Cash-strapped ISPs have begun a campaign to use the launch of the BBC's iPlayer on demand service to squeeze more cash from web TV viewers. The iPlayer is still in beta and due to be fully launched in autumn. It expects to have 500,000 users before the big marketing push. Tiscali seems to have been appointed mouthpiece for the …
They can do it in France...
I don't see why the ISPs are still kicking up a fuss about this kind of thing in the UK - I live in France, and they're quite happily streaming at least 30 channels to FreeBoxes (an ADSL modem which has a remote and a Scart socket on the back for your TV) - http://adsl.free.fr/tv/ - and I'm not aware of any fair use limits/restrictions on P2P-traffic either.
The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video.
Chief exec Mary Turner said: "The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video. We have been improving our capacity, but the bandwidth we have is not infinite."
Neither was it set up with a view to e-commerce, blogging or many other things we take for granted. If we all received the bandwidth that we signed up for then this would not be a problem. Stop whining and introduce fibre to the home!
Not setup for?
Well Mary Turner, the internet was not set-up to do 90% of what it does quite happily including serving WWW pages (they came along 20-25 years after the internet was first created).
ISPs that have failed to invest in suitable infrastructure, and basically work to a lowest price model deserve to go to the wall.
"Mary Turner said: "The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video"
Possibly a candidate for most retarded comment of the year? Especially from a CEO of a large ISP.
Free ADSL for me?
If my ISP is going to get a contribution from the BBC towards the cost of the service I pay for (a connection, for data to be transferred over), does that mean this amount gets taken off my subscription cost?
I love the way ISP's just moan about customers wanting to use their networks to capacity!
How can people moan about the BBC IP services when the BBC has a free and open peering policy? The ISP's don't have to pay a penny for 1Gb/s+ direct peer to the BBC, so what are they moaning about?
The download service behind iplayer is Kontiki which is a p2p system anyway, so once enough people have downloaded the content it will start flowing from other users on the same network.
I could understand the ISP's moaning if the service was hosted in the states and they had to pay for transit to access it, but as its for free their just whining.
Don't we pay for bandwidth anyway?
I'm certainly on a broadband contract which requires me to pay for bandwidth once my "inclusive gigabytes" have been used up for the month, so this seems like a plea to get paid by both the service provider and consumer for the same commodity.
I also have access to the BBC multicast trial and, unless I'm mistaken, my ISP doesn't seem to discount multicast traffic when totalling up my usage, so they're not exactly encouraging solutions that reduce demands on their infrastructure (not that multicast is sufficiently well supported in consumer equipment for it to "just work").
Mind you, I've had the iPlayer beta for a while and removed it from my PC owing to its general pointlessness, so perhaps it's not going to be the goldmine ISPs hope!
Good News for TV-Free Households
The good thing about this (if there is a good thing) is that if ISPs are ever going to introduce 'pay extra to watch iPlayer', people like me who don't own a telly are less likely to get stung by the TV Licensing Anus Watchers who would like to argue that because the t'internet comes to my house then so does all night BBC fests of Eastenders, Panorama and CBEEBIES.
As it happens, no telly is quite liberating, as is not having to pay the license fee.
BT have no right to complain
BT have no right to complain about video gobbling up bandwidth. They have their own Video-on-Demand service, BT-Vision, which I assume is the real reason they don't want the BBC service to succeed.
back door charges
As the BBC in the UK is paid for by a license charged to all who have a TV, It is in their charter that ALL services should be free and available to the citizens of the UK free of charge hence the argument with open source operating systems.
Some commercial tv companies ITV and Channel 4 are already public with their players but the ISPs have not said a word about them. I and many others will NOT pay extra to receive a BBC service.
either to the BBC or a third party. It is ours as a right granted by government, ISPs can get ready for several court actions if this goes ahead.
These would be the self-safe ISPs who bang on about how many videos and MP3s you can download in their advertising materials as a guide to the connection speed?
Their JOB is to provide bandwidth: that's what they're paid for. Bleating on that there isn't enough of it when they're making active efforts to bring on board as many subscribers as possible (working on the premise that they'll have super-fast high-bandwidth connections) is somewhat disingenuous.
