Stephen Fry calls NZ broadband a 'digital embarrassment'

Stephen Fry calls NZ broadband a 'digital embarrassment'

British actor and technology fan says New Zealand needs to stand up for its broadband.

British actor Stephen Fry has sparked criticism of New Zealand's broadband this morning, after he called it a "digital embarrassment" on Twitter.

(Part 7) Come on New Zealand. You're world champions at rugby and filmmaking. Pressure the providers to stop it being a digital embarrassment

- Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) February 19, 2012

Fry, who is in Wellington to film The Hobbit, complained to his four million followers on Twitter about having his internet throttled back by Telecom while uploading images and videos of his stay in New Zealand.

He implored New Zealanders to stand up to demand better internet service.

Rise up, Kiwis and demand better? You wouldn't allow crap roads with pot holes and single file. Hats what youve got BBwise a smart guy could

- Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) February 19, 2012

He compared it to similar tactics by Comcast, an American ISP, by saying, "Comcast style throttling is a for the economy it's disastrous [sic], for visitors for everyone. It won't stop illegal bit torrentinf. Makes as much sense as closing a lane of traffic because there's congestion."

This created much discussion on the state of New Zealand's broadband infrastructure and services, with many complaining that it has taken a foreign celebrity to highlight some of the issues.

Last month, a paper published by the Commerce Commission assessing the demand side of the Ultra Fast Broadband network concluded that data caps did not appear to be of great concern to those questioned by the commission: "Surveys undertaken for the high speed broadband services demand side study indicated that most consumers and SMEs are satisfied with their data caps."

Fry's comments come at the same time the Commerce Commission is holding a conference on the Future of Broadband in Auckland, with many on Twitter taking the opportunity to link the two using the #FutureBB hashtag.

Telecom has responded to Computerworld's request for comment, saying the incident started from a misunderstanding around data plans.

A spokesperson for Telecom says Fry is staying at a residence in Wellington, and was using a Telecom customer's data capped plan when he went over the customer's allowance. Telecom says the customer had chosen to have their broadband internet throttled instead of being charged extra for over cap data.

Since then, Telecom has upgraded the customer's account to a higher data cap, which now includes over cap data charges.

Telecom would not reveal the details of this plan, but say the account holder is paying for it fully. The spokesperson says Telecom was working with the customer, and not doing 'any special favours' because of Fry's comments.

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