back to article BT rubbishes BBC bandwidth throttling reports

BT has denied reports that it is working with other ISPs to pressurise the BBC or consumers into paying extra for delivery of iPlayer on demand TV shows. Chief press officer Adam Liversage contacted The Reg this afternoon to distance the telco from a predictable net neutrality row. He countered reports citing unnamed BT sources …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    kservice = Bandwidth Goblin

    The Truth about Kontiki...

    Kservice runs all the time as a service and eats your bandwidth, you can not limit the amount and you cannot get it to stop automatically when you want to stop viewing and do something else with your computer.

    so go ahead block it at your firewall, dont allow it until it is configurable. like proper P2P. (by the generosity of users, which does work funily enough!)

    Alternativly you can stop the service. Set the service to manual instead of automatic, After you have watched what you want from cmd prompt: sc stop kservice Or create yourself a desktop shortcut to: sc stop kservice

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "He wrote that BT's only concern over iPlayer was that people would be unaware that the Kontiki P2P distribution system which runs in the background would be eating into their monthly GB usage allowance even when they are not viewing or downloading."

    Which of course gives BT Vision an unfair advantage as that doesn't eat into the allowance.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Allowance

    In what way is it "unfair" for any given ISP to limit bandwidth to services which involve access outside its network, but not to those which do not? That sounds like a completely reasonable strategy.

    I don't know if any ISP has a traffic-counting policy which counts traffic travelling outside its network as "more expensive" than traffic confined within its boundaries. Seems like a good idea to me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT Wholesale is the problem

    If it wasn't for BT Wholesale charging such stupid money for BT Central pipes to ISPs, ISPs wouldn't be complaining about the BBC iplayer or P2P or any other high bandwidth applications.

    All an ISPs DSL traffic (unless you're Sky or Carphone Whorehouse with your own equipment in exchanges) has to go over BT Central pipes, and these are priced to actively disencourage use of the customer's DSL connection.

  5. Phil Green

    Stopping KService

    The only problem with stopping the KService is that it renders the whole P2P concept useless if everybody does it as the BBC servers will suffer the Slashdot effect (and then there'll be complaints about it being slow) when noone else hosts the files.

    Lest we forget, it's only if you've got a programme that someone else wants to watch that the service then starts to use your upstream bandwidth, just like any P2P file. Even then, if 300 people have the programme then you'll get less bandwidth usage as the one who wants to watch it doesn't have to get it all from you. It would be nice to have some limiting, but anybody hardcore enough to care about how much upstream is being used will have QoS enabled on their customised router so they can continue playing WoW without lag.

  6. Robert Long

    Sales and Marketing

    Of course, there wouldn't be an issue if ISPs didn't insist on fraudulently selling bandwidth they don't have. But, naturally, it must be someone else's fault for providing content the ISP's customers might actually want.

  7. Chris Miller


    I've been a beta user of iPlayer for a while now (and, for me anyway, it has worked well and delivered excellent quality pictures). I've no experience with P2P systems, but I can definitely state that I've seen no unusual/unexpected bandwidth usage (which for me is normally in the range of 3-4GB a month). Kservice has used 16 seconds of CPU time in the last 10 hours, although I agree that it can be a bit of a hog while downloading progs.

  8. Martin Owens

    KService? Kontiki?

    Why do I get this gut wrenching feeling that the KDE programmers where involved somewhere here ;-)

    The iplayer is still not working on my linux computer or my wife's mac; thus it's a pointless investment of the BBCs time and money.

  9. ad47uk

    Not just IPlayer

    The Iplayer is not the only service that use P2P, Sky and others do as well, to be honest I don't blame BT or any other ISP getting a bit upset about this. After all why should an ISp help the BBc, Sky or any other service make money?

    I never agreed withhe BBc starting this IPlayer in the first place, they are wasting my money on something I will not use, I think I should have a reduction in my license fee.

    Instead of wasting money on this the BBc should think about not having so many repeats.

    If I ran an ISP, I would block anything that came though Kservice if it was possible.

    I also understand that BT, Tiscali and any other ISp that is doing a TVoIP service is also a bit worried about their own service. TBH, TVoIp in this country is a watse of time, the system is not up to it.

  10. Dillon Pyron

    Usage limits

    How much BT Vision would one have to watch to hit the GB limit? Or does that not count against your limit, since BT is providing it?

    Accusatory minds want to know.

  11. Mo


    ad47uk is correct about the iPlayer not being the only service to use P2P—indeed, almost all of the IPTV services from traditional broadcasters use Kontiki.

    The point about P2P is that it scales, and it scales *in the ISP's favour*: instead of massive amounts of data being transferred to and from its network to the BBC, P2P helps keep the vast majority of traffic within an ISP's own network.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You state that because you don't want IPlayer and won't use it, the BBC shouldn't provide it as a service. What about the following:

    BBC Asian Network

    BBC News 24



    Radios 1,2,3 & 4

    All the local radio stations

    All the special interest groups on their web sites

    BBC World service

    etc. etc.