Or perhaps it's the case that the technical departments have finally got a voice after years of being stymied by the PR divisions?
Either way, the ISPs would do well to work with the applications providers in order to make things work properly if they're really that concerned. BT, CPW, and friends, all—for example—have ongoing deals with Akamai; there's nothing stopping them from doing something with the Beeb to aid content distribution.
The simple fact is that the BBC will have to put a load of infrastructure in place to make the iPlayer work long-term, and it would probably prefer to have a good proportion of that kit closer to the users than it would be if it hosted it all itself: if the ISPs were to engage in some old-fashioned dialogue, an arrangement whereby the BBC sticks kit in the major ISPs to act as local iPlayer head-ends works in both their favour—a reduced transit bill for the BBC, less traffic crossing the ISP's borders, and a more responsive services for the user.
This is hardly rocket science, really.
Oh, and also—it's not “web TV”, is it? YouTube is “web TV”. iPlayer is a separate application (and to date, it's using proprietary peer-to-peer protocols via Kontiki's delivery platform).
Grabbing more cash?
Is it just me but do comments like "The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video" reveal these companies to be full of crap? Suely the Internet was originally designed to be a robust military network that would survive a conventional or nuclear attack. The Internet itself doesn't actually care what your data is, all data is binary and it's all sent in packets. The Internet was designed to be agnostic in what data it was sending or recieving, you can just as easily argue the Internet wasn't "designed" to buy goods on Amazon, browse for porn or download MP3s either.
You might have a legitimate complaint for obvious bandwidth hogs like Joost or for activities like file sharing that can be running foul of the law. However for something like iPlayer which presumably is using very modest amounts of resource given the poor image quality and that it's legally a legitimate service, it sounds like another scam to get you to pay for services you've already paid for...
Haha, imo its a good thing that these ISP's can't handle it.
They're crap and they give bad service, and that's what makes our country crap for internet!
If they can't handle what the internet provides, then they shouldn't be ISP's, right?
"The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video."
Ha, what bollocks. The internet changes and people don't want to be bound by what it was 'set up' for, and if they can't see/wont see that, their loss!
"... bandwidth ... not infinite"
"the bandwidth we have is not infinite" said a Spokesperson. Which is of course perfectly true, and bandwidth (especially BT Central bandwidth, used to by all except the largest ISPs to connect to BT UK's wholesale access network) doesn't come cheap (though it's nice to hear BT Retail complaining again that BT Wholesale are too expensive).
BTwholesale costs are the primary reason why affordable UK ISP tariffs mostly now have usage capps, some flavour of traffic shaping, or both (if they don't already, they will soon).
If the ISPs are going to ask the BBC to pay for iPlayer bandwidth, presumably the deal is that ISPs will consequently be excluding the iPlayer traffic from their shaping measures and from customer quotas/"caps" etc?
Somehow I don't think so, but ICBW.
Is DRM bypassing the cache servers?
Surely the ISP's cache servers should be keeping the popular videos off the backbone. And BBC iPlayer uses your up channel to serve somebody else (you're the cache).
But if the DRM-ed stream needs to be fetched from the server, then the cache might be bypassed.
Does that mean there'll be a three-tiered TV licence?
Colour - B&W - Linux/Mac User....
I mean linux and mac users shouldn't have to subsidise the ISPs for a service that the BBC isn't offering *them*? ho ho ho.
Or more worryingly, is this just the agument the treasury need to add Broadband Use to the remit of the licence fee. There may be more PCs than TVs out there after all...
I'd be willing to.. switch ISP!
If my ISP tries to charge me or the BBC for bandwidth we have both already paid for, then I'll switch to a better ISP. Simple really!
An idea for the BBC...
The BBC should launch their own ADSL service. They could then lock iPlayer to only work when connected up to their service. Would only have to be a token gesture, I imagine the ISPs would buckle quite quickly after the first press release.
How much would you pay your ISP for iPlayer?
Nothing. What's the point ? Sure, it's *nice* not to have to build a MythTV box, or wait for someone else to PirateBay it, but it's not worth paying for.
And I certainly don't want my licence fee used to prop up failing business.
Just a load of piss poor excuses.
