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back to article ISP Be admits crippling iPlayer demand burst its pipes

ISP Be Broadband has admitted demand for iPlayer jammed its punters' net connections - leaving parts of the web unusable and subscribers fuming. For weeks customers of Be - an O2-owned company with up to 600,000 users - were unable to visit some websites, including the BBC's telly streaming service, because the ISP's link to the …

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Errm...

I'm not sure the content of this article is 100% true as I'm a Be user and haven't had any problems with iPlayer and neither have most others I know. I was under the impression this problem was IP specific? I imagine different IP blocks are taking different routings and some were never hitting Akamai in the first place. This is also backed up by the fact that the issue doesn't seem to have affected O2 users despite them using the same network infrastructure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errm...

Another Be user who has not noticed any problems with iplayer here.

It buffers briefly once in a while at peak times but other than that it's flawless.

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Ru
Facepalm

Re: Errm...

We've found it noticable at home, from time to time. It wasn't clear before now where the issue was arising; its a shared house, and we're not overburdened with bandwidth. I've not noticed these sorts of issues with any site other than iPlayer though. Be seem to be pretty much spot on in every other aspect of ISP-age though, which is nice.

And what on earth is "I'm not sure the content of this article is 100% true" supposed to mean? There's a statement, from Be, saying they have a problem, and they're remedying it. Why would they *lie* about having a problem, and spend money to fix a nonexistent issue?

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JC_

Re: Errm...

Noticed it at the weekend when trying to watch the rugby, but loading just the BBC news front page took five minutes. Be needs to sort its act out.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Errm...

You go ahead and contradict yourself.

"not noticed any problems"

"flawless"

"buffers briefly...at peak times"

flaw·less (flôls)

adj.

Being entirely without flaw or imperfection.

Hardly!

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Re: Errm...

I'm not sure the content of this comment is 100% true. It looks like a personal opinion from one person rather than actual facts and figures backed up by quotes from the company involved.

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Re: Errm...

Actually, O2 customers have been affected (me for one) and plenty of others if you read the O2 forum on Thinkbroadband. After much messing about, people noticed that it was restricted to certain blocks of IP addresses and forcing an IP change on the BeBox/O2Box by changing the MAC address fixed the issue for a number of people (apart form those of us with fixed IPs of course)..

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FAIL

Re: Errm...

I'm a Be user and the Mrs and I have been unable to watch ANY streaming service for several weeks, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have been affected but all bandwidth tests on our 8-10Mb capable line have been spot on.

Now I know why, and I'm pretty disappointed in Be as they've always been much better than other ISPs, I'll have to test again tonight and see if anything has improved.

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Anonymous Coward

Is content of article true?

"I'm not sure the content of this article is 100% true ", Tom15

"Some BE customers are continuing to experience problems when running BBC's iPlayer. This is being caused by our link to the Akamai network"

http://blog.bethere.co.uk/2012/02/customer-update-on-network-packet-loss.html

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WTF?

Would this be why my experience on the whole of the BBC domain has been slow for the last month or so then?

Also, what is the name of that software used for the ping tests?

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Gold badge
Facepalm

Ping software.

Go to specsavers, get glasses, put 'em on and then look at the pictures again.

Hint: The bit at the bottom of each where it says: "Image generated by PingPlotter Pro" along with a web address is a bit of a giveaway.....

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Go

Looks like it's PingPlotter Pro (at the bottom of the images shown!)

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Meh

On average Be is a bloody good ISP. No throttling and friendly support. Unfortunately now and again they get core network issues and then it goes pear-shaped for a few weeks. It's a failure to monitor and predict demand and/or inability to respond rapidly.

My experience has been perhaps two months in total with dodgy service over five years. Annoying at the time but resolved eventually. Unfortunately they are dragging their feet over FTTC so I'll likely be leaving for someone else within a month.

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Even Zen

If its any comfort I had my first iPlayer bandwidth issue last night using Zen. That's the issue iPlayer is so good and reliable we find ourselves increasingly skipping TV to do something else and catching up later.

If only ITVPlayer was in the same league ... I guess that's partly why this government punished the BBC so hard - for showing up how a public service can be just so much better than a profit centred one. Its not supposed to do that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even Zen

ITV Player is excellent over Sky Anytime+

I was frankly stunned at the difference in quality between Anytime+ and the ITV player that's on the ITV website. I've always found the website player very poor in terms of quality and streaming.

Maybe one of these days I'll get bored enough to work out why the website player is so poxy. I doubt it though, hardly watch any telly these days.....

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Throttling

"On average Be is a bloody good ISP. No throttling ..."

