back to article How the BBC plans to save your ISP

The BBC iPlayer is now an undeniable success with consumers. The technological mistakes and management waste of its lengthy gestation are almost forgotten in the flush of popular excitement surrounding the fact that now - at last - quality television is available on demand on the web. A hostage to this success, the Corporation …

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  1. Ryan Bass
    Thumb Up

    Nice work Chris

    Enjoyed the article a lot.

  2. umacf24

    Over a Barrel

    The BBC are on top here. If I was them, I would be offering to licence the content on to CDNs provisioned by the ISP. "Install and pay for this kit, or your users will trample your core network...."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Concept valid, need dubious, implementation impossible?

    This concept has appeal on paper, especially to people who don't know how BT's broadband network works internally.

    In practice, the way BT currently implement IPstream make the idea impractical (or impossible) to implement. Whether it will be any different once BT's much over-hyped 21CN arrives remains to be seen.

    It's probably practical for the LLU guys to interconnect their exchange kit to an exchange-based content delivery network, but why would they want to? This is about money not technology, it's about BT charging a fortune to interconnect from their network to the non-LLU ISP's networks, and the LLU guys don't have to pay BT that cost, they have their own non-BT networks.

    Go back to the original Plusnet article re the impact of streaming. Then read the associated article on the costs of broadband (and the one on the impact 21CN pricing will have in non-LLU areas), links below. You might conclude that the content delivery "problem" in the UK is down to (non-existent) regulation of BTwholesale monopoly pricing.

    http://community.plus.net/blog/2008/02/28/how-uk-isps-are-charged-for-broadband-the-cost-of-ipstream/

    http://community.plus.net/blog/2007/10/01/21cn-and-regional-pricing/

  4. michael W
    Flame

    fiber network?

    The argument involving the possible FTTH or even FTTC deployment is rediciulous unless it's going to take the BBC 5+ years to deploy this CDN locally to users.

    I seriously can not see any fiber deployment in the near future unless it's government funded and I highly doubt that will happen.

    Also the idea of putting servers in every local exchange would surely end up costing way more than the BBC would ever think of putting into the iPlayer project.

    the only real way this is going to end up will be servers at the ISP level to keep the cost for them down so they do not try and create a backlash against the BBC

  5. Paul
    Thumb Up

    Good for Virgin Media?

    Once the virgin version of iplayer comes on stream early april (apparently) not only will VM TV customers be able to have access to the full iplayer library in better quality than via the bbc website but this would mean, one assumes, a lower usage of the virgin media broadband for the internet iplayer than other ISPs?

  6. michael

    isp's victam of marketing

    they are stuck they should never have offered the "unlimited" packages but it was SUCH a good marketing gimik and how much bandwith can pepol realy use they said and just look at how meny pepol will switch to us we will be rich and now they are stuck they can not stop offdering "unlimited" cos unless every boady dose pepol will switch off them

  7. Chris
    Alert

    Of course the ISPs have been very positive...

    ...after all, if the BBC is willing to install a CDN, either in ISP network centres, or telephone exchanges, at the BBCs expense, how can the ISPs loose?

    If fiber to the home (ever) goes ahead, the ISPs loose nothing. If it doesn't, then they are saving on bandwidth costs. An ideal solution for them.

    The only possible looser here is the BBC - they stand to waste the investment in a CDN if the local loop goes fiber.

    The real question we should be considering is: does the BBC know something the rest of us don't?

    After all, installing a nation-wide CDN is not something to be considered lightly - unless of course you already KNOW that there is little or no realistic chance of the local loop being fibered up...

    The only other explanation I can see for the BBC giving the idea any serious consideration is their propensity for squandering license payer's money.

    So, inside information about the probability of a fiber local loop in the near future?

    Or, lack of fiscal caution?

    Go on - you choose.

  8. Dam
    Flame

    ISPs point ?

    Wait, what is the ISPs' point here ?

    That the BBC's player eats bandwidth ?

    They're blaming users for using the bandwidth they've subscribed to ?

    Or are they saying the 20mbs you're paying for was never even close to 3mbs in the first place, because ISPs sell bandwidth they don't have ?

    They sell bandwidth at overly inflated rates:

    "Hey pal we've installed you a 10gbs line, but you can only use 2kbs at a time because we sold it to 6bill other users and our network can't cope; however let's agree you pay for a 10gbs subscription".

    ISPs

    Got

    Bitten

    Back

    \o/

  9. tom

    Not our problem guv

    I don't quite know why the Reg has been so keen on peddling this muck recently.

    It's quite simple: the introduction of capacity based charging over the past few years has tightened ISP margins to such an extent that it makes sense for them to campaign for tighter control of what flows down their pipes. It's not the user's fault that ISPs have gone down the wrong commerical path, exacerbated by BT Wholesale's CBC structure.

    Users are paying for a pipe, they should be allowed to use it!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC Should ignore the critics

    Whenever the BBC does anything, the creeps come out of the woodwork and attack it. So telecoms companies will cry foul and attempt to force Beeb to pay them extortionate fees to do this, and News International will do it's attack (Because Sky competes with the new Freesat) and a bunch of others will crawl out of their respective holes trying to enrich themselves.

    (Remember how the BBC did their iPlayer plans, and lobbying started to get DRM in it, effectively crippling their P2P player by restricting it to only PCs and then only Windows PC, and then only Windows PCs with Media Player where the person had accepted the DRM agreement....).

    Beeb should ignore the critics and get on with it. Better still they should build exit nodes at the UK and *sell* or get adverts into any programs (even radio) that it is allowed by contract to profit from. BBC World is restricted to what it can fit on 1 channel, but that doesn't need to be so. They have a huge back catalogue that could generate them a lot of money.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Re: ISPs point ?

    Exactly. I don't see why this is a BBC problem.

    They're providing the content. The people are paying the ISPs for delivery. If the ISPs can't perform this service, they need to spend more money on their own infrastructure, or be squashed by OFCOM for not delivering what they're contractually obliged to.

  12. Pete James

    I'll never hit target this month........

    Does this perhaps the beginning of pay-per-view with the BBC? If the beeb have a distributed presence then they can deliver content potentially on demand in a sort of half-arsed version of NTL (if you can get half-arsed compared to that bunch), then of course in time they can establish a separate channel via iPlayer and then demand a fee from viewers to see content. Not only that, but if it proved popular then they could conceivably restrict viewing to the users of that ISP only - thus making them a premium content provider demanding payment for the siting of their boxes in each ISP - so they'd have cash coming in from both ends of the food chain.

    Depending on your stance this is good or bad. Personally if it means we have someone finally able to square up to Murdoch then it's a 'good thing', but there are plenty of negatives to chew over too.

  13. Robert Cunningham
    Unhappy

    Stuff and nonsence

    Oh dear oh dear..

    Another crazy example of the BBC trying to diversify from its core objectives. Let the ISP's figure out how to get content to the consumer. The last thing I want is the BBC wasting more of my cash on things they know very little about. I quite happily get BBC streams on BT Vision. BT/Virgin and all other the other ISP's have the experience in doing this stuff.

    But out BBC, and watch my words when I say that it will only be a matter of time before the BBC petition the government that we all should pay an internet license!

