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back to article BT preps nationwide TV network

BT is upgrading its national network to reliably deliver TV on-demand, partly in preparation for the launch of Project Canvas alongside the BBC and other broadcasters. The firm's wholesale division today announced it has signed a deal to implement Cisco's Content Delivery System by early next year. BT was one of three founding …

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IT Angle

What is "Cisco Content Delivery System"?

Is it for real ( real architecture, real products, actually in use in real applications, if so what kind of products - routers, storage, servers, etc?), or is it more like Microsoft's SetTopBox stuff, a marketecture desperately seeking suckers to sign up to be its first customer (yes BT Vision I'm looking at you).

And as it's BTwholesale we're talking about, how relevant is this offering to the UK's 7 million LLU lines (as announced today?) My guess is that actually this Content Delivery lark, despite being nominally a BTwholesale offering, is only really relevant to BT Retail and its customers, in which case it's yet another regulatory triumph for Ofcon. Not.

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/4375.html

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mj1

the end of the internet as we know it

the suits and spreadsheet jockeys have long been wanting to get control of the Internet so get ready for more traffic shaping and higher costs .

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FAIL

Huh?

Those suits and spreadsheet jockeys have ALWAYS had control of the Internet. Where do you think all those wires, undersea cables, cellphone masts and satellite dishes come from? Thin air?

The Internet was a corporate tool long before Joe Public heard of it. All the likes of Berners-Lee and

Demon (and >>cough<< AOL) did was *popularise* it.

And before anyone mentions ARPAnet, allow me to point out that not even DARPA has ever been beancounter- and suit-free. And universities have dried-frog-eating Bursars for a damned good reason. (You'd know what that reason was if you'd ever met a tenured Professor of Literature.)

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Silver badge

Oh well, there goes all my bandwidth

> guaranteed quality of service.

So while all my neighbours are getting their guaranteed X MBit/s on the BT owned copper from the exchange to our collective local distribution box, the rest of us who just want to send the odd email will be left fighting for scraps from whatever's left over in the contention ratio.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

I don't think it works like that. Contention ratio applies to backhaul bandwidth to the public Internet. This isn't using the public Internet, it's an overlay IP network that's just delivered down the same last mile medium.

Unless what you mean by "collective local distribution box" is that you're sharing a broadband account with your neighbours - that would certainly cause a problem.

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Stop

Bye bye net neutrality.

If you're wondering why your 8 or 20 mbit/s ADSL connection to your exchange less than 500 yards away is never capable of attaining anywhere close to the top speed then look no further than BT's 21CN network where subscriber content gets priority. Basically everyone with a regular (paid for - I hasten to add) broadband connection has to suffer the consequences.

Now I'm okay with streaming media, I'm not one of these people who reckons TV should stay on the airwaves, but I do have serious concerns about sacrificing the quality of our internet connections (which we do pay quite a bit for, as an example I pay Zen Internet £35 a month for a normal home user connection) in return for better content delivery. The focus should be on improving the overall network infrastructure so that it doesn't matter what type of content is being delivered. Proxies, caching servers and use of alternative technologies such as IGMP multicast can all help reduce the burden of content delivery.

I personally believe that creating a virtual highway that takes priority over other types of internet traffic (including content streamed from overseas content providers who may not have access to the media highway BT have introduced) is the wrong way to improve the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

No one has answered..

... my long asked question about how they're going to do this while bandwidth caps exist.

Currently, the only bandwidth unlimited times on "some" packages are overnight when I'm tucked up in bed.

If I started watching TV on my internet connection it will cost me a small fortune in bandwidth charges 'cause I'd eat through my cap in a few days or maybe a week.

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@ Michelle Knight

>> No one has answered... my long asked question about how they're going to do this while bandwidth caps exist.

Probably they won't stream it down your regular connection, they'll slice off some bandwidth to a second (or third) virtual connection over the ADSL link - much as BT already do with their Vision Video-over-IP product. Your regular IP internet connection has traffic caps, but the video is uncapped.

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Pint

Meanwhile, Out In...

...the Colonies, those pesky Americans, Century Link*, An aggresive CLEC that just bought The Las Vegas LATA from Sprint^W Embarq called me and offered 120 channels of HDTV for an extra 40 bucks a month. The very sweet lady in an American Town**, told me that TV rides the same copper as your voice line and DSL, so adding FTTN is pretty cheap, and produces an instant revenue stream. Also, she went on, they are rolling out 40 Meg home service but it is not yet in Las Vegas.

