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User explosion squeezes Oz mobile upload speeds

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If all things were equal, a change in mobile speeds should be reflected equally in both directions – but according to IDC, that’s not what’s happened in Australia.

The research itself is straightforward enough: IDC spent the money to conduct 1,000 point tests in and around Sydney and Melbourne, and found that while average mobile broadband download speeds have increased by 10 percent since 2010, upload speeds have fallen by 30 percent.

The researcher is too kind to the carriers, however, merely commenting that “the results suggest some challenges in supporting the explosion of smartphones and media tablets.”

The Register begs to differ: it appears to us that the operators have been caught not just by device numbers, but by user behaviour.

As is clear from the stoush over who has the right to broadcast sports over the precious mobile airwaves, carriers have a particular user in mind when they configure their mobile networks. They need to monetize their mobile infrastructure, which in the age of the iPad is being aggressively expanded throughout the country, and the favourite mechanism is through content.

The rollout has been stunning, with Telstra, Optus and VHA shipping new base stations by their thousands.

IDC’s research suggests to El Reg that the download bias in the networks is no accident: carriers are provisioning the networks to favour downloads (just as they have traditionally done in fixed network design and configuration).

Users, it seems, aren’t quite so malleable as they used to be. People holding a single device that provides camera, broadband access, and blog or micro-blog platform are content producers, and they’re producing content – and uploading it – as fast as they can.

It’s just a pity that “as fast as they can” is a lot slower now than it was two years ago. ®

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