Australia’s emissary to Blizzard: Simon Hackett


blog You’ve got to love Simon Hackett’s constant Whirlpool posts. They’re a fount of information, controversy and entertainment. Over the years I’ve greatly enjoyed watching the principled and ethical leader of rebel broadband group Internode tussle with the denizens of the nation’s most famous online forum.

That’s why Hackett’s latest shot in the ongoing war between video gaming giant Blizzard (think World of Warcraft) and its Australian customers caught our eye. Quoth Hackett:

“As already noted, we’ve wanted, for years and years to get Blizzard to put game servers in Australia (and I’ve made international trips in the past entirely driven by this purpose). Its obviously the right answer (for Australian players). Anything else is (obviously) a compromise. Leveraging servers in Singapore and hoping routing from Australian ISPs to Singapore is acceptable is a compromise.”

The problem, Hackett adds, is that there are many network hops into Asia — meaning that “all sorts of factors” can obstruct a video game enthusiast’s experience when playing one of Blizzard’s popular online games (our favourite is StarCraft II). Hackett adds:

“… its obvious that the best answer is in-country server facilities. If Blizzard wanted to re-engage with us on the notion of winding up with Blizzard server resources in our (extensively peered) data centre facilities, we’d be just thrilled. That door is still open, has been for years, and its not closed now.”

Your move, Blizzard. Australia has sent its emissary to your door and been rejected. Now it’s time for the mountain to come to Mohammad.

Image credits: Internode


  1. Simon Hackett is a perfect example of how an ISP’s chief should represent themselves and their clients. He has time and again shown a great understanding of issues facing Australians in regards to internet and broadband.

    It is refreshing to see someone whose interests go beyond just the financial bottom line.

  2. The problem is internode are small fry, and their data centre won’t exist after next year, so its all pointless energise saying anything right now.

    Blizzard would need to goto the feds government anyway as they now run the australian internet backbone via nbnco. Internode pretty much doesn’t exist anymore in fact just about all australian isp won’t exist anymore. Only the mobile carriers are now

    • Um … Internode are not small fry — they’re one of the largest ISPs in Australia (fifth, I think?) and they have one of the loudest and most technically savvy customer bases. And secondly, unless I miss my mark, their datacentre(s?) is not going anywhere — in fact, with the NBN, I’m sure they’ll need to expand whatever datacentre they currently have.

      • NBNCo is buying out all the data centres they need, if you want a server you ask NBN Co to supply one.

        What sort of position will that put Internode in yep that’s right a retail chain and that’s it, they won’t have any sort of ability to supply anything as it’s all supplied to them.

        I think a lot of ISPs don’t understand what the NBN actually means and that means they get wiped in favour of a government owned/run wholesale network.

        Why do you think labor is so desperate to wipe out telstra, the funny thing is Optus have only just realised they too are to be wiped and will only be a retail ISP, they are only lucky in they also own an mobile network.

        Though in direct response to internode being large…. yep sure really made blizzard really want to hook up with them lol.

        • You, sir, have some serious misconceptions about how the NBN works. The NBN does not replace any of the infrastructure that we’re talking about here.

          The NBN tunnels your PPPoA/PPPoE session to the ISP’s router in a data centre. Exactly the same way your PPPoA/PPPoE session is currently tunnelled to the data centre over ADSL and L2TP. That’s what they call the “last mile”, and is considered “layer 2” on the OSI model.

          Now once you’ve made it to the ISP’s router in your nearest capital city, the NBN does not change anything beyond that point! Domestic and international peerings, transit, etc. (all the stuff that is relevant to Blizzard’s location) remains 100% the responsibility of the ISP. This is “layer 3” on the OSI model.

          Got that? The NBN gets the bits from your house to the ISP. The ISP gets the bits the rest of the way — whether in the same data centre, sending it around the world, or flogging it off to some cheap transit link.

          I’m pretty sure I’ve over-simplified the above picture, but should still have more-or-less the right idea. Until you understand the above, please refrain from commenting about the NBN works, because clearly at the moment you are just making it all up.

          • Thank god you clarified the totally incorrect misconceptions of Zag!

            I don’t know what he has been smoking, but he clearly understands quite little about the NBN and how ISPs will access the network.

            Nor Internode or anyone else will have their servers stranded as a result of the NBN, though Zag would have you believe otherwise.

            Simon Hackett is not that stupid to invest so greatly in the data centre he has established if he thought even for one minute that it would be redundant in 1 year or even later.

            I congratulate Simon for his work in the industry and the way he has advocated the position of the average Australian consumer/internet user.

          • NBNCO is not into buying Data Centres, They have no such need especially if it’s cheaper to lease space over a long period of time.

            NBNCo is a Layer 2 Network Provider, which means everything after the PIPE, is Layer 3, IP’s, Authentication, Data Centers and so on is done via 3rd Party such as an ISP.

