the RSP's network.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Less than 14% are willing to pay for 100Mbps speed tier.

        Would you be willing to pay for something that you can't get?

        1. mathew42

          > Would you be willing to pay for something that you can't get?

          The weakness in demand for 100Mbps services existed well before the first FTTN connection.

          Would it be correct to assume you allude to the issues with congestion?

          Fibre fanbois rant about a lack of access to fast speeds, yet all the evidence points towards Australians preferring unlimited data with >85% of Australians being unwilling to pay for fast speeds even when available.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Pricing was certainly an issue. But rolling out the network on obsolete technology has ensured that when pricing is sorted, most subscribers won't ever be able to reach even a basic 100Mb/s, or ideally 1Gb/s in the (distant) future.

            Unlimited [buffering] data [buffering] means [buffering] nothing [buffering] if [buffering] it [buffering] cannot [buffering] be [buffering] delivered [buffering] quick [buffering] enough.

  5. kneedragon

    Lying kharnt!

    Maybe he doesn't know any better and he lied through his teeth to get a job in tech. More likely he knows what consumes bandwidth is streaming video - Youtube, farcebook, twatter, bbc, nbc, cnn, FoxNews, msnbc... you can't go to Roger's RatTraps any more, without Roger streaming his webcam of the front of his shop at 4k, as soon as you get there. Want a weather report? They'll stream video of the weather segment from last night's news. Want the price of stock and oil and gold? Here, we'll stream last night's financials segment.

    But if anybody asks about the shitty service your over-priced & under-performing network delivers, we'll blame Nigel (who is 12, and never comes out of his room) because people are stupid - they'll believe that!

    Games are a bit critical about lag and latency, and games do exist that do the "video card" at the server, and send the whole damn lot over the network, but those are extremely rare. Things like WoW and PUBG and games normal people play, use way under a MB/sec most of the time. Blaming gamers is like blaming women who get harassed, because they wore a short skirt...

  6. chrisw67

    "...some “super users” on its fixed wireless services are downloading “terabytes” per month. The company is considering fair-use clause in contracts (as apply to its SkyMuster satellite services) or even traffic shaping to cope."

    Two thoughts:

    Imposing conditions on users of a satellite service is going to help users of the congested fixed-wireless segments exactly how?

    Up until now, NBN would skate away from issues by insisting that end users were not its customers and directing the problem to RSPs. NBN is now acknowledging that it has end-user customers that it can impose conditions on. I don't know if this is deliberate muddying-of-the-waters for convenience or if this guy is unaware of how consumer-hostile the organisation has been to date.

  7. Phil Kingston

    I expect there's more howlers to come as he winds down on his way out the door. I'm sure someone will remind me, but he's got what, 6, months left?

  8. Richocet

    As a gamer I use a lot of bandwidth

    My wife went to EB games and bought the online game Elder Scrolls Online Morrow-wind. After inserting the game disk into the XBox it proceeded to download 76GB of data over the course of a few days before the game could be played, followed by a few more GB of patches and updates.

    She decided this is a good game and we should both play it, but we only have one XBox so we will need to buy 2 PC versions of the game (a long story). So after updating Steam we did this. Steam started downloading the game on both PCs. 2 days later it got to 46GB and 62GB downloaded and then restarted the download. We were not impressed by this and switched to downloading to one PC and copying to the other. 3 days and another 76GB later we had it installed and running. Just 2x2 patches to be downloaded and installed after running the game for the first time.

    Now we are playing it the data use is small but it took 260GB of downloads over 10 days to get set up.

    Most other games are similar.

    In conclusion: we use a lot of data for gaming. Are we the only ones?

    1. Ipsus301

      Re: As a gamer I use a lot of bandwidth

      Your example is correct. Most games are now purchased and downloaded. However, after that initial download most patches (containing bug fixes and occasionally new features) are typically smaller and not frequent (i.e., less than once a week and usually far less often). After the initial download, the internet traffic required for most online games is quite small for the reasons stated in other people's posts.

      I play an online game that patches very frequently, once a week, compared to all the others I have played. The average patch size is around 2 GBs. The initial download was 35GBs. So over the course of a year downloading the game files & patches was around 140 GBs and the game data (sent while playing) was immaterial, but let's say a GB a week (from let's say 20 hours of playing) and round up to 200 GBs for the year.

      That's about the same as streaming 4 hours a week of HD video. So using some broad assumptions it seems to me that after including initial download of a games, plus regular patching, plus game data (for online games only) and averaging it out per hour, that online gaming takes up about 20% of the bandwidth as video streaming.

      What is ridiculous in Australia is right now I can only download at ~8Mbps at the best of times (non-NBN) while my gamer friends in Canada and the US typically have 300 Mbps downloads. So initial download game files sizes are only going to get larger as it is relatively trivial for people in the largest game markets to download these initial large files vs. the exercise in frustration that it is for me in Australia today. So as sad as FTTN NBN is likely to be, I am super looking forward to finally getting it as I expect to improve my download speed by 5X to get up to ~40Mbps. I'd definitely go for a 100 Mbps plan if I was getting FTTP. Ah well, fingers crossed I get a decent FTTN connection.

  9. OffBeatMammal

    so, first they tell us they don't need to deliver 100Mbps to the home because there's no demand, but not they tell us they're going to have to throttle and traffic shape users because they're too demanding.

    for a future-proof network, they've don't a pretty crap job of even making it capable of replacing what we currently have

    1. mathew42

      The demand for 100Mbps has been falling since day 1 and since 2014 hasn't been above 15%.