  14. Pete

    let's see if I've understood this

    The BBCbroadcasts programmes via TV signal, and then provides some content from it's internet servers for people who forgot to watch it the first time. OK so far.

    Now,the ISPs are whinging that all this extra traffic is actually using their resources. Riiiight.

    So the BBC are planning to put copies of their internet servers in (some) ISPs premises, to cache the content the viewers ask for. Thus effectively giving the ISPs some of our licence fee. Hmmm.

    Here's a radical plan: why not put some hardware in people's houses? You could send the programmes to it using the TV signals the BBC already broadcasts. That way they'll have the data locally - so they won't have to stream it across the internet. You could call it a BBC programme recorder - no, too long. How about: BBC TV recorder - hmmm, not very snappy. Why not generalise it, to record programmes from *any* TV station? That's it! we'll call it a VIDEO RECORDER.

    I wonder if such a device would catch on?

  15. Steven Jones

    Logical flaw?

    FTTH by itself will noit fix the problem or makes exchange-based caching services irrelevant. FTTH is about putting higher bandwidth from the exchange to the household. What it will do is create extra demand from the exchange to the central connections points. It still makes sense to cache commonly accessed data at the edge of the network as it avoids at least some of the massive costs involved in uplifting the connections to the exchange. However, what is required is not a BBC specific caching service - what is really needed is a service-neutral caching service to which any operator can interconnect. However, achieving this would be extremely difficult given the many ways in which operators connect.

    As for anonymous coward, BTW wholesale rates are heavily regulated in order to leave a margin for LLU operators and those of datastream services. There are plenty of studies on the Ofcom website if you care to look. BTW can't reduce interconnect costs arbitraily low for regulatory and competition law reasons. There are some new moves to divide exchanges up into duifferent competition groups so that interconnect rates to popular, low-cost exchanges could be reduced.

  16. Jacqui Caren

    @fiber network

    But NThell already provide fibre to the home[0]!

    At least that is what a last months flyer trying to get people to sign up to more than thier yoyo broadband was inferring.

    It also inferred that bandwidth was not an issue - because fibre can handle thousand of channels at once.

    Jacqui

    [0[ if you can call copper fibre.

  17. Matt

    Bandwidth

    It seems to be a typically British problem, no investment in infrastructure. Where I am now I can get a 4Mb connection and guess what, I get 4Mb! I can pay more and get 16, but for me 4 is enough.

    The ISP is simply a carrier of data and, as has been said, they shouldn't offer what they haven't got.

    The only real way for the UK to keep up with the rest of the world is to get fibre closer to the door and invest in infrastructure.

    Two other thoughts while I'm here:

    1. If I remember rightly, BT kept trying to push me towards ISDN and dragged their feet over ADSL. I think there are still areas in the UK without ADSL.

    2. Could it be that the Internet is becoming less popular? The media has nicely hyped it for some years but I've noticed my non-IT friends seem to be using it less now that they've stopped using Facebook. Some of them have even started meeting real people again! Is the Internet going to become like a once fashionable restaurant?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Just a fad?

    I wonder how much long term appeal iPlayer has or if people will get bored with it after a few months like with the social networking sites - an initial explosion of interest then lots of people getting bored? There must be a lot of "oooh lets have a go on that!" especially with the BBC advertising it so much at the moment. How many of these people are going to keep using it after the initial... "humm... I can watch old TV programs again... what else does it do?" wears off?

    I for one am not interested, I've got a Sky+ PVR which watches 2 channels at once for me already so I don't have to!

    Chris

    P.S. I'll get my coat and go outside into the _real world_, with the fresh air and the sunshine.

  19. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Over a barrel

    "The BBC are on top here. If I was them, I would be offering to licence the content on to CDNs provisioned by the ISP. "Install and pay for this kit, or your users will trample your core network...."

    To which the ISPs simply respond, "OK we'll start charging our customers by the gigabyte and remove all caps on transfer limits." At which point, film and music piracy on the internet falls to a tiny fraction of its current level, dozy users wake up to the fact that they've been pumping spam to the world for the past few years, and the iPlayer is shown up to be the totally unviable product that it always was.

    Sounds like a win-win-don'tgiveatoss situation to me.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  21. Robert T

    Why should the BBC pay?

    Isn't it in the interest of the ISPs to reduce bandwidth? How about if the BBC just provided the software (already a substantial investment) to provide cached streaming of content and left it up to ISPs to implement it (within contractual agreements) and pay for it, since it will in effect save the ISPs significant bandwidth and therefore money to implement it. Combine that with some DNS based service discovery in the software to identify the closest servers (and a way to temporarily circumvent the broken server, in case the server has issues) and I think the BBC could save a whole lot of money.

    I think that most ISPs (who do not have conflicting agreements regarding content) would gladly provide caches for P2P applications also, if it would save them money. The biggest issue is that most P2P protocols aren't easily cacheable, and P2P architects who don't cater for this should be beaten.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    traffic is cheap

    the ISP's get their traffic pretty cheaply for transit. its the big costs paid to BT to deliver said traffic across their copper to the home user (via DSL) which is the big cost.

    a CDN network is pointless and a waste of tax payers money. the networks can easily carry the traffic. a simple peering exchange will suffice to get the traffic into the ISP's network.

    so unless the government steps in and there are more LLU, the BBC can throw all the money they like at helping the ISP's but it won't help.

  23. Werner McGoole
    Unhappy

    Honesty is the best policy

    So the ISPs sold us bandwidth they didn't have. And now we want to use it. That's a problem the ISPs have to fix for themselves; possibly by being honest with their customers. Guess that's asking a lot.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Unlimited Comeuppance

    Its about time that the ISPs suffered from their selling of unlimited broadband. They have made vast amounts of money from it over the last few years.

    Hopefully the number of people using the iPlayer will steadily increece and it will force their hand to upgrade the network. The ISPs got themselves in the situation so they can get themselves out or fail trying. Maybe they will pay or maybe they can actually use their lobbying power to persuade the government to Subsidise the Network.

    Either way I hope the BBC doesn't have to put servers in every exchange. They are a content provider and not a network/pipe provider and as such should not have to pay because people are actually using what they pay for!!!

  25. Steve
    Go

    @AC - obliged to?

    "they need to spend more money on their own infrastructure, or be squashed by OFCOM for not delivering what they're contractually obliged to."

    What is it you think they are obliged to provide, they certainly aren't obliged to provide access to iPlayer if they don't want, they are perfectly free to throttle that traffic just as they do with p2p traffic. Hell, if they want they can block it entirely.

    See how much the BBC has them over a barrel if every ISP just blocked it...

    Saying that, I looked at the figures in the last scare story and they simply didn't add up, I didn't get a reply to my email to the author though.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't want to complain but...

    Serious rant coming up. No apologies for accuracy or lack thereof.

    Am I sick to death of telecoms/internet services in this country.

    Ten years ago it was the telcos complaining that they couldn't do flat-rate unmetered dialup (because those rich seams of interconnect fees were too tasty to ignore), then the farces that was FRIACO and SurfTime. Then ADSLv1 was finally deployed at a rate which defied credibility, with speeds that defied credibility. Then BT Wholesale realised that charging the ISPs per bit was much more profitable, maintaining their monopoly on the telecoms infrastructure of the nation.