In terms of techncial costs, it's all about paying BT per Mb (or Gb obviously) that uses their backbone infrastructure. Well ISP's already know this, and they make money by setting their unlimited* packages based on the average amount of data their average customer will transfer, then add operating costs then a profit margin. That's all good if customers never want anything more from their data connection, but as we all know that's just not the way the web works.
To be honest it's BT's own fault for having such a shite pricing model in the first place. Talk about the ideal way to stiffle growth.
Consumers want to be able to use the net how they want. Why the hell should I care that the ISP doesn't have the infrastructure - I'm paying my subscrption fee for unlimited* use. If the ISP can't negotiate that with their suppliers (BT) then that's poor management on the ISP's part. Did they really think that web traffic will stay static?
Idiots - start investing with all that cash i'm paying out to you.
Err what am I already paying for?
Seems to me like I am paying a monthly subscription to an ISP to get 20Mb/sec download speed subject to some sort of fair use policy that I couldn't explain if I tried.
I didn't see any restriction on what I could use that for when I signed up.
Lets for the sake of argument say that I actually got the speed I’m paying for (ha ha) and I fancy using my bandwidth within my terms and conditions (if I could figure them out).
All good so far, except the ISP's would be very upset if everyone did this I'm guessing, as they aren't actually providing me the full service that I’m paying for in all likelihood.
So to claw back this sudden cost of actually providing the service they are selling to me they need to attack other providers of services for cash.
A weird world we live in.....
So what would happen if the big business' such as BBC/BT/ISPs etc all invested in a fibre infrastructure instead of the shite copper we are trying to squeeze every drop out of these days? It's not a bandwidth problem... it's a not wanting to invest in more infrastructure problem. In some asian countries they can upload AND download at the same speeds... imagine! :o
I wish rip-off britain would end, and we would actually get what we pay for... rather than half the service at twice the cost of most other modern digital countries.
Other things the internet wasn't set up to do
Mary Turner said: "The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video. We have been improving our capacity, but the bandwidth we have is not infinite."
All very true Ms Turner - the Internet might not have been set up to stream video, neither was it set up so you could sit in a plush office somewhere earning a huge amount of money for sitting on your backside coming up with crap like that.
Bandwith not infinite?
Very true, so why don't these ISPs make some attempt at being pro-active and work with companies willing to use multicast (like the BBC, for example) as the carrot, linked to the shaping-of-P2P stick?
"Suely the Internet was originally designed to be a robust military network that would survive a conventional or nuclear attack. "
NO NO NO! BAD Kevin. The internet has no such history. Where do people get this bollocks from ?
ARPANet was designed and implemented as a scientific and research network, nuclear survivability was never one of it's design goals. Never, you hear ?
Please go away and look it up.
Tiscalli P2P shaping
FFS, they even shape MySQL traffic. One of our employees can't use our s/w from home most of the time.
In fact, as far as I can see the only traffic they don't seem to shape in HTTP/S
Just like the water companies...
... urging customers to reduce their water consumption to preserve resource instead of fixing their leaky pipes.
ISPs should clean-up spam spewing botnets on their domains before pointing the finger at poor ol' Aunty Beeb for "wasting" bandwidth.
This rather smacks of a cartel in action, which seems a tad on the unlawful side. Particularly as they aren't making the same claims (a.k.a. blackmail threats) to youtube.
BT Central pricing
The cost is not global bandwidth or indeed peering with the BBC, its the price of connecting up to the bt central pipe (Giving isps access to the end user) - Bandwidth here is hugely expensive (And contended). Anyone saying "i've already paid for the bandwidth" is talking crap - You've paid for 1/50th of that bandwidth if your lucky. The truth of the matter is while the isp's have the capacity to the internet they dont have the capcity to the bt central pipe (due to stupidly high wholesale costs from bt, the state of the local loop, and the lack of capacity at exchanges)
If for example - everyone on the same exchange was to pick up the telephone and dial a number, not everyone would get through (its over sold) - Same with ADSL - If everyone at the same exchange jumped online at the same time (regardless of isp, forgetting llu) you would notice a severe lack of speed.
