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Optus, Telstra want game companies to subsidise data costs

"A substantial portion of traffic, particularly at peak period... is gaming traffic."

Australian telcos Optus and Telstra have suggested that game and streaming companies should chip in to subsidise costs associated with high data downloads.

Speaking with the Australian Financial Review (via Kotaku), Optus’ head of regulatory and public affairs, Andrew Sheridan, said that updates for popular titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty cause gigantic network spikes that impact all users of an ISP.

“If we get this right it should ultimately be in the long-term interest of Australian consumers and businesses,” Sheridan said.

“The current situation is a substantial portion of traffic, particularly at peak period, is actually over-the-top traffic. A lot of it is gaming traffic. The big spikes are when the big gaming updates [arrive] from the likes of … Fortnite, Siege, Grand Theft Auto. If we look forward into the future, we’re going to see growth in traffic as we see proliferation of 8K, augmented reality and virtual reality.

“You might be just using your service for online education, but you are subsidising someone who is a very heavy gamer.”

Nikos Katinakis, head of networks at Telstra, agreed with Sheridan, saying that game and streaming companies “could do and should do a lot more in participating in the value creation and sharing the wealth that gets created”.

Ideally, the telcos suggest that game and streaming companies pony up to bolster Australia’s infrastructure to better handle instances where high-data patches become available to a large number of players at the same time.

Both telcos now offer some sort of game optimisation service at present: Telstra’s Game Optimiser and Optus’ Game Path. Both services are designed to reduce lag when playing games (not updating them) and will set you back $10 AUD a month on top of your data plan.

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.