back to article BBC vs ISPs: Bandwidth row escalates as Tiscali wades in

Outspoken broadband provider Tiscali has crossed swords with Ashley Highfield, the BBC's top technology executive, over calls he made for ISPs to lump the potentially devastating effect of the iPlayer on their business. Since the launch of the popular streaming service, the iPlayer is costing ISPs dear, with one reporting a …


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  1. Mo

    The ISPs wading in on this…

    …seem to suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of what their job is.

    It's dead simple. I, as a customer, pay you, the ISP, to let me access stuff on the Internet. That's it. Finito. HOW you charge me is between you, me and your accountants.

    Working this way ensures the innovative services become popular when the market decides it's ready for them, rather than when ISPs feel like approving them.

    In other words, ISPs are supposed to be gateways to the Internet, not gatekeepers.

    If ISPs’ charging models make carrying traffic for their customers uneconomical, that's their problem. If they don't like it, they can take it up with BT, their customers, or both.

  2. Shakje

    "The BBC would like us to pass all those [iPlayer bandwidth] costs on to the end user,"

    Oh, so they think that the user should pay for what they use? Obviously idiots. Why, in any imaginable situation, should the BBC have to pay for providing a service? ISPs, in selling you a service are suggesting that they can provide anything you ask for (if limits apply, limits apply), it's not like TV at all, but more like a newspaper charging people who are in it for reporting news on them because you should pay for the paper. "Oh sorry sir, I know you've just been in a car crash, but the story takes up two pages so you'll have to give us twice as much money even though it's nothing to do with you how many people actually read the story in the first place."

  3. Paul Mitchell

    Who's fooling who?

    Surely the ISPs can provide the bandwidth that their customers are already paying for, they wouldn't be taking money for services they can't provide now would they?

    I know, I know....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    At the end opf the day, the BBC must decide if it wants to be a content provider, a broadcaster, or both.

    If the latter then they should expect to incur costs for transmission, if the former then they cannot expect any quality of service and pay nothing.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Oi Tiscali no!

    Why don't Tiscali sort out their business model rather than asking for money from the BBC? This is a ridiculous state of affairs. I would have thought the idea of stop advertising unlimited broadband £6.49 would have been a better idea?

  6. Alastair Dodd

    Tiscali should get their own house in order

    and sort out their really shoddy broadband service and especially their excessively rubbish backend hauls before wading into this battle.

  7. Neil Greatorex
    Paris Hilton

    "Always on" & "unlimited usage" are the problem here

    If the ISPs didn't flog their connections as such, knowing full well that they are unable to fulfill always on & unlimited bandwidth should, horror of horrors, customers take them at their word. There wouldn't be an issue.

    The rise of bittorrent, Youtube & iPlayer is highlighting the ridiculous contention ratios some ISP customers have to endure. Bah.

    Paris, cos she would never sell anything short.

  8. TrishaD

    No Escape

    Would it be possible, do you think, to arrange to pay an additional fee to my ISP to make sure that I do NOT have access to the BBC's recycled crap?

  9. Simon

    Cheeky gits

    Isn't that what their customers are supposed to be paying for? Either cap the connection or charge them extra. I don't see why the BBC should subsidize Tiscali customers just because their service is popular.

  10. Nev

    Go Beeb!

    Finally, the Beeb is sticking up for itself after being left to foot the bill for terrestrial digital switch-over costs.

  11. Andrew Moore

    The solution...

    If only there was a way to transmit this stuff wirelessly...

  12. Steve Evans

    Hardly a shock...

    ...given that Tiscali's network is barely capable of handling the traffic they currently have.

    And their technical support can barely handle the levels of lying and misinformation required to fob off people reporting problems.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Well tough shit ISPs

    It never occured to them that offering "unlimited" packages that cheaply would drop them in it?

    If they don't work out their business model right then they can't bitch when customers start using their service as it was advertised...

  14. Jess
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe the ISPs should have been clearer about their products.

    (Not using terms like unlimited in a different way to the normal meaning, for example).

    They give the impression that they were selling a product that could be used like this, but when it costs them more money they moan.

    It's their fault entirely.

    Saying that, the BBC should provide a caching system, (a live CD, that would run on the ISP's own hardware) .

    Paris, well why not?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother with iPlayer?

    They're both as bad as each other. The BBC for creating these costs and trying to avoid paying for the service that they are trying to provide, and the ISPs for lying to the public about limited unlimited connections amongst other things.

    To paraphrase something from one of my favourite books: it's like a wasp landing on a nettle. One of them is going to get stung and you don't care which one it is.

  16. Peter Thomas

    A bit rich?

    "A bit rich that a publicly-funded organisation is telling a commercial body how to run its business"...

    Yet it's okay that a commercial body can get away with not selling a service as advertised? And expect the publicly-funded organisation to go begging-bowl in hand for more cash?

    I leave Tiscali this month. Yayness.

  17. Kebabster
    Paris Hilton

    Aggresively priced?

    Cheap Rubbish I think is what he meant to say. I jumped ship on Tiscali a long time back cos their network couldn't handle the traffic, at peak times it couldn't even be referred to as "broadband", I'm not surprised they're complaining now.

    Surely the cost should be funded by the users - buy the bandwidth you intend to use through a series of capped packages. Works for me (with a decent, non-traffic-crippling ISP).

    Sure I'd prefer uncapped, but you get what you pay for, offer traffic-shaped, uncapped packages & full speed capped at different price points, everyone's happy.

  18. Nigel Kneale
    Thumb Down

    Why just the BBC and not the others?

    So what's going to happen when YouTube et al offer high-definition videos instead of the current low-def offerings? Are UK ISPs really going to expect US websites to donate towards their costs?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tiscali are full of shit

    ...and that's quite well established.

    Here we have a man that is quite happy to run advertising campaigns full of untruths about what customers actually get for their money.

    Actually, publically funded bodies should be telling him how to run his business. Trading standards for one, and quite possibly the police for another.

    If it wasn't iPlayer using this bandwidth it'd be something else (heck, it already is something else - YouTube uses just as much). Tiscali's business model is a lie, and even if the BBC inexplicably paid to patch it up that doesn't mean a thing when there's a hundred thousand US companies will be providing bandwidth sinks just as bad if not worse in two years time.

  20. Daniel Voyce
    Thumb Up

    A use for the licence fee?

    I for one would be happy for part of my licence fee to go towards this.

    I rarely(if ever) watch anything from the BBC and listen to 3.5 hours of Radio 1 a day - paying a bit of money to (and I use the term loosly) "ailing" ISP's. Id rather my licence fee money was put towards this than the cost of my (horifically crippled, limited, high contention, ANTI p2p) broadband subscription being upped.

  21. Emj

    Flaky business model

    So, I pay for my 'unlimited' broadband connection flogged to me in some big marketing push by a large ISP. I then watch content on the BBC's iPlayer, which is just a fancy name for a website with a whole load of video. The BBC then get flack for causing this demand... Really doesn't make sense.

    The iPlayer is nothing particulary special - there are many sites that have provided video content for a lot longer. The only difference is the iPlayer actually gets used. Bandwidth usage has always been continuing to increase so if the ISP's were short-sighted enough that they for some god-for-known reason thought that nothing else new would come along on the Internet, then that is their problem.

    It would be like Ford producing a car (the Focus for example) and then the Government demanding Ford pay for the roads for the car to go on because people like that car...

    Really the issue falls back to the ISP's dumbass marketing departments coming up with the dumb idea of selling a product as unlimited when clearly they can't back this up.

  22. Dave S
    Paris Hilton


    I'll go with the majority here.....

    It's not the Beeb's fault if the ISPs' business model has been caught out. And why are they not asking for money from iTunes, ITV Formula 1, Youtube, (any other content provider).

    Change your business model, not force all licence payers to pay for your flawed pricing model.

    Paris because she's used plenty of bandwidth of her own over the years.

  23. Andy

    Good old Tiscali

    - where by "good old" I mean "those bastards". Their network can barely cope with all (yes, all) their customers throttled, and noone allowed to use the network between 6 and 11pm. No wonder they're crapping themselves at the thought of this.

    Meanwhile, Be* manage to provide true unlimited broadband at a consistent 8Mb, 24/7, for £14. So, it's blatantly not that Tiscali can't provide a decent 2Mb or so connection at their prices; they're just too greedy, dishonest and inept.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is only the BBC getting picked on

    I haven't used the iplayer so don't really know how good it is, but why is the BBC getting picked out from the crowd. So their iplayer does consume a lot of bandwidth, on a per user basis it is does use up a lot.

    But what about itunes, obviously far less bandwidth requirements but I'd imagine they have many more customers. Also I can download videos from my lovefilm, why don't they have to charge extra.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely its a separation of roles

    I pay for the BBC product already via my licence fee, and if I want product from another site, I pay the appropriate fee or suffer the advertising. The suppliers pay for their bandwidth connection to the internet, so they do bear some of the cost at their end. If i subscribe to lots of video from the US, how does an ISP in the UK intend to recover "costs" from them? Should the BBC effectively subsidise the increased capacity that will also be used by those downloading video from overseas? No.

    Separately I pay my ISP for my connection. I accept reluctantly that due to the limits of the BT line (not living in a cabled area) I can only get a certain pathetic speed, and I have no real choice about this. I have checked quite carefully with my ISP and there is no cap on my usage, althought they state they will block illegal p2p (presumably legal p2p will not be blocked, I've yet to test this out), and I pay a bit more than to the bargain basement ISPs.

