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Stephen Fry was throttled - Telecom

The carrier's explanation for the Hobbit star's poor Kiwi broadband experience may not impress him, or his 4 million followers.

Chris Keall
Mon, 20 Feb 2012

UPDATE: 3.30pm: New Zealand broadband might not be up to snuff, but we have the best spin doctors. 

"Essentially the situation with Mr Fry this morning was a misunderstanding," a Telecom spokeswoman told NBR this afternoon.

"He was downloading and uploading large video files on a residential data plan that was unsuitable for his requirements. It had been set up by the existing occupants of the house and only had an average data limit," she said.

"As a result, Mr Fry had exceeded the data allowance, and so his speed was throttled. So his comments were in reference to throttled speed, rather than actual broadband speed.

"This morning, we spoke to the account holder and got the house on a plan much more suited to his needs, and I understand everyone is happy with the new situation."  

However his subsequent tweets indicated Mr Fry - who arrived in Wellington this week for a role in Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit - was not 110% happy with the way things are done in Godzone.

"Well, seem to have stirred up a hornet's nest. It seems I exceeded a d'load limit and had my BB throttled to a crawl: @TelecomNZ have put this right this right. Very quick and polite. But I wonder if everyone who complains gets this attention? I think Comcast style throttliI think Comcast style throttling is a for the economy it's disastrous, for visitors for everyone," the actor tweeted.

Adding, "Yes, kiwi land is remote, but if Avatar can be made here and NZ wants to keep its rep for being the loveable, easy-going, outdoorsy yet tech savvy place it is, then pressure @telecomnz into offering better packages."

The data caps that accompany New Zealand landline broadband plans are unusual in the developed world. In most countries, all-you-can-eat data is the norm. 

Mr Fry also seemed to be caught on the hop by capped upload speed. The actor seems more acclimatised to faster DSL connections, or fibre that allows top-speed in both directions.

Follow Stephen Fry on Twitter.

New Zealand broadband bagged by Hobbit star

8.30am: On the eve of the Commerce Commission's Future Broadband conference in Auckland, UK actor Stephen Fry has let loose on Twitter about the state of New Zealand's broadband.

Mr Fry, who is in Wellington to play a role in Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, said on the social network this morning, "New Zealand so fine. It they have probably the worst. Broadband I've ever encountered. Turns itself off slows to a crawl. Pathetic."

He added, "Rise up, Kiwis and demand better? You wouldn't allow crap roads with pot holes and single file."

The actor - who has close to 4 million followers on Twitter, complained about the "complacent Telecomm [sic] and their contemptuous attitude to customers."

Telecommunications Users Association boss Paul Brislen had sympathy for the visiting star.

"New Zealand needs to do more to avoid being left behind by the rest of the world - rural New Zealand doubly so - 5Mbit/s is too slow. We need to do better."

Pacific Fibre CEO Mark Rushworth weighed in with the harsher "It's always embarrassing when international guests stay in our hotels and experience a painfully slow 100MB data cap for $30."

Mr Rushworth's company, backed by Rich Listers Rod Drury, Sir Stephen Tindall and Sam Morgan, is aiming to break the 50% Telecom-owned Southern Cross Cable's monopoly on New Zealand's interent connection to the outside world.

Pacific Fibre sees its cable as complementing the main domestic broadband intiative - the $1.35 billion Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) intiative - which will see fibre connections to many homes, schools and businesses over the next 10 years. The domestic fibre will stoke user demand for video and other broadwidth-intensive content, much of which is hosted offshore.

"The government building five-lane super fibre highway, but it's pointless when New Zealand has single dirt road for international connection," Mr Rushworth told NBR.

"That's a big problem when 85% of our content comes from the US."

Future on hold
The Commerce Commission initially said it could not afford the $10,000 to $20,000 cost it estimated for webcasting its Future Broadband conference, starting today in Auckland. But in the final event, the watchdog appears to have found the funds. The event is being webcast here.

However,  NBR and others have found that video is not in fact streaming. So far, the future is on hold. [UPDATE 11am: the live stream is now working.]

Chris Keall
Mon, 20 Feb 2012
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Stephen Fry was throttled - Telecom