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back to article Beeb says sorry after iPlayer network fail

Some BBC licence payers struggled to access the iPlayer yesterday due to problems with the Corporation’s network connections. Several readers contacted The Register to tell us that the online telly catch up service was on the blink. “On Thursday 11 June 2009 there was a problem with our network connections. We worked hard to …

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BT

"Earlier this week BT hit out at the Beeb, claiming it was unfair that internet service providers had been shackled with huge bandwidth costs to help deliver iPlayer to its customers."

The answer is simple then BT, make sure you charge nothing to ISP's for traffic from the iPlayer, simple!

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Attention British Telecom

You sell downstream bandwidth to end users, it's up to them how they use it. It is nothing to do with the BBC if you don't sell bandwidth at a price to cover your costs, that would be your problem not that of the BBC, who pay for their own bandwidth onto the internet.

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BT

iPlayer downstream on average: 250kBps (2Mb) (High quality)

My downstream (as sold by BT) 8Mbps.

My maths is a little fuzzy... What was your problem again?

Oh, OVERSELLING. Well done.

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Oh no!

"Some iPlayer users complained about the downtime on the Beeb’s forum."

Okay yeah I can see the point of the iPlayer, it can be handy to catch up one something if you've missed it (but then most of the stuff I watch now I have set to record on the PVR or I watch it when it's on) but I can hardly see that it's the end of the world.

In any case, they make the programmes available for a week, or in some cases for an entire series so it's not as if those desperate to use the iPlayer would be likely to miss their favourite programmes unless they left it until the last minute.

Rob

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Pirate

What free ride?

I've never understood this:

"BT said in an email to the BBC's Radio 4 programme You and Yours that the Corporation and other content owners 'can't expect to continue to get a free ride'"

Can someone explain where the "free ride" is? Don't the BBC (and google, youtube etc) pay for bandwidth at their end? Or do they also get "FREE UNLIMITED AS MUCH AS YOU CAN USE" deals?

If BT are complaining about the bandwidth between ISP and user, surely charging the user for bandwidth would be the solution, and not bitching at the company providing the data that the user wants to access?

Am I missing something?

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BT

BT sell people bandwidth, when these people use said bandwidth they want paying again?

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Anonymous Coward

re:BT

""Earlier this week BT hit out at the Beeb, claiming it was unfair that internet service providers had been shackled with huge bandwidth costs to help deliver iPlayer to its customers."

The answer is simple then BT, make sure you charge nothing to ISP's for traffic from the iPlayer, simple!"

It makes me wonder how many times bandwidth is paid for.

I download a file from BBC's website

The BBC pays data transfer costs to their ISP to have the file uploaded from their website, I pay data transfer costs to my ISP to download the file.

So, ISP's buy data transfer from BT, and re-sells it at profit to customers (in this case BBC and myself)...how are they losing money exactly?

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Boffin

What went wrong

was fairly simple, in fact.

iPlayer is substantially made of JavaScript of course, and one bit of it is this: http://wwwimg.bbc.co.uk/glow/1.4.2/gloader/glow/glow.js. As of yesterday sometime, that URL was being served as a compressed (gzipped) data. However the headers provided by the web server said it was JavaScript. This meant that the browser attempted to run the compressed data, rather than decompressing it, and fell over as a result. It only affected people who didn't already have it cached of course (or when it got flushed from the browser cache).

As of this morning the file is being served uncompressed.

Having looked at old (cached) versions and the new version I think that what must have happened is that some change was made to the file which made it much larger. So they decided to serve it compressed (sensible) but failed to change whatever config needs to be changed to tell the server that it was compressed.

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News website

Now, any chance of a report on the changes the BBC has made to the News front page for international users?

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Linux

@David Webb

The other option....

If BT doesn't want the ISP's (or itself) to foot the bill for infrastructure, then it has no option but to release it's grip on it's monopoly position.

I have an idea. We want bandwidth, ISP's want bandwidth (so they can charge us more) both sets of people are paying for the infrastructure in some way.