    If the ISPs want more money, they should in my view either offer the bandwidths they state "up to 8MB" is not a proper statement, and also either set unlimited download/upload tarriffs or publicly state the caps, and the consequences of breaching them.

    This could probably mean that we will pay more for our connections in the future, but it might be the chance to actually learn what we are getting for our money and force some honesty from the shadier end of the ISP market, as well as realism on the part of resellers and consumers alike. It also might lead to a realisation that we need to invest in better infrastructure (FTTH? Please) including in rural areas if our "knowledge/creative economy" (lest face it, large manufacturing is not really able to do much in the UK now) is to provide any benefit. Long live the universal service obligations (or something reasonably close to it)!

  26. Andrew Storey


    forgive me if this sounds somewhat like I don't care in any way whatsoever...but haven't the ISP's generally been making people pay for exactly the traffic that they Do use for some time now. How on earth can the ISP's complain because if they just cahrge people for usage - the way they do all the damned time anyhow - then they'll just make more money.

    Yes I understand perfectly that the amount of traffic being discussed here is significant but so is the 'I don't care one way or an other as long as the ISP's suffer' attitude that I have.

    Does anyone remember the unlimited offers? I know they are not sustainable but if ISP's were actualy transparrent *ALL* the time with their charging then what is the problem. It's the ISP's business, if they are sulking because the BBC has provided a service online that is *horror of all horrors* ... Popular... then isn't that their business problem, not the content provider. Why should any content provider pay an ISP because a customer of an ISP is using a service.

    ISP's, sorry but honestly, stop talking bollocks and do your job. Make money by charging people if you wish. Or do you feel that may put people off? Don't make me laugh. (Excuse the spelling, i'm rubbish at it)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    sponging shits...

    So let me get this right.....after lying to their customers about "unlimited" usage and letting their marketing idiots undercharge for broadband in the first place, ISPs are saying it isnt right to charge customers who use iplayer for using the bandwidth but it IS ok to take money from licence fee payers, many of whom ARENT tiscali customers to pay for the ISPs lack of investment in their networks.

    bloody cheek!!!

  28. gabor

    @ TrishaD

    Is there some 'beyond this world power' that drags your mouse to click on their link?

  29. Ben Davies
    Dead Vulture

    I dont understand the problem

    Sorry, but I'm really missing the point of the tone of the Register over this issue. The authors tone in this article, and indeed in all the articles posted by the Register regarding this issue seem to take the tone that the BBC is in the wrong here. The limitations of various ISP's is of no concern of the BBC, or indeed, any internet content provider.

    It is a well documented fact that ISP's have been vastly overselling thier capabilities and now are in a panic desperately trying to back peddal on the services they provide. I certainly understand thier protesting at the launch of a new, and I assume extreemley popular (if not now, in the future) bandwidth heavy service, but how they can demand that the BBC take responsibility is beyond me.

    If ISP's have been selling broadband cheaper than it costs to maintain, then that is thier issue. Step aside and let ISP's who know how to manage thier businesses in an appropriate manner take up the mantel (be that higher, more realist charges for bandwidth charged to the customer, then so be it).

    Can someone explain how this is any different for the BBC than, say, youtube or bit-torrent, or even, one of my own websites? Is this just an attempt by UK ISP's to broach the subject of tiered internet, anit-net nuetrality?


  30. Dr. Mouse

    ISPs: Stop Whinging!

    We pay you for a service. That service is a connection to the internet. You have managed to get away, so far, with telling us our connection is Unilimited. Now, Shock Horror! We want to use that unlimited connection? The one we are paying for?

    If you have oversold your bandwidth, then tough shit. Your problem.

    If you have underpriced your packages assuming that we wont use it(Tiscalli, I am talking to you), then tough shit. Your problem.

    If you have lied about your products for so many years that you have come to beleive that it is right to do so, tough shit. Your problem.

    If you have done everything right, ensuring that the contention ratio is reasonable, and the price is reasonable, then you don't have a problem.

    Stop your belly aching and accept that you are now being found out for mis-selling products for many years. Guess what? TOUGH SHIT!! YOUR PROBLEM!!!!

  31. alphaxion

    blah blah blah

    The thing is, all of that data has been paid for on their networks... by the subscribers who pay for the connections. If they're providing that data stream at below cost then surely that is a problem with their business model?

    How can it be BBC's fault if the ISP's have been tryign to get away with poor business models and practices that simply don't scale.

    I hope they go bust.

  32. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Down

    You pay...

    ...for a contended connection to the internet with a usage policy attached. It used to be the case that this was unclear, but bluntly, anyone who doesn't know that by now probably uses a wobbly X as their signature. The BBC, whose license fee is ALSO supposed to cover the provision of distribution methods, are demanding that ISPs either choke their existing network with a massive increase in traffic, charge all their users for a honking great upgrade to network capacity, or go bust. They, of course, hope to remain entirely unaffected, and are likely to do so, since for all their snivelling about horrible ISPs not giving enough bandwidth to support them, they only allow streaming from their own servers and over their own bandwidth (that's the stuff they pay for) of low bitrate poor quality video. The high quality version, they expect YOU to distribute for them via the abortion that is Kontiki. Easy for them to play consumer champion when either way they don't have to bear the cost of it, isn't it? I particularly liked the way that that sanctimonious prig Highfield claimed that iPlayer's impact was negligible, until the stats came in and proved he was talking through his hat. Still, at least one has the wonderful spectacle of watching a queue of turkeys lining up to vote for Christmas...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    BBC naming and shaming?

    Why does the BBC feel that it needs to name and shame any ISP that can't manage the volume of traffic on its network? If the customers aren't happy with the download rates their ISP offers, they have feet.

    Contention ratios are there for a reason, maximum load can't be exceeded. Customers who sign up for cheap packages should realise this, businesses who over sell on the hope that worst case contention ratios are never reached need to look at their customer base and model service levels on realistic usage. All they need to do is invest in a few extra pipes and normal service levels will return.

    When the BBC sites are not available because a popular story has hit the headlines and too many people are trying to access the site, no one puts the blame on the ISPs for sending too much traffic to the Beeb. It sounds like too many requests is not the problem with the iPlayer. The Beeb has made its investment, time for the ISPs to either invest or drop market share.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last ISP's realise.......

    You cant sell Unlimited quantities of stuff if you dont have unlimited quantities to sell, I'm no genius but if you try this then sooner or later it will all fall down!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Go, Tiscali!

    Push other ISPs out of the market by pricing your services below cost and then complain that people are using what they pay for and you need public money to survive.

    Take business advice from someone, please? I don't care who, even Paris would be better than whoever told you this was a good idea.

    Now seriously for a moment: Budget ISPs bleed money when people use their services. Let them die, it's their own fault. ISPs who provide a decent service, British call centres and products worth paying for, operate on a bigger margin and can afford the hike in bandwidth.

    So Tiscali goes down and their users need to make alternative arrangements. Cry me a river. Pipex would have survived it.

  36. Dave

    The BBC are already paying for it.....

    The BBC have to pay their ISP (well, more like an internet peering - but im sure charges do apply) for transfer of all this data in the first place.

    The ISPs have absolutely no grounds for complaint - can't handle the data rate? deal with it. (ie go bust until you come up with a better business model)

    That said, the BBC should not dictate that the ISP cannot traffic shape etc, let them do that, let ISPs cut off the BBC - you'd soon see it's obviously many fans move to another ISP. (Regardless of your own opinion, the service is obviously popular with the mass market).

    I will be saddened if the BBC have to pay ISPs.

  37. Andrew Storey
    Thumb Up


    So... Dos this mean that Blizzard should pay my ISP for all my World of Warcraft usage? If I can get them to pay the subscription too, I'll be quids in!

  38. Kevin Gurney

    Why ?

    Should I have to pay my ISP extra to cover the costs of other subscribers using the BBC service ?

    Maybe the ISP's could bring out a new package that doesn't have this traffic shaped and charge extra for it so you only pay if you want to use it ?

  39. Darren B

    As long as I don't get charged

    for services (iPlayer, youtube etc) i don't use I couldn't give a stuff what the ISP/BBC do about it.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tosscali more like

    "...There seems to be a lack of understanding about how networks are built. Either we are not explaining it properly or it is falling on deaf ears."

    Err, having had exposure to Tiscali broadband (thankfully not in my own home) I'd say that it was actually Tiscali who don't understand how networks work. Or about good customer services, or fair description of a product, etc. etc.

    The BBC will be paying a hefty wedge for uploading this data onto the internet, that is all they should have to pay. The ISPs then charge their customers for the cost of getting the data across their network.

  41. Adrian Challinor

    So unlimited bandwidth means....

    ... everything except where the bandwidth exceeds the ISP's ability to deliver it. Nice one Tiscali, I think you have just opened a huge can of worms. What next? No streaming media at all? Only email without attachments and web pages?

    I seem to recall a company called Freeserve offering unlimited connection time for free in those heady days when 56K dial-up was fast. And nearly crumbling themselves and Energis (their network provider, sadly no defunct) when they realised that people might just take them at their word.

    If I recall, didn't the Beeb talk about putting content servers closer to the customer, say in trunk exchanges? I thought that was jolly decent of them, even considering this. After all, all the Beeb needs to do is pay for their uplink service and have some decent servers. If they are doing that today (and after some tentative starting problems, they seem to be) then their oblighation is fully discharged.

    How long before Tiscali start traffic shaping the iPlayer traffic?And then how long before someone takes them to task for breach of contract?

  42. Naich

    Who pays?

    "The BBC would like us to pass all those [iPlayer bandwidth] costs on to the end user"

    Instead he'd prefer to charge the BBC, who would find the extra money to pay for it at the end of some magic fucking rainbow, presumably?