    I am so bored of hearing these piss poor excuses leaking out of every internet provider, "it's too expensive, people use too much bandwidth, streaming can't be done, blah blah blah" - if the margins are so tight, fuck off out of the market and let people who can provide a service move in. None of you are content providers, and there is not a path between "infrastructure provision" and "content licensor". Your "customer portals" (if I ever met the person who coined *that* concept I'd stab them in the face) are aggregations of other people's uninteresting feeds, and will - ultimately - go the way of AOL (here's a tasty mug of clue).

    Maybe it's the dolts in the street who fuck it all up requiring costly call centres full of script droids bleating "reboot"? The great unwashed who can't distinguish between equipment and service ("Dear Freeserve, Word won't work..."). Actually, no, the great unwashed were invited to join the "information superwankway" by these self-same companies who now struggle to provide a service they begged the techno-illiterate to take up ("Get music! Look at webs! Webcam with grandparents!").

    So, they go the way of the PC manufacturers and install multiple "value added" softwares on each subscriber PC (a genuine complaint from my mate's Mum - "why does it take 10 minutes to load the internet?" Because a certain incumbent state telco has given you so much additional software - 4 XP system services, 3 dialers, plus 3 - count 'em - THREE firewalls, and I'm not even talking about the hacked up IE "custom" browser). Because just like malware, they get thruppence per installation.

    I've never come across such a whiny industry. Always pissing and complaining that they may actually have to serve up what they misleadingly claim to offer.

    Is there not a market for an internet provider, that provides a fast, unmetered internet access, for a reasonable cost. No value adds, no support beyond "our network is cool, the problem's your end, JFGI", no "free web space", no "portal", just a cool, clear connection that works? Or is such a thing an impossibility?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multicast?

    I thought that the BBC were trying to get round this problem using multicast (http://www.bbc.co.uk/multicast/). It looks like they have got this working already at a range of ISPs for radio already (you can get higher quality streams that way). and they are doing trials with TV.

    This sounds a lot cheaper solution or am I missing the point.

    Actually thinking about it, multicast would only work if everyone was watching the same thing at the same time, is that right? Surely though there must be some caching going on at the ISPs to help this.

  28. Naadir Jeewa
    Go

    Multicast vapourware

    Is the problem with the long-fabled multicast technology that it was designed for the broadcast era, not streaming on demand. Still, couldn't multicast be utilised for those who use Kontiki to download iPlayer content?

  29. Craig

    @VIDEO RECORDER

    I've often wondered why the iplayer needs to be, and why we have all those annoying +1 versions of channels. All the data was sent out and received already as TV signals already, which is lot more efficient than using the net.

    Local storage is cheap. I've got a media center PC with 4 freeview tuners in it and it's recording pretty much constantly. It's very easy to start grabbing anything interesting like all the movies, the local news, and anything else goes on a series link. I don't watch it all, but it seems with my set-up I've already out done any 'on demand' service.

  30. Krissie
    Alert

    net neutrality

    As ever, the problem doesn't lie with the BBC, or with ISP's... the problem lies with BT - the people that own and deliver the core infrastructure. Trouble is, the copper cable are a decade behind their time, and the cost of bandwidth too high. If there were a proper fibre infrastructure in place, there's be no need for heavily stratified/tiered broadband provision, as bandwidth wouldn't be so much of an issue

  31. James
    Flame

    A quick fix would be to use pre-fetch

    One possible way to quickly reduce cost would be to have a client on the PC/setop box using prefetch of content the user wants to see.

    These would be scheduled to download at night using the spare capacity that seems to currently be available on the ISPs backhaul circuits.

    Obviously getting the mix right would be tricky - you wouldn't want to download content the user does not want to watch - wasting bandwidth.

    However I imagine if the BBC delayed the most popular content by 12-24 hours so it falls into the quiet midnight to 6am period and then used a combination of

    1. Allowing the user to subscribe to a channel (a specific series for instance).

    2. Tracked what content the user likes.

    Have not done the figures but I imagine it would be possible to remove a good chunk of data from the peak periods (6pm to midnight I believe).

    Just my 1p worth.

  32. BeachBoy
    Black Helicopters

    The broadband drug

    I must have broadband, I must have broadband, I must have more broadband .... ok little boy here's a nice shiny 45 Meg line, much better than that little 2 Meg one.

    Of course what the dealer (woops sorry ISP) didn't tell you was it was exactly the same as what you had before, a 50:1 contended connection going into the same back haul from the the exchange all they did was magically increase the speed between your house and the exchange. Its all smoke and mirrors.

    Ultimately if you want a decent connection you are going to have to pay for it. Tomorrow I could have installed in my a house a 45MB internet connection with a contention ratio of better than 5:1 that would actually give me 45MB in both directions. Its called a T3 connection, and several ISP's in the UK could/would quite happily sell me one including BT, the downside is the cost (approx 1500-2000 GBP a month).

    Wake up consumers there is no such thing as free lunch, if you want something you have to pay for it, and until you get off your crack head approach to broadband the ISP's(dealers) will continue to sell you junk and then whine about doing so.

    PS. here's a tip sign: up to BT's business broadband service, it costs more, but the contention ratio is much lower (only 20:1 last time I checked) so you're more likely to get what they are selling you

  33. Jerry
    Thumb Down

    What about multicast?

    Multicast was invented so that people could 'tune' into a 'channel' and receive the same content as everyone else at the same time. The network effect is dramatic.

    Only one stream of packets is sent by the the originator. The clients select the 'channel' they want to watch. The network infrastructure (See CISCO) is intelligent enough to route the packets (and copies) to every consumer. What this means is that the network carries the burden of duplicating and distributing a video stream, not the source.

    This network content/load management goes all the way to the DSLAM. Effectively every exchange DSLAM only gets one copy of the video and then redistributes it to all clients wanting to watch.

    All that is required is to treat the video stream as a broadcast rather than an on-demand video.

    When the providers go to individual on-demand scenario the network will immediately fail. There is no duplication of data so the demand will immediately outstrip the capacity of the network to deliver.

    if the BBC was serious it would schedule multiple 'channels' and work with IPSs to provide multicast enabled networks.

  34. Jon Press

    Paying for the delivery channel...

    It's an interesting one. Historically, the BBC has paid the costs of delivering its programmes to the home - the terrestrial and satellite transmission costs. However, it doesn't contribute to the cost of operating the cable network and the argument for funding a CDN seems very weak. The real problem is the ADSL network, but that by definition is reaching people at fixed locations where a PVR with enough capacity (and maybe a network port) could do the job of iPlayer - with none of the restrictions. Given the many different formats of out-of-the-home devices (iPods, laptops, phones), it certainly doesn't seem like the BBC should be paying for every possible format shift that may be required by new client devices and certainly not the infrastructre for content delivery.

    On the other hand, there's a strong argument for putting kit into exchanges to do multicast/unicast conversions for live streaming (given the woeful state of multicast support in consumer equipment) which might actually produce some genuinely new broadcast opportunities. That's something the Public Service Broadcasters might want to think about funding collectively.

  35. Jaster

    BT is not the problem

    BT offered to make all local calls free - Ofcom said no that would be monopolistic (because no-one else could do it)

    BT offered to Fibre everyone in the UK but only if they could become a TV provider (like Virgin/SKy all the cable companies) but no that would be a monopoly ...