Why can't BT reduce the cost to ISP's to 0 on the understanding that ISP's will sponsor BT to improve the infrustructure to the cabinet (for the ISPs to use)? I know a rose by any other name is just as sweet, but at least with "sponsorship" there will be some form of contract as to what the money BT is receiving can be spent on....

tux....because....well....I don't know, seemed good at the time....

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I pays me money...

How I use my 30gb allowance each month is up to me, BT. Not you. I pay for 30gb. I want 30gb. If that's 1gb of email, 1gb of surfing and 28gb of iplayer content, that's touch shit on you.

Suck it up, you moaning nancy.

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Who should pay who?

"Earlier this week BT hit out at the Beeb, claiming it was unfair that internet service providers had been shackled with huge bandwidth costs to help deliver iPlayer to its customers."

If it weren't for people/organisations creating and providing access to content online, then there would be no Internet, and no ISP business. Perhaps the ISPs should be paying the BBC for the content it provides their customers.

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Anonymous Coward

Poor BT...

"Earlier this week BT hit out at the Beeb, claiming it was unfair that internet service providers had been shackled with huge bandwidth costs to help deliver iPlayer to its customers."

Yes, fancy that. Who'd have thought that Internet Service Providers would actually have to provide an internet service for their paying customers. Just who do those ingrates think they are? Don't they realise how privileged they are just for giving their hard earned over to someone every month? how dare they expect something in return...

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BBC news website changes

Wonder if its got anything to do with the BBC news website changes .... if you access this from a foreign IP address (even if you are in the UK but ISP/corporate WAN connects from gateway outside UK) it now directs you to the international version of the website (you used to be able to choose). This "service improvement" is to remove all the links to iPlayer/video stuff which they aren't allowed to show outside UK + to allow them to add adverts.

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Silver badge

So...

What does my monthly broadband subscription actually pay for then, if not for this very thing?

Why on Earth should the BBC pay anything to BT? It's the consumer who should pay, in higher costs.

It's sort of like asking for someone to pay for the petrol in my posties van, as well as the cost of the stamp on the letter being carried. Or not.

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Bug
Pirate

BT Complains

So BT complain about the iplayer bandwidth. For years it has mainly been geeks complaining about the over-selling of bandwidth and at last it's now starting to affect joe public.

Typical of any ISP that's been caught out selling more bandwidth than it can provide.... Turn round and complain loudly and constantly that it's all someone else fault and hope that no-one catches on.

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Gates Horns

Changes cause problems

Every software engineer should know that. You make a small innocuous change to a minor component and something you thought was totally unconnected falls over. That's the nature of the game. If it works, leave it alone. But we always want to fiddle around with things, don't we?

Btw, the problem with charging the user is that many users are on "unlimited" packages and don't think they should be paying any more. In any case technological developments should deliver increased capacity at the same price.

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Flame

Dear BT...

... The BBC isn't the company advertising "unlimited" internet access to its customers. Nor is it their fault that they're offering genuinely useful web-based content people really do seem to want.

BT, exactly which part of "unlimited" do you, your fellow ISPs, and all your marketing friends not understand? It's a very simple concept that even a five-year-old child can grasp. It is not a piece of obscure technical jargon in the IT industry: it is a common English word used every single day by everybody.

Either you need to educate your ISP customers and marketing people as to the dictionary definition of the word, or you need admit you are lying through your corporate teeth. I suspect the ASA might have something to say about that, but *you* dug the damned hole you're in, so quit your pathetic whinging.

Regards,

--

Your paying end users. (You know, the people who give your ISP reseller clients a reason to exist in the first damned place.)

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Anonymous Coward

BT? Watch my lips - you're only HERE for the broadband!

Whether it's telephone or broadband, BT are a total shower.