Well there's your problem. They don't appear to have the capacity to cope with unthrottled access. I'd say 2 months of dodgy service over five years was very poor.

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Happy

Re: Throttling

By 'dodgy service' I mean 'slowed down a bit during the evening'. That's business as normal for most ISPs. The only time my service was noticeably disrupted was back in '06 (or was it '07) when their DNS servers went wobbly.

But over the last year or so I've noticed more complaints on their forums. That may be why they are in the process of rebuilding their network. That and - perhaps - an FTTC product coming soon(TM).

I'll be sad to leave Be and will happily come back at a future date. Can't say that for any other ISP I've used.

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Re: Re: Throttling

BE are probably the second best ISP I have used.

No iPlayer issues here but a quit a few DNS and router issues using the bebox.

Eclipse were better but not worth the Price and caps in comparison.

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Local caching?

I think that Virgin Media have copies of popular BBC iPlayer content on their 'local' network and avoid similar problems in that way. Is there a reason why Be can't do something similar?

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Re: Local caching?

I read articles a while back that basically said BBC have arrangements to put a "blackbox" in the ISP that does caching of BBC iPlayer content on their premises and thus save them a ton of bandwidth. Whether that's still true (I expect it is), it's Be at fault here for just sheer lack of capacity. They can blame iPlayer as much as they like (and my former ISP PlusNet often shared graphs that show that iPlayer takes up more than twice as much as all P2P traffic, for instance) but they just didn't have the systems in place to cope with demand.

If Akamai couldn't cope with it, then your alternate routes should always have done so and alarm bells should go mad about the huge utilisation of that particular route. You couldn't serve the traffic in a timely manner because you just did not have enough capacity. That's a failure of planning, management and pricing. Nothing "technical", really, at all.

iPlayer is also pretty cacheable, except for the live streams. Maybe they should have just put in emergency local caching (an afternoon job) until they could bring up more capacity?

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Re: Local caching?

I'd guess two things factor in that. 1) Cost and 2) Licensing.

Running a bunch of caching servers and the associated storage 'locally' on their network will mean they have to pay for the kit, pay to put it somewhere, pay to power it and pay someone to keep it ticking over. Not a small undertaking.

As for licensing, I'm sure that there's some legal gubbins to be sorted out when copying and storing that much copyrighted (copywritten?) material. Virgin being a big telly provider may well have the legals sorted out in the same way they do for providing the 'live' BBC telly stream.

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Re: Re: Local caching?

i don't think there is any legal issue with caching iplayer.

there is obviously a cost to local caching but a lot less than the external bandwidth.

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Re: Re: Re: Local caching?

I was always under the impression that iplayer used a form of peer to peer. Am I wrong then?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Local caching?

"iPlayer is also pretty cacheable, except for the live streams. Maybe they should have just put in emergency local caching (an afternoon job) until they could bring up more capacity?"

The streams can be cached trivially with the 'get-iplayer' perl script (maintained by a BBC man I believe). Works very well too.

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Z80

Re: Re: Re: Re: Local caching?

iPlayer stopped using p2p in late 2008.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html

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g e
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Struggling

I struggle to watch Eastenders from the live broadcast.

When I say 'struggle' I mean 'sit through' ...

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WTF?

and O2?

How is Be's link ###### and not O2's it's the same network, same IP pool, same routing.

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Re: and O2?

my mistake. it is O2 too.

Ping statistics for 212.58.241.131:

Packets: Sent = 141, Received = 129, Lost = 12 (8% loss),

Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:

Minimum = 22ms, Maximum = 42ms, Average = 22ms

i'm on O2.

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Anonymous Coward

re: idiots

fed up with all the idiots that have decided the internet if for viewing tv. Thats what the tv is for you idiots

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JC_
Thumb Up

Re: re: idiots

Right on! The internet is for trolling!

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Re: re: idiots

Great. Can I watch BBC programs whenever I want on TV, up to two weeks after broadcast? Apparently not unless - and this will make you laugh - I use the on-demand streaming connections to things like BBC iPlayer which basically does the same as me accessing their website (e.g. if you use Virgin, the set-top-box just negotiates it's own Internet connection with IP - even if you have a separate modem - and accesses iPlayer content servers).

Can I watch the Saturday movie on Monday? Can I pause the TV without having to buy some fancy-schmancy subscription / box / TV? Can I zip back and show someone something that started at the beginning of the program, or show them the only funny "joke" in some of the modern "comedies"?