    So we are stuck with a semi monopoly who struggles on with copper and everyone else leeching of them because they don't want to fibre the nation (your ISP almost certainly does not have their own connection they leech off BT Wholesale and so pay by their rules)

    The only exception is VirginMedia/NTL who are the result of all the mergers and takeovers of the majority of the cable companies who cabled some (the profitable bits) of the UK

  36. steogede
    Thumb Down

    Windows only DRM crap

    If the download system weren't such a DRM'd piece of crap and used a wasn't p2p based and just used regular files (a la podcasting) then the demand for the streaming version would plummet and the ISPs could cache the files to their hearts content.

    I can't believe the BBC are considering wasting money on a CDN when all they need do is remove the DRM so that the download service can take off and the ISPs can simply cache it like they would anything else.

  37. Alex Tomkins

    Is this really that useful?

    How does all of this save the ISP? Each ISP tends to have their own set of problems regarding high bandwidth usage, they're not the same!

    ISPs which resell the BT product (IPStream) aren't going to see much benefits. Having servers on the ISPs network won't help, sure it'll save them some external bandwidth - but the big cost for them is transferring the data over the BT network to the end customer. Plusnet calculated this at about £126.86/Mbps, where as the external bandwidth was about £20/Mbps.

    Yes it's going to be a saving for an ISP to cache BBC iPlayer content on their network, they could save some of the external bandwidth usage. But given the nature of how BT ADSL works it isn't going to save them on their most expensive part - transferring data over the BT network.

  38. Paul

    @steogede

    In this case the DRM is a 'necessary evil' as without it the BBC would not be able to distribute anything. To say 'just drop the DRM' is to fail to understand the restrictions the BBC are under in providing these alternate methods of watching programs.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Be carefull what you wish for!!

    "Re: ISPs point ?

    By Anonymous CowardPosted Wednesday 19th March 2008 09:32 GMT Exactly. I don't see why this is a BBC problem.

    They're providing the content. The people are paying the ISPs for delivery. If the ISPs can't perform this service, they need to spend more money on their own infrastructure, or be squashed by OFCOM for not delivering what they're contractually obliged to."

    Great idea, and the moment this implemented you cost of your connection rockets! ISP provide a cheap service because this is what consumers want!!! if the cost is low, then the profet is low.. if the profet is low then their is no room for major improvment when needed.. A few points.. ISP's cant win this battle.. they provide a cheap service you complain their is no bandwidth.. they switch and provide an expensive one with the bandwidth you complain its to expensive..

    I think what the BBC are doing with this is looking at the problem and providing a solution for its userbase.. More than can be said for the other TV providers that are offering services of this nature..

  40. Dam

    Re various comments

    Quote from reply: "Over a barrel"

    "To which the ISPs simply respond, "OK we'll start charging our customers by the gigabyte and remove all caps on transfer limits." At which point, film and music piracy on the internet falls to a tiny fraction of its current level"

    You mean, at which point every user switches to a 128kbs line which will be MORE THAN ENOUGH for email and browsing, for $5 a month ?

    ISPs are going to make a fortune.

    -------

    Quote from reply: "Obliged to"

    "What is it you think they are obliged to provide, they certainly aren't obliged to provide access to iPlayer if they don't want, they are perfectly free to throttle that traffic just as they do with p2p traffic. Hell, if they want they can block it entirely."

    Can you spell breach of contract ?

    They have a right to manage their network, however completely blocking a site or service for arbitrary reasons is a denial of the service they've contracted themselves to provide.

    No service, no contract.

    -------

    Quote from "I don't want to complain"

    "Is there not a market for an internet provider, that provides a fast, unmetered internet access, for a reasonable cost. No value adds, no support beyond "our network is cool, the problem's your end, JFGI", no "free web space", no "portal", just a cool, clear connection that works? Or is such a thing an impossibility?"

    Free in France ?

    Their customer support is piss poor but the network is awesome.

    Unlimited offer for 24mbs tops, of course usually you're closer to 10-20 but that's still very good.

    Did I mention I'm 900m away from the exchange and I'm grabbing from newsgroups at 2mbytes per sec, which is around 22mbits ?

    Going for €29 per month, and they're deploying fiber as we speak.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @ Steve

    ""they need to spend more money on their own infrastructure, or be squashed by OFCOM for not delivering what they're contractually obliged to."

    What is it you think they are obliged to provide, they certainly aren't obliged to provide access to iPlayer if they don't want, they are perfectly free to throttle that traffic just as they do with p2p traffic. Hell, if they want they can block it entirely."

    When my ISP put in my Terms and Conditions that I cannot visit the BBC iPlayer, then I'll stop using it. (and them, I'll switch to an ISP that gives me what I pay for - access to the *internet*, not filtered access to the bits of the internet that they permit me to see)

    Until then, I'm paying for a pipe, and what I pull down through that pipe is my business, not theirs.

    I'm paying for a service, they're obliged to provide that service for as long as I keep paying them.

  42. James Pickett

    @Craig

    "All the data was sent out and received already as TV signals already, which is lot more efficient than using the net"

    I agree. One of the things you notice about broadcasts in comparison to broadband is that you almost never get interruptions and it's impossible to overload. A PVR is a much better solution to time-shifting, IMHO.

    IIRC, BT offered to wire up the country with optical fibres, but this was before privatisation, and Mrs T thought they must be up to something and blocked it. Silly cow.

  43. Nigel R Silver badge

    What to do with all the spare banwidth in 2013?

    Not much doubt that within 5 years a (very) cheap PVR will buffer all of the 10 favourite channels for a week or 2. So the traffic arrives thru the aerial and the server is in the home under the TV set. We'll just have to think of another way to use up all that surplus ISP bandwidth in 2013. HDTV thru one's ISP anyone?

  44. adnim

    I may have missed something...

    And I may be totally ignorant of some fiscal point to all this. But why provide this service at all? It costs the BBC money to do this, our licence fees, which imho could be put to much better use. Unless they start tagging adverts onto the content, I cannot see how this brings revenue to back to them. Can someone please enlighten me here? Seems to me it is money wasted on couch potatoes who's lethargic and sedentary lifestyle will put an even larger strain on our health system. And how much BBC programming as actually worth watching these days?

    Is there something here I have completely overlooked?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: BT is not the problem.

    "BT offered to make all local calls free - Ofcom said no that would be monopolistic (because no-one else could do it)"

    "BT offered to Fibre everyone in the UK but only if they could become a TV provider (like Virgin/SKy all the cable companies) but no that would be a monopoly ..."

    You hit the nail on the head there. BT only offer to improve things if it's on the understanding that they will hold a monopoly over said improvements. God forbid that they might have to compete on open playing field, after all they have share holders to think of!

    BT needs to be split up. Properly. Not one company with two divisions but two separate companies. One that owns the network. One that offers services over the network. Until then they will always have a monopoly and things will only improve at a snails pace.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Whose fee?

    At what point in this rush to IP delivery though does someone (the government?) ask the bottom-line question: Why should people pay a licence fee? If I can download all BBC (and Channel 4OD etc) programmes online and play them on my media computer then how will this be financed if people no longer need a television (and hence television licence).

    Isn't this rather a technical solution in search of a real-life problem?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dam

    > Free in France ?

