NBN Co denies blaming online gamers for congestion

Gamers have rejected claims they are to blame for slow NBN speeds. Source: Now Loading

NBN Co has issued a statement clarifying its CEO Bill Morrow's comments in a parliamentary committee on Monday, which triggered an angry response from gamers on social media.

NBN Co is insisting its CEO Bill Morrow only singled out online gamers as an "example" of heavy users that contributed to overloading the system in periods of peak demand, rather than "blaming" them for congestion.

The body responsible for the rollout of the National Broadband Network issued a statement clarifying CEO Bill Morrow's comments in a parliamentary committee on Monday, which triggered an angry response from gamers on social media. 

"Mr Morrow didn't 'blame' online gamers for congestion on the fixed wireless network," the NBN Co spokesperson told ABC News. 

"He identified them as an example of a heavy user, which, as he said earlier in the hearing, is not the main cause of congestion." 

"The main cause of congestion is concurrency, in addition to higher-than-expected take-up and consumption."

NBN chief Bill Morrow answered questions from a parliamentary committee on Monday about his company’s fixed wireless network rollout into rural and regional areas.

The fixed wireless network is a connection linking areas outside the reach of the fixed line network - typically on the outskirts of major cities - to the NBN via radio signals from transmission towers spread out across the country.

When Labor's regional communications spokesperson Stephen Jones asked what had been causing significant spikes in data use during peak times, Mr Morrow replied: “Gamers predominantly on fixed wireless.”

A number of gamers and internet users were quick to pounce on Mr Morrow’s comments.

Greens digital rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John told SBS News he was not convinced Mr Morrow's original claims were accurate.

“Video games are designed to maximise available technologies. The fact that Australians users are having a diminished experience is an indictment on the quality and design of our NBN, relative to other countries, and not an opportunity to lay blame,” Senator Steele-John said.

“We should be building a national broadband network that is fit-for-purpose, not blaming a small section of the community who are trying to use a service that simply does not meet their needs."

This isn’t the first time the NBN has caught the ire of gamers.

In January, an ad attempting to appeal to next generation gamers backfired when it included a stock photo of an obsolete gaming platform.

Cutting back

It comes as the company operating the network, NBN Co., considers capping data use during peak times in order to overcome fixed wireless congestion problems.

While some games and systems have the potential to be big data users, particularly those requiring users to frequently download updates or add-ons, the consensus among gamers is the majority of online gaming does not use enough data to warrant limitation.

A data cap already applies to NBN satellite users - who access the network via signals from orbiting satellites, not from transmission towers on the ground.

The policy limits peak-hour data usage to a maximum of 75 gigabytes per four week period, per person.

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