BT need a kick up the ass - no one else :)
Time for ISPs to be realistic
If you're going to offer a 2mbit "unlimited" connection (fair usage policy applies - as always!) for £15 and you can't actually cope with a user downloading with it, then be more realistic instead of offering something you can't provide.
I realise that BT Central bandwidth can be expensive for the ISP, but if you're expecting the average Joe Bloggs to only view the occasional website on their unlimited 8mbit broadband (which really isn't unlimited) then the pricing of the product is flawed. Peer to peer wasn't exactly commonplace for the average user so these ISPs could get away with just kicking users who download too much. They can't get away with dumping more and more users just because they decide to use BBC iPlayer.
Put realistic usage caps on each product. If the cheapest package only allows 2GB then that's fine, just don't even bother advertising it as unlimited.
'As it happens, no telly is quite liberating, as is not having to pay the license fee.'
Bad luck mate, read the Law. any device CAPABLE of recieving any type of broadcast (limit is screen size) so this includes internet broadcast and as such, ANY PC needs a TV Licence!
"Bad luck mate, read the Law. any device CAPABLE of recieving any type of broadcast (limit is screen size) so this includes internet broadcast and as such, ANY PC needs a TV Licence!"
Well if that is the case then the TV licencing folk down in Bristol do no know their own rules. I have a television but it is used for DVD and Xbox only. They sent round an inspector who looked it over flicked through a few channels, made sure there was not an antenna socket thing on the wall nearby and said "No probs mate, we will update our records" and then thanked me for letting him see.
As we in the UK are always at the bleeding edge (or certainly were when the telephone system was being researched and created for the first time) we tend to get things in early.
We in the UK grabbed Vista when it was a Beta. We dealt with the errors/crashes and unrecognized hardware as best we could, installing 3rd party drivers, patching things as we went along. As a result we ended up with a slow, cumbersome end product.
France quietly waited for Vista SP1 (with its extra thick coppery goodness) and as a result have a fast, well functioning OS.
The French have a nice ADSL2 network already rolled out, tested and working for years (it helped a bit that the French had most of their old infrastructure blown up by the Germans). We in the UK are halfway through upgrading the copper that our internet zips through to a thickness that could support ADSL2 at any decent speed at all.
Just wait a few years and no doubt all internet and telephones and tellys will be connected wirelessly. Wouldn't it be nice to have a cheap wireless subscription that ran at 8mbs which you could use anywhere in the country paid for on your Mobile bill.
Mobile Telcos better stop taking advantage of us with sky high prices for services that cost them jack. Even then they're justing trying to pay the gigantic fees you need to have a mobile broadcasting license.
We need a forward thinking company like Goggle in the UK, innovating.
Am I Missing the point?
I know the statement Mary Turner made is stupid and that the throttling of my traffic by Tiscali is the most annoying thing ever, (hurry up Be and enable my exchange), but surely the up take the BBC seems to be predicting is a little optimistic. Why would the average user want to watch TV on their computer monitors? It can't be multi tasking because the latest survey by steam suggests the average computer is barely powerful enough to run xp. On the other hand, in the corner of most rooms is a large 36" stereo TV with SKY or freeview and a big sofa in front of it. I know what I'll be watching.(And before anybody suggests it, running anymore cabling about our house has been forbidden on pain of death by my girlfriend so my computer can't be hooked up to the TV.)
If Mary wants to do something useful, she can explain why her eula describes peek times as " 6pm to 11pm" and that these are the times throttling would occur and yet my usage is still impaired after midnight?
Multicast - sorry, but not relevant here (nor is peering).
Someone mentioned multicast. Someone else mentioned peering.
They're not relevant to this picture.
The most expensive bit of this picture is the interconnect between the UK ISPs and the BTwholesale access network, as has already been mentioned in other comments. All data travelling between punter and ISP has to cross this very expensive bridge (for almost all UK ISPs). This piece of bandwidth, brought to you by the nice people at BTwholesale, is more expensive than transatlantic bandwidth. Peering doesn't avoid traffic crossing this connection. Multicast doesn't reduce this traffic either (not even, afaict, in the glorious new world of Pure IP DSLAMs and 21CN). Forget multicast, it helps the BBC, not the ISP, not the punter.
