The Internet Reacts To NBN CEO Blaming Gamers For Congestion

The Internet Reacts To NBN CEO Blaming Gamers For Congestion
Image: Youtube (nbn Australia)
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A parliamentary hearing in Sydney got an extra touch of spice yesterday, after the chief executive of NBN Co appeared to finger one group of users supposedly responsible for congestion on NBN’s fixed wireless network: gamers.

The outgoing CEO, who is due to step down before the end of the year, announced that NBN was investigating a “fair use” policy that would throttle data usage for the heaviest users on the fixed wireless network.

In remarks that were reported by the ABC and The Guardian, Bill Morrow initially explained that there was a group of users that were consuming “terabytes” of data. When asked by Labor shadow regional communications minister Stephen Jones to explain who these extreme users were, the NBN chief replied that they were “gamers predominately, on fixed wireless”.

“While people are gaming it is a high bandwidth requirement that is a steady streaming process,” the Guardian reported Mr Morrow as saying.

Morrow later tried to refocus his comments on the “super users out there consuming terabytes of data”, and added that he did not have the behavioural data on hand to confirm those super users were actually gamers.

And like clockwork, the internet had a field day. Users in particular focused on Morrow’s point about the amount of data used while playing games, a contention that doesn’t seem supported by imagery on NBN Co’s own website:

Others focused on breaking down the raw data used by various applications, while others expressed their dismay at Morrow’s previous public assertions.


  • Yikes, before the NBN was even formed we had various industry reports on how legitimate streaming services were stripping bandwidth of pirated material and quickly becoming the major source of traffic on networks. Welp. Thanks for the laugh again NBN co.

  • Yeah back-haul hasnt really been focused on in this whole project. The nbn is really just caring about the last mile as that is good for the stats.

    Even before the nbn the local exchanges were having capacity issues across Australia. So just hooking up to them doesnt really solve this issue.

    Wireless internet has its own set of issues which need skilled people to look at. Or it might just be the regional centers serviced by wireless have the worst backhaul?

    • This is not how it works, nbn has been commissioning all of their own backhaul. Has nothing to do with what was existing. The public doesn’t hear about this side of things as it’s not really necessary to talk about it, not to mention most people won’t understand it anyway.

      • Yup. From day one, his job has been misdirection, evasion, denial, and scapegoating.

        Gaming is for geeks and nerds, who are acceptable targets for scapegoating. Netflix is far more widespread in popularity, especially in the LNP voting demographic.

        Standard MO for this (or any, really) government: target who it’s popular to target (eg: unemployment/disability welfare recipients) rather than who’s actually responsible for the overwhelming lion’s share of the problem (eg: aged pension).

        • Yep. As long as “voters” are identified as conservative, old (and preferably white) people, demonising and scapegoating sub-communities of younger people will be demagogues’ rhetoric of choice.

      • Yep, he’s an Expert CEO, knows exactly how to blame things on others and not themselves.

        It’s either Labor’s fault or its the young peoples fault, certainly not the NBN’s.

      • Yep, he nearly ran Vodafone (VHA) into the ground and is doing the same thing with NBN Co… “I Know! let’s blame the users, using our product as it was intended! That will work…”

  • He knows its bullshit. The people he is talking to will eat it up though. Everyone streams and watches youtube. So calling out everyone doesn’t work. So you choose a group. “Those young techno head kids and their video games. What is the world coming to?”
    That goes down much easier.

    • I’m surprised he didn’t target people who torrent. Since that’s technically a group who are not just chewing up bandwidth but flouting the law. But maybe that’d look bad since the Government’s blocked all the pirate sites *snort, chortle*

      Frankly, if you advertise something as X Mbit per second you can’t complain if your customers use X Mbit per second. What they actually use it on is irrelevant. You said you’d provide it, so you’re obligated to provide it and not allowed to bitch about it when people actually use it.

        • You know, if they advertised it that way it’d be annoying but acceptable. I’d also suspect that the demand would actually decrease because people wouldn’t be willing to pay as much for a small slice of bandwidth.

  • I was on the Oculus Go the other night in a Movie theater talking with these american guys and one of them was complaining that he’s being charged for 1000mbps but only getting around 850mbps and was pissed off about it. I told him the absolute best I can get here in Australia currently is 40mbps, and that’s on a good day. It’s usually around 12 to 25mbps. In comparison, our NBN is utter garbage, and expensive garbage at that.

  • Translation:
    “Internet slow because people are using it”
    “NBN didn’t think people would need a high speed network despite constant criticism; builds shit network instead”

  • So why is it rhe nations leading communications project, so terrible at communicating issues.