While she was on, I bumped my DSL from 3 to 10 megs for $10 more a month. Century Link is at the paperwork stage of buying AT&T^W Mountain Bell^W Qwest's 14 States full of ILEC plant and customers!

Now that telephone and cable companies have a level playing field in the triple play arena, we can hope for a true marketplace to emerge.

* I asked, and i was happy to find an American job that had not been sent abroad.

** All trademarks are the respective property of their owners, and will be randomly misspelled and miscased. I have no relationship with any companies mentioned except as a customer and/or reseller.

Here's a pint to all the lab guys that develop this stuff, and the provider management with the guts and vision to deploy it.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Srange how BT can do this, yet not improve broafband speeds?

Given the trashy TV programming that fills our screens these days, often junk from the U.S.of A., is it a wise investment to implement steaming anything rather than improving consumer data flow?

A confusing choice, indeed.

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FAIL

confusing choices

it's blindingly obvious. you will pay whatever rupert wants for whatever worthless shit he decides to shovel down the interwebs. and you will be grateful. the likes of bt are just providing the sewers.

improving the flow of bits is incidental to this masterplan, other than making sure the shit will flow towards you at a rate that won't result in ofcom taking action (as if...).

coming to an isp near you: want fast internet? fuck off. want to pay 200 quid a month to get indoor hang-gliding in hd on sky super sports 14 extra, come on down.

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Anonymous Coward

Choices?

I guess the issue comes down to cost - billions to increase broadband speeds for all, versus I guess millions to build a CDN. There is an established market for Pay TV - Virgin and Sky both offer on-demand services. The junk on TV is probably a good reason to have a video on demand service - if broadcast TV was a scintillating and enriching mix of audio-visual goodness no-one would want to pay per view.

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FAIL

Irrelevant to a lot of us...

....broadband connection tops out at 700kbps - normally 300-400kbps. No LLU.

No amount of playing about gonna get me IPTV until BT upgrades the cables!

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@ Knight 2000

No one has answered.. ... my long asked question about how they're going to do this while bandwidth caps exist.

Quite simply the traffic is coming from the BT network so they will not count this in the cap. Some ISPs do this instead of traffic shaping already, they give you a cap for stuff they don't like (peer to peer etc) and not for stuff they want to encourage. My ISP will take a fiver a month off of me and give me 'unlimited VoIP' as a bolt on so that stuff like Skype does not come out of my monthly allowance.

So basically you pay for your web connection and get a cap on that but if you are watching TV (with a separate, premium, cost) you get that down the same pipe but without it coming out of your web/email/p2p data allowance.

It's also quite similar to what 3 do on their phones. You pay for web stuff but get free access to their portal and stuff they want to give you for free (to market other stuff). Networks with their portals and walled gardens have enjoyed multi tier internet since the days of WAP.

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WTF?

BT...

BT adverts are always:-

"Our product is so shit that the only good thing we can say about it is that the routers wireless range is not shit"

Says it all basically.

I doubt their TV offering will be any better. Avoid like the plague.

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Jobs Horns

It's all very well, but...

A huge number of UK broadband subscribers are on exchanges classed as more expensive, and the rollout of 21CT will be very slow across these exchanges. Where I am in rural Devon there's no cable, and appalling Freeview reception, plus (although I'm near an exchange) an average speed of 3.5Mbps for DSL would be a fair assessment, although I get double that bandwidth.

Many folks will be getting 24Mbps and 21CT before my exchange even goes to ADSL2 (which is something BT have been promising for a year, and keep putting off) and the irony is I have to pay more the 7Mbps than someone on a more formidable exchange pays for up to 24Mbps.

The UK needs fairer bandwidth regulation and a better infrastructure before BT roll out TV over their network and wrecks the existing purposes of the internet. As things stand BT are already beginning excess bandwidth charges from November 2010, which makes me suspect their future tariffs could be specifically based on user bandwidth consumption.

Other than that I'd welcome freeview over copper wires, or through fibre optic, Virgin seem to have managed to do it relatively well.

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Bronze badge

Fac93

"The UK needs fairer bandwidth regulation and a better infrastructure before BT roll out TV over their network and wrecks the existing purposes of the internet."

It's not the Internet. Your broadband connection is not the Internet. It's an access method to any number of potential IP networks - one of which is the Internet. The article says that this is a private IP network that can be used to deliver traffic to your broadband connection - how is that wrecking the purpose of the Internet?

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Anonymous Coward

huzzar

take a look at cisco.com/go/cds

think of cds as essentially a cache. iplayer content for example can be pre pushed out to the exchanges.

