NBN chief blames poor peak hour internet on gamers, will consider throttling them

Some Australian internet users experience poor speeds due to gamers clogging up the networks, the chief executive of the National Broadband Network (NBN), Bill Morrow, said yesterday. He was referring specifically to the company's fixed wireless network, used predominantly in rural areas, which uses radio signals and transmission towers rather than a FTTN or FTTP connection.

Still, it's an amusing claim, and one which could have serious repercussions for gamers in Australian regional and rural areas. Asked how NBN plans to deal with data usage spikes during peak hours, Morrow said the company may consider a "fair use" policy for fixed wireless connections. In other words, excessive use could lead to penalties.

During a parliamentary committee about NBN's service in rural and regional Australian areas, shadow minister for regional communications, Stephen Jones, pressed Morrow on internet speeds using fixed wireless.

"In the fixed wireless there’s a large proportion [of users] that are using terabytes of data ... during the contended period,” he said, via The Guardian. “One of the things we’re evaluating [is] a form of fair use policy to say we will groom these extreme users.” 

Later, when asked what constitutes an "extreme user", Morrow said: "It's gamers predominantly, on fixed wireless."

Jones challenged the fairness of this claim, pointing out that gaming is no less a valid use of services than, say, a home-run business. But whatever the case, heavy users of fixed wireless connections could face extra charges or penalties at some point in the future. 

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.