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Downloads Surge On The NBN As Labor Comms Spoksperson Ducks For Cover

As tipped the expansion of the NBN has seen a surge in demand for video streaming with the average monthly downloads up to close to 200­ ­gigabytes, from 70GB a month just three years ago. Now Labor is struggling to justify their broadband policy.

New figures on NBN usage reveal that the average household data consumption is 108GB a month with some users, 14% using more than half of the average consumption, daytime use is also high.

Also driving consumption is a significant increase in people watching porn said one carrier.

A recent NBN Co industry presentation revealed that 1 per cent of customers were downloading more than 1 terabyte a month, while one user downloaded 23.5 terabytes of data in a month — the equivalent of 5000 high-definition movies.

The so-called Netflix effect presents a policy dilemma for Labor, which promised at the last election to upgrade the government’s mixed-technology network with superfast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband that would cost at least $10bn more.

Opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland declined to comment yesterday to the Australian newspaper on whether the commitment, which was not included in the ALP’s draft national platform, would be dumped before the next federal poll. The ill-informed communication spokesperson appears to not recognise the value that the copper network is actually delivering in lowering the cost of the NBN.

Ms Rowland told Sky News in May that “at the very minimum we should be rolling out fibre at least to the kerb … because that minimises the amount of copper in the network”.

The NBN is delivering standard speeds of 25 megabits, with connections of at least 50Mbps to 90 per cent of fixed-line customers. Netflix recommends speeds of 5Mbps for high-definition streaming, allowing users to stream content to five different screens simultaneously on a standard 25Mbps connection.

According to the NBN presentation, delivered to the Telecommunications Association, the maj­ority of traffic on the network is generated by video streaming, web browsing and the use of virtual ­private networks.

The average cost of FTTP connections is about $4400, compared with $2300 for fibre-to-the-node, suggesting upgrading a proposed five million FTTN connections would cost about $10bn.

The government says delivering Labor’s original all-fibre NBN plan would cost an extra $30bn.

“If Labor now have an alternative policy, they should release it, repudiate their original flawed plan as well as their criticism of our approach which is actually seeing the NBN affordably delivered,” Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield said.

NBN take-up figures show houses with FTTP connections delivered under Labor are 25 per cent more likely to buy the cheapest and slowest internet package than those households with cheaper FTTN connections, which include some copper wiring.

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