    These were just a few things that I thought of off the top of my head, lots of people do want iplayer, lots of people would be happy for the entire list above to be scrapped because they don't want their money paying for it, however lots of people do want these services. Furthermore the UK and to a certain extent the rest of the world would be a poorer place if we got rid of them.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: BT Wholesale is the problem

    I believe OFCOM ensure that BT cannot charge a fair price, to ensure LLU works, instead of falling flat.

    I personally don't like it, as it means that me, in an exchange with no chance of LLU (as well as another 4000) has to put up with caps, slower speeds and shaping.

    I hope the new 21CN-based wholesale product is free of OFCOM meddling.

  14. Andrew Smith


    With such serious bandwidth limits from most ISPs isn't it a bit much to ask us to share each of the files? Why can't we just download it from the BBC and watch it, instead of slowing down out net access and eating away at such small bandwidth limits.

  15. Tim

    Re: The Truth about Kontiki...

    Well that's P2P for you.

    You can stop and start it like any 'proper' P2P app, and other than that it will behave like a 'proper' P2P app and deliver content to other users, using your bandwidth.

    In fact a 'configurable' P2P app that denies other users from using your bandwidth isn't a 'proper' P2P app.

    The only flaw about using Kontiki is not explaining clearly to users how it will behave.

    But if ISPs were to plan ahead for the future of the Internet and move away from the limited asynchronous and throttled model of broadband, then the whole thing wouldn't be an issue anyway.

  16. bruce

    Tiscali winge winge winge

    Hmm.. so this is the reason the failing and relatively unpopular (with it's users) ISP Tiscali is using for having a under invested and over subscribed network. BT are not complaining and Etna, Easynet, Zen etc are not as they have invested in their side of the network and have a good buissness plan. Tiscali are currently switching over as many as their customers to their LLU service which doesn't even use BT core network, so why they mentioned BT i do not know. It seems it is thier own businesses plan ie cheap broadband that is not helping them.. The real reason they are worried is that with a over subscribed network a popular service like iplayer could cripple thier network no ones else's. Hence why no other companies than them have come forward (have CPW even officially commented?) They will then have to limit their customers to that service or charge more. Customer will then not put up with thier shoddy customer service or flaky internet.. and flock to etna/zen/easynet/bt who can handle it.

    If you are having speed and network issues with Tiscali there is more than likely only Tiscali to blame.

    Have a look at any review site for example Dsl Zone you will find they are rated as one of the worst ISp's and have had complaints aired on the BBC's Watchdog, they are hardly ones to talk out and try and suggest things to other companies or corporations.

    Also they are being a a bit daft seeing as they have just launched their own TV over Internet service themselves and recently signed up to offer more content ie Setanta ... so are they just having a dig at the Beeb for the laugh of it? Or think this will help their service take off?

    However i can see why BT have spoke out about the Kservice issue as you could imagine people are complaining they are not using bandwidth but are not actually aware there PC is by itself., also their core network must be seeing slight increases in traffic due to unaware PC users having this active but it's far from crashing the "network" but it is a needless waste of ISP/BT resources. Which all cost money.

    Also in relation to the above comment "BT Wholesale is the problem" in about BT's wholesale price being expensive i suggest you should aim your anger at the Govt / Ofcom as it them that is regulating BT in regards to LLU competition and demanding they keep their prices artificially high to help ISP's like Tiscali succeed in rolling out LLU at local exchanges therefore providing BT with competition to keep an unbiased balanced market which isn't working as the majority of people are just having to pay more. They are also the ones which could solve another issue distance related speed issues that other countries do not have as Ofcom are currently blocking any fibre to front door in the UK. Why so that Cable companies can be more competitive towards BT.

  17. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    To ad47uk and Mo

    ad47uk, "The Iplayer is not the only service that use P2P, Sky and others do as well, to be honest I don't blame BT or any other ISP getting a bit upset about this. After all why should an ISp help the BBc, Sky or any other service make money?"

    It shouldn't matter to the ISP - if anyone is going to be upset, it should be the customer. If the ISP charges a reasonable price for it's service, without misleading ads, and also, a clearly visible/coherent AUP and / or cap, then the ISP shouldn't care - just the user that is capped or has to pay more.

    The reason the ISP's ARE worried is that, has already been said, their model works on selling you a service they expect you not to use (I mean, use to the limits of what they are promising you)

    I'm not one of these 'ISPs charge too much .blahblah..' complainers -- I still remember the times I had to pay about 4 quid an hour for 2,400 baud dialup!

    But it's their DISHONEST selling that is now shooting them in the foot.

    Mo, "The point about P2P is that it scales, and it scales *in the ISP's favour*: instead of massive amounts of data being transferred to and from its network to the BBC, P2P helps keep the vast majority of traffic within an ISP's own network."