Local loop unbundling avoids these "hugely expensive BT Centrals" but for some reason is only interesting financially to huge ISPs in selected high-customer-density  areas (maybe bandwidth actually *is* expensive in this particular setup)?
 You've got to be dense to sign up for Sky, Orange, or CPW LLU broadband.
Reminiscent of Comcast complaints
The issue of Comcast calling high-traffic customers to tell them to cut back has been documented here as well as other places.
In the past I've seen a lot more "it's their right to limit heavy users" messages than this time around. I feel that it's acceptable for ISPs to have transfer limits. But I still don't like the fact that Comcast continues to advertise unlimited accounts, terminates rather than throttling heavy-user accounts, and refuses to divulge what the limits are.
At least competition has the potential to make bad actors clean up their act. I am ready for DSL or a second cable company to operate in this market. The wireless ISPs are getting better, but the one I have dealt with here has not yet gotten to the point of fulling understanding how to install their equipment.
“Bad luck mate, read the Law. any device CAPABLE of recieving any type of broadcast (limit is screen size) so this includes internet broadcast and as such, ANY PC needs a TV Licence!”
Bzzt, wrong. The law doesn't say precisely those words. Go forth and look it up. Indeed, the rules were recently clarified. A PC doesn't need one unless it has a TV tuner card in (and shows signs of being used—if it happens to have one in but you've never installed the tuning software, or never set up the channel lists, you're in the clear). Similarly, TVs used just for games consoles and DVD players are fine—keep them away from an aerial and de-tune them, and you'll get a thumbs up from TV Licensing.
Grass is always greener
"The French have a nice ADSL2 network already rolled out, tested and working for years"
Don't believe the hype/newspapers. If you're one of the lucky few who live close enough to an exchange to get nice unbundled service then you'll get the TV etc., but for those of us unfortunate enough to live too far away then you get just the same crappy, shaped, unreliable service from "Free" as the complainers here get from their UK ISPs. My French ADSL line is so unreliable that I now have a cron job running on my office system talking to my home system at intervals, so that I can build up a profile of outages for the next time I have to complain. Last year they blocked all encrypted traffic for weeks (supposedly to stop P2P traffic hiding in an SSL stream), until the consumer organisations complained. No VPN, no SSL email...
THANK YOU OFCOM
........For giving us a regulatory framework that makes it worthwhile for carriers to invest in new high speed fibre based networks capable of delivering these services........NOT.
I have no TV and recently received a visit from an inspector. I say I received it - I was at work at the time so I just got a note through the door telling me that they'd call again. The wording is interesting at the part where they tell me why I might require a licence:
"You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, set-top boxes, video or DVD recorders, computers or mobile phones to watch TV programmes as they are being shown on TV."
I remember from my old flat that they used to specifically mention TV-Tuners in relation to computers in their threatening letters (I also remember I let the nice man in to poke about my flat and they still kept sending me letters, so they won't be coming in this time!)
As I understand the law 'as they are being shown on TV' means 'at roughly the same time as they are being shown on TV', rather than the easy to mis-read 'as they are being shown on TV at some time or another' - consider a lawfully purchased DVD of some or other BBC show.
I also seem to remember the BBC News site having some text near the video streams stating ~it is our opinion that you need a TV licence to watch this in the UK~.
It seems that they want to trick people into buying a licence even when there's no lawful requirement these days.
The question I find interesting is - what if I am using a webcam to chat to a mate and I can see his telly in the background? Do I then fall foul of the law and need to ask him to move the camera or turn off the telly, or does it become a narrowcast and not a broadcast? (Also do I care? If I was that bothered I'd buy a TV Licence and watch TV - as it is I can spend the best part of the evening catching up the day's news from El Reg which is a whole lot more entertaining than the shite I remember seeing on telly).
The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video
This is funny, innit?
The Internet was setup to deliver content. Video is nothing else than content, it consists of digital data as a HTML Page does or a download of an application or MP3 file.
