When Telstra offered its mobile customers unlimited data for two separate days this year as compensation for network outages, some customers took it as a challenge to download as much as they possibly could in one day.
On Sunday, 27-year-old Sydney resident John Szaszvari outdid himself and everyone else by ploughing through almost a whole terabyte of data.
That’s more than double what he managed during the first free data day in February – an already mammoth 425GB.
Szaszvari’s data guzzling even caught the attention of Telstra chief operating officer Kate McKenzie, who mentioned his heroic 994GB effort during a speech at the CommsDay conference in Sydney.
“Some of our customers really do have a big appetite for data,” she said.
Szaszvari was able to get through so much data thanks to his Rhodes home being near a 4GX mobile tower, which has speeds multiple times faster than regular 4G. He connected his laptop to a Wi-Fi hotspot on his LG G4 phone, receiving average download speeds of around 180Mbps.
And then the downloads began: 14 seasons of MythBusters; 24 seasons of The Simpsons; the entire Wikipedia database; Microsoft software for his job; updates for his Xbox games; and “a lot of random other stuff”. He also synced all his Spotify playlists offline.
About another 100GB was used to upload backups of personal files, including photos and videos, to the cloud.
Szaszvari says he’s been collecting movies and TV series for 15 years – since he was 12 years old.
“Believe it or not I actually intend to watch it all – it’s going to take a while but at least it’s ready on demand,” he says.
“It’s always movie/TV night at my house at the moment.”
He’s already more than halfway through How It’s Made, the Discovery Channel series that he downloaded all 25 seasons of during the first data day.
After he’s done with that he plans to re-watch Stargate Atlantis in high definition, also from the first free data day.
“Then I’m thinking two Simpsons episodes per evening for the next foreseeable while to remind me of when I was a child,” he says.
While one Telstra customer said they enjoyed even faster speeds than Szaszvari – up to 267Mbps downloading and 45Mbps uploading – others didn’t have a good experience at all.
Szaszvari says his girlfriend’s iPhone 6 only managed speeds of between 5Mbps and 7Mbps, even when he temporarily stopped downloading on his phone.
Unprecedented network demand – which topped the previous free data day by almost 50 per cent in terms of data used – also forced Telstra to throttle speeds in some areas where congestion was “extremely high”.
Many customers complained about slow speeds on social media and asked for further compensation.
In all, Telstra customers soared through a record 2686 terabytes of data on Sunday, which stretched to 25 hours for those in states where Daylight Saving ended and clocks were wound back.
“We reached the peak network traffic level of the previous free data day by 8.00am and stayed above that level until midnight,” Telstra group managing director for networks Mike Wright said.
“We are … glad to see the underlying strength of the network demonstrated despite a few hot spots where heavy users caused localised congestion.