TM Forum Management World 2011: Telstra proudly declares intent to cut off bandwidth hogs



DUBLIN, Ireland – Telstra has no qualms about cutting off and throttling anyone it believes is illegally filesharing over its network, said Michael Lawrey executive director for network and technology at the Australian operator.

After proclaiming itself a “really customer centric” carrier, Lawrey went on to compare modern day networks to heavy smokers, saying they were becoming huffier and puffier. So, how to unclog the congested, data mucus laden pipes? By using internet filtering in reverse, said Lawrey.

Accusing “downloaders of illegal content” for almost all of Telstra’s network congestion, Lawrey said Telstra was in favor of just cutting them off, or severely throttling their bandwidth, through a system of signature verification.

“Those guys downloading pirated movies,” he said, “I’d love to see them complain to regulators!”

He did admit, however, that the carrier may well get it wrong, and throttle innocent surfers too.

“Is it a perfect science? No,” he told the audience at the TM Forum Innovation Spotlight in Dublin, Ireland adding, “But if it cuts out 80% of the non-value adding traffic, good!”

Telstra has long been a proponent of harsh network management, but remains convinced that despite criticism, its plan is the one to follow.

“We have caps on all our mobile plans. We copped a beating from everyone for that, but we’ve proven to be right,” he expounded before begrudgingly adding that he found Telstra’s data caps “really quite generous.”

That so-called generosity, however, would be short lived, warned Lawrey, noting “We probably haven’t even used our fair use small print yet. But we will.”

While trying to tempt customers into buying more expensive “differentiated data services,” and finding all kinds of value adds – including a potential deal with Netflix – to entice them, Lawrey showed no great love for high bandwidth users chewing their way through 80% of Telstra’s current data.

“I’d rather not have those 80% as customers, I’d rather someone else had them as customers,” he admitted, making no bones about the fact that customers perceived as abusing “fair usage” policy would be disconnected.

“There are tools open to the tier one telcos,” said Lawrey, attempting to convert his fellow operators to join the throttle brigade under the guises of “traffic management.”

“Surely, if you use signatures to identify high bandwidth users and choke them off, you’ll essentially be driving them to encrypt and go through VPNs?” asked a member of the audience.

“Well, if people want to find ways to try to get around our system, we’ll have to deal with that as we see it,” Lawrey replied.

Not that we want to seem nit-picky, Telstra, but surely if you’re promoting your platform as a service model, then saying you would rather not provide the service you claim you can actually provide is not a very good angle.

Also, we don’t see how Telstra throttling heavy users while trying to upsell Netflix to people who barely use their phones is particularly helpful. Or logical. Either you can cope with the data deluge, or you can’t. Decide.


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sylvie barak