THe problem is that the ISPs in question do not have the necessary infrastructure in place to deal with the customer demand. THis is not the problem of the user or content suppliers, it is the problem of the ISPs. So you lovely ISPs, pull your fingers out of that smelly dark place of yours and start investing profits into expanding your infrastructure. I have a 2Mb DSL connection, i pay for 2Mb so i want to use 2Mb as i see fit. But then i am also with an ISP who doesn't filter my traffic, who doesn't force me over Proxy Servers or who does impose a cap on my 2Mb/sec for which i pay. It is like buying a fast german car but then get told you can only use half the speed and half the bhp and if you drive more than 400Miles a months you lose the car.
What is also funny is that the ISPs in question are mainly reselling BT Broadband. BT has its own Internet TV offering. But even more funny is that ISPs like BSkyB (Sky Network Services) are not on the list to complain, even though they would have a real reason to kick a competitors backside. Maybe its time we get rid of this spam infested crux of the Internet that is named Tiscali, Carphone Warehouse etc. There are enough alternatives out there on the market...
As I said in the other story...
You should stop blaming BTwholesale for the awful central costs. OFCOM ensure that BT charges a fortune so LLU (as well as the population on the other 4000 exchanges with no chance) looks like a goldmine in comparison. I even think OFCOM *graciously* allowed BT to lower their wholesale prices a bit, but not by any earthshattering amount.
I completely disagree with this un-level playing field, as someone who will never get LLU. It means I have to put up with shoddy service, shoddy speeds, low caps, traffic shaping and higher cost (although I don't mind paying, my current DSL service costs £40 a month and it's reasonably good. Not a consumer ISP either - although charging pennies for broadband as the large consumer ISPs do and then bleating on about congested networks really doesn't wash. Try upping your prices so you can actually invest in a decent network and not have to shape or complain that the BBC is doing something good (even though it's win only, but thats a topic for somewhere else) The cheapskates can then go to some other poor ISP, and then complain about the poor service, I guess.)
So if you want to moan about BT's outrageous central prices, try our "fair" regulator.
We told you so...
We have been saying this would happen...
UKplc has obsolete infrastructure. 21cn will be no better.
Light the fibre.
Proving the lie of "unlimited"
If anything useful comes out of this it might just be to wake up that silent majority of (pre BBC iPlayer) "low users" so beloved of the ISPs. A good number of these will turn into bandwidth monsters overnight, quickly discover the real weaknesses of the ISP they previously thought they had no reason to moan about. Tiscali and the rest only get away with the deceitful advertising and poor service they deliver because most don't stretch their connections enough to notice the inadequacies.
every cloud has silver lining
Yes Mark, and it may also open up the eyes of government who believe the porkies BT tell them, such as 'the job is done' and 'broadband is available to all'. What a joke.
If the Iplayer is a success then every exchange in the country will fall apart. All BT care about is milking an obsolete copper network for every penny they can get from us, they put nothing back and pay out for fat cat salaries and advertising.
Nothing will work until they light the fibre and provide fibre to the home for everyone. This will cost less than a fiver to every home. Will they do it?
Not until they are forced, so lets hope everyone uses Iplayer....
You cant pin it all on ofcom
How can you pin it all on ofcom, its bt who are not putting any money into a new network.. theres only so much bandwidth we can pull from the local loop.. the capacity simply is not there in the exchanges for everyone to do what they want.. regardless of the bt wholesale costs.. they could be £350/mbit or £5/mbit.. if the exchanges cant handle it we're just playing 'pass the contention'
BT have no right to piss and moan about the cost either, every adsl line activated in the uk costs ~£60 ? As the copper network has paid for itself 100 times over.. BT should have taken that money and used it to upgrade the exchanges.
As previously said by mrs doyle - Light the fibre!
As I write this Tiscali is advertising "Unlimited Broadband" on its homepage - this is definitely something that the advertising standards authority needs to pick up on, I thought it was illegal to advertise something you have no intention of delivering? Many moons ago I was a Tiscali customer - one day they wrote to me saying I had exceeded my bandwidth limit (after advertising supposedly unlimited broadband) and that they were terminating my account. I simply took my business elsewhere.
Last Card : lets not forget that Tiscali is also streaming it's own TV on-demand over it's network (channels C1 and C2 ) how much bandwidth does the BBC iPlayer Kontiki based service use versus how much is consumed by Tiscali's own services, Sky Anytime, 4oD, Limewire etc etc.
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