Australia is in the midst of one of its biggest infrastructure projects right now with the rollout of the NBN (national broadband network), a multi-year project that initially aimed to bring optic fibre cable and broadband service to every single household in the country.
As per usual though with large public works projects, what was a costly grand scheme that began under one government was subsequently changed when the next government (in this case the current conservative one) took power – trying to save money and in the process turning the project into something of a national joke made fun of by comedy shows on its very own broadcast services.
This week however, it has drawn more ire as NBN Co – the company behind the national rollout – has raised the prospect of treating streaming video differently from other traffic types on its network – charging users extra for using Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, PornHub and the like.
The proposal reportedly went before NBN Co’s top 50 retail service providers recently and once word leaked out it caused a vocal backlash on social media. The proposal was reportedly also met with alarm from many RSPs (retail service providers) and industry insiders and could be seen as a potential test case for treating types of traffic differently for the purposes of monetisation and thus impacting net neutrality.
Yesterday, NBN Co. reportedly hit back at backlash with a statement defending the proposal and said it’s not working towards any pre-defined outcomes. They indicate the current process is not about levying additional charges on customers: “[Video steaming] is a significant part of current internet traffic volume, which is only forecast to increase. As part of the consultation, we are seeking feedback from RSPs on how to best support RSPs to provide video streaming services in the future.”