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Is Netflix Killing Your Internet?

Traffic is up, speeds are down.

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If you've noticed your internet is a little slower since the launch of Netflix Australia, you're not alone.

New Line Cinema / Via giphy.com

But Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists his pared back NBN isn't to blame for slower speeds.

Speaking at the CommsDay conference in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull insisted the blame for any slower speeds doesn't lay with the 'last mile' of his fibre to the node (FTTN) National Broadband Network.

'The Netflix conundrum'

"The launch of Netflix once again provided a soapbox for those who claim only fibre to the premises will unlock the benefits of the digital age. What a pity the facts don't support their contention," Mr Turnbull said. The Communications Minister placed the onus back on the big internet service providers such as Telstra, Optus and iiNet."In an FTTN network the customer has a dedicated copper line from the node. From the node to the Point of Interconnection customers' traffic will travel over a shared fibre channel. Contention on that shared channel is possible but much less likely than the most common source of contention which is in the transit or backhaul network from the PoI," he said."In a world where ISPs will compete on price and service, the far more likely choke points for services such as Netflix will be in the backhaul network and the choices retailers make... That has certainly been Netflix's experience in the United States," he said.
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"The launch of Netflix once again provided a soapbox for those who claim only fibre to the premises will unlock the benefits of the digital age. What a pity the facts don't support their contention," Mr Turnbull said.

The Communications Minister placed the onus back on the big internet service providers such as Telstra, Optus and iiNet.

"In an FTTN network the customer has a dedicated copper line from the node. From the node to the Point of Interconnection customers' traffic will travel over a shared fibre channel. Contention on that shared channel is possible but much less likely than the most common source of contention which is in the transit or backhaul network from the PoI," he said.

"In a world where ISPs will compete on price and service, the far more likely choke points for services such as Netflix will be in the backhaul network and the choices retailers make... That has certainly been Netflix's experience in the United States," he said.

Turnbull also singled out tech writer Mark Pesce. And he isn't happy.

Bring it on, Mal. Bring. It. On.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Pesce, who is highly critical of the coalition government's NBN, "is confused by network topology."

Mr Pesce has told BuzzFeed News that the Communications Minister is the one in the wrong.

"Minister Turnbull has an unreasonably optimistic sense of how networks work," he said.

"Presumably because he lacks the 30 years practical experience in networks that I have. Running two simultaneous 15Mbps streams can easily clog a 50Mbps maximum-theoretical-bandwidth pipe, as well as rendering it useless for any other traffic.

Mr Pesce said it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the increased traffic to Netflix is already affecting internet speeds in Australia.

"It’s already clear that there’s a lot of underprovisioning. ISPs provision customer bandwidth based on what they reckon their predicted usage is going to be. Netflix has blown a hole in all those projections. Why they didn’t look to the US, where 30% of traffic after 8 PM is Netflix, is beyond me. It’s clear that this day would come, and Netflix certainly gave them enough lead time to upgrade their equipment."

The bad news: It's already happening.

iiNet Chief Technology Officer Mark Dioguardi also addressed the CommsDay summit this morning, admitting that Netflix's launch has had a huge effect on the ISP. Mr Dioguardi revealed Netflix now accounts for 25% of iiNet's total traffic, up from just 3% before it officially launched down under in March.Earlier this month, Fairfax reported that iiNet users were experiencing slower services during peak periods in the evening, likely as a result of the launch of Netflix. iiNet's network services manager, Roger Yerramsetti, posted on tech forum Whirlpool earlier this month, admitting the ISP had some issues. In some areas we’re seeing network traffic reach levels that were projected to occur well over 6 months from now, so under the bonnet we have been rapidly upgrading our network to keep pace with the demand and to ensure we’re continuing to provide a high quality service," he said. BuzzFeed News has contacted Netflix for comment.
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iiNet Chief Technology Officer Mark Dioguardi also addressed the CommsDay summit this morning, admitting that Netflix's launch has had a huge effect on the ISP.

Mr Dioguardi revealed Netflix now accounts for 25% of iiNet's total traffic, up from just 3% before it officially launched down under in March.

Earlier this month, Fairfax reported that iiNet users were experiencing slower services during peak periods in the evening, likely as a result of the launch of Netflix.

iiNet's network services manager, Roger Yerramsetti, posted on tech forum Whirlpool earlier this month, admitting the ISP had some issues.

In some areas we’re seeing network traffic reach levels that were projected to occur well over 6 months from now, so under the bonnet we have been rapidly upgrading our network to keep pace with the demand and to ensure we’re continuing to provide a high quality service," he said.

BuzzFeed News has contacted Netflix for comment.