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Bravo ACCC: Telstra begins flogging NBN overprovisioning as 15% speed boost

Consequences of ACCC deciding networking layers are for nerds begin to flow through.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

What a so-called 50Mbps plan now delivers.

Image: Telstra

Anyone with a passing knowledge of how networking layers work, combined with a tiny amount of experience on how capitalism and marketing operates, could see that NBN overprovisioning would lead to a hell of a lot of spin from Australia's telcos.

Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided NBN needed to provide extra layer 2 capacity so that tests the ACCC runs at layer 7 would match the speeds claimed by telcos.

It is a true apples and oranges comparison, but the ACCC has previously told ZDNet it is happy with its decision.

The end result was NBN deciding to overprovision its plans by 15%, except for the plans where it doesn't, which is currently its gigabit options.

So Australia has overprovisioning of NBN because the ACCC thinks TCP/IP headers get in the way of the results of its tests, and most plans do, but not all. Remember, this is all meant to be easy for consumers to understand.

As the overprovisioning appears on the NBN, the spin from the telcos have kicked in. Telstra was promoting the overprovisioning as a 15% speed boost.

"We want to give our customers the best NBN experience possible so we're rolling out changes that NBN Co has made available to help more customers get faster speeds," Telstra said on Wednesday.

"When data is carried across the internet, bandwidth is used to carry that data to its intended destination (known as 'overheads') which reduces the speeds available to you.

"As part of changes to the way NBN Co manages speeds over its network, more bandwidth (or speed) has been made available to compensate for these overheads by allowing services to run up to 15% faster (excluding Fixed Wireless)."

Presumably selling consumers on the idea of a speed boost, rather than a network-wide knob that NBN had to turn at the behest of the ACCC, is an easier sell.

And telcos will very likely get away with it. In fact, consumers are going to embrace this "speed boost".

The frugal warriors over at OzBargain picked up on the new provisioning last week, and it certainly was not cast in a negative light.

"Free Speed Boost for NBN Fixed Line Customers," said an entry from a user called tightarse.

"From the outset, please note this may not work for everyone but has certainly worked for me and a few others I've asked to test ... Not sure what the '15% overprovisioning' really means."

Far be it from me to criticise people being excited about a faster internet connection, bandwidth is bandwidth after all.

Thanks to the ACCC, 50Mbps layer 2 plan in Australia could be up to 55Mbps on the fixed line footprint. But it's definitely not going beyond somewhere around 47Mbps on fixed wireless, if you are lucky, and on satellite, you cannot get that speed at all.  

Breathe in the simplicity. How good is making things easier to understand?

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