    > Their customer support is piss poor but the network is awesome.

    Free? Good? Forgive me for falling of my chair laughing. "network is awesome"? Their network is sh1te! Sure, if you're close to an exchange and opt for fully unbundled service with your phone line as < GSM-quality VoIP only then you'll get reasonable speed. For HTTP. Sometimes.

    On the other hand if you have the temerity to remain unbundled, either from choice or because they haven't unbundled your exchange, then you'll check each morning to see if you still have a connection. I now have a cron job running on my office computer monitoring the uptime on the link to home, so I have ammunition the next time they cut me off for 4 days, and don't even acknowledge my fault report until two weeks later.

    I have a 1Mbit/s line (best they can do, since I'm all of 3.5km from the switch). There are times when using my Wanadoo dialup at 24kbit/s is a faster way to collect my email, because they have SSL traffic filtered in the evenings.

    Free is no better than BT, and for the same reasons. You get what you pay for, and for £20/month you ain't paying for much. One of my friends, who needs reliable internet for his business at home, pays more than twice that, and doesn't get free phone calls, but he does get rock-solid IP. His choice.

  48. Davd K Harris
    Flame

    BBC plot lost

    Who are these people who have stolen the BBC from us - look at the big picture - they're trying to dump transmitters and other such hardware costs (I know they don't OWN the transmitters any more) and broadcast everything down the pipe - so it's public service by pay-as-you-go and 'dancing postage stamps' all over again for quality.

    Just what level of bad or lack-of access are these people accepting in the jolly future world as compared to TV access now? Not everyone has broadband, a computer or even a computer capable of multimedia which provides a service at_least what their TV provides now.

    Dave

    @Shropshire

  49. The Avangelist
    Flame

    I have a great idea, stop lying about bandwidth limitations!!

    Once ISP's get offcom'd about Bandwidth Caps this will not be an issue.

    This is a totally pointless theory, stick a content server in the data center??? Doesn't that completely and utterly defy the point of the BBC have data centers already which are doing clustering and traffic control?

    We (the end consumer) Are not getting shafted over what is coming into the ISP's rack, we're getting shafted over what can feasibly be sent to our door based on how much 'him next door' is downloading at the same time.

    Gaurantee this ends up with the BBC trying to provide Broadband services, and if they do, they can get fooked for my license fee.

  50. tim

    You want to view my website?

    I'll come round with CD, that'll save your ISP some bandwidth

  51. Richard Thomas
    Alert

    How do the French manage it?

    I live in a small village near Calais, and it's quite rural - the village has about 1500 inhabitants, and the ISP I'm with (www.free.fr) has recently rolled out ADSL2+ to the village. After they installed that, we get a 5mbps down and 1mbps up IP connection, unlimited phone calls to the EU, and crucially in the context of this article, about 200 TV channels. No sign of FTTH or anything like that - just normal, fast ADSL. I suppose the only difference is that it's the ISPs that provide this service, not the broadcasters (though some have VoD services with certain providers)

  52. ian
    Unhappy

    PlusNet's dodgy accounts

    Don't BT own the useless clowns known as PlusNet? So that BT cost to them is entirely arbitrary.

  53. W
    Stop

    Trains and Railways

    "BT needs to be split up. Properly. Not one company with two divisions but two separate companies. One that owns the network. One that offers services over the network. Until then they will always have a monopoly and things will only improve at a snails pace."

    Yup, The Trains and Railways business model is ideal for a national service.</sarcasm>.

    Railtrack have effectively been re-nationalised as Network Rail.

    GNER went belly up and the coach operator National Express ECML.

    Fares are more uncompetetive than ever, compared to road and air.

    And (worst of all) we're no longer "passengers" (with all the connotations of care and service that comes with such a designation. Instead, we're merely "customers".

    As for the energy and water industries, they're hardly serving the public better by reaping massive profits whilst bils rise, either.

    Not that I'm convinced a re-nationalised BT is the best thing, but would it be worse than at present?

  54. MarkMac
    Boffin

    Laughing at the "technical comments"

    Some of these comments are hilarious. Everyone thinks they're an expert in bandwidth costs and network topology but the truth is that most of your posters are clueless. If they think bandwidth costs are being exaggerated or multicast is the fix, let them set up an ISP :-)

    Truth is, bandwidth costs money. ISPs operate a shared resource model at both the backhaul and customer ends. If backhaul or local capacity requirements grow then costs grow too. If capacity demand grows because of customer demand, then yes the business model has to chnge. And yes, that will mean higher costs for consumers. Either that, or many ISPs will go bust - and the only survivors will be BT, VM etc.... TAANSTAFL.

    And by the way putting IPTV caches in exchanges is just like building TV broadcasting stations, its entirely reasonable for the BBC to consider it as a means of reaching the population.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Please no

    Don't let the BBC install more hardware into the network, the "saving" of £11.62 per month has cut 50% off my broadband bill.

    The BBC will eventually petition the government that ISP's (not the customers) should pay a fee per subscriber to cover TV licences and to help build broadband into the community while enabling youth projects,

    The UK media bodies such as PRS wil support this scheme, each large licensing org always prefers blanket collection because it is cheaper, film, tv, other worldwide RIAA MPAA will support and campaign for it as it offers massive income streams to balance budgets. People will look back at Phorm as a kinder gentler time.

    Don't let the BBC invest in any internet structures beyond renting rack space and peering. They have a very fast route to MP's and getting legislation put through, and can campaign for it on BBC.co.uk, BBC news 24, Radio, TV, Satellite, Iplayer.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Chris (and everyone else who can't bloody well spell)

    There is only one sodding letter O in the word lose. Its not a hard word to spell. Look, Its lose, as in lost and loss. Loose is an entirely different word! I can't understand why so many people seem to struggle with it.

    Paris, as she is loose and managed to lose a video to prove it.

  57. Andy ORourke
    Joke

    maybe....

    the BBC could do a deal with Phorm and share the cost of the new equipment required in the BT exchanges?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re BT pricing vs LLU (and Datastream????)

    Just in case anyone is still reading...

    1) Re Ian, who pointed out that BT own Plusnet: correct, but the prices quoted in the Plusnet articles are published and (allegedly) regulated prices. They are the prices paid by any BTwholesale-based ISP. Facts is facts, even if you're one of the many people who hate Plusnet.

    2) Re Steven Jones: "BTW wholesale rates are heavily regulated in order to leave a margin for LLU operators and those of datastream services."

    Yes that's the theory, now let's look at the reality (you're not a present or past employee of Ofcom or BT are you?)

    Forget Datastream for the volume market, it was an unfortunate consequence of a poor regulatory environment, made into a disaster when Bulldog tried to make a business out of it. It may have a place for specialist niches eg low contention business services but it was never going to be a volume player, especially when NTL abandoned it (at a time when Ofcom was run by ex-NTL folks, iirc).

    Let's look at the LLU ISPs instead. E.g. the better ones in the non-bundled market (ie just broadband, nothing else), such as Be/O2. They currently offer an "unlimited" "24Mb" service for under £20/month, and a 24/7 unlimited one (what's the difference?) is only just over £20. That's what cutting BTw/Ofcom out of the picture does for prices at the quality end of the LLU market.

