ACCAN asks Telstra to explain its P2P throttling trial

ACCAN has written to Telstra asking it to provide information on the congestion issues the telco said it is experiencing and why it is conducting the trial

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called on Telstra to explain itself over a trial to throttle speeds when customers use peer-to-peer networks.

ACCAN told Computerworld Australia the telco provided the consumer group with a briefing about the trial and it has now written to Telstra asking it to provide information on the congestion issues it is experiencing and why it is conducting the trial.

“We would like to see some evidence that peer-to-peer traffic is causing congestion – a substantial amount of congestion. We’re thinking it would probably be isolated to certain patches rather than across the board,” said Elise Davidson, media and communications manager at ACCAN.

“We’d also like to see some evidence that shaping will result in a significant reduction in congestion.”

David Thodey, CEO at Telstra, has downplayed the peer-to-peer throttling trial at a media conference following the release of Telstra’s half-year financial results.

“It’s been a little bit over-hyped because we’re really only just looking at how we can manage the traffic on the network better,” Thodey said. “There really isn’t anything heinous here at all.”

ACCAN said it has several concerns about the trial, including it being a precursor to introducing tiered ADSL plans which are based on speed.

This would result in prices being driven up and some consumers, particularly those on a low income, being priced out of plans, according to Davidson.

“You have the potential to have a second class Internet connection if they look at introducing this more broadly,” Davidson said.

Yesterday, John Lindsay, CTO at iiNet, told Computerworld Australia Telstra might be looking to remove congestion on its network to avoid having to upgrade it due to the NBN being rolled out.

Davidson expressed the same concerns.

“The rollout of the NBN is going to reduce congestion on the copper network. Obviously that rollout’s over a long period of time, but we do question the timing of this initiative. So why are they doing it now when there’s an NBN on the way and that pressure on the old copper networks will be reducing over time?” Davidson said.

ACCAN has also voiced concerns around privacy, with Telstra stating the trial would be carried out under its privacy guidelines.

ACCAN said this isn’t good enough.

“Telstra are saying that their shaping proposal will be in line with Telstra’s privacy statement, but we don’t think that’s the right benchmark. We think that the proposal – the shaping proposal – should be in line with the Privacy Act,” Davidson said.

ACCAN has asked Telstra to provide it with a briefing following the trial and what the consumer response was to it.

It has asked Telstra to respond to its letter as soon as possible.

“We’d really like to see some more transparency and some more information about exactly what the problems are,” Davidson said.

Thodey insisted the telco has nothing to hide.

“With the network across Australia, we get congestion points and we want to try look at ways to manage it. It’s absolutely standard for most ISPs. We want to be absolutely transparent about it,” he said.

“There’s nothing to hide.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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