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New Zealand's Chorus shows Godzilla effect with half-hour upstream traffic spikes

Meeting start times means NZ broadband wholesaler sees a surge in upstream traffic every 30 minutes.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Chorus

New Zealand broadband wholesaler Chorus has revealed a network traffic graph that shows waves of upstream traffic cresting every half hour, which the company has dubbed the Godzilla effect.

At the same time, the graph shows upstream traffic stopped out at 0.29Tbps during April, when New Zealand was in its hardest level of coronavirus restrictions. As restrictions have eased, upstream traffic has dropped, but still remains 10% above the pre-lockdown baseline seen in early March as people continued to work from home, Chorus said in an ASX filing on its fourth quarter connections numbers.

"Upstream traffic peaked ~60% higher (than January levels) when lockdown began, driven by rapid adoption of video conferencing applications," the company said.

"Downstream traffic initially peaked ~40% higher (than January levels) when lockdown began. Downstream traffic dipped in the first week of lockdown as streaming providers limited streaming quality."

During April, Chorus saw an average data consumed per connection top 400GB across its network, with fibre customers downloading 495GB on average, and copper customers averaging 273GB each.

For its fourth quarter, Chorus said it saw average data usage fall by 42GB on fibre to 387GB, while copper connections dropped 27GB on average to 198GB. Chorus added the fourth quarter numbers were artificially lower by 10% due to streaming services lowering the bandwidth used as the pandemic spread across the world.

Due to the pandemic, Chorus said restrictions paused the UFB2 rollout and the company had 15,000 fewer fibre installations than last year.

See also: Physical location of video conferencing servers key to Australian performance: ACCC

Overall, Chorus said it had 4,000 fewer fixed line connections in total at the end of Q4, to now record 1.415 million across New Zealand, while its broadband segment increased by 4,000 to 1.2 million, which reversed the broadband connections lost in the previous quarter.

In its Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) footprint, Chorus said it now has 725,000 connections from 931,000 premises passed and 1.2 million customers able to connect. Within UFB1 areas, uptake is sitting at 63%, while UFB2 recorded 37% uptake.

Chorus added its number of fibre connections now sits at 740,000 with 466,000 copper connections, and 1Gbps plans making up around 20% of its orders, with the total number of 1GBps connections now being 115,000.

Across the ditch at the end of June, deputy secretary of communications at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Richard Windeyer said the experience during the coronavirus pandemic has shown Australian broadband can handle working from home.

"The networks in Australia are capable of coping with a very significant increase in overall capacity and in the type of, and shape of, use of the network. And therefore, it has demonstrated that remote work is a possibility," Windeyer said.

"Now, I think how that plays out across the Australian economy ... depends on factors that are unrelated to telecommunications ... our view would be we've seen, and quite pleased to see, that the networks are capable of supporting people choosing to work remotely, and as COVID has shown, in significant numbers."

Windeyer said the question waiting to be answered is how many of the habits developed in the past few months would endure.

"There's no reason to believe that people will go back, will necessarily stop taking telehealth consultations and ... there will be an increase in people's ability to, and interest in being able to, work remotely."

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