Can anyone at Spark explain why download performance has been exceptionally poor lately, specifically when downloading updates or new releases of major gaming titles.
Connection 1Gb, BigPipe Unlimited Fibre, Unifi USG, Nano HD Wireless (Wireless performance is excellent, both Xbox’s using Wireless AC, connecting at 500Mb/s+)
Most recently this was seen last night with the Modern Warfare update.
On Xbox (wireless) – downloads started poorly – achieving around 3-4 Mb/s, but reduced regularly to sub 1Mb/s levels (<600Kb/s for minutes at a time). Pausing the download would see speed return to poor (3-4Mb/s) for a few seconds, then reduce again.
Another Xbox (wireless) on the same network saw ok performance and the download completed with 90 mins (slow, when compared to a non-congested download which would take <20 mins).
On the PC (Ethernet) a similar trend occurred – constant sub 10Mb/s download speeds, reducing to < 1Mb/s for long periods.
The problem was resolved on the PC by using ExpressVPN to connect to a Sydney server, which saw download speeds in the 70-100Mb/s range.
On the Xbox – it broke the game install after 4 hours and required a reinstall of the game this morning (averaging around 120Mb/s which is still slower than expected)
What’s going on at Spark with localized caching (Akamai CDN, F5 GTS etc), and or Global Gateway performance. I understand Spark run express routes through to Sydney – but lately download performance has been abysmal during major game update releases.
Based on my experience by using ExpressVPN, it would appear that download traffic is being rate limited/throttled either locally at Spark or on the Trans-Tasman link, as once the VPN was turned on download performance returned to normal levels (normal for a VPN connection anyway).
To the best of my understanding, Spark used to cache this stuff locally, but it looks like this has been turned off, which would be OK if there was enough bandwidth at the provider level to cope – but it appears not (or its being throttled at Global Gateway to manage performance). I honestly haven't noticed if the same thing is happening with things like Apple iOS updates or if it specifically relates to gaming traffic.
Late nights update was only relatively small (13 GB on the Xbox, 16GB on the PC) – major updates lately have been much larger – performance has obviously suffered for a longer period.
This isn’t a case of performance just being slow – its reducing to such a level that it breaks the game install process. I can’t easily check packet loss/jitter etc. on the Xbox, but I suspect it was significant, i.e. packets being dropped, as opposed to reduced speeds. This further increases load on the network when you have to re-download the game at 80GB+ download, let alone wasting hours of time.
It’s also not an issue that’s going to go away – with game downloads regularly exceeding 20GB in size just for updates, full game release heading north of 100GB.
Hopefully someone can explain what’s happening.