No? TV's dead then. Get with the programme. IP is already used for phones, for video-conferencing, for door-control, etc. It's the only thing that can do ALL the jobs at once. Your modern TV, meanwhile, is now trying to be a PC and access everything over the Internet. Haven't you noticed? Hell, I bought a £10 dual-DVB-T dongle for my laptop two years ago. I still haven't used it for anything yet. But iPlayer gets loaded once a day, minimum.

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Anonymous Coward

"It's the only thing that can do ALL the jobs at once. "

heard of PVRs or MythTV or similar mediabox setups? You plan in advance what you want to watch, it records it, you get to keep it. You keep it for more than 28 days (or whatever) if you want, not just for as long as the iPlayer allows.

And *then* you use iPlayer for filling in the gaps.

Heard of infinite broadband bandwidth for a sensible price? No me neither, and until that IS the case, the aerial is most people's best starting point for watching broadcast TV. Because the Internets don't have enough bandwidth to be used as an affordable volume distribution mechanism for TV content (with or without multicats). Get with the programme.

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Re: "It's the only thing that can do ALL the jobs at once. "

Ah, so you want me to buy a PC and dedicate it to watching TV, insert a device into it that receives TV, subscribe to a TV listings website to make the device work properly (or buy a pre-made PVR), and predict what I want to watch in advance (which I can't remember doing in the last ten years except possibly for Christmas specials, etc.). If I miss it, forget it, misprogram it, it gets rescheduled then I have to revert to my usual plan anyway. I also have to pay for local storage and (presumably) a UPS for anything vaguely important that I might miss. I also need an aerial with a good digital signal (don't own one, can't get one in my area yet) and/or a cable/satellite TV package. I have to tune yet-another-device in every time the channels juggle, have to have yet-another remote control, yet-another box on top of the TV and yet-more cabling behind the TV.

As opposed to:

Having an Internet connection.

Clicking on a website.

Clicking on what I want to watch on an official website provided by the original broadcaster.

(Optional, advanced extra: get_iplayer for permanent archives).

I have high-speed broadband for a reason, and it's not to send my email a fraction of a second faster. My ISP supports it and never has a problem and most IPTV broadcasts you see on your TV have been blatted across the Internet at least twice before you see them (footage colletion, editing, sending to broadcasters, etc.). Just because *your* ISP is oversubscribed, don't cry about how I should change the way I use my Internet.

On top of that - my PC plays DVD / Blu-rays, plugs into my TV, accepts remote controls of any flavour, has huge amounts of storage, etc. AND can do all the above already (even the PVR bit if I really want - £10 DVB-T stick!). I don't have to stick on a second device (third if you include the TV too) in order to watch something that I missed.

It's like saying to someone - "ITunes MP3's?! Why don't you just record the radio 24/7?!"

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Anonymous Coward

"Why don't you just record the radio 24/7?!"

There's an app for that. No seriously, there is. Radio doesn't use much bandwidth, so it doesn't have much impact on the network.

"I have high-speed broadband for a reason,"

And ISPs who want customers like you to stay as their customers in any significant quantity ARE going to have to find a way to make customers like you pay for the impact you have on their costs and on their quality of service.

You don't quite seem to appreciate (or want to admit?) that TV uses rather a lot of bandwidth for any given Internet viewer, and if rather a lot of people all (ab)use the Intertubes for stuff that could be better acquired by other means then things will not be working nice or things will not be as cheap as they have been or maybe both.

"most IPTV broadcasts you see on your TV have been blatted across the Internet at least twice before you see them "

So what.

If a few hundred thousand folk want to watch Eastenders etc on iPlayer rather than over-the-air on a regular basis, you, your ISP, and your ISP's other customers will notice it, and then will have to pay for it.

Bandwith is not free. An infinite amount of bandwidth costs an infinite amount of money. If you're happy to pay for that, that's grand. But anything less than that *requires* some compromises, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.

If you want to play this game, maybe you should just keep quiet about it?

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Anonymous Coward

Going to get worse

Its going to get worse before it gets better. The "core network" outside the M25/SE England is a shambles, no other word for it - some areas have been absymal for years - running a "core network" on BES circuits will do that.

The insane way Be allocated IP ranges is making matters worse - for those unaware of the lunacy if you order 8 IP addresses then it won't be a /29, oh no. It will be random addresses, some of which may not even be in the same /8 address space.

The upshot of this is that its quite possible to end up with one IP address on one backhaul tunnel, another IP address on a totally different backhaul tunnel, etc - all from one phoneline. Lunacy on wheels, it really is.

There is a "new" network apparently being built but that won't be ready until late 2012 - so 2013 is probably realistic. However I reckon the "new" network is more to do with 4G backhaul for O2/rental than ADSL services.

