Internet Piracy

While New Zealand is a remarkably beautiful place full of wonderful people, there is one great drawback to the country – it has terrible Internet service. The hotel in Auckland was merely antediluvian: the idea that 200 Mb of traffic is a “monthly” allowance is just absurd. Auckland airport was actually OK. I gave me 100 Mb of download for NZ$10. I wish I had been there longer. But the hotel in Wellington was a disaster.

I’m not too upset with Mercure over this. They don’t provide the ISP service themselves, and by the look of the face of the guy on the front desk when I checked out I’m by no means the only unhappy customer. I think the message is getting through that they need to change providers. 100 Mb / day at $40 is pretty steep compared to the airport charge, but that assumes that you get 100 Mb. Watching my email download, and checking the usage meter, it was pretty clear that either I had some very big incoming downloads (much bigger than the ones that had come in while I was at Auckland airport) or the meter was over-clocking. I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt on that, but there’s no way I believe that logging onto Facebook for a minute or so would have chewed up around 11 Mb.

I can’t see any obvious reason why Internet access in NZ should be so expensive, other than lack of both competition and effective regulation. The country doesn’t lack a decent phone service; it should be able to provide DSL just like anywhere else in the world. And even if there service is expensive, there’s no excuse for cheating customers by over-counting their usage.

6 thoughts on “Internet Piracy

  1. When away from home worrying about limited or metered bandwidth, the first thing I do is to turn off all image downloading.

    (This is a facility easily available in Opera – I can speak for other browsers. For sites with heavy (but not vital) image content, it’s a lifesaver.)

    I can see where the cost of the NZ internet would be high: it’s a long way from anywhere, and (pretty much) all that data is having to come via undersea cables, probably through Australia. But the cost you report does sound totally over the top.

  2. A brief visit to Facebook eats up 11 megabytes of traffic? Actually, I can see it.

    Out of curiosity, I had my FB “home page” open which I saved to disk. The HTML file itself is 1.58 MB. The css is a quarter meg, the javascript clocks in at 0.85 MB, and the 165 images (almost all of them under 10k each, so probably thumbnails and usericons) are 0.65 MB. Grand total is 2915856 bytes, for a single page load.

    Code bloat has taken over the World Wide Web.

  3. Colin:

    Interesting test. I figured it would be quite large, though as I’m a regular FB user much of that would be cached. Also the CSS should only be needed once, not for every page you load. My guess is that the actual use was maybe around 4-5 Mb, but that they were double counting.

    Of course you are right about code bloat, but that just points out the absurdity of one country charging per Mb while the rest of the world doesn’t.


    If it was Australia’s fault you would be able to hear the screams of outrage in Boston.

  4. New Zealand has at least three separate pipes for internet, only one of which goes thru Australia. These have now been paid off, but the operators are still charging a premium for their use.

    Even so, NZ hotel internet charges are still obscene. You just have to look for the hotels that provide free internet. And when you talk to a hotel let them know that the reason you’re not staying with them is because they don’t provide free internet.

    Also, point out that possibly the cheapest new hotel in the country (with room rates as low as NZD $69) has free internet. That’s Hotel So in ChCh.

    (came here via Daniel. though I saw you up at Conscription)

  5. Mundens:

    Thanks for dropping by. I was pretty sure that some hotels would provide a better deal, though my experience of free Internet in Auckland suggests that “free” might sometimes be worth what you pay for it.

    By the way, it is fairly normal in the rest of the world for cheap hotels to provide free wi-fi whereas more expensive ones provide a paid-for but (theoretically) better service. The common practice in the UK and US is for a cheap hotel to install a wireless router in reception and for the signal to be shaky by the time you get to the third floor. The really important difference is that in every other country I have visited nobody meters usage.

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