    That doesn't help at all -- the issue here is the expensive 'last hop' -- from the ISP, over BT's backbone, to the users exchange, and then finally their computer. The only way p2p can help with that is if some sort of special BT/BBC proxy setup is made in local exchanges - but even that's nigh on impossible based on the fact that most users traffic is tunnelled through ATM right from source until it reaches the ISPs network.

    The BBC can (and does) peer for free with ISP's if they want - so even non-p2p wouldn't be a major worry, if it wasn't for the BT hop.

  18. CharleyBoy

    License Fee

    You don't pay your license fee to the BBC for services. You pay your license fee to the Government for the privilege of receiving realtime (or near-realtime) video broadcasts. The Gov. then allocates it for public services television - so far it all goes to the BBC (some is earmarked for SKY in the near future as a one off payment, I believe).

    They deliberately confuse things by having the BBC act as a public authority in collecting the damned thing - who then sensibly distance themselves by paying a third party to do the actual grunt work.

    Make no mistake this is a tax, a hypothecated tax no less, If you need context thing road tax for video broadcasts. If you need more info, or want to confirm this, check out the governments office of statistics, the Lor Justice Aulds review of the criminal justice system. Hell, just google "hypothecated tax television".

    Personally, I think they should just come out an make it very, very plain to the population that this is a tax, and not a "fee", for the BBC.

  19. Andy Tyzack


    this story is a load of crap, they must assume that the bbc iplayer is the first p2p software created and if they are going to detect p2p traffic and cap the data rate, then so be it. No big deal there since this is already being done. ADSL & Cable internet.

    We never had this when kazaa was released near on 5 years ago or channel4od for that matter. SO WHY NOW

    In response to the first post, I have a program called netlimiter, its not free but allows me to shape my own traffic, if i dont want kservice to use my internet, i simply drop the connection down to 1k. If I do this however, the download speed slows and it takes me about a fortnight to get a program. Im not desperate to watch it there and then.

    Oh, and the freak who said "the internet wasnt built for transferring video", wants put up against a wall and shot.

    Rant over,

    thank you and goodnight!

  20. teacake

    @Martin Owens

    "The iplayer is still not working on my linux computer or my wife's mac; thus it's a pointless investment of the BBCs time and money."

    Oh, I'd wondered what the phrase "The BBC will only direct resources into projects that are of use to Martin Owens or his wife." in the BBC Charter meant...

  21. james dobson

    P2P ISP Moaning

    1) I *PAY* the ISP for a connection, this connection has a limit if *I* go over the limit I pay more. This basically means that if an ISP says I only have a 1 GB limit then what I choice to do with that 1GB is entirely up to me.

    2) If the ISP can't cope with the bandwidth they have three options reduce the bandwidth limit, upgrade there network or change there pricing (up or down) anything else is an excuse.

    3) Any P2P traffic that is confined to there IP block is cheaper for the ISP as it doesn't transit across there external links (unless there routing is wrong), this makes local caches/proxies an attractive solution but can be a legal gray area (thanks to our mostly dumb laws put in place to protect business and not customers).

    4) The whole industry (ISP) is basically trying to get profit out of existing copper networks (with the old BT fibre network in places), this is never going to work in the 21st century as bandwidth requirements are only going to go up i.e. HD content.

    If I was getting my internet connection for free then I would agree that they might complain about other companies using there network, as I *PAY* them to use there network with a limit I can't see how any of them can complain.

  22. Martni Rouf


    Most users won't realise it does 'stuff' in the background. But thankfully users of ISPs like Zen won't have to worry as upstream traffic isn't taken into account when calculating a user's bandwidth usage.

  23. Frank Bough


    Why can't we just have MPEG4 via multicast? Why do we have to suffer this P2P nonsense? IP is CLEARLY NOT the way to deliver broadcast TV anyway, but seeing as every single person in broadcasting seems to believe that it's inevitable, isn't it better that they just use the bloody protocols and video technologies that were designed to do the job in the first place?

    And does anyone know why I need to have a fixed-line telephone to get satellite TV from SkyHD? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

  24. Lyndon Hills

    @p2p Andy

    <quote>We never had this when kazaa was released near on 5 years ago or channel4od for that matter. SO WHY NOW</quote>

    At a guess because with the BBC backing it takeup is likely to be massive. I wonder how many normal (ie not IT folk or kids) people actually use p2p, or know that Channel4OD exist?

  25. Rob

    @Frank Bough

    You need a fixed line for the Box to dial home and get it's setup done. After that it will dial home or recieve updates, you also need it to program sky+ from the web.

    You can disconnect the line from the box once setup is done, but Sky would prefer if you left it plugged in for at least 12 months otherwise they inccur a cost from the contract they have setup with a telco for their set-top boxes.

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