Sky are now taking FTTC orders (first few people are on it now) so I can see Be/O2's customer base declining even more rapidly than its done in the last year. They have nobody to blame but themselves for that.

Oh and if you do leave Be then make damn sure you check your CC carefully - that's twice they have overcharged me as I left. They seem to think adding on some random number to the last bill is acceptable, probably because you can't raise any tickets then......

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i keep getting 'this is not avaiable' on opera - presume because my connection is so slow opera turbo kicks in and the request comes from norway or wherever it is opera is based in

i have had woeful service from Be unlike that other person up there.

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Facepalm

Canna Cope Captain...

Lets hope there arn't any big events coming up that lots of people might want to watch when they get home from work, like say the Olympics or maybe even some diamond jubblies, if their network can't cope with day to day usage.

Ohh...

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Wow!

ISP in over selling of back-end infrastructure shocker!

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Meh

Re: Wow!

I know. Its like they've been advertising unlimited access and are shocked when people use it as advertised.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

But at least they don't throttle so everyone knows when they've run out of bandwidth!

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Wow!

Be is unlimited. There are no limits. None. Nil. Nada. Null. Not a sausage.

Be is exceptional quality, except when it is not. I've been with them since launch (2007), there were a couple of months in 2009 where quality was bad - not enough backhaul, high pings. I hadn't noticed any BBC issues, although I'm not a big user of iplayer.

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Anonymous Coward

Why is it that people only complain...

when there is one little thing that goes wrong? So what you got high pings for a while and were unable to watch iPlayer. Deal with it, it happens to all ISP's. Just look at VM and their random nationwide outages. At least with Be* the rest of the Internet still works.

I've been with Be* for over a year and a half now, and I have had 2 issues that lasted 20 minutes each, both solved by a quick call to CS who reset my SNR profile. Besides that I've never had any connection issues, not even to BBC recently.

A friend 5 miles way on another exchange had all sorts of issues and was fuming, but he dealt with it by simply not using it. Easy.

Be* is the best ISP in the country, you should learn to deal with the odd problem. Nobody is perfect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why is it that people only complain...

To summarise then:

"I've never had a problem, therefore no one else can possibly have any problems"

Plonk.

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Anonymous Coward

It wasn't just that link

Some of us had packet loss to EVERYWHERE for months. Constant packet loss 24/7.

If its anything to do with the network the Bulgarian support people can't do a thing about it - as proven amply over the last couple of months. All they can do is "pass it on" and judging from pervious events nobody takes much notice of them.

If you're in the SE of England then yeah they're probably fine for most things. Don't assume its like that elsewhere though, it frequently isn't.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: Why is it that people only complain...

People complain because of the poor way this has been handled.

This problem has affected me for 6 weeks, with O2 up until a couple of days ago blaming everyone else but themselves (BBC upgrades, BT, my router, etc) . While some people where just unable to use the Iplayer, in my case I was getting >95% packet loss , so I couldnt even load a BBC webpage (and a few other sites for that matter)

Is it really acceptable not to be able to access certain web pages (or stream) for 3 months, given it wont be till the end of April till its fixed ?

That is pretty poor for just an individual, let along a large section of your customer base.

Iplayer might not be a vital function for you, but in my household it is used daily. Luckily I was able spoof my mac adress to get a new ip outside the range, but for alot of people this simply is not an option.

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Be is a great ISP especially if you like playing online games as it does have the lowest latency DSL speeds I've ever seen...

My problem is that from around 6pm to 8pm my router would lose sync with my exchange(LCATH), I can only guess that Be picked up on this problem and as a result have lowered my connection speed from > 7meg to 5!

I'd rather they' inform me before crippling my connection speed and look for the real reason for the de-sync (congestion).

I'm on the Pro service so It cost's a rather large amount of money for a now very slow service. Not happy!

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Anonymous Coward

mostly reliable

I have had no issues with BE until very recently and they might be completely unrelated.

Playing online MMOs has recently started to be painful, lots of stutter and lost packets, that might be local contention though.

More annoying is the cant find page > retry >stil cant find page > retry > oh there it is issue, it thought it was a crappy DNS server but maybe it is just network saturation?

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Possibly DNS server

I changed mine to Googles (8.8.8.8) when gta4.net fell off the Be DNS a while ago. Me & the missus play a lot of WoW, no problems at all (22 ms pings). Rarely watch iPlayer on the Be network, we've got a VM Tivo box for that. iPlayer on that manages to suck occasionally though.

HTH

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