  43. Fogcat

    @Nick Palmer

    I'm assuming you're not Nick Palmer my MP because you're not sitting on the fence.

  44. Tim Cook

    You're on the wrong side, Reg

    I'm surprised at the Register's reporting on this whole issue, which appears to be siding with the ridiculous comments of Tiscali and the like.

    Yes, the ISP business is in dissarray and that's partly as a result of the Iplayer, but it's mostly as a result of their business being structured around lies and half truths. If they can't provide the capacity their users demand, and would appear to be paying for, then they need to be honest about that. Tell customers the truth about the service they're being charged for, and introduce a new scale of charges that actually reflects the way their business works. If that's really so impossible, then put pressure on the regulator (Ofcom) to force a system where the smaller ISPs can compete fairly with the infrastructure owners like BT.

    But to direct this bile at the BBC? Actually make a straight-faced argument for them to pay? Utterly ludicrous. It's an impossible argument that flies in the face of every technical (or ethical) principle underlying the internet. The BBC is a content provider putting stuff on the web - no different to the Register, or Google, or Youtube, or any of the other video-on-demand players like Channel 4 or ITV - there is simply no good reason why they should be singled out for some kind of backwards levy on the "broadcast" of content they're not forcing on anybody. The Iplayer is not broadcasting, it's providing content on request to users, using bandwidth that's supposedly been paid for already by the same. If those users are exceeding some limit then just block the connection. That's the ISP's right - under the terms of whatever contract they have with their subscribers. Honest implementation (and charging) of those contracts would avoid this entire problem.

    The license fee is a complete red herring in this. When you compare ITV's VOD content with the Iplayer, does it become any more lighter or less bandwidth intensive because it's funded by ads rather than the public? Does Tiscali get some extra wedge from ITV's advertisers to carry their material? Of course not. The only real difference is that the BBC content is more popular, and that publicly funded bodies are always seen as soft targets when they apparently conflict with the interests of poor, defenceless private companies like Tiscali.

    The funny thing is, I don't remember any of these ISPs complaining all the time that the BBC were using public funds to drive internet and broadband takeup through advertising and educational campaigns, and establishing various internet "killer apps" like the BBC News website, much to the benefit of private companies like Tiscali. These things never work the other way though, do they?

    I look forward to the Register's positive reporting on Tiscali's tax demand to Google - surely carrying that website must be costing the poor ISPs a bob or two as well?

  45. Nipsirc

    Erm, am I missing something?

    The BBC *is* paying for it's usage. It hosts the streams on a server/servers with a connection to the internet. It has to pay for the bandwidth/throughput the servers use. Unless of course it got it's hosting package from someone like Tiscali, who offered them an 'unlimited' allowance for 3.5p a year? I don't have to pay Tiscali if one of their poor uninformed suckers looks at my website, but they use up my allowance on my host. Why should the BBC be any different?

  46. Dave S

    A further comment...

    ...rarely does an El Reg story produce such common comments - apart from Phorm maybe.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    ISPs are all rubbish

    The governemnt should force all ISPs over to public ownership and the shareholders and managers shot for being unable to to provide decent customer service.

  48. Mark

    Re: BBC

    But the internet IS broadcasting. Otherwise RIAA/IFPI/et al could not complain about distributing copies of their songs over the internet just by virtue of having them on their shared drive.

  49. andy gibson

    Misuse of technology

    It's a misuse of technology, plain and simple. Like the roads infrastructure, the UK's data infrastructure just isn't geared to supplying large amounts of video content.

    Stick to letting the users watch TV content where it's supposed to be viewed - on the TV. If they miss a programme, then they should record it on their dedicated boxes (freeview with integrated hard drive, DVD recorder, SKY+, Virgin whatever, or even a good old VHS recorder).

    I'd much rather have a reliable fast internet connection for traditional content, rather than it be slowed down because someone missed Eastenders last night or is downloading dozens of movies from a torrents site or even legitimately from a DVD rental company.

  50. conan
    Paris Hilton


    I find it very reassuring that so many people here consider this to be the ISPs' problem. My consicence is clear paying for a service which is "unlimited" and using as much bandwidth as I can find uses for. Too many of my friends make the argument (the same one people make about insurance companies): that if I'm using up more than my fair share of bandwidth then I'm hurting the service other people receive, which upsets me; if it's a government service that affects society, then I'm happy to reduce my consumption of the service when I don't strictly need it, because I understand that public resources are limited and others could gain more benefit from them than I. When it's a private contract between myself and a corporation, I'll do exactly what they do - try to get as much as I can for as little as possible.

    Paris, because she gets a lot for not very much

  51. Paul

    RE: By Kevin Gurney

    You can do that. Do what I did, and work out how much you use, and then find a package that is not unlimited. I find my BT service is very good, always fast, and cheaper than most of the unlimited ones, as I do have a cap but don't use it all (very often). By fast I mean 8 Meg service normaly runs at 6.5-7 Meg. Not perfect, but close enough to me to not mind especaly as most of my use is 6pm-9pm.

    Although I do not know what I am going to do now as I am leaving them, thanks to the Phorm crap, although that is a diffrent matter.

  52. Anonymous Coward


    "It would be like Ford producing a car (the Focus for example) and then the Government demanding Ford pay for the roads for the car to go on because people like that car..."

    Yeah nice one, just wait till Gordy hears that.

    Another Nu Blah tax!

  53. David Austin


    This problem land square at the feet of ISP's.

    You give them money to provide an internet connection at a given speed (Ignoring the "Up to 8 megs" crap for this excersise), with a given amount of data. If they've priced the product so low that if people do use the full given amount at full speed, it makes a loss, then they've created an unprofitable business.

    Face it: It's time to price broadband at the right price, so you can make a sensiable profit, users can get reasonably uncontended services,

    I think the BBC are taking a sensible stance - this isn't their problem: Like YouTube, Google, or eBay, they've just created a web app that people want to use. Still, instead of sticking two fingers up to ISP's, they're trying to work with them to fix the problem.

    I got BT Business broadband at home, because I know I'm a heavy user, and am lucky enough to be able to pay the £38 a month for a connection that, contention aside, is no better than the £19 BT Home Broadband I could have got. I'm sure there must be a reasonably large class of users like me that a middle ground service could be offered to - Kinda "Home Professional" Broadband.

    You get what you pay for, but only if the ISP's will let you pay for what you want.

  54. Will Leamon

    And who's going to pay...

    All the bandwidth charges for people saying the same damn thing over and over and over. Read the comments then post people.

    Oh and to the guy saying 'Doesn't the BBC have to pay for bandwidth' I suggest you look up how P2P/Torrents actually works.

  55. 4a$$Monkey

    Both right and both wrong.

    The BBC traditional delivery method as a radio transmission was paid for by them and so it is false to claim that they shouldn’t be paying for delivery. When you are watching BBC on Freeview they are paying for the transmission. But no other internet content provider would expect to subsidies the ISPs for delivering it’s content.

    On the other hand ISP are supposed to deliver whatever content we request over their networks. It’s a bit ridicules to ask for a premium or subsidy just because someone came up with a popular product that uses a lot of bandwidth.

    There are only two ways this is going to turn out;1) We say goodbye to unmetered internet access; or 2) The networks step up to deliver the bandwidth that is demanded.

  56. BeachBoy

    Only themselves to blame

    Sorry but the ISP´s have only themselves to blame, if they hadn´t spent the last 10 years playing the "my service is cheaper than yours" game, and insead concentrated on supplying quality at a premium over quantity then they wouldn´t be in the mess they are now. They have seen this coming for a while but done nothing about it, hoping technology advances would save them before it became a problem.

    As for Auntie Beeb, as a content originator they do pay significant chunks of the licence fee money to several major ISP´s to put the Data on the internet in the first place (I have been involved in the sale of several these pipes to the BBC) so they are paying their fair share. Its now up to the end users and their mickey mouse ISP´s to pay theirs.

    Internet bandwidth has been a commodity with a falling price for too long now, sorry to tell you all but like house prices this is something that is going to under go a "correction" in the near future.

  57. Steve

    Who pays for TV transmitters?

    The BBC say they are not in the business of distribution yet I'm fairly certain that no-one has ever had to queue up outside Television Centre to collect their edition of the Nine O'Clock News. Using licence payer money to invest in their own content distribution network sounds like a good idea - no-one would mind if they used that money to upgrade broadcast antennae.

    More and more people are going to be viewing TV this way in the future so it makes sense for the BBC to start putting in their own system now so they don't end up relying on the vagaries of the market. As more and more companies try to distribute this amount of content, it's only a matter of time before one of them does a deal with an ISP to ensure that their content isn't shaped like their competitors'. After that, the flood gates are open.

    If the BBC starts early and invests strongly, they could even end up with spare capacity to sell on.

  58. Law
    Paris Hilton

    RE: BBC naming and shaming?

    Because to the average consumer it would look as though it was the iPlayer service that was slow and crap (not that it isn't) - rather than the ISP limiting the crap out of it.

    Naming a shaming is a start - ISP's should be only offering what they can provide - if that means them stop using the term unlimited in all their packages then that's fine by me.

    I don't want to BBC subsidising any ISP's - I pay more than most on broadband because I go with an ISP that delivers what they claim, thats the premium I pay. Why should a portion of my license fund ISP's that I avoid because they don't deliver?!

    Let the bad ones die, the good ones live... and the customer's finally get what they ask for!

    What next, charging the top 10 ranked websites for being popular... I can see Flickr/YouTube/Facebook turning round and spitting in the eye of any ISP who would dare suggest such a thing!!