So when everyone is on broadband watching dr who on iplayer, instead of a thousand streams clogging up the backhaul network it's all delivered locally from the exchange. and it actually probably got sent to the cds at 3am the night before when everyone was tucked up in bed.

So all that bandwidth is available for browsing etc.

much smarter and cheaper than ugrading bandwith. quite frankly at the moment traffic is increasing faster than moores law can keep up. hence the need for stuff like this.

i'd guess the other llu guys will be looking at similar solutions.

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Silver badge

History

Video-on-demand was BT's pipedream back when Martlesham was still a research lab. AIUI the rf component of adsl had it's origin in Video-over-copper ideas.

What they need to look at is one of their oldest ideas - street level caching. If 5 people in the street want to watch the same football match it makes no sense to transfer it over the whole route 5 times. Once to the street cab & 5 times to the subscribers. Or another old chestnut - video on near demand. People ask for content, which is distributed with fixed start times e.g. 2 minutes apart. They get an hourglass till the next start time.

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Paris Hilton

Keyword: wholesale (Part 2)

As in:

http://www.btwholesale.com/pages/static/Products.html

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Gold badge

CDS is not vaporware

"What is "Cisco Content Delivery System"? "

No it's not Microsoftian vaporware. A CDS, when you get right down to it, is a box placed reasonably near to the customer, where videos (usually, although other content could go on there) are preloaded onto it, so when customers access that video, instead of being streamed or downloaded from the original source, it is streamed from that local box. If you look up CDNs (Content Distribution Networks) this is similar in concept, except with a CDN, a customer pays the CDN to provide distribution all over the planet, and it's mainly meant to reduce load on the originating site. Whereas, BT is trying to push this BT-specific service to basically make up for their inadequate network.

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Paris Hilton

The keyword is....

Wholesale

BT isn't really looking for its own direct customers (oops! sorry BT Vision people) it is primarily looking for corporate customers in the first instance.

I'd guess that, given BT's track record, that what this means to consumers is what it has always meant to BT's direct non-corporate consumers and that is reduced service (if ever a service level agreement to direct customers existed in the first place).

Practical consequences

BT copper/cable and servers probably going to corporate customers with robust service level agreements further probably enforced by corporate customers themselves.

New vision service to follow the above model.

Interim conclusion: BT continues to plop on direct customers for benefit of corporate customers (ever wondered where that lost BT bandwidth and speed went to?) and will do same again when new vision service starts with corporate customers taking precedence and resources over direct to BT non-corporate customers.

Consequence: got other than BT?

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Title

On one hand it seems that this move will ensure better delivery for *some* tv programming. However, bearing in mind that we only have some of the technical details to hand - I can't help but think that it is all going pretty much against the main principles of the Internet as we know it.

Someone above mentioned the mobile Internet providers and their walled gardens with unlimited/priority access to their own services/portals. For good or for worse, these portals and provider specific services have stayed relatively unpopular so far. And this is pretty much a summation of what BT will be doing as a traffic model - just on a much larger scale. However, what comes directly to mind is the tremendous amount of control the companies involved in the project will have over our Internet connections. Over our access to information. I can't but wonder what will happen when they will be able to either exclude, or make it too expensive or slow to consume TV or video content outside their network of affiliates.

What we have known so far on the Internet, at least to the greater extent, have been access controls at the far end of the connection - e.g. the content generator. This is effectively bringing control in the hands of the middle man - not only by being able to prioritise its own stream, but being able to influence the information stream coming from the competition as well. Similar controls are in place at the moment - but they tend to concern spam and illegal content.

I am not altogether sure the advantages of this situation do out-weigh the disadvantages.

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Happy

@Henry Wertz re what is Cisco Content Delivery System

Thanks everso Henry but I've been watching stuff like Akamai's content distribution network (and e.g. its on/off deal with the BBC for quite a long time now). Being a Pipex customer back in the day when the Pipex->BBC link went via NY (I kid you not, and therefore UK-only content wasn't available to Pipex customers at that time) has had long term effect on me :)

The reason I am (still) thinking this is mainly slideware and marketechture is that a search for cisco "Content Delivery System" comes back with no brochures, manuals, product descriptions , whitepapers, etc, but does come back mainly with lots of coverage of this BT/Cisco press release. There's also lots of July 2010 coverage of a security vulnerability in the CDS Manager app, which is kind of confusing - how can slideware have security vulnerabilities ? :)

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Thumb Down

Television

I am not favor of BBC and other broadcasters and I think it is a standard review. Whenever I start watching my favorite shows online I got a high speed with no buffering. It seems to be great to me..

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