Here is a prediction: by the time 2009 is out, we will see a revolution in the way Australian ISPs set download limits. Yes, they will still exist but some of the highest bandwidth content will become unmetered. We are already seeing this with several smaller ISPs (such as iinet) who have brought ABC’s iView and Apple’s iTunes Music Store under the limit. But the big one out there is Google and, in particular, YouTube. At some point, there will be an Australian cache of popular YouTube content. This will mean avoiding costly international backhaul fees and will allow Australia ISPs to provide that content unmetered.
We got a signal of that from the Google Public Policy Blog:
Google has offered to “colocate” caching servers within broadband providers’ own facilities; this reduces the provider’s bandwidth costs since the same video wouldn’t have to be transmitted multiple times. We’ve always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis.
All of Google’s colocation agreements with ISPs — which we’ve done through projects called OpenEdge and Google Global Cache — are non-exclusive, meaning any other entity could employ similar arrangements. Also, none of them require (or encourage) that Google traffic be treated with higher priority than other traffic. In contrast, if broadband providers were to leverage their unilateral control over consumers’ connections and offer colocation or caching services in an anti-competitive fashion, that would threaten the open Internet and the innovation it enables.
That last bit is interesting. Will Telstra really be happy to impose that kind of non-discrimination when it would compete with their own proprietary BigPond content services? I am guessing not. So here is a second prediction: Telstra will be the last to sign on.