Not long ago I waited days for a BT "engineer" (who I wouldn't have trusted to change a light bulb) who then spent an hour trying desperately to talk himself out of 10 minutes work, which he eventually consented to do. All the time muttering darkly about being "here to fix phones, not **** internet." He blamed everything from energy-saving bulbs to my front doorbell for the failure of my BB connection (ethernet not wi-fi, and repeatedly tested and found to be in good order). Eventually found that the fault was at the exchange anyway - which BT had steadfastly denied that far.

Leaving aside the bone idleness and IT dyslexia of their employees, when will BT ever get it into their thick heads that, with multiple cellphones in most houses, a broadband connection is the only remaining reason most of us still have anything to do with them and their eternally problematic landlines.

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Re: News website

Yes, please, El Reg, get on it!

Start here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/change_to_international_pages.html

Bloody annoyed about it myself...

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Stop

BBC licence payers

the licence payers are complaining ... but they still get terrestial TV ...

QUESTION: do you have to be a licence payer to legally watch/listen to content on BBC iplayer ?

THOUGHT: but radio streams are constantly throwing error messages , 'file corrupt' ? worse reception than 1970's in the highlands laddie; often beeb servers/BT connections serve too slowly to be watchable. Shifting to internet broadcasting has shifted me to stoneage reception and quality - is the beeb and BT gonna give me my money back ?

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't BT stand for Bandwidth Thottling?

I always thought signing up for BT's ISP meant Bandwidth Throttling ISP, have no idea it stood for British Telcom. I thought it was BT being honest and forward thinking - naming themselves 'Bandwidth Throttling', I learn something everyday.

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Linux

@BT

"Earlier this week BT hit out at the Beeb, claiming it was unfair that internet service providers had been shackled with huge bandwidth costs to help deliver iPlayer to its customers.

BT said in an email to the BBC's Radio 4 programme You and Yours that the Corporation and other content owners "can't expect to continue to get a free ride". ®"

Shut up BT, We pay for this bandwidth. And we get no where near as much as you said we should get. This bandwidth is also paid for by many different people as it travels around the world.

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Linux

changes cause problems

'You make a small innocuous change to a minor component and something you thought was totally unconnected falls over. That's the nature of the game', Richard Porter

No it isn't, it's the nature of a badly designed agile Web 11 thingy .. :)

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Silver badge

Unlimited...

There is no such service as unlimited, there is no such thing as free data - people, machines and leccy all needs to be paid for, and nobody is arguing against that.

Seeing as how my 3G contract with O2 claims to be 'unlimited' yet is capped to a poxy 400MB 'acceptable use policy', surely all the unlimited ADSL packages have AUP's as well - so either people are staying within their AUP's, or they're not.

If they're not, charge them for the overage, or move them to a package more suitable for them. If they are staying within their AUP's, what's the argument? Their usage by definition is 'acceptable'.

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Silver badge

Simple solution

Well the ISPs just need to either set up mirrors of the BBC content or lay their own strands of wires to the BBC. Both things are comparatively cheap and can be implemented fairly quickly.

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@ian hewines

No you dont need a licence to view Iplayer as long as you are based in the UK, as its not live there is no restriction at the moment...

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Stop

@Sean Timarco Baggale

well, quite.

All the adverts for broadband told us we could do things lik e.g. stream TV.

Why did it come as a surprise when we did?

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BT vs. BBC

I thought it was reported a few months back, OK it may be even a year ago, that the BBC were looking at installing servers into exchanges to relieve the bandwidth issue.

Has this moved no closer or have they given up ?

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Alert

iPlayer

iPlayer was rubbish when it was introduced and the new version is rubbish, so I am surprised anyone noticed!

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Stop

Iplayer

You dont need a TV licence as its not live. you only need to pay the fucking stupid ri...uh, TV licence if you are watching live BBC content.

Allegedly the detector vans are a load of shit and they can rarely prove anything. Allegedly of course.

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@Witty username

Of course the detector vans are a load of shit. The Beeb just assume everyone has a TV, check who's payed, compare this with their database of addresses, and send threatening letters to anyone who doesn't show up in both.

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