TelstraClear admits some business customers vulnerable during all-you-can-eat promo

TelstraClear says there is no need for compo following its limitless data weekend.

The all-you-can-eat broadband promotion was labeled "disastrous" by InternetNZ, and some customers took to Twitter to complain their connection had become unusable as many piled on to take advantage of the temporary lifting of the ISP's data caps between 6pm Friday and midnight Sunday. 

Asked if there would be any compensation for customers who experienced slower broadband performance over the weekend, TelstraClear consumer head Steve Jackson said early indications were that intermittent and reduced speeds were experienced by some customers when accessing international sites not cached locally.

"However, TelstraClear’s network in New Zealand performed to its usual high standard and we have no plans to provide compensation," Mr Jackson said.

"Overall results - which are yet to be thoroughly analysed – will provide important feedback, both for TelstraClear and the industry as a whole.”

Some business users exposed
Asked if business customers were hit by the slowdown, a spokeswoman said, "Those on dedicated data links were not impacted ... We do have some business customers who aren’t on dedicated links, and they may have been impacted over the weekend."

The company refused comment on affected business's individual cases.

Domestic go-slow
Josh O'Connor-Chen, IT Manager at Wellington's Pacific Radiology, told NBR that TelstraClear's explanation appeared to "stretch the truth."

On Friday night, an on-call doctor working for Pacific Radiology was unable email an X-Ray image, finding his connection "basically unusable."

The doctor was working from home, on a residential account. However, Mr O'Connor-Chen said the doctor's experience gave lie to TelstraClear's claim that only international traffic was affected. The doctor was in the central Wellington suburb of Mt Cook, only 8km away from Pacific Radiology's Petone data centre.

Videoconference no-go
Another business user, Paraparaumu-based software developer Richard Clark, who charges clients $150 to $170 an hour, was seething.

Mr Clark said a videoconference call with clients in the UK had to be abandoned in favour of a text-based exchange.

"I'm really annoyed they seem to be just shrugging it off," Mr Clark told NBR. "Have your little marketing experiment, but don't monkey around with my business."

The developer, who is on a residential connection, added, "I understand I would be in a much better position to go into the [TelstraClear] office and scream at someone. But this is 2011. We're pushing the idea of telecommunicating and saving carbon. Here I am representing the dream and they ruining my day."

Mr Clark said he had been a happy TelstraClear customers for years but now planned to get a second account, with another ISP, that he could use as a fall-back. If the new ISP proved reliable, he might drop TelstraClear, the developer said.

From speed tests and his general experience, Mr Clark said his international and domestic data speed fell around 70% over the weekend.

No sympathy from some quarters
Not all business users are sympathetic to the pair's plight.

After reading the initial version of this article, Dylan Bland, who works for an Auckland-based e-tailer, tweeted, "Gotta love it when businesses operate a cheap residential broadband account, then complain."

Mr Bland told NBR in a follow-up email, "I think people who run important parts of their business using a residential broadband connection should be careful when asking for compensation from ISPs. Business accounts usually cost a lot more and come with more appropriate guarantees and compensation options for downtime."

Why would local connections seem so slow?
Experts spoken to by NBR said two factors were in play that caused the apparent slow-down in domestic data.

One is that many websites with ".co.nz" addresses are hosted off-shore, where web servers can be cheaper - especially for high-volume sites.

Another is poor interconnection or "peering" (or, more to the point, lack of peering) between TelstraClear and other local ISPs, which can see data sent between two domestic points take a round trip to LA.

Not all international sites are cached (or "mirrored") locally.

Pacific Fibre co-founder Rod Drury told NBR another factor was that only static "Web 1.0" connect, such as web pages could be cached. Interactive "Web 2.0" elements, such as videoconferencing, could not.

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