      1. P. Lee

        >The demand for 100Mbps has been falling since day 1 and since 2014 hasn't been above 15%.

        Speed != bandwidth

        Selling speed tiers is stupid. Get the bits off the nbn network and onto the users’ networks as fast as possible. Even streaming video doesn’t take that much. Sell the data cap instead. That provides the cash for total capacity.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That is probably more a function that most new installs are on FTTN and incapable of providing 100Mbps. Anyone who wanted this level of service would be unable to get it. In fact Telstra, Optus and many other RSP have had to pay back customers that subscribed at this level but have never been able to receive it. So whilst your claims are factual, they are based on the mistaken idea that all NBN installs are the same.

        1. mathew42

          > So whilst your claims are factual, they are based on the mistaken idea that all NBN installs are the same.

          1. FTTN rolled out start after 2014.

          2. ACCC NBN Wholesale Market Indicators report shows little difference in take-up between the various technologies.

          The reality is that most Australians don't care about speed, but want unlimited data even if they are not going to use it. Paul Britt, Aussie Broadband Rep made an interesting statement on changing to unlimited:

          "It came down to some market research. We were finding that we were generating lots of calls into our call centre but around 50% of the people wanted to buy unlimited. Now about 20% of those we were able to educate why they probably didn't need unlimited (explain about actual data usage etc), but about 80% just had it in their head they needed unlimited or didn't want to have to worry about it. So we were missing out on a lot of sales as a result.

          Whilst there will be some users who will just go to town on it, the majority of users follow a more normal pattern. We are predicting there will be a lot on unlimited that don't even use 500GB, and there will be some that use 3TB but there will be more on the lower end of the scale then the higher end."

          The issue I see is that as higher speeds are offered, the minority have greater opportunity to download excessively ruining the experience for everyone. The well known economic theory 'Tragedy of the Commons' explains this in more detail.

  10. Snow Wombat

    yet it was gamers

    Who were screaming fixed wireless would be a terrible idea, given that pretty much every comms and network engineer I know, is also some form of gamer

  11. Tailgator

    ".... lots of users hitting the network at the same time is causing congestion; heavy users could be shaped during peaks to help maintain network performance; shaping would affect “gamers predominantly” ...."

    So to be absolutely clear, even though it's concurrency causing the issues, gamers - who aren't the heaviest users, are the ones most likely to have their services shaped. Even though they aren't the major cause of the problem.

    The PR spin just goes from bad to silly.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I didn't mean to brand all actors involved in supply as......

    RE NBN, Government, totally nonsense of everything involved......

    I just meant they the people involved don't realist the magnitude of what they are doing as for e.g. OEM software (among others) that hardware relies on is being moved onto the Web rather than being supplied on removable disk of some kind.

    Making the user needing large downloads - just check out the size of o/s .iso's or Audio DAW software and support files you have to download, many GB's worth !!!

    Many software companies like the fact you are dependent online for their software and then can disenfranchise the users and force paid upgrades etc by not supplying permanent disk sources of software. Ending support with deliberate holes and bugs rendering many vulnerable or unable to function as expected as represented at the time of purchase.

    Then there's the fact people are being pushed to do financial and other transactions online all becoming more dependent upon internet and some middle position just flips somehow and upends your capacity to function.

    It's all too fragile and tentative.

  14. Woza

    As per Sir Humphrey

    "A clarification isn't too make oneself clear, it is to put oneself in the clear."


    Stop blaming the users for behaving like the users in your adverts

    They first promoted the NBN to be the enabler for uses which had higher data use: business eg. Work from home; education including live & pre-recorded videos; video calls; streaming services; everyone in the house with their multiple devices sharing the internet; games. They offered higher speeds and unlimited download plans. It's ridiculous that now they persecute people for using the NBN plans as advertised. A remote school is not going to pay for 50 microwave services so that each staff & student computer has a dedicated service: the school pays for 1 and expects it to cater for the whole school. From what I heard from ISP's (including old cable, ADSL) around the time of the introduction of Netflix to Australia, user GB/month quickly doubled and now has tripled with major impact to congestion during evening peaks. Microsoft and other updates grow 30% pa. Advert supported content, http and https based services (eg. Cloud & remote hosted) all increase GB/month. There is a lot less simple static pages being accessed and even emails use html and images to bloat our download usage.

  16. Shells

    What a surprise...

    Bill like no toMorrow is just a sock puppet for Malcolm Turncoat ... anything to cover up a natural disaster of bad management and incompetent planning... just like the costs... just like changing the technology form fiber to 50year old copper.. that bunch could organise the proverbial ina brewery.

  17. Rohime

    nbn CEO really did not understand and nobody told him?

    Does the CEO of the NBN really not understand that when a popular new game is released lots of people will download it at the same time?

    Does the CEO of the NBN really not understand that when a multi-gigabyte patch is released for a wildly popular massive multiplayer online game is release all users are FORCED (by the game company) to all update to that patch at the same time?

    Does the CEO of the NBN really not understand that the act of GAMING - as in actually playing - is very light on bandwidth, and likely the last thing to cause a problem vs. video streaming?

    So why does the CEO of the NBN not have active dialog with GAME COMPANIES to get them to better address download requirements - like streaming patches in advance.

    I actually understand the issue. "Gaming" is a concern. Gamers are not. Talk to the game companies and HELP THEM get their delivery models right.

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