  59. David Webb

    Fixed Rate

    Remember the halycon days of 56k modems on an 0845 number? Back then "unmetered" internet was but a dream, but the charging was fair. You paid by the minute, if you were on for 10 minutes you would be charged the connection fee (5p) and 1p a minute, so it cost 15p for 10 minutes internet access.

    Then game 0808 numbers and "unmetered" internet, 56k modems could be connected without having to pay BT £300 a quarter, of course there were tiers, 5 hours a week, 50 hours a week and you paid for what you used.

    Then along comes ADSL and again the market changed, now you had "true" unmetered internet access, able to be online 24/7 without your ISP cutting you off every 2 hours and 30 minutes of engaged tones.

    The problem with that was there were no tiers, someone who only used the internet for an hour a week sending emails, was paying as much as someone who used their DSL 24/7 downloading every hentai they could find.

    Therein lies the problem, ISP's have to reintroduce tiers. If you want to download tentacle squid machine fifteen from some Japanese p2p application, you should be willing to pay your fair share, you shouldn't expect to be subsidised by Granny Smith who sends photos of her cats and rude turnips to Uncle Peter in Australia.

    The ISP model does have to change, the entire range of products have to change, the people who use their internet connections have to start paying for what they use. We have to go back to the 0845 model, only instead of being charged per minute, we are charged per GB.

    Yes there would be lots of "gimme my MAC! X ISP is offering unlimited internet access!" at the start, but then X ISP would go bankrupt unless they switched to a per GB pricing model, if you want to download 100GB/Month, you better be prepared to pay £200 for it instead of £8.99.

    Would this change the market? Yes it would, companies which invest heavily in LLU and can support an "unlimited" model would start to offer heavy competition to BT's model, BT would be forced to change their network to remain competetive with LLU suppliers, ISP's would be able to lower their costs per GB and pass the savings onto their customers and we would end up with a healthy broadband infrastructure which is able to cope, not only with current SD content, but future HD content where bandwith needs will double? Triple? Quadruple?

    If ISP's are unable to cope *now* with the issues that the iPlayer had introduced, what hope do they have on future projects? None. they need to stop blaming the BBC for what is pretty much the fault of their own creation, they need to start fixing it and introducting fair pricing, and until they actually put their house in order, the industry as a whole will suffer quite badly.

  60. richard

    ISPs can sod off

    .... they knowingly oversold - and come-a-crying when people want to utilise what they've paid for. That said this should be a doddle if they managed to sort out decent peering agreements in the UK.

  61. Chris Newby-Robson

    Open Message to Simon Gunter of Tiscali

    Dear Simon,

    I think it is a bit rich to criticise the BBC as the cause of the ISPs discomfort is your failure to correctly provision your networks to meet the usage brought about by offers of “unlimited broadband”.

    You are caught by your own misdeeds, and I amongst many others I am certain have absolutely no sympathy with the uncomfortable position that you now find yourselves in!

    I use an ISP that has a “Fair Usage” policy of 50GB per month (Demon) and I believe that I pay a fair price (£24.99) per month for that service.

    When will you fools learn that following each other down the slippery slope of ever cheaper misleading offers for service will inevitably lead to pain like this.

    ISPs for years have been moaning about the lack of content – now you have high quality content from a world class supplier you cannot handle the additional bandwidth and you moan again!

    Why did you not lobby BT back in 2003/2004 when they altered their pricing structure for your backhaul products and central pipes from a capacity based model to a throughput model. I saw this at the time, and was incredulous as it appeared that virtually none of the ISPs protested this retrograde move brought about by Ofcom’s total mishandling of the Broadband scene, and now those tariffs are coming back to haunt you.



  62. Cris Page

    This is a joke ... right?

    Tiscali! I cant believe they have the brass neck to start whining about this when they run probably one of the most crippled + throttled networks in the UK. They took an ailing Pipex - already dragged down by GX and drove a stake though it.

    Any company that thinks it can sell "unlimited" broadband for the rediculously low sum they charge is asking for trouble - and a new dictionary.

    Anyone who thinks they can but a quality "unlimited" broadband connection for less than a tenner a month needs lobotomising.

    Tiscali, and the other "happy cappers" have ruined the UK broadband market with unrealistic pricing, and advertising double speak that brings no credit on them, their name is a joke in knowledgeable circles, sadly thier service is very Un-funny for the customers trapped on it. For them to be lecturing ANYONE on the provision of network capacity is an insult to our intelligence.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He asserted providers should offer unlimited bandwidth - a pipedream in the most literal sense.

    Apparently Tiscali have managed it though...

    " Superfast, reliable broadband from just £6.49

    Unlimited downloads"

    @Kevin Gurney

    >Maybe the ISP's could bring out a new package that doesn't have this

    >traffic shaped and charge extra for it so you only pay if you want to use it ?

    Try Firefly, nice and quick, you get a base amount then you pay per GB

    Personally I have no problem with the ISP's having BBC access as an extra option you can buy, they could save a bit more bandwidth by filtering out everything from doubleclick while they're at it.

    Hmm.. My telly needs electricity maybe the beeb should be chipping in to the national grid a bit more too.

  64. Stuart Halliday

    Lots of Wrath - No common sense at all

    The ISPs designed their service around a model of what the average user would download/upload a month and charged their users accordingly.

    There was always a danger that some technology or service would come along which would blow this model out of the water.

    And guess what. Its happened again.

    First Peer-Peer users were the first to feel the 'Wrath' from their ISPs.

    Now it's users using online video players.

    BBC, Ch4, ITV, CH5 they're all offering video on demand.

    Even YouTube is about to go Hi-Res, so no doubt they'll be getting some of this 'wraft' too.

    Come on UK ISPs, the British Internet user is growing up. Whilst a few years ago they were quite happy to email each other, now they want to watch videos.

    If you run a business and your basic supply costs go up to provide the same level of service then you charge your customers more ffs!

  65. David Harper

    How ironic

    Virgin Media is currently rolling out a speed upgrade for its 4Mb broadband customers. As part of the advertising fluff, the new higher speed is touted thus:

    "We're always looking for ways to make your service even better than before.

    So if you've got Broadband Size: L from Virgin Media, we'll be upgrading your service from 4Mb to a supersonic 10Mb - absolutely free. Whoosh!

    That means you can now download a MP3 track in 4 seconds or an episode of your favourite TV show in just 5 minutes."


  66. Chris Cartledge

    Tiscali marketing

    An offer still on Tiscali's site today (and extended to 21 April) is:

    £6.49 a month

    For 1st 3 months then just £12.99

    * Up to 8Mb download speed

    * Unlimited downloads

    * Free wireless router

    * Free set up

    * Free weekend UK and international calls*

    They do impose a "fair usage" scheme, but their business model must assume users will not take the offer at face value. It is no wonder they have a problem...

  67. Frank Bough
    Thumb Down


    ...just wants to get their fat snout into the Licence Fee trough with all the other ISP pigs. A much larger concern for us punters is the bandwidth bills the BBC must now be paying.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    download rates

    Yes AC , " If the customers aren't happy with the download rates their ISP offers, they have feet" except it wasn't until I visited my parents, used their Broadband, and fell asleep that I realised that non-technical users can be left with a contended/concentrated 256K ADSL line, I had to phone up and query why XXX had 'forgotten' the free upgrade to 640K, so after hassling they gave 3 months free subscription and also dropped the subscription rate back to the same as a new subscriber. I think many Broadband customers (the STORM Botnet?) haven't got a clue what a byte is and associate traffic with the M25. in the good old days, the telecom industry that I worked for always made a profit and had fixed backbone and transmission costs tending to zero, therefore had a choice of either trebles all round or a bit of infrastructural investment each year or both. Is FTTH happening or even planned yet in the UK??

  69. Bo Pedersen

    since when........

    did Tiscali ever have good business sense anyway?

    Tiscali has to be one of the worst isp's in existence, growth only consisting of takeover followed by packages that dont live up to the hype that surrounds them

    I am in a right pickle, left tiscali after they bought worldonline, who had bought (remember those?)

    of course becuase a free dialup service suddenly cost more than broadband.

    now having been with pipex for many years, they get pipex and start to kill the service.


  70. Mark Lockwood

    Looks like this one's going to run and run

    There's only one way to settle this without everyone getting bored;


  71. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Avoiding the license fee

    When I got tired of the BBC, I tuned my TV and Video away from all the stations, removed the antenna and cables, then stopped paying the license.

    If I tried that now, I would be in trouble I have equipment capable of receiving the BBC's transmissions over the internet.

    I would happily use one of the ISP's named by the BBC so I could avoid paying the license fee, and so I could avoid paying for other people using Kontiki.

    The license fee is worth about 28 DVD films or 140 episodes of a series per year. Decide for yourself how long it would take for your DVD collection to give a better choice than BBC+commercial channels.

  72. Mark Serlin
    Thumb Up

    What a good idea

    and the car manufacturers can pay for all our road upgrades, my printer mfr can pay for all the paper I use, my bath mfr can pay for all the water I wash with - hey, why can't tesco pay for my new kitchen, and my kitchen supplier pay for all my groceries? I *like this....

  73. bagginsboy

    Cost shifting

    What strikes me is the fact that the ISPs are claiming that the cost of upgrading should not be passed onto the consumer and that the Auntie should help with the costs.

    Hmmm, where will a publicly funded company get that kind of revenue?

