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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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What? A free lunch?

2 December 2021

Ultrafast fibre users whose service is provided by Spark, Vodafone or Orcon are in for a treat.

Apparently, according to this report they are going to have their broadband speed trippled for free.

Yep, they'll be upgraded from 100Mbps to 300Mbps without any change to their monthly bill.

That's nice.

Sucks to be getting your internet from another provider I guess -- although a number of other smaller regional providers have announced they'll be doing the same.

This change was first announced a few months back by Chorus and is only now filtering through to end-users.

This is such a good deal that I might ditch my Gigabit plan in favour of the new 300Mbps service.

The only reason I got the gigabit plan was because of the faster upload speeds that it offered and the new changes mean that upload speeds on the cheaper option are actually more than quadrupled from 20Mbps to 100Mbps so it would work fine for me.

In fact, I was kind of pee'd off to discover that YouTube throttles uploads to about 50Mbps regardless of your actual fibre-speed so the gigabit option is a bit of a waste anyway.

Although, having said that, I do intend to serve some video content directly from my own hardware via the fibre connection so I may wait a while. The 400-500Mbps upload speeds of "Gigabit" would be invaluable in this situation.

However, for most people they probably won't even notice the trippling of download speeds unless they have a very busy household with lots of hard-wired gear that sucks bandwidth.

Given that most households rely on WiFi for their connection to the router there's probably a natural throttling taking place at this point and even 4K streaming services such as Netflix claim to work just fine with as little as 25Mbps.

Call me cynical but I'm picking that Chorus has crunched the numbers and worked out that trippling speeds will have effectively zero impact on the actual load on its network or the amount of data it transfers. I strongly doubt that any of the existing 100Mbps connections are getting saturated so all that a change to 300Mbps will do is increase the unused headroom.

The downside to this however, could be that if you're sharing a bandwidth-limited link with someone who really does suck on the IP feed long and hard, you may discover that you start getting some throttling further up the stream. Having 300Mbps fibre into your home is not much good if there's a lack of provisioning upstream that effectively throttles that back to 20Mbps because all the kids in neighbouring houses are sucking the snot out of things with their downloads and streams when they get home from school.

Regardless of this, it's wonderful to think how freely IP packets flow these days. Things certainly have changed from those early days of the internet when I recall paying $10 per MB of download/upload data. These days I'm shifting around 8-10GB a day through my fibre connection, something that would have been absolutely unaffordable back in the 1990s.

How much data are readers using on a daily or monthly basis? Will YOU notice the shift to 300Mbps if you're currently on 100Mbps and are getting upgraded for free? Will this upgrade change what you do with the internet and how you use it?

And they said there was no such thing as a free lunch eh? Looks like this time there is.

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