    If the CEO cant clearly describe the issue and cause without being mocked or corrected immediately, or having to be clarielfied with lots if follow up questions. Then gow the hell do they get anything done with such poor information at the top.

    I could seemaybe it being an issue with software downloads and patching, as games are the largest pieces of software witg online distribution… but when active gamibg takes veey little data.

    If anythibg the main ussue with fixed wireless connections was the business model and sales model were broken to begin with. This was meant to be a rural connection solution but most of the bandwidth was over sold to private and commercial interest in city regions. Cause the service was built before NBN fibre rollouts in oir most densely populated cities.

  • “Thing that people would say would happen ended up happening but somehow it’s their fault not ours”

  • I can understand the idea if I was stereotyping.

    There’s the online gaming part of it, gamers know how to torrent, they know how to setup VPN, they stream paid/non-paid content instead of relying on traditional TV, download most of their games (especially if you’re on PC/Mac/Linux) as well as download their patches/mods, also keeping majority of a lot of generic software and firmware up to date. Also I imagine gamers probably use better routers than those $50 ISP routers, which would cause higher numbers cause they drop out a lot less. Also take into account the kids who do nothing but game, not old enough to get a job but come public holidays they’re on that 14 hours a day.

    Using that thought process I can understand that a gamer would use the internet way more than say a person with an iPhone, an iPad, and a Smart TV.

    • Depends how you torrent, with X265 TV shows and YTS movies a tech savvy torrenter uses less data than the casual Netflix user, and if you download overnight then there’s no peak times causing slowdown!

      • Dude, the average luddite, liberal voting-baby boomer, dingleberry, piece of shit, who actually believes anything this lying prick says wouldn’t have understood a fucking word you just wrote anyway, mate.They just saw “Netflix/movie/download” at best and would have chalked that up as “them entitled, pirating technophilles”, who probably also play them violent vidya games just to train themselves up to kill good, honest folk who struggle hard… for their 3rd investment property and to buy their mistress this year’s model BMW SUV… And now these hoodlum gamers want to ruin that “NBN thingy” (whatever it is) for us real “salt of the earth/ Aussie Battler/ dimentia riddled corporate board member” types…(“How can I sell this property to Chinese millionaires if you young folks are ruining the neighbourhood internets?”)

    • It’s funny just how wrong that stereotype is though and despite its existence, streamers still use more data.

      People in this thread should refrain from the FTTP vs hybrid network design as this is clearly related to wireless NBN (fixed and satellite). Although perhaps some areas got fixed wireless instead of FTTP which would then fall back to NBN v2.0.

  • Wow you know there’s an idiot at the helm when they think that online gaming uses more than, say 4K Netflix!

    • You have to wonder, how does this CRETIN even have a job? ANYWHERE?! I wouldn’t trust someone this stupid to cook me a burger!

  • I posit an experiment – have two people in one household on an 8Mbit (effective) ADSL connection. One person starts an online game, the other starts streaming Netflix/Youtube five minutes into the game. Tell me who gets pissed off, and tell me which service is still usable.

    The only outlier I’m aware of is Destiny 1 (I’m pretty sure the modified netwoprk architecture of D2 lowered the amount of p2p chatter quite a bti, so it has generally lower bandwidth usage), which at its peak can consume about as much bandwidth as a 720p Youtube video – *gasp*.

    • Also, Netflix (and afaik a few other major streaming services) offers the ability to download stuff through its app on most platforms, doesn’t it? Can habitual users figure out ahead of time what they want to watch (eg. the next 2-3 episodes of the series they’re watching), and download it to the device during off-peak hours, thereby reducing the strain on the network during peak times? Why isn’t NBN teaching people about these features if they’re having such trouble with their peak-time network capacity?

  • The statement is certainly ill-considered – but after thinking about it momentarily it’s quite possible he’s not wrong.

    Does *gaming* consume a lot of bandwidth? No – most games use UDP protocols to transmit game traffic in multiplayer. As correctly stated – this consumes very limited bandwidth. So the argument that this itself would account for signficant congestion by volume isn’t entirely invalid.

    However, those games that you download are in consumer terms often the most massive applications that consumers download. Your average modern CoD games, Wolfenstien etc all are coming in at approximately 50gb a pop. Plenty of gamers aren’t just buying only one game – they download many of the new releases in their favourite genre as they arrive.

    Not only that – these games require updates – PUBG is regularly asking me for a 7gb update every couple of weeks.

    Not only that, streaming is very popular amongst gamers – both streaming and watching streams – so making comparisons to Netflix users probably isn’t entirely fair – as gamers are doing a lot of this themselves.

    So even by volume – it’s actually not unforeseeable that gamers have amongst the intensive data needs by volume.

