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NBN Chief Blames the Idea of Internet Congestion on Gamers
KostaAndreadis
Melbourne, Victoria
3898 posts
And their strange habits of playing games online with communities of like-minded and diverse people. The revelation came, one assumes, one evening when NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow was attempting to stream Designated Survivor in 4K on Netflix at 7:30pm on a Monday. Turns out his son was also playing a round of DOTA 2. And so, the connection was made. Blame portioned, and the cries of a shoddy, dated, infrastructure ignored.

As per a new ABC report, Señor Morrow told a committee that, "While people are gaming it is a high bandwidth requirement that is a steady streaming process." Where, armed with no evidence, immediately switched to threats, "This is where you can do things, to where you can traffic shape — where you say, 'no, no, no, we can only offer you service when you're not impacting somebody else'." Adding, "And send them to bed without desert too", whilst glancing in the direction of his family who were in attendance.

The woes of Australian internet speeds, available bandwidth, and the botched NBN is no big secret, nor is the fact that the rise of video streaming services like Netflix in the last few years has seen a significant impact on data usage across the board. And sure, downloading a 60GB game during off-peak hours is a lot of data - but games, movies, music, are the ways in which people expect to use the internet right now.

Walking back blaming gamers, El Morrow instead changed it to "super users", stating, "I said there were super users out there consuming terabytes of data and the question is should we actually groom those down? It's a consideration." Later on Immigration Supreme Leader Peter Dutton added, "These Super Users are everywhere, they might even be in your home. We must all prepare for the idea that one day the Super Users will attempt to seize control. We must not let that happen. They arrive on boats right?"

Again with the threats. It seems NBN Co's idea of an ideal National Broadband Network is a country enamored with the idea of being able to send and receive electronic mail. Imagine! A letter, sent to a loved one. In an instant. As long as you don't attach any photos. Like the Tom Hanks hit You've Got Mail from 1998. Which thanks to the digital age, NBN Co suggests you watch it on DVD.
11:41am 05/06/18 Permalink
system
Internet
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11:41am 05/06/18 Permalink
sLaps_Forehead
Brisbane, Queensland
7864 posts
07:51pm 05/06/18 Permalink
notgreazy
Other International
936 posts
haha. this is great.

oh s*** he might be serious.
09:51am 07/06/18 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Other International
39607 posts
Unpopular opinion: gamers do actually contribute to Internet congestion, sometimes! But so does everyone doing almost anything.

The question of whether they should "groom those down" is hard to answer. In a perfect NBN world there would be different ISPs that favour different use cases that use a variety of network control features like QoS, quotas, peak/off peak, etc together to allow users to pick and choose between different plans that suit their needs - and importantly, balance the needs of the users against the needs of the network - but I can't really see that ever evolving. It's too complicated.

The weird comment: "While people are gaming it is a high bandwidth requirement that is a steady streaming process" is arguably generally false - actually playing games is a low bandwidth requirement. If you're a PC gamer and are interested in how much bandwidth gaming consumes, open the excellent Windows tool Resource Monitor and look at the network tab. When I play Dota 2 it uses about as much as a low-bitrate Netflix stream.

But when I UPDATE Dota 2 it uses a s***tonne of bandwidth - it maxes my connection for a long time. Downloading an entirely new game can take hours (I spent multiple days downloading Batman: Arkham Knight recently; it was about 40GB, if I recall correctly). ABC's latest update to this story includes some interesting graphs showing data use but it fails to include the downloads required to keep these games up-to-date; in an average month it probably wouldn't make that much difference, but sometimes the patches are pretty big - and if everyone's trying to get them at the same time, it will cause congestion.

The cool thing about gaming downloads though is that this can happen off-peak most of the time (if you're organised). But the bad thing is many people presumably get home from work/school, turn on their game device and have an update - so the downloads tend to cluster together anyway. (This is backed up from several years of experience running large digital content distribution systems targeted towards gamers, including Steam Content Servers, which had exactly the sort of ebbs and peaks you'd expect from that kind of behaviour.)