    At the volume end of the LLU market (Sky etc), the marginal cost to the punter of LLU broadband is about zero pounds per month as part of a bundle, which means that the marginal cost to Murdoch etc can't be a great deal more than that (there's still a few pounds a month line rental to pay to Openreach, on top of Murdoch's own costs).

    So there may well be papers on the Ofcom website which attempt to justify the Ofcom/BTw pricing conspiracy, but anyone with open eyes can see the reality for themselves.

    "There are some new moves to divide exchanges up into duifferent competition groups so that interconnect rates to popular, low-cost exchanges could be reduced."

    Indeed, that's what the 2nd Plusnet link was about. The difference between LLU and BTw pricing in the current regulatory environment is already clear. And for the areas where there will be no LLU? Disaster looms, they'll be reliant on BTw, and Ofcom will be fiddling while broadband in non-LLU areas becomes unaffordable. Cheers, Ofcom.

    http://community.plus.net/blog/2007/10/01/21cn-and-regional-pricing/

    Course if Ofcom had regulated properly there might perhaps have been a national market in wholesale LLU broadband, rather than half a dozen retail LLU providers in every exchange in cherry-picked areas, but when Ofcom let Murdoch buy Easynet, that idea came to a stop.

  59. Steve Green

    Spelling

    "There is only one sodding letter O in the word lose. Its not a hard word to spell. Look, Its lose, as in lost and loss. Loose is an entirely different word! I can't understand why so many people seem to struggle with it."

    There is a sodding apostrophe in "it's". It's not a hard apostrophe to put in. Look, it's it's, as in it is and innit. Its is an entirely different word! I can't understand why so many people seem to struggle with it.

  60. b shubin
    Boffin

    Playing bandwidth chicken with rivals

    so here's what it looked like in the US:

    Verizon: hey, what would happen if we replaced our copper with fiber? it's plastic/glass and lasts practically forever, the bandwidth is ace, and we can deliver as many additional services as we want, starting with IPTV. the maintenance costs would drop too...

    Comcast: don't you dare! we'd have to give improvements to our monopoly customers for free, just to keep them! they're already angry about the constant price hikes (also comically bad support, no a-la-carte pricing, low and lossy broadband, shady bandwidth management, the constant endless lying, etc., etc.). our investors would lynch us!

    all the other Telcos: YEAH! you tell them, Comcast!

    Verizon: oh yeah? i bet your investors are more skittish than ours...

    as a former Comcast, then Verizon FIOS customer, i can say that FIOS makes Comcast look like Tiscali in the UK. we have a T1 line (nothing else is available where we live now), and i SO miss FIOS.

    whoever blinks first, either wins or goes bankrupt. it's one of those bets where being first could either kill you or put you in the lead, being second could make you irrelevant, and being last is guaranteed obsolescence.

    the CDN is a stopgap. until the bandwidth problem is addressed, not much will change, except the volume of available content and services, which will continue to grow. it may or may not be fiber (wireless? powerline broadband? whatever...), but sooner or later, someone will have to take on this infrastructure buildout. Maybe Ofcom could ask the Japanese, they have an island, too...

    sooner is better.

  61. ac

    wtf happened to Freesat then?

    wtf happened to Freesat then? (www.freesat.co.uk) The Beeb announced it with a hoopla last year, saying it would be up by spring 2008 (meanwhile "temporarily" licensing Sky to use the word Freesat). Later they announced a contract for a ground station in Crawley, Hants, at the site of the old IBA.

    So we should be seeing the set-top boxes in Currys, Comet, and John Lewis by now. Anyone seen them? We were invited to sign-up for emails (www.freesat.co.uk) on further news. Anyone received any emails lately from Freesat lately?

  62. Sceptical Bastard

    The solution to the problem

    So the bandwidth of BBC's on-demand streaming output will hit ISPs "...who are already operating a fiercely competitive volume business on tiny margins"?

    But, thank heavens, a solution is ready and waiting. Hard-pressed ISPs can restore the margins lost to bandwidth charges by pimping us 'customers' to Phorm.

    We ISP-fodder will be so much better off, then. As we watch all those missed episodes of "Two Pints...." wonderful WebWise will protect us from our own stupidity by eliminating phishing and we'll enjoy delightful highly-personalised advertising which will enhance our miserable serf-like existence.

    As Kent (with a 'u') Ertugrul might say, welcome to my world.

    PS: What sort of a surname is "Ertegrul"? I mean, the best anagram you can get is 'gut lurer' which is pretty pathetic.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the latest in Freesat gossip

    try www.digitalspy.co.uk

    but there's not really anything exciting to report - it'll be a subscription-free Astra Digital satellite receiver (or receivers) available from a selected handful of retailers. Allegedly there's nothing much you couldn't achieve today; I'm waiting with interest as I want to get rid of the Astra analog receiver still used to get German TV, it would be nice to have fewer boxes rather than more boxes, and I have no wish to pay the Murdoch tax.

  64. Albert

    ISP like gym membership

    We all complain about the misinformation on broadband speed and allocation.

    The ISP business model is like the gym business. Everybody pays the same price and the people who underutilize the service sponsor the people who take full advantage. Everybody is entitled to use the gym all day every day. If this happened the gym would not be able to deliver unless they built a bigger gym, and employed more people which would cause the membership fee to rise sharply. So, based on ‘normal’ member usage the gyms can keep their prices (relatively) low for all members.

    The broadband speed is a physical limitation and so cannot really be fixed without spending a lot of money upgrading the infrastructure. For broadband allocation it’s the same.

    Since the costs of any improvement in service eventually gets paid by the customer I am quite happy to have 3Mb bandwidth and 40GB monthly allocation with TalkTalk in the UK as part of my phone plan, where I also get to phone international to over 30 countries for free. It’s a ‘gym’ membership. If I wanted a full service offering then I would have to pay more.

    If all the ISP offered guaranteed 24Mb bandwidth and no limit and everybody used it to the max then I would expect the cost of this service would be a couple of hundred pounds per month. It’s just an economic reality. You pay for what you get.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Makes my blood boil!!

    Lets face fact this is a cheap venture for the BBC and the other media companies. Some hub end servers, some internet bandwidth, and some software and they have a free distribution path for their content.

    They will be charging for the content as soon as they feel that they can.

    In the mean while if the use of this service increases drastically the network will grind to a halt (it is already happening in my little village in Lincolnshire after 4.30). Working from home becomes more of a pain as downloading your email with Exel Spreadsheet/Power Point attachement becomes slower and slower. Your Live Meeting refresh rates dwindle and Corp UK starts to loose. Your companies investment in BB VoIP fails to meet its predicted savings because the quality is soo poor.

    The internet was never designed for this constant data flow..... 300 Kb demand for 30 minutes to download the a feature length version of a Soap/light entertainment.... while someone browsing the internet gets an almost unuseable experience!

    The only short term fixs I can see are Traffic Capping and Traffic Shaping.

    In the long term more bandwidth and data trickery will win through but it is going to take time and can we ....Corp UK take the commercial Hit in losted productivity?

    Switch it off or strangle it down..........

  66. Steve Barnett
    Dead Vulture

    The boot will eventually be on the other foot

    The Consumer Internet (the Web) is all about content. People are screaming about bandwidth because they cannot get down as much content as they want because the ISPs throttle it.