    Whilst reading some of the comments, I do see there are the usual partisan misconceptions about what technology we are actually talking about here as well – nbn “fixed wireless” is basically a mobile data network a la 4G.
    Therefore complaints about FTTN or different fixed last mile technologies aren’t applicable here.

    And we’ve seen this with a lot of coverage regarding the fixed wireless network lately – many people don’t actually seem to know what it is. Gamers/tech-geeks just read “nbn” and on they waffle about FTTN etc.

    So that gaming traffic (which would have much higher packetloss and retransimissions values than over a fixed fibre, hfc or dsl), especially large updates and downloads from services like Steam isn’t out of the question at all.

    Is it *actually* the case? It’s certainly possible – very possible if Morrow’s statements were taking into account all Twitch, Steam and other platform’s data as “gaming” data. There’s also the question of whether popular gaming data is shaped by nbn at all.

    It is always important to avoid the irony of accusing someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about whilst spouting misconceptions as many are doing here. I don’t think Morrow’s right here, and his statement is certainly ill-considered. However the responses from many here and elsewhere on the web are even less informed.

  • The brand new network, designed to future proof the country, cannot even handle current demands.

    They couldn’t have stuffed this up any more than they have. The sheer amount of money wasted on this makes me sad.

    • “We can’t upgrade to a high-quality network with high speeds, because there’s no demand for it, so stop bloody demanding it, will you? Demand’s gotten so bloody bad we’ll have to reduce the speeds if this keeps up.”

      • They are literally talking about throttling people? I mean wtf? It’s a brand new network and they’re taking emergency steps already. It’s really amazing how bad it is.

    • Quote- “They couldn’t have stuffed this up any more than they have.” Unquote.

      Communications Minister- “Hold my beer…”

  • Those filthy gamers stealing all of my GBs! I just want to eat my Mountain Dew and Doritos while pwning some nubs without having them stealing all my bandwidths. Is that so much to ask?

  • Lets ignore the fact that you can almost completely mitigate gamer file downloads by setting up a Steam server, which most people are likely downloading from already, so he is basically saying LOCAL gamer download data is choking the network…

    I think you have bigger problems then blaming gamers download usage if the network can’t even handle LOCAL bandwidth!!!

    Idiots in power, it is the end times I tell ya! lol

    NEXT, we will start rationing out data….a time of scarcity!

  • This is what comes from the government stating that “peak average use in 2021 will be 21mbps” and planning a system based on meeting that.

    They average out all the data and ignore the fact that that is NOT HOW THE INTERNET WORKS. They even ignored a petition signed by almost half a million people requesting they review their policy due to that exact issue.

    For a person with a technology startup background, Malcolm Turnbull needs to eliminate the first 4 letters of his last name and wake up to the realities of the system he was responsible for dealing with for the first 2 years when he was Communications Minister.

    If you have to implement a “Fair Use” policy to meet the current standards that are not currently being met by a brand new infrastructure installed less than 5 years ago, perhaps its time to actually consider the fact that you ****ed up in choosing that particular infrastructure option.

    • The NBN under the Liberals was intentionally designed to be bad. Murdoch ordered Abbott and Turnbull to destroy it. Liberals can’t let Labor be successful, and Murdoch doesn’t want an internet fast enough to compete with Foxtel

        • Don’t poke the bear.

          If people still want to hold to that long disproven claim, let them.

          Fiction screams laud but for a short time while truth always reverberates quietly through time and is never silenced.

          • I don’t know. Bullshit seems to echo pretty loudly these days. Before the internet, we called making shit up ‘lying’. Apparently now it’s totally ok to do it.

          • Echoes loudly true. But only for a short period of time.

            Eventually people like me do the cross referencing and quickly separate fact from fiction.

            Sure, my voice will never ring laud. But the truth I show will always rumble to anyone willing to listen long after the echos from the lies stop.

            And I’ve gone on this tangent long enough. The only way left these days to avoid false moderation is to be quick, too the point and post infrequently. And even then it can be tripped with ease.

          • Disproven hey? I surprised anyone even bothered to try it’s so obvious. Please do enlighten me

          • Please do enlighten me

            I have no time for sea-walrusing.

            If you want to continue a fantasy for your own benefit that is your own choice. I’m not wasting my time pointing out the sky is blue why you continue to shout it’s plaid.

          • “As former PM Kevin Rudd told the ABC on Monday, top of that list was News Ltd (since rebranded ‘News Corp’), via its 50 per cent stake in the Foxtel cable TV network.

            Mr Rudd said: “It’s a matter of historical record that … News Ltd did not want fibre optic to the premises. And the reason they didn’t want that is that it would provide direct competition to the Foxtel cable television network …”

          • Why does everyone else have to prove you wrong? It’s your theory, surely you’ve got facts to back it up right?

