These graphs explain why your internet gets so frickin' slow every afternoon

So you finally got NBN and expected to have blazing fast download speeds. Perhaps you even paid the big money to your ISP (internet service provider) to get the top speeds.

But Internet service providers have been struggling to keep up with the incredibly high demand for online video all around our nation. 

The problems are widely documents (link)(link), but despite providing you a much slower speed than what you're paying for, ISP's like iiNet don't seem to mind taking the full payment from you each month. 

But is there really THAT MUCH video content being downloaded?

Here are some of graphs from Google that show how much their YouTube service ramps up as soon as kids start getting home from school. 

This is JUST YOUTUBE. You can see after 4pm usage doubles compared to what it is during business hours. Add to this the huge popularity of Netflix, and the fact that some ISP's like iiNet don't even count Netflix usage towards customer's monthly download quota, and you can see why the ISP's are basically clogged. (Note, Geraldton's local ISP Node1 seems to be coping well with the spike in demand. More about them below.)

Telstra have admitted video is causing massive demands on their network too (link). They've seen a crazy 42% increase in data usage in just 12 months, and now over 50% of their mobile network data usage is for video content. 

The Netflix effect is having a huge impact on the NBN network already. And in the US the effect is even more drastic, a sign of things to come. Already more than a third of US prime time internet traffic is just from Netflix. 

The death of television

It's no secret that TV viewership in Australia has been tumbling for some time now (link) (link)(link). In fact, around half of all free-to-air TV watchers are now over 50. In the coveted 25-34 demographic, a whopping 20.7% watch NO FREE TO AIR TV. 

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, at Roy Morgan Research, says:

"Commercial TV is now unable to reach around a fifth of all 14-34 year-olds, and the trend looks set to continue. In another seven years, it might well be a third. Already the very idea of ‘seeing what’s on TV’ at a particular time is beginning to seem a little archaic next to the massive libraries of niche, personally appealing content ready—by definition—on demand."

If you have kids older than three, chances are a tablet has replaced their TV.

Speaking first hand, I can tell you my 8 and 5 year olds would rather watch gamers on YouTube any day of the week, than flick the channels on traditional TV. I could tell you who Stampy Longnose and The Diamond Minecart are, but I have no idea who the news anchors for GWN7, WIN or anyone else are. In fact, our TV hasn't had the aerial connected for 8 months now, and no-one in the house has complained. Between ABC iView, Netflix, YouTube and the occasional iTunes movie, we haven't even missed "traditional" TV. Any news worth seeing will appear in my Twitter or Facebook feeds way before it's on TV, or there's a few apps that keep me in the loop that I like such as the New York Times, Feedly, and the Everything Geraldton app (of course). 

There's no way my children and grandchildren will be content to sit in front of the idiot box and just watch whatever comes on. The ability to enjoy exactly what interests them, exactly when it suits them, is something they will take for granted. 

Here's hoping the ISP's will keep up with the demand. While it's understandable that they're struggling to cope under the huge spike in video demand, it's still frustrating to be given internet speeds much lower that what you're paying for each month. 

One last interesting titbit if you're wondering which ISP will be able to keep up with your home's online video demands... 

Netflix published stats each month comparing the speeds at which each network delivers their content. It's a clever way of encouraging said ISP's to make sure Netflix content is delivered into homes as quickly as possible. 

The numbers are all embarrassingly low though; it really is a choice between the lesser of evils. 

One other option...

Many locals don't realise that Geraldton actually has a LOCAL ISP, Node1 Internet. I can't tell you how many times it's been a massive relief to have a local office with local people to deal with when there's been technical issues to resolve. Whenever people contact us asking who to use for Internet we recommend Node1. And that's based on having used most of the others too. 

I highly recommend you check them out. They offer NBN of course, give great customer service, and even have other high speed internet options if your home isn't yet connected to the NBN. 

Their phone number is 9964 5464. 


Jason Smith

Jason is the author of Everything Perth. He’s also a law student, small business owner, husband, and father of three boys.