    So it's content that people want; but the ISPs have a problem. They're rather like your local gym, they massively oversubscribe knowing(hoping) that only a few % will turn up. It costs ISPs to deliver piped in content and no one expected the networks to fill up as fast as they have; 5 years ago I was happy with 64k ISDN, now i have 3Mb'ish.

    The smaller you are and the less infrastructure you own the worse it gets. (Broadband ISPs who don;t own a lot of network will eventually all go bust, or be consolidated if they're lucky, why do you think PIPEX got out)

    I also think that eventually you will find the boot on the other foot and as digital delivery becomes more popular you will find the ISPs being charged by the media for the content they deliver. It is something that the media folk have been talking about for years, to the horror of AT&T et al.

    You will see this value chain appear: Content provider to content distributor to content delivery network to Broadband provider; Just as we see it today in the normal production distribution chain. Easy for Sky and Virgin Media as they already do it and they own their own network. Less Easy for the likes of PlusNet or Talk Talk.

    The answer would be for the BBC to do a deal with a bunch of other channels and then to sell a CDN to BT Broadband who own their own infrastructure and most of everyone elses. QUestion is whether their public servie remit will allow this, personally I don;t see why not as long as their "content" is still free.

    BT Talk a lot about being a media company, here's there chance.

    Dead bird - represents small Broadband providers P&L

  67. Charles King
    Stop

    Boring

    I'm getting tired of your constant attempts to attack a service that has not only proved immensely popular, but trounces similar efforts such as 4od. Of course, now that iPlayer has been shown to be a success, the attack has shifted to trying to claim that success is a bad thing. I suppose we should write this down to typical El Reg amateurism.

    BTW, I note that you haven't bothered to comment on Channel 4's lamentable 4od service, which only manages download speeds a tenth that of iPlayer while using the same technology. While the BBC's legal team has a lot to learn from 4od, which freely serves up a range of older programs, at least their technical department is able to encode their programmes to a noticeably higher quality using the same VC-1 codec.

  68. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Boring

    Charles, the success of iPlayer has added to a problem for an industry that was already struggling with its supply line costs. The article is discussion of one way the BBC is considering helping - could you point out where I attack iPlayer please? Are you suggesting there isn't a problem with bandwidth?

    I haven't bothered to comment on 4OD because it's not paid for with public money, isn't used anywhere near as much, and is therefore much less interesting to the majority of readers.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Get clue about IPStream...

    IPStream is the BTWholesale product that the ISPs use.

    They pay BT for a pipe from the consumer to a point of presence (POP), on a per user basis. They also specify how fat they want the pipes from the exchanges to their POP.

    iPlayer has increased network usage, so they have to spend more on the pipes from the exchanges to them, to provide the same level of service.

    So if the BBC installed a CDN to exchanges, the ISP's would still need to do something clever with the aid of BT. They would need to divert some traffic from the IPStream product, from the back of the DSLAM, where it is wrapped up in a big fat bundle to a specific ISP... and use the BBC's box. This wouldn't happen with existing hardware... forcing either BBC or the ISP to pay for some fancy routing stuff. Sounds like we are moving to LLU land...

    Clearly, adding caching would be trivial for a LLU provider... so they would be the first to benefit.

    So if the BBC go for this option, it's not going to help the IPStream ISPs without costs in addition to a "vanilla" CDN.

    (BT are building out a CDN for BT Vision on the 21CN).

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    ISP's problem

    this really is not the content providers problem, you dont here BT complaining about long phonecalls, or the royal mail complianing about odd shaped packages. Its still thier job to deliver. if ISP's cant work out thier own business then they deserve to go bust.

    some customers buy unlimited packages some buy capped if they exceed demand some pay the penalty, it s the same with ISPs those taking the quick buck, paying for useage not by connection will feel the pain they deserve. in the meantime those who expand to meet the demand will succeed. and I dont want to hear any of this one supplier monoploy nonsense.

    suck it up!

    PS wheres the old fox? he normally has some lovin comments for the iplayer..

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @ Jaster - BT Really is the problem

    'BT offered to Fibre everyone in the UK but only if they could become a TV provider.'

    well do'h if only they hadn't have mentioned the TV bit. and just put in highspeed digital service connections where would we be now? what if BTTV - an offshoot company then provided TV over the Digital service lines? no problem at all. its all quiet obvious and all to easy to blame regulators.

  72. Parax
    Happy

    @ AC - Re BT pricing vs LLU (and Datastream????)

    such as Be/O2. They currently offer an "unlimited" "24Mb" service for under £20/month, and a 24/7 unlimited one (what's the difference?) is only just over £20.

    I am now a very happy Be customer, I get the Full 24mb down and I pay just over £20 a month so I get 2.6Mb Up too (thats the difference!) I used to be with a provider who resold BT I used to get 6mb max down and 128kb up, and they used to moan and waive fups about.

    Ask yourself why Some ISPs are compalining (reselling BT crap) and the decent ones like Be are offering what the customers want high bandwidth, on thier own fibre, and good service, and still making money.

    ISP's pay by volume, BT most be laughing thier heads off.. Data is not like water, it wont run out, it should not be metered, the size of the pipe is what is important. and what should determine the price. none of this useage nonsense.

  73. W
    Boffin

    Royal Mail

    "you dont here[sic]...the royal mail complianing about odd shaped packages"

    Mail fail.

    *Here* in the UK, you do *hear* 'em complain. That's why they introduced the Letter, Large Letter, Parcel system.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save Costs

    Why can't the BBC get together with Channel 4, ITV and Five etc to produce the CDN, that way all TV will be supplied in the same format over the same network.

  75. Charles King
    Stop

    Re: Boring

    Chris, are you trying to pretend your article titled 'Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster?' wasn't an attack on iPlayer? /rolleyes. Sadly, a couple of months after the launch at Christmas iPlayer has proved to be massively successful, rather than the "multi-million pound failure" you claimed last November. Now it's become a "doomsday scenario".

    The real story here is that BT and the ISPs still have to get their act together to meet the real demands of consumers. The BBC is providing a service that people want, and is doing it very well. It's been obvious for several years that higher net capacities will be required, BT is the problem here, not the BBC.

    [url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/apr/25/citynews.broadcasting1]£70m of public money[/url] went into subsidising Channel 4's digital switchover at the time they were setting up their 4od service, and now they're asking for more from the public purse. Yes, I think coverage of their activities is warranted.

  76. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Boring

    "Are you trying to pretend your article titled 'Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster?' wasn't an attack on iPlayer?"

    No, I'm talking about the article this comment thread pertains to. That one is an attack on the P2P iPlayer, which cost a ludicrous sum of money, took more than 4 years to develop and is used by one ninth of the streaming viewership.

    "Doomsday scenario" is borrowed from a conversation with an exec at a major ISP. Fact is they're worried, and BT isn't about to help them. Again, this article is about what the BBC *is actually doing*. It knows there's a problem, otherwise it wouldn't spend money and effort investigating this technology, you'd hope.

    The subsidy you refer to was for digital switchover of *broadcasting*, not for on demand internet services. If we covered 4OD I assume you wouldn't read anyway, because we're so boring. All the best,

    - Chris

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Trains and Railways

    "Yup, The Trains and Railways business model is ideal for a national service.</sarcasm>."