            The onus is on you to be able to back up what you say. As opposed to making up stories because you like that narrative.

          • Why does everyone else have to prove you wrong?

            It’s not everyone else, it’s often me this tact is played on. However, it’s a consequence I brought on myself.

            Some years back, the discussion was on the state of the budget. As you can guess there were two minds – one mind of the opinion the budget was a mess and the other saying said mess was propaganda from the Murdoch presses to scare people into voting in the Coalition.

            Needless to say, I was in the camp that saw it real having based my research on sources from actual economists while others seem to feel the term propaganda had to be watered down so a advertorial catalog could be shoe horned in.

            The problem was, no other way to put, I attacked other users and told them to go and actually look at what is actually there and to quit pretending facts that countered their didn’t exists.

            Needless to say you can see the problem there. The methodology I used was not only destructive but has put a stigma on me that will never be resolved.

            It all hinges from me refusing to provide sources of my claims. My reasoning was I didn’t want trolls to use the sources to find something they could engineer to use against me.

            While there is validity to that choice, how I expressed it backfired.

            Which finally brings me to the point at hand. I never provide sources (keep my cards very close to my chest as the expression goes) so what incentive is there for them to do so?

            That question aside, even when sources are provided, some users become antagonistic anyway when the sources are questioned.

            I’m far less aggressive now than back then (I only lament it take me making a very idiotic mistake before being put on this path now) but the harshest yet best lesson I learned is knowing when someone is beyond discussion and either ignoring said user or just leaving a short post that at least keeps my part of the record straight and just let the thread go its way – good or bad.

          • I hear what you’re saying man but I disagree. I think we have to call out bullshit masquerading as the truth when we see it, because we’re starting to drown in it. My facebook feed is just getting ridiculous now, although I’m really careful not to alienate people or be hostile.

            I think being open with your sources is ALWAYS the best way. The truth is a powerful thing and we don’t want to hide it away.

            It’s cool that you’ve learnt from your mistakes but don’t carry them with you. I (and I’m guessing almost everyone reading this thread) didn’t know that until you brought it up.

            Going your own way is definitely a valid strategy, but at some point all of us have to engage with the world a little, even if just to buy milk and eggs.

  • lol this CEO. since when is the demand supposed to meet the infrastructure?

  • “While people are gaming it is a high bandwidth requirement that is a steady streaming process,” the Guardian reported Mr Morrow as saying. The NBN chief was also quoted as saying “while people are gaming it is a high bandwidth requirement that is a steady streaming process”.Sub-editor to aisle five. Can we get a sub-editor to aisle five?!

  • You know, I was thinking about this a little more and we’re all approaching it from the “playing games” mentality. If you look at it from the downloading games side it’s actually almost believable. Pretty sure I had to dowload a 24GB (or maybe 34GB) Doom patch not that long ago. And if you buy an a-list release on Steam it’s gonna be a huge download.

    I could actually understand gamers causing occasional spikes. Like when a new COD or PubG or whatever is released and a million people rush to download the game. That said, they’re spikes and they should level out pretty quickly.

    That said, I’m pretty sure he was just talking about gaming not downloading games.

    • Yeah. No-one spends more time downloading their games than they do playing th… hm. Just ignore my Steam activity, please.

  • It’s obvious he’s a political hack lackey…trouble is that gamers aren’ t voiceless teenagers with no idea…we are the general population, with enough political clout to have him held to account if we band together.

  • It sounds like the real problem is that they don’t have enough cells for certain regions covered by fixed wireless.

    Provisioning a fixed wireless LTE network should be a lot easier than regular 4G networks, since you should know exactly how many customers will be using each cell. If they they’ve knowingly built fewer cell towers than needed to cover a community, then that’s NBN’s fault rather than the customers.

  • “You kids an yer online Pac Mans is blockin’ up the intertubes with all that cyber-gunk! What, you expect us to built more tubes or somethin?”

    – Bill Morrow, CEO of Serious Oz Internet Business

  • It’s a good way to deflect the topic of the actual shortcomings of an already outdated and severely over priced network, by the misplaced marginalisation of a group of vocal users. Bravo NBNCo, media outlets and the general public eat it up!

  • it pays to look into things properly before you rant gamers send out little increments of data to play online they already have the game on there system its people that watch net flix there an abundance of them it also has to do with a gov that set up the internet bad…it also has to do with you….i bet you bought the cheapest speed from the internt company you go thru 12mps …if you want faster internet u can get it 25mps 50mps 100mps maybe stop being a tight arse and spend the money instead of publicly crying about it when u can actually do something

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