            This is my understanding of a NBNCo Design.

          • The NBNCo wipes out the copper lines turns them into fibre lines.

            The NBNCo won’t use internodes datacentres because they have bought out Telstra’s network so they have access to all the exchanges etc that you’d need to run the fibre to all the places it needs to goto.

            ISPs data centres will be bought out or wiped as needed, because the NBNCo will do the wholesale/backhual side of things. the ISP will have a list of connections that they are meant to handle the billing for.

            remember no other company will be allowed to have a fibre network or DSL network when the NBNCo have fully taken over an area.

            So it’ll be the same deal as the power companies… they use 1 wholesale network and the rest of the “power companies” are just retail outlets, where you can be billed from, they don’t provide anything because it’s already provided by the wholesale network.

            Internode will have paid/built a data centre right now, because currently ISP’s have to provide all their own backhual networks and connections as part of the current DSL network.

            The NBNCo will remove all of that for ISPs and handle it them.

            Why do you think Pipe etc were spewing when they found that the NBNCo won’t be allowing separately run fibre networks.

          • Zag,
            You have fundamentally misunderstood how NBNCo interacts with the industry. It interacts in exactly the same way ISPs connect to resold Telstra ADSL ports now- and its nothing like the power industry.

            Go back & read the NBNCo Implementation Study, in particular the sections detailing which aspects of the network NBNCo will do & which they will leave to the RSPs. Page 177 of the Implementation study has some diagrams tht show which bits NBNCo will be be providing- last mile access & some backhaul areas only.

          • I don’t know what document you have or read, but I have looked at the NbnCo website and read though a number of documents and what will be happening.

            The newest document about the interconnection of NBNCo/ISPs have the NBNCo doing ALL their own backhual links no ISP is allowed to do backhual links.

            Also the end user connection document (which came out in the last few days or weeks)

            shows how little the ISPs will have or do over NBN connections, as the NBNCo handle the telephone line side, internet connections, and the stats and the billing for a NBN connection will be handled by the NBNCo not the ISP.

            If anything I would assume the POP will be nothing more than local file servers or game servers etc so an ISP can say they they still these services.

            it’s still early days and you’ll find the NBNCo will end up doing more and more services themselves as being the wholesale provide will find it’s simpler or easier to control when they handle all the services needed for wholesale customers.

            After all it’s the government and money is the key game, not the network. by that I mean the more stuff NBNCo do the more they get to charge customers.

          • NBNCo is still deciding if they will offer 14 POIs (two per capital city) or ~700 of them spread around the country. They might offer both options.

            If they go with 14 POIs, then the market is very very similar to Telstra Wholesale DSL services, who also only offer interconnects in capital citires. Once an RSP has picked up that data from the POI, they then have to connect it to something!

            Do you think that ISPs resewlling Telstra ADSL get everything included, they just rebill the cost? They don’t! They have to join those ADSL circuits into an authentication system, then into some links into the rest of the internet. For example:

            On that diagram, Internode terminates Telstra AGVC (the aggregated circuit containing the data from end user tail circuits) on two POPs per state, which are marked on the diagram. If NBNCo goes with the 14 POI model,they’ll terminate those POIs into those same POPs… and they’ll still need everything they have on that diagram (the DSLAM network & backhaul for it are not marked on that diagram- but the backhaul for it terminates to those same POPs).

          • Now it is evident that you are not only mistaken, but you are a troll. Unfortunately rational arguments made by rational people cannot defeat troll logic.

            Rather poor form, I must say.

        • Please point me to the research to where you read that NBN is buying out data centers and to where you located the information that ISP data centers will redundant due to the NBN.

          If you cant supply the information then it must be hear say or just plain made up.

          You can not make bold statements like yours and NOT provide links or footnotes to back it up.

    • I think you need to re-read how the NBN interacts with ISPs (or RSPs as they are named by NBNCo).

      I’ll give you a short description- its no different to what they do now- aggregate last mile tails into a few aggregation points for authentication, billing & connection to interstate and international network links. They will still need everything from the POPs (Point of Presence) backwards, which includes the datacentres!

    • The real problem is not that Internode is small-fry, it is that Australia is small-fry.

      Blizzard doesn’t strategically care about the few million gamers in Australia. I don’t know exact numbers but I bet we make up a very small percentage of Blizzards games (subscription or otherwise).

      Put into perspective, we have less people in all of Australia than New York City does in America.

      We’re nothing but a drop of people in a massive ocean.

  3. FYI the link “Hackett’s latest shot” is broken as the Whirlpool short URL has been appended to the end of this page’s URL.

  4. YES! we do want australian servers, it really sucks to know that US players have an advantage over you because of their location.

