Undaunted ISP offers another unlimited data weekend

Despite trouble with “an upstream provider” during TelstraClear’s limitless data weekend, Snap Internet will hold a similar all-you-can-eat data fest between Friday and Monday.

Snap will offer its residential customers unlimited data this weekend, from 8pm Friday to 8am Monday.

On the face of things, it seems a brave move, given TelstraClear’s issues with its all-you-can-eat promotion last weekend, which slowed DSL customers’ speed by up to 40%, and cable customers by up to 64% (and at some points congestion was such that speed tests couldn’t be carried out).

Upstream congestion
Over the weekend of TelstraClear’s promotion, some Snap Internet customers also complained about slow connections.

Geekzone chatter pinned the problem on Snap’s international bandwidth provider, Telstra (parent company of TelstraClear).

Snap CEO Mark Petrie confirmed to NBR that there was an issue.

“Snap did experience bandwidth issues last weekend. We believe it was caused by upstream congestion, Mr Petrie said.

“We believe this also caused disruption to other ISPs, too. Snap managed this issue and although it did have an impact on some broadband users, we were able to take steps to ensure that the impact was minimal by using alternate carrier paths.”

Asked to confirm if the upstream provider was TelstraClear or Telstra (whose Reach subsidiary wholesales international bandwidth), Mr Petrie offered only, “Sorry, can’t comment.”

A spokesman for TelstraClear said the company experienced no technical issues.

Third time around
The Snap boss said there had been no technical problems during previous all-you-can-eat promotions.

“We are not nervous at all,” Mr Petrie said.

“Snap has successfully provided two successful free weekends [both in July] with very positive customer feedback.

“However, in saying this we will be monitoring the network extra carefully as the load during our free weekends is significant. Snap builds its networks to supply high availability medical facilities, high usage tertiary institutions and high end Fibre customers so are more than confident our network can cope.”

Christchurch Snap customer Layton Duncan – a heavy internet user – told NBR, “From memory, speed and latency didn't seem out of the ordinary. If it was, it wasn't very perceptible, not like last weekend.”

Tighter rein
It will help that while Telstraclear has around 200,000 customers, Snap - a three-time Telecommunications Users Association (Tuanz) ISP of the Year - has a smaller number of users (it declined to supply a  figure).

And while TelstraClear allowed both DSL (copper) and hybrid cable customers unfettered downloads, Snap is restricting its promotion to DSL customers (like TelstraClear, the promotion is for residential customers only).

Mr Petrie said his company – which recently won a contract to supply customers on the government’s high bandwidth Karen network - had the chops to support an unlimited data weekend.

“Snap has invested a significant amount in its network during the past few years with a major Juniper core upgrade supported by Juniper and NEC (along with a team of very Snap skilled engineers) Snap’s NOC is a 24/7 manned operation running out of Christchurch at our purpose built Co-Location facility.  However our core is distributed across New Zealand with major points of presence throughout the main centres.”

Juniper MX480 and Juniper E120 platforms are used for Snap’s core routing and broadband aggregation, Mr Petrie said.

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6 Comments & Questions

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Time to go offline and write a few Christmas cards then. TCL "Broadband" was so slow last Sunday we switched the computer off. "Now's good" to switch providers!

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quality of service upstream costs money. All you can eat plans cause congestion but fail to address the returns on this investment. If data caps rise on an ongoing basis, then inevitably, prices will rise too. Perhaps it is time for the NZ residential market to offer customers products differentiated by congestion ratios (and of course, charge for the premium product)? This will sort out the genuinely high-valuers of guaranteed data transfer rates from those very price-sensitive gluttons who are prepared to wait a bit for all the data they can eat. That is, toll roads for the internet. Would leave all customers better off (in the same manner as data caps require heavy users to pay for the costs of the congestion they cause - if we remove data caps, then we must have a means whereby those who don't pay for the congestion they cause to not disrupt the internet use of those who would prefer to pay to escape it)

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What about a plug for those NZ ISPs who not only offer unlimited Internet not just on the odd weekend but 24/7?

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Most ISPs do offer unlimited plans 24 x 7. They are typically business plans, have identified international bandwidth (speed not GB) and attract an appropriate price.

Home users are not prepared to pay realistic fees for this level of service.

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But they shape data and if you use too much you will find yourself slowed down pretty quickly. Go ask around...

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