    ISPs are trying to gather public sympathy as they know that the license fee has been somewhat of an issue in the past. Why are they not going after the likes of YouTube? I read somewhere that YouTube used that same amount of bandwidth last year as the entire Internet did in 2000 so why are they not making a fuss about that?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame BT and Ofcom....

    ISP's base there business cases on an "average user". This in turn allows them to cost out a product and price for their services. The ISP game is very competitive and their isn't much margin - trust me!.

    Therefore, a significant surge in usage will make much of an ISP's portfolio loss making as there network costs will increase - especially if the ISP is on the capacity based charging model that BT provide. The BBC iplayer has driven up usage and the ISP's are hurting. It's neither BBC's fault for providing a service that attracts users to sign up with an ISP or the ISP's fault for a shift in network usage.

    So the ISP is faced with either increasing prices - making them uncompetitive in the market or traffic managing bandwidth (ie. throttling bandwidth) to fit the existing cost model - causing the perceived quality of service to fall in the eyes of the user.

    Of course somebody always gains - BT. In the present situation they can only gain if ISP's have to order more capacity because of the iplayer service. They charge 10 times the cost for bandwidth in the UK compared to many other countries such as Sweden and are allowed to by a weak minded Ofcom. Maybe it's time BT's costs were pegged to what other countries pay for the same services!

  75. N1AK

    Their are people who support the ISPs

    I find it genuinely suprising that anyone here thinks the ISPs are actually right to want money from the BBC.

    The BBC already pays to upload the content (in the case of streaming which is claimed to be 90% of use), and the user is already paying to download the content.

    The single and only issue here is that ISPs are advertising a service they cannot afford to provide, they dug their grave now they can get in it.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Highfield not aware of what his organisation does.

    "Highfield today said the BBC should not be expected to pay for distribution. "I don't think that's what the BBC is funded to do," he protested"

    The license fee payer already pays for the BBC to distribute their content globally. Only recently did Auntie have adverts for international users to recoup some of the cost of providing this content delivery network. Highfield wouldn't be the first civil servant not to be aware of all activities his organisation is involved in, open his trap and complete tit of himself.

    The BBC cannot expect to pump tens of Gigabits of traffic into carrier networks for free. Compromise should be reached and the cost shared.

    Paris, because the BBC doesn't have presence there.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair to tiscali

    I work in broadcast doing IT support, and broadcast engineers don't have a clue about networks or bandwidth (though they think they do). It is a very frustrating industry to be working in from an IT/network support perspective.

  78. Albert
    Black Helicopters

    May cause an increase in ISP Prices

    As a tech aware crowd we all know the ISPs have been selling bandwidth promises greater than they can provide and I personally believe priced accordingly.

    It’s like a gym. Everybody who joins has unlimited rights to use the gym, but if everybody turned up everyday the gym would go out of business as their costs would be so high or their quality of service would be so low.

    Now the ISP costs are going up due to their unlimited offers to customers but pay per use charges from BT they need to find a way to stay in business.

    Effectively, getting paid from both sides is a double win for the ISP and I can’t fault them for trying. It’s just business.

    I don’t think the BBC will pay them anything and so there is the potential for higher prices for broadband, special premium services for heavy users appropriately priced or at least caps on usage to ensure the ISPs stay in business.

    The reason I think they are going after the BBC is because it is affecting British ISPs and it is a British service, so there is more leverage than with a US based content provider.

    For the record I’m on TalkTalk which clearly states I get 40GB per month. I’m not a heavy user, so I come nowhere near the 40GB each month so I am a happy customer. If I do get into watching/downloading movies then I may need to find a new package.

  79. Anonymous Coward

    Required Title.

    At home I run Be Pro service 24Meg £22 no limits no problems.. how? because they have thier own fibre backhaul from thier own servers in the exchange they don t pay that rip off monoploy known as BT for bandwidth.

    Please ISP's Lease a Line run your own network dont by bandwidth from BT!

  80. Barn

    What are license fees for?

    What everyone seems to be forgetting is that the BBC is a bit different from Youtube etc, as you have to pay their TV tax even if you never watch any of the BBC channels.

    Yeah, the ISPs have screwed up by lying to us and failing to invest, but since the iPlayer site doesn't ask you to enter your TV license number every time you want to watch something, those of us with TVs are funding those who have no TV and just use iPlayer instead.

    I think the ISPs should get some money from the beeb, especially if it means there's less gardening shows and more Dr Who repeats on their channels...

    Tux, cos he's sad at the lack of iPlayer support for Linux...

  81. Nipsirc
    Thumb Up

    @Will Leamon

    I was thinking of the flash based player, seeing as I run Linux, it's the *only* version available to me. Yeah, so they also use P2P, so go for the Bitorrent stolen music/pr0n/software guys instead before the BBC. Oh, that would be a bit too tricky - at least they know where the BBC is (are?).

  82. Andy Livingstone

    BBC v Tiscali, get tickets now.

    Perhaps if it had been a sensible, caring, user-friendly, supportive, efficient ISP the reactions might have been different. But Tiscali........!!!!!!!!!!!

  83. Anonymous Coward

    simple answer?

    ISPs should charge a fair price per-megabyte and in return provide a guaranteed level of service. If they fall short (say by providing less than advertised bandwidth) then they would be forced to refund their customers with free megabytes.

    That way everyone (users and content providers alike) pay for what they use and more efficient use of bandwidth is encouraged by default. Pressure from bandwidth consumers who are actually paying for what they use should encourage..

    * ISPs blocking spam and dds from traversing their networks.

    * The production of operating systems that don;t rely on a 200MB download every Tuesday to keep running 'safely'.

    * A cleaner web with less crappy adverts cluttering it up (ironically increasing the visibility and impact of those ads that remain)

    * Less PTP piracy.

  84. Andy Mc

    Re: Who pays for TV transmitters?

    "The BBC say they are not in the business of distribution yet I'm fairly certain that no-one has ever had to queue up outside Television Centre to collect their edition of the Nine O'Clock News. Using licence payer money to invest in their own content distribution network sounds like a good idea - no-one would mind if they used that money to upgrade broadcast antennae."

    Erm, except the traditional broadcast model is totally different from a public internet based one. Sure, the TV distribution network is partially funded by the Beeb. But that would be because it was entirely established for TV broadcasting and it something that anyone else can send stuff over. And we pay them to do that for us.

    The internet has been there for a goodly number of years, happily passing packets around, and last time I checked actually pay my ISP for *any* packets floating about that are addressed to me to be delivered to me. I don't recall any caveats suggesting that only certain packets were going to be delivered, depending on whether the person who sent them had also delivered a sack of cash to my ISP. They've been paid to do it already. Why should the Beeb be paying them for me to receive their data?

  85. Anonymous Coward

    ISPs have made the bed

    and now they need to sleep in it.

    They've been offering ridiculously cheap broadband contracts and are now finding themselves tied in for a year while consumers start using more and more of the bandwidth they've been sold. And now the ISPs are whinging because they're actually having to provide it?

    The ISPs shouldn't be advertising unlimited bandwidth at up to 8Mbs when they're not willing (or able?) to provide it, regardless of the infamous fine print and fair use policies that slip in.

    I'm with the BBC on this.

  86. Anonymous Coward

    For the hell of it.

    To continue the car analogy :

    Ford, in their infinite wisdom and deep pockets decide to manufacture a huge vehicle, let's call it the Humdinger. Paid for by licence payers money, so they give them away free.

    Millions of em, 40 feet long by 20 feet wide. They prove popular, the new Chavmobile of choice. "It's free, so i'll have three." they drone. (Whine / whinge for the proud and fortunate owner of a topiary head resembling a onetime drummer.)

    But the Government "pipes" ( roads ) are not wide enough. They can't all be used at once ( not a problem to most chavs as they seem to think the roads belong to them and only them at any one time).

    So do the Government "throttle" roads by way of congestion charges ( now there's an idea Ken/Boris/yellowy pinky Brian ) or do they, at their own expense, invest massively on new roads.

    I don't think so.

    And isn't it about time that amongst all the calls for new avatars the most important one missing is the light switch.

    Will the last one please switch . . . .

    A satisfied Tiscali user, i pay for what i get, i get what i pay for.

  87. Anonymous Coward

    Absolutely Hilarious

    Asking someone to pay the cost of the internet service they're supposed to provide?

    Further confirms what a ridiculous ISP Tiscali are and why no one in their right mind should pay for an internet service from them.

    The opinion of the BBC may well be going down in the view of consumers, but the way Tiscali have seen this as an opportunity to rip money from them (or rather our television license fees) is truly awful.

    You have to wonder what goes through their minds. Oh we probably already know, "operate as a company that gains profit through dirty tactics and consumer ignorance", unfortunately for them there just happens to be people out there that realise. We are the people that will never recommend such ISPs to our friends and families.

  88. Eddie

    Someone needs to sit down....

    ...and figure out the bandwidths of various web apps.

    As has been pointed out remorselessly - YouTube/SilverlightScreen etc use a humungous amount of bandwidth...

    iTunes uses a wodge of bandwidth..

    Doubleclick probably eclipse them both, particularly with the ever increasing use of flash adverts.

    How does the BBC's usage compare with them? More bandwith per file, but a damn sight fewer files served than YouTube, I'll bet. The BBC is just a very large handle for whiny ISPs to attach a generalised whinge to, and presses several useful buttons (the BBC being a publicly funded body, for example).

    Alas though, we're either going to have to pay more, or watch the Internet be transphormed, and personally, I'd rather pay more (although, 26pounds for a very unreliable 4Mb from VirginMedia is already paying more)

  89. !!11oneeleven

    Canada anyone?

