New Zealand ISP Bigpipe reckons it has the solution to an overcrowded internet connection with a new app that will give users the ability to prioritise their internet for different uses.
Using the ‘Mode Selector’ feature, customers can view what’s happening on their network and decide what is most important. If a user wants to stream a video, the app will tell the Bigpipe connection to give priority to streaming video traffic meaning faster, higher quality streams and less buffering, according to a release.
Users can chose between streaming, browsing, downloading, communication and gaming modes.
Head of Bigpipe Oliver Smith thinks its customers will “love” the ability to have control of their connection in their hands.
At any given time, a connection may be downloading an update for a computer, downloading a film, have someone talking on Skype, streaming or gaming and Smith says many ISPs “throttle or shape traffic” to give what they think is a better experience.
"But why should the ISP get to choose what people get to do on their internet connections,” he says.
“What we’re offering is a way for customers to decide what sort of traffic is important to them on their own connection, and prioritise accordingly. It’s up to them,” Smith says. “It’s internet the way it should be.”
StopPress sees the potential for a few disagreements in flats and family homes.
Lightbox is in partnership with Bigpipe, and CEO Kym Niblock says the app will be useful for people who do a lot of streaming. She says slower ADSL connections normally have trouble streaming HD content when the connections are being used for other things, leading to a lot of buffering.
Users will be able to devote 90 percent of their internet connection to data of a particular type. It will make a particular difference to the experience of those on copper connections, which make up over half of Bigpipe customers and 70 percent of New Zealand broadband connections, but Smith says it can also be useful for UFB customers who do a lot with broadband.
As well as the ‘Mode Selector’ feature, the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple and Google Play Stores, includes the ability to check billing statuses, refer friends to Bigpipe or get help and support. There are more features planned which will be prioritised depending on user feedback.
Earlier this year, Smith told StopPress, in general, no matter what speed any buffering when watching a video is likely to be someone else using the internet at the same time, or the modem.
He also said the biggest influence on internet speed is not the service provider but the technology that underlies the connection. Fibre and UFB (Ultra Fast broadband) are faster than VDSL, which is faster than ADSL.
Because of this, internet providers are trying hard to provide a point of difference for customers, selling an experience rather than a service which the customer could get anywhere. This can be seen in Bigpipe's partnership with Lightbox and also Spark's package offerings of Spotify and Lightbox, attempting to connect more emotionally with Kiwis.