Holidays put pressure on internet

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 14:40 15/01/2014
waitaki lakes camp
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
DOWNLOADING: The number of happy campers surfing the internet or checking email has put pressure on the Vodafone network in the Waitaki lakes area.

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An influx of holidaymakers logging on to the internet all at once is having negative effects for one Waitaki Valley homeowner.

Relying on Vodafone mobile coverage to connect to broadband internet, Stewart Dovey said he has only been able to use 10 per cent of the data he pays $50 a month for, because of increased traffic crashing the system.

Mr Dovey likened the increased usage at this time to what happens during a natural disaster.

"Everybody tries to get on and crashes the system".

Mr Dovey is a permanent resident in the area and said for majority of the year it is 70 per cent empty, with most people only occupying their baches over summer holidays.

He understands that it only happens over a couple of weeks during the Christmas break, but said it is frustrating not being able to use the data he is paying for, when other people in the area are using it.

"I'm paying $50 for data and only get to use 10 per cent, which should cost $10, so essentially they're getting $40 worth of data for nothing."

In Otematata on New Year's eve, Mr Dovey estimated there were 2000 to 3000 more people than usual. "It's good for business, but it has a huge impact."

He said he has complained to Vodafone and wants the company to acknowledge it still hasn't provided enough capacity.

Vodafone external communications advisor Brad Pogson said ahead of each year's holiday season, Vodafone boosts its network capabilities to manage the high volume of usage.

He said data usage in the Waitaki District has more than doubled since July 2013, following similar trends around New Zealand with the rise in smartphones and social apps.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, nearly 800 gigabytes of data was carried over the Vodafone network in the area.

"That's the equivalent of roughly 170,000 songs or over three million photos uploaded to Facebook," said Mr Pogson.

He said some locals and visitors to Kurow, Otematata and Ranfurly may have experienced slower mobile data at peak times due to some network congestion.

Plans to fix congestion are in place as part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative, which is in its third of five years.

Mr Pogson said Vodafone has already upgraded three cell sites in the area and will be upgrading Kurow, Twizel, Dunback and Otematata in the next two years of the programme.

Earlier this year, Vodafone built a new cell tower in Maheno and plans to build another tower in the Weston area of the Waitaki District, which Mr Pogson said will provide new coverage to more than 1000 households.

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While there were problems with internet congestion in the Waitaki District, South Canterbury campsites appear to be coping with increase in people going online.

Internet use had never been an issue for Twizel Holiday Park, said park owner Jane Race.

Ruataniwha Holiday park owner Tony Ritchie said they had not had any bad experiences with their internet and hadn't heard of any complaints about internet capacity in the Twizel area.

YHA Lake Tekapo manager Billy Kerr said he also hadn't had complaints over the holidays and their wi-fi worked 99 per cent of the time.

However, a worker at Tekapo Holiday Park and motels said that their wi-fi signal strength was bad and changed with the weather.


Did you have problems with your rural internet over the holiday period? Contact tracy.miles@timaruherald.co.nz


WAITAKI HERALD

- South Canterbury

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