    Maybe the ISP's should go on strike and demand more of that "Internet money".

  90. david gomm

    I'm generally a fan of the BBC but...

    Highfield is being a total arse over this.

  91. Anonymous Coward

    @ Flocke Kroes

    actually you only need the licence for equipment that recieves LIVE tv broadcasts the iPlayer does not do this and hence does not need a licence. happy watching!

    (just make sure that when they do broadcast live you remember to buy a licence! - which is really going to shock the people with PC's and no tv at all.. afterall TV licence is considered a tax now.)

  92. Chris Redpath

    It's a good thing if you want decent connections

    When the dust settles, this will probably mean that ISPs start having to be transparent about exactly what you get for your money. This is a good thing for everyone - there will be cheap packages available with less data allowances and there will be more expensive packages available with higher data allowances. However, you will *know* what you're buying when you sign up for it.

    This will allow ISPs with a decent service to sell more connections at a higher rate - something which currently is limited to the market of customers who have a clue about what they want from a network.

    If you want to see ISP transparency in action, take a look at entanet and their resellers.

    Hopefully we'll see the available options blossom - no longer will the only comparison point be headline price.

    I'm looking forward to it.

  93. Tom

    Why should i pay?

    I for one have absolutely zero desire to watch tv, either streamed or transmitted. Why should I pay extra to finance the extra bandwidth?

    It seems logical to me that if you want to watch a tv programme, you do so on your tv set. The internet is too valuable a commodity to be wasted on streaming poxy soap operas etc.

    Just out of interest, I wonder where this sits with regard to tv licensing. If one were to watch streaming bbc content, would one need a tv license?

  94. Anonymous Coward

    Gimmie what I pay for!!!

    Oi Tiscali, I pay my ISP for unlimited access to 'tinternet for whatever purpose I choose. If I spend my time watching YouTube and iPlayer, downloading from iTunes or Audible, communicating via messenger, skype or webcam that's up to me, and that's why I have selected the uncapped broadband package I have.

    The supplier of the _content_ is free to charge me for it (such as iTunes with their tv shows/music videos) but not for it's distribution. That's what I pay the ISP for. If you can't get your pricing model right, and can't make good on your promises, then don't cry about the people making you look bad.

    If anyone else offered a service at below cost, they'd go bust. If you can't afford to provide the service, increase your rates, or shut up shop.

    As for the pic, it looks to me like a pick pocket or thief. Not entirely unlike a supplier who sells you the earth, charges you for it, but can't actually provide it. Sound familiar Tiscali?

  95. Paul Hatch

    And what about the elephant in the room

    Its a bit rich ISPs taking a pop at the BBC which is merely one of thousands of content providers or for that matter users for daring to use their broadband connection.

    They should be addressing the real villian of the peace, BT who under invests in their network and grossly overcharges for both backhaul and their final mile monopoly.

    Most of the final mile is over copper wire never intended for data transfer. Most people wouldnt dream of using twisted pairs of that poor quality for a 5 metre network cable let alone using it for 6km runs to the nearest exchange, burying it in the ground and letting it rot for 50 years and still expect it to carry 21st century data services.

    ISPs should be complaining about BTs pricing, demanding the upgrade of the final mile to fibre in the first instance to the street cabinets and the cost and rollout speed of unbundled exchanges.

    Alarm bells should be ringing as BTs 21CN upgrade is too little too late and compaired to what some countries are doing, already 10yrs out of date and fails to address the delapidated final mile.

    ISPs should be well aware that demand and expectation for bandwidth is going to track the advances in IT, moores law and should structure their network upgrades and pricing accordingly and BT should be beaten over the head to do the same.

  96. Mr Smin

    i'm sorry, i'll read that again...

    "When I got tired of the BBC, I tuned my TV and Video away from all the stations, removed the antenna and cables, then stopped paying the license.

    If I tried that now, I would be in trouble I have equipment capable of receiving the BBC's transmissions over the internet.

    I would happily use one of the ISP's named by the BBC so I could avoid paying the license fee, and so I could avoid paying for other people using Kontiki."

    iPlayer is a catchup service - a licence is only required for kit that can "record television programmes as they're being shown on TV"

    [News24 live on the web muddies the water a bit though]

  97. Spleen

    Re: Albert

    ISPs aren't really comparable with gyms. You're right that both rely on their customers only using a proportion of their "unlimited" offer, and if that proportion suddenly rises they're in trouble. But with gyms that proportion is more or less fixed. People are not suddenly going to become able to exercise for longer before becoming exhausted. And people are unlikely to suddenly become more motivated and start using dormant gym memberships in greater numbers. So when gyms 'oversell' their service, they can rightly feel secure in doing so.

    The increasing demand on broadband connections, on the other hand, was totally predictable. Everyone with a clue knew that once bandwidth got big enough we'd start using it for video, and high-quality and streaming at that. Companies like TalkTalk who were offering cheap unlimited broadband deals as if our use would remain constant were stupid, ignorant, short-termist or all three.

    If a garden shed scientist suddenly came up with a pill that allowed people to exercise for longer without becoming exhausted (or bored), and gyms were overwhelmed overnight, I'd feel sorry for them. On the other hand, if that pill had been in development for 10 years and newspapers had been full of stories about its exciting potential, and gyms had done nothing to expand their capacity or reduce their membership in preparation, I wouldn't.

  98. J.Butler


    Get the BBC to subsidise their networks while at the same time relying on content providers like the BBC to drive uptake of net connections! Can no-one see the glaring problem here?

    I would suggest that Tiscali and the ISP's are the ones who don't know their own businesses. I paid for my internet connection, there's no use whining when I actually want to use it!

    I think it's time we saw a new pricing structure across all ISP's, clearly they can't provide anything like they're advertising claims... Hell, VM's service is virtually unusable it's FUP terms are so draconian.

    ISP's, Offcom and the ASA... these are the real problem parties here!

  99. David Barr

    ISPs can ram it

    ISPs have been selling me this content for years. Now the content is finally available they can't afford to do it?

  100. David Cornes

    No-one's EVER gonna read this far down, but...

    Who pays for the radio transmission infrastructure we all use to broadcast the Free-to-air TV and radio stations?

    If that's paid for out of the public purse, then I'm not sure it's fair for the BBC not to offer some similar subsidy for Internet 'broadcasting'.

    Unless of course, they see a future where most content is delivered by IP pipes. If they can transfer the costs of those to either the ISPs or the end users, they can ultimately divert the money they currently have to pay to broadcast into content instead. So we'll end up paying for what was once free (at least the point of reception).


  101. Mark

    Re: Avoiding the license fee

    No, if you detune your TV, you don't have to pay the license. You will have to put up with threatening letters (unless my last threat to take them to court over their polaroid picture of a court summons being sent to me worked for others as well as me) and continuing threats even after you've told them.

    Me, I tell them they can come in if they are willing to pay the access charge of £25. So far they haven't taken me up on the deal...

  102. James Dunmore

    Like Mobile phone contracts

    Surely the solution is to charge like mobile phone contracts - you get x amount included a month, if you go over that, you get charged. So if someone wants to watch IPlayer day in day out, they get charged over the £8 a month (whatever), if another just checks email, they only pay X amount a month.


    Obviously, given current models, ISPs will have to restructure the pricing.

    BBC can't be blamed for this (and I'm not a big fan of the BBC) - they just provide content. Sky + Channel 4 have on demand services, don't hear them being mentioned.

    But surely, as the upload costs to BBC must be sky high, it'll be in their interest to push a p2p version, which will surely help ISPs, because surely some users in the same network will be viewing the same content, thus making less overall outwards/inwards bandwidth, etc.

  103. TrishaD

    @ Gabor

    I see that irony is dead, then?

  104. Shabble

    What are ISPs for?

    I currently pay Virgin Broadband to shuttle unlimited amounts of data from websites to my home and back again IRRESPECTIVE of what that data is or where it comes from. I pay Virgin TV to provide me with a strictly limited TV viewing package defined by an agreement between myself and Virgin as to how much I should pay for what content.

    Now, if ISPs want to switch from the traditional ISP model to the cable TV model, then that's fine (or even preferable) – it’s a free country after all. However, I'm getting pretty sick of this ‘having ones cake and eat it’ attitude of the ISPs. The big ISPs have deliberately sold a service they know they cannot provide, which, in my mind, means they are conciously stealing from millions of UK customers. How they thought that no-one would notice I have no idea, but I suggest that they knew it wouldn't last and were just making as much money as they could whilst the government was turning a blind eye.

    If one good thing has come out of this debacle, it is the huge demonstration of just how little forward planning our big technology companies actually do, and just how little respect they have for the typical customer. A small amount of actual industry regulation would have prevented this mess from happening. Well done New Labour - big government where it opresses the masses, little government where it increases the wealth of rich shareholders. Is this what Blair's Third Way really means?

  105. Anonymous Coward

    Getting what you pay for?!?

    I wish people would stop leaving comments saying 'ISPS should give me what I pay for'

    Most of the people who read here are involved in IT in some form and should have at least some basic understanding of what the issue's are:

    BT's network dates back to the ark.. there is not enough capacity there to handle the demand - This is a *p2p service* .. It wont be going out over the "web" as such, it'll merely be passed between the UK ISP's and right back over BT again.. you know.. the network with capacity that just isnt there in places?

    Secondly - Do you have any idea how much 1mbit/sec of sustained traffic on a bt central pipe costs? Evidently not - I'll give you a clue between £160-£300. Let's assume your isp pay £160 per mbit/sec per month. £160 * 8 = £1280 / Month.