    But splitting up BT wouldn't be anything like splitting up British Rail. Why? Because we pay one charge for network upgrades / maintenance (i.e. line rental) and a second separate charge for phone calls. A train fare is now and always has been a single charge which is spent by whom ever collects it in whatever manner they like. Post split anyone with a phone line connected to the BT network would still pay line rental to BT Wholesale ensuring that consumers as well as ISPs would be treated as paying customers.

    So it's not really the "Trains and Railways" business model at all.

    A re-nationalised BT is an interesting idea though. How about it's re-nationalised, upgraded to fibre then retail and wholesale get sold off seperately by the government. Legislation could be passed stating that any prospective buyer of the resultant wholesale company would not be allowed to provide services over their newly aquired network thus avoiding any kind of new monopoly.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    "you dont here BT complaining about long phonecalls"

    Only because you're not looking carefully enough.

    Today, a weekday evening landline call on BT's "cheapest" tariff is 5p max, for up to an hour.

    Next month, the tariff is improved to include free landlines calls at weekends (currently 5p max).

    As part of that "improvement", weekday evening landline calls go from 5p max to 6p setup plus a penny and a bit a minute. So a 30 minute chat goes from 5p to 50p. Nice one, BT (and congrats to Ofcon too for helping out the poverty-stricken folks at BT Retail).

  79. W

    BT break-up.

    >"Post split anyone with a phone line connected to the BT network would still pay line rental to BT Wholesale".

    I see. We pay line rental to BT Wholesale and BT Retail have to fight it out as a standalone ISP?

    But wouldn't BT Wholesale still be monopoly, a la Network Rail. I wouldn't expect the railway track to improve if we paid a 'line rental' to Network Rail, so why shoul a spun off BT Wholesale be different.

    It's a de facto monopoly. We can either nationalise it and have the upgrades imposed via taxation, or it can be a private enterprise and rely on customer's propensity to spend.

    Which brings us to the question...is the upgrading of the broadband network truly essential? In the past, the majority of the population must have been in agreeance and, cruicially, were willing to pay for, comprehensive water, gas and electricity distribution networks. So the state built 'em. Then sold 'em off. And we can argue as to whether they've deteriorated ever since.

    But this brings us back to the railways. They were originally private enterprises that got built because they were profitable, before people started to prefer owning their own car. And so the political will to maintain and develop a comprehensive national rail network was lost.

    Similarly, there's a strong trend towards personal mobile coms nowadays. I don't know the full tech background, but do we really want a fibre optics springing up through everyones floors? Or would the public prefer mobile broadband(initially slower than fibre, but due to improve over time)?

    As someone else has already said, when the "facebook factor" dissipates, will we all realise that, for the moment, youtube capable home bradband pipes are fat enough for most non El Reg types?

    £40pm to Virgin got me a 'Good Enough' 2Gig broadband landline, a SIM (no phone though) with 5hrs of X-network mobile calls & 10 texts a day, and an obligatory but useless landline. The only 'added value' is the set of non-freeview channels of dubious quality.

    I've since dropped Virgin's mobile element and I'm with 3 cos they give me a decent free phone, the same sufficient no. of mins and texts and unlimited mobile data for £23pm. Their mobile broadband is becoming an ever more enticing proposition. It's £15pm for 3GB of data. I'd like to hook my phone up as a modem for unlimited laptop data and the way things are going, before very long, mobile broadband is going to be a properly competetive proposition.

  80. Vortigern

    Nearest to the user

    If they are trying to get it nearer to the user then surely the place to look is at the router.

    If me and my neighbour are both watching the same program, the same bits are carried twice down the same length of copper and just encrypted differently as they travel through the air.

    They're both in range of each other so why can't something be added to them so they each get every other bit from the network and every other bit from each other on a seperate channel - halving (or multiples of) the bandwidth needed from the server.

    Stick a few gigs cache in there and anyone in the range can download the video at full speed from the wireless without having to go the main server.. and then anyone in range of any of those that have got it from the cache can get it too!

    Maybe there's a reason why.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: BT break-up

    "But wouldn't BT Wholesale still be monopoly, a la Network Rail."

    Well, no. They would be in competition with Virgin and various mobile broadband providers as they are now. But they wouldn't have BT Retail pulling the strings as they have now.

    "I wouldn't expect the railway track to improve if we paid a 'line rental' to Network Rail, so why shoul a spun off BT Wholesale be different."

    If we paid a 'line rental' to Network Rail we would automatically have all sorts of consumer rights under the law that we don't have at the moment. Wouldn't this constitute an improvement of sorts?

    "would the public prefer mobile broadband(initially slower than fibre, but due to improve over time)?"

    Unfortunately the laws of physics bugger that theory up. Sure mobile / wireless broadband will improve over time but the speed of light (the medium fibre optics use) will always be faster than the speed of radio waves / microwaves. In short fibre optic broadband will always win out over mobile / wireless in terms of speed.

    "will we all realise that, for the moment, youtube capable home bradband pipes are fat enough for most non El Reg types?"

    Youtube capable pretty much translates as first generation broadband (512k and upwards). Given the move towards higher quality, longer length video that has been gathering momentem throughout the year I don't honestly don't think first gen broadband is enough for most non El Reg types.

  82. W

    RE: BT break-up

    "speed of light (the medium fibre optics use) will always be faster than the speed of radio waves / microwaves".

    They're all EM waves so will travel at the same speed in a vacuum.

    I'd have said it was more accurate to state that the medium of fibre optics is glass fibre.

    Does the atmospheric air (comared to the glass fibres with their TIR) that the VHF 3G waves travel through matter in terms of what we're talking about? Genuine question.

    Most of your points are fair, but we're both speculationg. I don't think that fixed line bradband is due to increase dramatically any time soon without investment and I don't think the general public is over-willing to stump up.

  83. Ignatius Killfile

    Step away from the computer...

    Sheesh, step away from the computer and turn on the telly. If you want to time shift a programme simply slip a cassette into the Betamax.

    ISP's stop whinging, it's a fad, a blip, a spike. Don't offer 'all you can eat* ' if you can't (*subject to acceptable useage policy).

    BBC concentrate on producing quality programmes; don't spend my licence fee on experiments in content delivery, others can do it better for you.

    I have seen them all: iPlayer, 4OD, You n00b, and the ITV one. The quality is pisspoor, I (half) watched the Christmas episode of Doctor who, iPlayer has not been used since. I watched a jerky episode of Corrie from the ITV site (requires IE, Firefox your outta luck) - not used it since, and spent an entire evening watching Phone jacker & Shameless on 4OD, also not used it since.

    Phone jacker lends itself to this kind of delivery as it is mostly audio and animation, everything else kind of sucked.

    <switching on telly />

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chickens have come home to roost, peigeons too!

    I think is where we realise the cost of the Government fumbling over infrastructure policy.

    If all it takes is one application to screw the pooch for the ISP's then we have serious issues. You play nice over iplayer, fine, but what about the next high BW application?

    If the Government had spent some of that huge tax revenue they have been mugging me for every month on fibre to the home and the fibre backbones to support it do you really think we would have this problem. Do you think this would be an issue in Korea, i doubt it!

    Personally i am quite sick of using gas lamps whilst the rest of world has electricity.

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