Digesting what happens when Telstra’s mobile customers aren’t restricted by cost


I can’t remember a day when user behaviour has been completely unrestricted by finances. Today Telstra’s goodwill gesture to customers meant they had unrestricted access to download as much as they wanted using mobile data. Normally you need to pay attention to which apps are using what data, but today it was balls to the wall, unrestricted access to the Telstra network and an all-you-can-eat approach for 24 hours.

We’ve been watching Twitter pretty closely and have seen many people tethering their phones to use the free data for a variety of uses. In many cases the 4G mobile network has produced far greater speeds than ADSL2 hard wired connections.

We reached out to Telstra to get their side of the story after opening the flood gates to their network for unprecedented abuse.

Channa Seneviratne, Director, Wireless Network Engineering at Telstra says

There has been no major impact to customers from increased traffic on the network as a result of today’s free data access. We’ve had twice as much traffic as we would normally see on a Sunday. As we anticipated, some customers have experienced slower than normal data speeds while voice and 3G continues to perform well. We will continue to monitor services throughout the evening to ensure we keep giving our customers the best possible experience.

Personally I can speak to the fact that speeds on the Telstra network were fantastic through the morning, achieving 38.99Mbps down and 8.67Mbps up at 8:45am. By 10:37am, that had slowed to 10.49Mbps down and 0.58Mbps up. Peak congestion arrived at 2:47PM where speed tests yielded just 0.37Mbps down and 0.12Mbps up. Fortunately by 5:22pm, downloads had returned to a speedy 10.43Mbps down and 1.62Mbps up. These speed tests were done in Wodonga on the 4G network using the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

If you’d ever thought we should just save the money being spend on the NBN and move to wireless networks alone, this is the perfect explanation of why that’s a terrible idea. Wireless networks are incredibly susceptible to congestion and today proved that fact.

On a whole, keeping a network online while offering unrestricted access is an impressive feat and something Telstra should be applauded for. The outage on Tuesday certainly was unacceptable for those affected, but today feels like it goes a decent way to making up for it. They could have simply added a gigabyte to the data cap of users for this month, instead offering unrestricted access seen users download (and upload) many, many gigabytes of data without fear of large download costs.

If anything this day shows just how consumers are being artificially limited by the price of mobile data and a world in which this wasn’t the case would allow information and entertainment to flow freely to Australians.

With the free data offer now over, Telstra has provided more information on just how much you data hungry Aussies used.

By midnight, our customers had downloaded 1,841 terabytes of data. That’s the equivalent of around 2.3 million movies, or 5.1 million episodes of Game of Thrones, or 23 million downloads of Kanye’s newThe Life of Pablo album, or 1.4 billion downloads of last year’s Miles Franklin winner, Eye of the Sheep– depending on the source and the quality of the file, of course.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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