    So I for one support the ISP's here - The reason why the service is contended is so we can get high speed internet at a reasonable price.. who here has £1280 to shell out for their ADSL on a yearly basis.. let alone a month!!

    For those of you who like analogys.. I dont see people pissing and moaning as much if there's a hosepipe ban.. also.. what do you think would happen if everyone decided to turn their taps on at the same time - Do you think you'd 'Get what you pay for' then? No.

    If everyone connected to the same exchange picked up their landline's and tried to make a telephone call.. do you all think you'd get through? No.

    If everyone in the same area on the same mobile network tried to make a phone call at the same time.. Do you think it would work? No.

    So why is it ISP's that are taking the shit, for doing something nearly every utility provider in the UK does?

    Mines the one with the clue bat.

  106. Leigh Smith



    I too would like to give props to Entanet and its resellers. You know exactly what you are paying for and you get a damn good service at a reasonable price.


    So what do you do on the internet that is so damn valuable it should not be hindered by other people having the nerve to use it? How dare they have different interests and priorities to you. Just who do they think they are? I bet you have problems with kids on your lawn too.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what is the cost?

    Naive question alert...

    If a fibre runs at 30%, %60 or %90 capacity, then who does it cost?

    It's only a brighter than average beam of photons.

    If it's saturated and requires another cable, then that would require more infrastructure, but once in place surely it should cost the bulk carrier the same to run at 10% or 100% capacity. How they charge downstream consumers for those photons is another thing...

    ISPs should charge a realistic price to fund the services they aspire to offer, and be more proactive in helping their users and limiting the damage their zombies do.

    Competing on rock bottom prices to provide nolimits free-for-all for criminally infested machines is grossly irresponsible. Perhaps the law should be strengthened to make sure that minimum best practices are adhered to, to greatly reduce cybercrime.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    license fee !

    There was an initiative (looked at by the BBC and Government, well there are the same anyway) back in the late 90's to bring internet under the same license as Radio and TV. Hence owning a computer would mean you would need a TV license, not sure what percentage of the population does not have a TV, and legally does not have a license, but I imagine it is pretty small, but if people see this as a way not to pay their license fee, ditch their TV, and use a computer, I expect it again to be considered, if this is not already part of their master plan. Imagine what the equivalent of the TV detector van would be! They are watching you!

  109. Simon Ball

    @David Cornes

    The only reason that we pay for traditional transmission via the license fee is because transmitters have no variable costs. Once the transmitter is built and operating, it doesn’t matter how many people (within range) are receiving a broadcast, the costs are exactly the same. That is not true of the internet. At present, costs are broadly a linear function of demand, and they are likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future (though hopefully those costs will fall).

    Attempting to make iPlayer free (or even cheap) at the point of demand via a subsidy system would result in demand rising to levels way beyond what the BBC could support under any feasible license fee. It would be exactly the same damn stupid mistake that the ISPs themselves have made by selling “unlimited” bandwidth at a fixed price.

    Direct charging the consumer for precisely what they have consumed is the only sensible way to price a product for which variable costs predominate.

  110. wibbilus maximus

    @all those saying tough shit to the ISPs

    A lot of you seem to be stating that because the isps have sold an unlimited service that they now have to suffer. Well it's reality check time. NOT ONE OF YOU HAS AN UNLIMITED SERVICE. Every ISP has a fair usage policy so it's actually tough shit on customers. Basically you and the ISPs have agreed that you can have an unlimited service as long as you don't use too much of it.

    There is SO many things wrong here that each company needs to be blamed for something.

    ISPs: SHOULD NOT advertise unlimited service if it is limited. They should only provide customers with what they can actually sustain (faults on the network obviously is not included in that statement as that is not always something that can be controlled)

    BBC: The iPlayer is a P2P sharing program in essence. Instead of streaming it realtime make it downloadable to a timelimited cache so that the bandwidth doesn't have to be used all at once (since most people will be trying to watch stuff during peak hours when they are home from work)

    BT: The majority of ISPs in the UK resell the ADSL connection from BT who charge massive amounts for that connection. This means that the ISPs can only operate on a very small profit margin which is worked out on average usage.

    All that is going to happen is that the prices for internet connections will rise which means all customers will end up paying more and the internet as a whole will get slower as lost of connections will be running at max capacity during peak times.

    As a side note, as the BBC is funded solely from the licence fee/goverment taxes, why should you have to pay more for what you technically already pay for?

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voting with my wallet

    If ANY of my licence fee goes towards funding an ISP's network then I will quite simply stop watching TV and refuse to pay my TV licence. No if's no but's.

  112. Anonymous Coward

    I'm likely to get burned here...

    But I'm a Tiscali customer, and believe it or not I'm happy with them.

    I have their £14.99 a month package for 2mbps broadband plus evening and weekend calls inclusive. And you know what? I'm happy with this.

    They told me when I first signed up that the line couldn't support more than 2 meg, which knowing where my house is, age of house, where the exchange is etc is correct. So I have the 2meg package.

    I watch the occasional YouTube video, keep both my Windows and Linux systems patched, etc. I do a fair amount of browsing but between all of this, 2 meg is more than enough.

    So I'm paying for the service I receive and I receive a consistent 2 meg service from Tiscali. I have done for several months now since I moved here.

    I agree that their business model may have to change but everyone seems to think that the model is flawed because everyone downloads movies, P2P, extended amounts of YouTube etc. I'm a geek and I don't, so perhaps the model isn't as flawed as it might be.

    I was with BT before and that was a complete shambles. It took them a week to realise they had allocated 2 different phone numbers for the same physical line, and over a month to accept that they should be only charging once...

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ all the ISP's out there - go fudge yaselfs

    Seriously if ISP's want there cake and also eat it then they should just STFU.

    1) BBC isn't goverment - only the Worldservice part is goverment - but thats moot anyhow.

    2) Hmm like you pay ISP for service they advertise - they now try to blackmail us indirectly via content. We as UK peeps pay the BBC already along with pay the ISP.

    Given those two facts I think the UK ISP's can go fudge themselves.

    Either sort out your service and charge customers or dont. Oh thats right you dont dare charge customers more as they already think you provide a shite service so your trying to screw the customers by indirectly charging them more thru the BBC - seriously go fudge yaselfs.

    But if UK isp's are happily bending over for the RIAA and that is after all extra work they should be paid from the music industry and then have a legit case of trying to screw a content provider were the customers have already technicaly paid twice for that content thru the ISP charges already and indeed TV lic, then frankly fudge em.

    I look forward to how the goverment and indeed goverment petitions and your customers get there own back for your out of line hissy fits, seriously bad form.

  114. Simon Hickling
    Paris Hilton

    They shouldn't be broadcasting

    over the internet, they should be multicasting. I remember reading a comment (I think on Slashdot) by someone involved with a method of multicasting which packaged the data up in such a way that you never had to wait more than a few minutes for the video to start. Sounded very clever. Gives you time to get a cup of tea before you start watching. With a server caching popular packets at the exchange it could make a real difference.

    Of course the internet is not geared up to mulitcast as the ISPs don't want to invest in the technology, just take the money and run without giving anything back. Multicast would be great for P2P as well :-)

    I think Paris has been cast in multi films?

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yo, Freetards!

    The only thing better than paying the least possible to enjoy music is paying the least possible to download it.

    My theory is that the freetard hordes are really government borgs trolling to eliminate choice in the ISP market to one - the government owned one.

    Go away, or get smart.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Streaming Data

    What are the ISP whinging for?

    There has been streaming data for years....

    Games like Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, World of Warcraft, etc all use streaming data.

    There's also YouTube, Winamp TV, Channel 4, Sci Fi Channel and many radio stations that stream audio and video content...

    So why are ISPs just picking on the BBC?

  117. This post has been deleted by its author

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let the Customer make the decision

    Let the ISP do the traffic shaping and blocking content. It is then up to the user to decide to stay with that ISP or find another ISP that does not block or restrict in the same way.

    Dont get me wrong - If an ISP advertises a service then they should be able to offer that service. A 10GB cap is a 10GB cap - If I want to watch i-Player all day fine - but only to my cap.

    If the ISP can not cope with the limits they set then the business model is wrong.

    Internet usage is changing. ISP's need to catch up.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Again.. People cant read?

    The issue here is the BT *Central Pipe* - Not how much connectivity an ISP has to the net.

    Lets put it in more simple terms.. the central pipe is what is used to connect *YOU* the home user.. to the ISP's network wherever they've planned to base it - Bandwidth on this is EXPENSIVE when compared to internet connectivity in the middle of docklands for example.

    This is a p2p service.. all its essentially doing is passing traffic between isp's over the BT central network - Although BT are rubbing their hands together I can assure you ISP's are not.

  120. Rob Elliott

    Public money.

    I wonder if the ISP's would be moaning if the BBC wasn't a publicly funded corporation. Of course they wouldn't... They sense easy money and an organisation that might give in.

    Stick it to em BBC!

  121. Michael

    ISPs talking crap

    It is very simple. I pay my ISP for internet access with an agreed level of service. If they don't meet that I get my money back and leave. I applaud the BBC for suggesting they indicate those ISPs which do not restrict access to content. Why should the BBC be blamed by the public for a crap service when it is the ISPs fault.

    If people aren't happy with the ISP and want a better service then pay more somewhere else for it. The ISPs who offer a crappy service for minimal cost will still be able to do so, but they have the added advantage of being able to offer a premium product that gives better access to streamed data.

    Oh wait, that crappy service is the premium service? Really?