Most of the consumer Internet - and by that I mean the Internet that normal humans are connected to through their ISP - is a shared medium. It's shared at many points depending on the technology - the connection within your own house is shared between the devices you have connected and with the people you live with and their devices; it's shared on the wire or wireless that connects you to the first router beyond your modem; it's shared from that point to the rest of the network through any number of interconnects that at any point can be at different levels of utilisation; and finally it's shared at the point you're connecting to - a web server, a game server, a video streaming server.

The NBN aimed to reduce some of these potential bottlenecks - fibre to the home would massively boost the "last mile" which is often (but not always!!) the source of congestion. Obviously it has moved massively away from its original vision in many different ways.

The simple fact is though - large bandwidth applications are going to impact other people on the network. This includes gaming. It also includes high definition video streaming (note: Netflix low def video is super efficient - I stream a LOT of video and do it by manually selecting the low bandwidth version and it uses about the same as playing Dota 2), or downloading a lot of Linux ISOs, or working with large data sets, or whatever.

I don't know enough about network hardware - especially fixed wireless which is what is being discussed in this story - to know how they can solve this problem at a network level. There's obviously a cost/benefit thing here where they can't just put in more towers or whatever. Short of running dedicated lines to each house people are going to have to adapt to being on a shared medium with the attached performance issues.

The only solution I can think of that will work for everyone, is relatively fair, and (perhaps most importantly) Australians are already used to dealing with is... bandwidth quotas. Peak and off-peak makes sense in this situation. Open to better ideas.
09:53am 07/06/18 Permalink
BladeRunner
Queensland
2864 posts
I imagine that patches and new releases on Netflix clog up the networks but that is not everyday. There will be periods of high and low use. These things are apart of modern internet usage, gone are the days of just chatting on AOL or IRC and forwarding joke emails to friends, can't expect the useage to stay the same as 1996. Bandwidth should grow accordingly.

I bet that guy thinks something like...
https://i.imgur.com/BSS9F0k.jpg
06:36pm 07/06/18 Permalink
notgreazy
Other International
938 posts
But when I UPDATE Dota 2 it uses a s***tonne of bandwidth - it maxes my connection for a long time. Downloading an entirely new game can take hours (I spent multiple days downloading Batman: Arkham Knight recently; it was about 40GB, if I recall correctly). ABC's latest update to this story includes some interesting graphs showing data use but it fails to include the downloads required to keep these games up-to-date; in an average month it probably wouldn't make that much difference, but sometimes the patches are pretty big - and if everyone's trying to get them at the same time, it will cause congestion.

Could ISPs anticipate the needs of their customers (say gamers) and cache a local copy of whatever is about to drop so it does not heavily affect the other users who just want porn?

Not sure if this would work with how some gaming clients work actually work, and it might be an IP issue as well.
10:05am 08/06/18 Permalink
dazedandconfused
Sydney, New South Wales
614 posts
“Even if we offered it for free, we see the evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway ... we know there are things on the horizon that are going to increase the need for further demand." - Bill Morrow, 2017

"People that are paying for fast internet are using it too much (paraphrase)" - Bill Morrow, 2018

F*****g idiot.
10:14am 08/06/18 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Other International
39609 posts
Could ISPs anticipate the needs of their customers (say gamers) and cache a local copy of whatever is about to drop so it does not heavily affect the other users who just want porn?
That is what GameArena & Internode Games & all their ilk were. Netflix offer local caching servers for ISPs too (OpenConnect); ISPs who participate will save a huge amount of bandwidth - but they still have to get it to their users. So the problem now though is getting it from those caches down the last mile.

Again I don't know enough about fixed wireless, but I imagine the problem occurs when you have too many users on a local node all trying to move a lot of data at the same time, and there's just too much wireless traffic so it starts to choke(?). I suspect there aren't many ways around that short of improving the hardware (and underlying transmission software) or simply adding more nodes.
10:51am 08/06/18 Permalink
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Internet
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10:51am 08/06/18 Permalink
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