    • I played WoW from Nov 2004 (launch) till Oct 2009. During that time I battled the constant disadvantage of having to connect to US servers and suffering high latency.

    • 12 million active users at last count. (Usual caveats apply re: LAN cafes in countries with different licensing)

  5. Blizzard know Australians need servers, they have ever since their game became competitive. The fact is, putting servers in Australia now without winning some concessions or blaming something else for Australians’ ‘misfortune’ would be acknowledging they have f****d up ever since 2005. And the pride of the owners and developers is simply too far up the Deadly Sin scale. To put servers here would be to admit to themselves that they are idiots, have been liars all along and kicked dirt and mud all over their Australian customers since 2005.

  6. This is all well and good, but its ignoring the fact that blizzard and gamearena (telstra’s game arm) have been in negotiation before about trying to get servers down here. As far as im aware blizzard came to the conclusion it would cost way too much to do it because they dont want non blizzard employees to be running their servers and what not; so they’d have to hire a data center, get staff down here, house them and so on. With a rising AUD (and this is only a recent thing) it would make all of the above significantly less desirable to do.

    Why launch more servers when your coverage is acceptable (just look at australian subscription levels for blizzard games)? No point spending money you dont have to.
    Mind you as much as everyone hates telstra it be good to see an article on what folk have already tried with blizzard instead of the ongoing glory praising of node; i love internode but its not a very balanced article… infact its a pretty short article with quotes from other articles :\ Not the best journalism

  7. I don’t think we’d ever see WoW servers here (there’s still some 12 million subscribers, by the way). Each server in WoW is called a “realm” and I can’t imagine there’d be enough demand in Australia in for a whole realm to be opened up here.

    For Starcraft, certainly. You only need to find half a dozen other players for a Starcraft game, not not for WoW.

    • Dean has no idea what he is talking about. Currently there are over 8 ‘realms’ marked as Oceanic which primarily consist of Oz/Nz players, quite a few Singapore, and some others. There is also some large Oceanic populations on other servers due to there being no oceanic servers at release.

      I also believe that it is not a one-to-one realm to server ratio, as there are chat services and database services, however Blizz has never opened up on the infrastructure behind the scenes.

      It is quite offensive that we have had to a significantly suffer inferior game experience over the years – but its partly the high cost of DC housing in Aus compared to other countries.

      • Interesting. You’re right, I don’t play WoW, so I don’t actually know, but given the number of players in the US vs. the number of players in Australia, it doesn’t make sense to me to open a whole data centre just for Australian players. I’m sure countries like South Korea have far more players than we do as well, so it would make more sense to open a data centre there…

        • If you don’t know what you are talking about you should just shut up. Why? Because your ignorance Dean clogs up the tubes and airwaves with misleading ignorance that does damage to good communication. Let me tell you something, try doing some math here:

          300 million Americans / 100 servers (rough estimate) = 1 server per 3 million Americans.

          Australia’s population is 24 million. Take that and divide by 3 (from the 3 million Americans results) and you get at least 8 servers for the Australian market. That is more than enough to invest in servers here.

          And what is so difficult about hiring Aussies down here? Once they have been vetted by Blizzard they are “Blizzard Employees”. No need to house anyone or spend any more money. Back in 2005 the wages would have been FAR CHEAPER for Blizzard, including the hosting costs. Yet they did nothing. They are just another greedy as shit company who like exploiting small markets.

          Where is the heart and good spirit of the company? There is none.

          • 1. US WoW is not only played by Americans. Trying to justify Australian based servers with this kind of math is ridiculous. US WoW is played by not only communities that do not have their own servers (Oceanic, South America, Africa) but also by some that do (Europeans, East Asians).

            2. The Australian population is actually 21m and we have a significantly lower interest per capita in WoW than the US and some other countries. The actual population of the country is irrelevant if the interest in the game is not exceptional.

            3. The biggest issue is not the costs behind the servers, but the main issue of where to place said servers. Australians like to pretend we’re the center of Oceania/SEA and therefore all servers should be located in East Australia. This is simply false. Blizzard are aware of this, which is why the SEA servers are located in Singapore. If there are ever Oceanic WoW servers they will be in Singapore as well.

          • By your logic, South Korea (with a population of 48 million) should also have 16 servers, Japan (127 million) should have 42 servers, the UK (64 million) should have 21 servers and China (1,324 million) should have 441 servers… clearly, Australia is a top priority!

  8. Why the concern now WoW is in steep decline and Blizzard are just going through the motions with its ageing kids cash cow?

  9. [quote]

    300 million Americans / 100 servers (rough estimate) = 1 server per 3 million Americans.

    Australia’s population is 24 million. Take that and divide by 3 (from the 3 million Americans results) and you get at least 8 servers for the Australian market. That is more than enough to invest in servers here.


    lol i love this. That’s probably one of the worst ways to put your point across lolol

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