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NZ ISPs in YouTube tie-up to drive faster broadband connections
Fri, 21st Nov 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand internet service providers are part of a multinational drive by global video streaming giant YouTube to push customers to faster landline broadband connections.

YouTube is working with internet retailers in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to help them switch customers on to faster, more expensive products, head of global partnerships Erik Mauskopf told a telecommunications conference in Shanghai yesterday.

ISPs supported the strategy, seeking help from the video streaming unit of Google Inc to sell their high-speed plans and Mauskopf said he was "very encouraged" by the results which leverage off YouTube's "ubiquitous" platform.

"We're working closely with ISPs, helping them communicate the value of higher-speed connections," Mauskopf said. "What we've done is created an incentive system and we're rewarding ISPs that have products that are able to deliver HD (high definition) YouTube experience by meeting certain throughput guidance."

The programme was launched earlier this year, and comes as New Zealand telecommunications firms are trying to woo retail customers with the benefits of high-speed broadband connections, at the same time as the government helps fund network operator Chorus's nationwide fibre infrastructure build.

Earlier this week Communications Minister Amy Adams said more than 10 percent of the 536,000 end users with access to fibre had connected as at Sept. 30, and the government wants to extend the planned network build to 80 percent of the country's population from a previous target of 75 percent.

YouTube's Mauskopf told the global mobile broadband forum that the incentive scheme looks at throughput, the measure of data transfer over a given amount of time, through actual user experience to gauge whether an issue is in a customer's own equipment or with the network.

While the partnership with ISPs was for fixed-line use, Mauskopf said other devices such as smart phones and gaming consoles now account for about 40 percent of all use on the video streaming platform.

A 2012 New Zealand Commerce Commission study into demand-side issues for high-speed internet services found video services were likely to be the primary driver for consumers at first, and that uptake would accelerate if more options were available.

Online video content is becoming a more competitive market locally, with this week's announcement that Nasdaq-listed Netflix Inc is set to enter Australia and New Zealand in March next year.

Local pay-TV firm Sky Network Television last month unveiled plans for its web-based on-demand service, and Spark New Zealand launched its own subscription service in August.

Last year Spark chief executive Simon Moutter told a Commerce Commission-led competition conference in Wellington that retail network operators are facing increasing pressure on their revenue streams, and that any shift towards content would have to be valuable enough in its own right to cover the cost of investment.

(Paul McBeth travelled to China courtesy of Huawei Technologies, which sponsored the global mobile broadband forum)