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Has Chorus broken the law?

31 Jan 18

Chorus may have broken the law, or at least proved that they can beat it.

Nielsen’s Law that is.

This law states that the bandwidth available to high-end home users grows by 50% per year (10% less than Moore’s Law for computer speed meaning that bandwidth remains the key constraint in terms of user experience).

This law has formed a seemingly key part of Chorus’s projections as it was cited in their “Chorus 2020 product portfolio pricing” presentation released in mid-2016.

In that document, Chorus said that they expected 1Gbps to be required by 2020, and here we are in 2018 with that UFB service widely available at a reasonable price.

*slowest available option when UFB was initially deployed

Going back a few years, in the chart above you can see that in 2015 the expected speed was 150Mbps which was actually matched by the widespread deployment of the BS2 100/50 service at the time.

In 2016, 200Mbps UFB services became the norm for residential and SME users, which again matched expectations based on the above table.

Now, here we are in 2018 significantly outperforming against the modelled forecasts. BS2a UFB fibre with access speeds of 1000/500 is becoming a very popular choice.

Whether speed increases can continue to keep pace with Nielsen’s Law as we depend on GPON technology with finite speeds and splitter cabinet contention ratios is a matter for debate by more technically capable people than me - would love to hear thoughts on this.

The difference between access speeds and actual speeds experienced is a subject that justifies a post of its own as well, but suffice to say that as access speeds increase, so does contention within carrier and RSP networks, so real world speeds will not keep pace with access speeds.

Self-fulfilling prophesy?

If Chorus planned around this model, is it a case of a self-fulfilling prophesy rather than proof that the law stands up to scrutiny?

It looks as though Chorus decided that the model detailed user requirements accurately, likely based on historical progressions from dial up days, and modelled their product design, at least in part, around that.

They have then outperformed against the model and bought themselves time to further enhance their network technology and work towards even greater speeds.

NZ – the lucky country

Writing this from my desk on the Gold Coast, I am very aware that there is a gulf between the internet experience for users in Australia against those of users in NZ.

Examining whether Australian access speeds, even with the advent of NBN, have kept pace with Nielsen’s Law would almost certainly provide much gloomier results.

Brendan Ritchie (@bcarmody on Twitter) is the CEO for Lightwire Business (@Lightwirebus on Twitter) which provides internet, IP voice and WAN services across New Zealand and Australia.

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