ISPs have disputed claims by analyst firm Ovum they are choosing to run existing routers and switches ‘hotter' than usual to put off having to immediately buy more.
Ovum's principal analyst for network infrastructure, John Mazur, said service providers are delaying short-term investments in their router infrastructure as a result of the recession.
Providers typically run their networks at 40 to 50 percent utilisation but Mazur claimed they are "comfortable" that core routers could run without incident at up to 70 percent loading.
"Many network operators are postponing capacity upgrades and thus running IP networks hotter, which means they are increasing traffic throughput without upgrading equipment," Mazur said.
"There is no need to worry that telecom wire centres will burn as survivability is ‘baked in' to the DNA of IP packet network routers. However, performance does suffer during traffic peaks, and those peaks occur more often as router traffic loading increases."
ISPs Internode and iiNet immediately disputed this claim.
iiNet chief technology officer Greg Bader told iTnews the Perth-based ISP was "spending quite a bit" on new router hardware - purchases he said were being driven by strong customer and traffic growth on the network.
"I wish [spending less on router hardware] was true," he said.
He also said iiNet's new Cisco BBA routers would run at a lower utilisation rate than its current infrastructure "but that is because their capacity is so large."
Internode also continues to buy routing and switch equipment to expand its network capacity, the ISP's carrier relations manager John Lindsay said.
And he was critical of Ovum's suggestion that utilisation rates could be safely expanded without impacting the end user experience.
"At Internode, we consider congestion to be a network fault, not a business plan," he said.
"As the Internet moves from its rapid growth stage into a more mature market phase, some ISPs may be right-sizing their networks, but Internode continues to expand its network capacity."
Other network operators including Telstra and DFT Wholesale were contacted but unable to comment at the time of publication.