NBN Co's Three Million Dollar man, CEO Bill Morrow says the reason there's network congestion on the NBN is because people are using the internet. He specifically mentioned gamers among other superusers and said NBN Co is looking at curbing network access for popular games by throttling or limiting traffic in order to fix the problem. Which is a bit like rationing water in a crowd of thirsty people so the folks wanting a little water with their scotch don't have to wait too long.
Morrow's comments were made at a parliamentary hearing in Sydney. It's worth noting that NBN Co has published a clarification on the comments, noting that the ABC report from last week was misleading as the comments were specifically about fixed wireless services and that gamers were an example of "super users".
As the traffic flow for games is pretty high and constant, he said it could be shaped in order to ensure gamers don't impact other people - you know, all those people our government insisted don't actually need fast connections.
All of this is very interesting, especially given that NBN Co conducted and published its own research into how much data many popular games use. The report found that popular online games typically use between 100MB and a gigabyte of data per hour, while "streaming 4K video can use as much as 7 gigabytes (GB) per hour".
The "real data hog" for gaming, according to NBN Co's own information, is software installation and updates - not streaming use. In contrast, NBN Co said of multi-player games "When playing with or against other players, the number can jump to around 40MB/h or higher".
So, it seems that if gamers are in Morrow's sights today, we can expect him to come after streaming video users next.
The thing Morrow and the other folks pulling NBN Co's strings don't seem to understand is that there are a lot of people who are thirsting for faster connections and access to more traffic. As people turn away from traditional media sources and depend more on services like online gaming, video-on-demand, and streaming music for their entertainment, the amount of bandwidth we want will only increase.
The scenario we're seeing being played out by Morrow is not just about bandwidth management. It could easily be seen as the first shot in a culture war. Gamers and the gaming development world have long been looked down upon by the government. Once again, we're seeing this group of people singled out and attacked.
Perhaps if the network built by NBN Co was made for everyone and not just folks checking their email twice a day and reading the news, we might not have to put up with this sort of crap from one of the highest paid bureaucrats in the country.