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

TelstraClear head of consumer Steve Jackson

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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21 Comments & Questions

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Time to vote with my wallet and chose another provider - who else is coming?

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Not to mention that online gaming was basically impossible. 2200ms latency to US based servers and there's no way caching can help that. Even the 500ms I was getting on Sunday evening is unacceptable.

Very disappointed with TCL's attitude towards it's paying customers.

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There were huge lags connecting to TelstraClear's own game servers throughout the entire weekend. Surely, they can't blame that on international connections.

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You get what you pay for. You want full speed all the time, dont use a "home" broadband account.

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Maybe online gaming and some video conferencing could have been affected.. but overall my experience, considering how heavy usage probably was, turned out to exceed my expectations, You will always get complainers, but I thought the network preformed exceptionally well.

I hope we will see flatrate broadband on TCL soon! that was an awesome weekend,

Thanks guys!

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" Maybe online gaming and some video conferencing could have been affected.. "

@Happeh Geek not just affected, completely unusable.

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Telstra needs a new Dictionary. "All you can eat" is a wrong label. If you attend an "all you can eat" buffet means exactly that: you can eat as much as you like, continually refilling your plate until either you burst your trousers, vomit in the toilet or get dragged away by the wife for making a pig of yourself in public.

Telstra's definition is: "All you can eat" means We will be serving 500 sausages rolls to 600 hungry rugby players. But it is still "all you can eat".

In words of the famous Tui Advert. "Yeah Right"

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Crikey we kiwis love to whinge. Elsewhere people have high speed broadband and no data caps. We are so far behind, yet whinge when one company has a go at trying to give customers a better deal, like those in the first world. Yes, it's exposed the elephant in the room; such low speeds that telco's elsewhere would be prosecuted for calling it 'broadband'. It's time to get rid of data caps and have real broadband. Hmm, let's beat up the company that tries? Yeah right, like it's better to force them back into the cosy duopoly position where none of the telcos do nothing much and we all suffer. I reckon good on them. And let's ask the others to join the fray. Crank up the investment and speed and get rid of data caps all of you....

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Broadband basically stopped at my place.

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Broadband basically stopped at my place.

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Crikey we kiwis love to whinge. Elsewhere people have high speed broadband and no data caps. We are so far behind, yet whinge when one company has a go at trying to give customers a better deal, like those in the first world. Yes, it's exposed the elephant in the room; such low speeds that telco's elsewhere would be prosecuted for calling it 'broadband'. It's time to get rid of data caps and have real broadband. Hmm, let's beat up the company that tries? Yeah right, like it's better to force them back into the cosy duopoly position where none of the telcos do nothing much and we all suffer. I reckon good on them. And let's ask the others to join the fray. Crank up the investment and speed and get rid of data caps all of you....

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Some ISP's will not provide business connections to those of us who work from home: From Vodafone's website "If you work in a residential zone you'll need one of our residential packages"

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If you pay for broadband connection, as a consumer, you expect broadband connection, not less than dial-up speed. Saying that peoiple still had connections and soscan't complain just cos it was slow is like saying a power company can reduce the voltage to the point where none of your appliances run, but as long as you're "connected" you are still getting a service!

I changed to Telstra specifically to get high speed internet, and my download speed averaged less than 2Mbps all weekend. Apparently some areas had no issues, but some parts of Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland had VERY SLOW RATES all weekend - and we are annoyed

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correction: this was meant to say " saying we CAN'T complain just because it was slow is".... ridiculous

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"Steve Jackson said early indications were that intermittent and reduced speeds were experienced by some customers when accessing international sites not cached locally"
What a crock!! The issue was not variable or intermittent for those who were affected, it was consistently slow for the entire weekend, too slow for gaming, skype or watching videos, let alone downloading anything of any size

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Crikey! I've never seen so many Tesltraclera staff on the NBR!!!!

Telstraclear knew full well what the risks were and went ahead and did this brain dead promo anyhow - The sad fact of the matter is that there is only a finite amount of international bandwidth and this was thrashed in the weekend so us paying customers who didnt need it got screwed over royally. I dunno about you but I've had enough and are signing up with another provider

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I paid for high speed cable! If I wanted no cap I would have stayed with Telecom all you can eat. What a bunch of wankers! My internet stopped and was was not able to use on Saturday.

I am going back to Telecom!

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Cry me a river. If this is your biggest gripe in life then consider yourself very privileged. Get over it!

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I'm a university professor and usually do a lot of literature search and reading from my university's online library. My service ground to a near halt during the "all you can stand to wait for" trial.

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................. does any one Read there contracts ISP only Promies Broadband speeds over 0.6mps on a res accounts, also residential contracts say that over 3 days of effected service is compensatable. so telstra is in its right to with Held compensation. Lastly the average speed in new zealand is between 2.97Mbit/s to 3.4Mbit/s

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Fair Trading Act breach and Consumer Guarantees Act breach. Numerous complaints to www.tdr.org.nz should go someway to resolving this situation. If anyone is interested in a class action type suit for compensation there is a group forming that will stand up to this type of mistreatment from telco's "marketing departments" in future.

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