iiNet slams Telstra for P2P throttling trial

Telstra said the trial will allow the telco to better manage network performance, but John Lindsay, CTO at iiNet, said it’s to avoid upgrading its ADSL network

iiNet has slammed Telstra for its move to undertake a trial to throttle speeds when customers use peer-to-peer networks.

Telstra has said the trial will allow the telco to better manage its network performance, but John Lindsay, CTO at iiNet, said it’s purely a business decision to avoid upgrading its ADSL network.

“I think that they’ve looked at how their network is being used and what is driving them to need to upgrade portions of it,” he told Computerworld Australia.

“There appears to be congestion into some exchanges at present and they’re thinking, ‘If we go after the very small number of users who generate a large amount of traffic, we could stave off that and maybe put it off for longer until the NBN’. It means that the investment is never needed.”

Telstra announced yesterday it will be conducting a trial for some customers on its ADSL network in Victoria, with users able to choose whether or not they participate.

“Telstra will consider the results of this trial as part of its future network planning and product development activities. No decisions have been made to extend any of the network management practices being tested in this trial to our broader customer base,” the telco said in a blog post.

“The objective of this trial is to identify options and pricing plans for our customers that will improve overall customer experience to ensure that we continue to offer the best quality service at the best possible price.”

However, Lindsay has dismissed the trial and said there appears to be no reason why customers who use peer-to-peer networks would opt into it.

Instead, he believes Telstra is looking to slowly “ease in” the practice of throttling speeds.

“I often describe it as boiling the frog – you just do it by gently turning up the heat,” Lindsay said.

“They are starting to take their customers on a journey. They know what the end point looks like, but they don’t want to describe it too clearly just yet for fear of scaring off the profitable customers.

“Calling it a trial is a nicer way of introducing the concept and the technology into the business.”

Lindsay said it was a bad move for customers, who have a right to use data limits however they want to.

“You shouldn’t then start playing games about what traffic may or may not be included in that quota,” he said.

“I think ISPs should have the right to manage traffic in their networks to ensure a good customer experience, but that congestion is not a business plan – it’s a fault that needs to be fixed when it occurs.”

Lindsay believes the move by Telstra could result in a small number of heavy users moving to other ISPs and suggested Telstra should just remove high quota Internet plans, with the telco offering ADSL plans up to 500GB.

“Surely it would be simpler just to say ‘all plans finish at 100GB – we don’t do big quota plans anymore.’ Surely that would have the effect of reducing the traffic on the net,” he said.

“It's like selling 1 litre bottles of water that have a tiny neck so you can't drink too fast.”

Optus was not available for comment on whether it would consider similar practices.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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