  122. michael

    re: No-one's EVER gonna read this far down, but... I did

    the bbc maby pay for transmitters but you pay for the recivers

    tiscali are a isp for pepol reciving so it equivlent to the mony spent on your raido and your arial

  123. Simon Ball


    That didn't read particularly well. What I meant to say is that the costs of transmitting TV depends only on the area you want to cover, and the number of channels you want to be able to transmit. How many people are watching, and how much they watch has no impact on costs at all.

    By comparison, the cost of internet infrastructure is very much dependent on how much you expect consumers to use it. Even if the fibre has essentially infinite capacity, the equipment necessary to light it does not, and thus is a broadly variable cost of demand.

    Perhaps more to the point, the cost of TV transmitter capacity is dirt cheap compared to internet capacity. It’s so cheap that they can afford to just waste 99.9% of it, and provide consumer choice not by responding to individual demand but simply by pumping out an enormous plethora of content all at once, and letting the consumer pick what he wants.

    Bottom line, the cost models of conventional TV broadcast and IPTV aren’t even remotely comparable.

  124. Damien Jorgensen
    Gates Horns


    ISPs should charge more then.

    If they are making razor thin profits and this pushes them over the edge, who cares? Its their own fault for offering free services

  125. mlp

    General consensus...

    Well it seems here just about everyone is agreed - it's the ISPs problem.

    When started bitching a couple of years ago that if you were using your connection excessively then you must be doing something illegal, people let it pass when the service they were paying for became throttled, subject to AUP and people got booted off. Other providers followed suit soon after when they realised they could get away with it.

    Now people have a legitimate reason to use (lots of) bandwidth and the ISP's have to sort out their shit. Admittedly the problem lies with BT and their pricing model, as discussed in Andrew's Mailbox thread... So we find ourselves in the position of having to pay to watch the BBC (again - like the licence fee isn't enough), because the (heavily regulated) BT have artificially high pricing on their wholesale product/backhaul?

    If your business model supports 1-2GB transfer a month (the figure quoted by as the average used at the time), then you make that the data allowance advertised/allowed in your rock-bottom-no-frills service. Tiscali don't seem to be able to support checking Hotmail at 6PM so I suspect their usage allowance is even lower. Right about now you'd expect the ASA to step in and stop people from advertising an "unlimited" product that quite clearly isn't...

    Nevermind the fact that the BBC has the iPlayer and it's a bit popular, doesn't YouTube account for something like 10% of all Internet traffic? Will they go to Google and ask for a hand-out... not likely they'd get told to f*ck off in no uncertain terms! The BBC is just seen as an easy target.

    Perhaps if Tiscali didn't spend so much on wanky ads and trying to buy market share they could spend some cash on actually providing the infrastructure they're over selling...

  126. system

    RE: Why should i pay?

    "I for one have absolutely zero desire to watch tv, either streamed or transmitted. Why should I pay extra to finance the extra bandwidth?"

    I for one have no desire to subsidise the habbits of idiots who actually believe they can buy an unlimited service for £6.50. I pay for a T.V license and for the bandwidth I use (for tiscali customers, a decent service costs at least 3 times what you pay). Why should I face ever increasing license fees to subsidise crappy ISPs I will never use?

    The only way to avoid subsidising large bandwidth users is to do away with all business models similar to tiscalis. When I pay for 30GB peak traffic, I get 30GB peak traffic without subsidising those who use 200GB, and without being subsidised by those who only use 2GB.

  127. sharon morgan

    what a cheek

    I think Tiscali are just annoyed that they are now being sussed by many more people and not just gamers, just how bad their networks are. They're getting annoyed that they now won't get away with shoving many many people in tight spaces. Shame on you Tiscali, trying to palm off your woes on other companies just because you're to lazy and to tight to clean up your networks and give decent people value for money for once instead of a cheap, nasty service.

    Do us a favour Tiscali, sell up and leave us all alone. We don't want to have to deal with you or hear about you, after moving away from your shoddy internet.

  128. Wayland Sothcott
    IT Angle

    Net Neutrality

    I have been forming an opinion about this for some time. As an ISP I worry that my subscribers will blow my bandwidth on P2P and more recently on Video Streams. However I also remember what I am charging them for, simply fast access to the Internet and sort of unmetred bandwidth. Someone can have a very valuable Internet experience using less than 1GB per month or they can have a pretty useless experience and blow 20GB.

    The reason the subscriber is paying for the Internet is to get their hands on what's out there in Internet land, not really for what I am doing for them. All those people provide all those websites that my subscribers want to look at and all I have to do is keep them online. So the fact that the BBC is providing even more for them to want means I should be happy that my service is now even more desirable.

    OK so the reason that as an ISP I am worried is that I am not charging them extra money for the extra bandwidth. It's simple, charge a lot more for unlimited bandwidth and charge extra for gigabytes on metred services. Effectively if allow people 3GB they will probably never hit the limit. Plenty of people will use 10, 20, 40 70 GB every month but they need to pay more. I am sure that the high usage people only do so because it's free. If it cost them even a little more they would not bother.

    You don't have to be the cheapest ISP, just have a price people can afford. If they can afford £10 per month but want something better then £20 is still fine. Then why not £25 or £35?

    The only tricky bit here is why should the subscriber pay to view adverts.

  129. This post has been deleted by its author

  130. Steve Liddle

    BBC site has 502 (Service not available)

    Tried to post a comment on their site, but seems they have run out of bandwidth for the day ?

    BBC player seems an instant stream, often at peak times and no facility to upload later, only get to watch item for 7 days and only on BBC player.

    Alternative clients and the like let me schedule when stuff downloads or uploads and can play films in videolan, ie full screen

    Unfortunately a server error occured whilst trying to retrieve this page:

    We are currently working to correct this

  131. Jason
    Thumb Up

    It's 8pm...

    And entanets' noc ( reads as follow;

    Central 1 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    Central 2 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    Central 3 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    Central 4 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    Central 5 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    Central 6 = Green

    Expected performance 7.2Mbps

    The top news story is;

    We have today ordered additional capacity for central 5, ETA is Friday 11-04-2008.

    And my internet is fast as fook at this time. I pay more than most people, and I get a better service, I know exactly how much bandwidth I can use a month, and I can see exactly how much I have used so far. You get what you pay for.

  132. Anonymous Coward

    BBC Steamroller

    Right, ISP's, pin your ears back and listen to the private sector who have already been screwed by Auntie. For decades now the Beeb have been riding roughshod over independent TV producers in the UK, and doing so using public money. F'rinstance, those cute ads for Tweenies et al adorning the side of buses? Which feed right into BBC Worldwide's coffers? Who pays? Answer - you do. because they are not promoting a 'brand' they are promoting a public service channel. That is millions of taxpayers money used to promote a private industry. The BBC is a pretty bent organisation when it comes down to it (oh, and the news is crap - compare the information bytes to something like Euronews and be depressed) and they are after YOUR business. Shut down iPlayer before it is too late - it's rubbish technology anyway.

  133. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    I can think of no better use for my licence-fee..

    I'd really like a chunk of my licence-fee to be put towards funding the rollout of true high-speed broadband across the UK.

    Let's face it: the Beeb have to pay to run their broadcast transmitters; why should they expect to piggy-back on ISPs for free?

    In the absence of licence-fee-derived funding perhaps ISPs could offer two levels of service.

    One, a standard service which doesn't let you access the Beeb's questionable emissions.

    Another - at extra cost - which gives you everything-plus-the-Beeb.

    Then let the market decide.

  134. Simon Hickling

    @ Anonymous Coward

    That's the technology I was trying to remember - the one that provides on demand over multicast. Looking on the IEEE site there seem to be a couple of techniques and quick Google suggests there are (or have been) a number of investigations into this. You don't seem to have picked up on my other point - no, there is currently no benefit from multicast due to network structure. What have my ISPs and BT been doing with the money I pay them every month? Not investing in infrastructure or planning a network structure that can cope. Given this weeks fines for water companies (another regulated industry) doing wrong by their customers, I just hope OFCOM will start to do some regulating.

  135. Cliff

    Anonymous Cowards

    The fact that the biggest slice of the anti-Beeb rhetoric comes from Anonymous Cowards suggests to me they know they're very much in the minority opinion.

    Me? I side with the beeb on this, whether or not there are pictures of the Tweenies on buses (which does seem somewhat irrelevant).

  136. Peter Williams

    I pay for web access not BBC programs

    I have no interest in the BBC Iplayer, have tried it in beta and will probably not use it. All I want is fast web access and I pay £24.99 a month for it, if you want Iplayer the you or the BBC should pay for it. I would be very happy for my ISP to limit Iplayer to maintain my speed.


  137. Gulfie

    ISPs are not the only losers...

    ... the paying punter such as myself is also losing out. I have watched my available bandwidth strangled to below-dial-up speeds because, according to my ISP, there is lots of iPlayer traffic swamping the network in the evenings. I can't work, my kids can't do their homework and my wife can't prepare her lessons for school the following day.

    Bandwidth throttling is not the answer. Neither is putting up the cost to the end user. An earlier Reg article referred to the problems with BT's commercial model and that is what needs fixing. iPlayer and similar services are not going to go away, they just emphasise the need for an uncrippled infrastructure to be built and, if BT won't adapt, somebody else will (hopefully) step in to provide proper Gb speeds to the local exchanges.

    As usual in "rip off Britain" it is only when the incumbant's business model is trashed that anything happens. Time for OFCOM to get involved methinks.

    Jacket because if I had the option I'd emigrate. I'm sick of being ripped off by big business and the Government "for my own good".

  138. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go BBC!!!

    I'm firmly with the Beeb here as a previous Tiscali customer.

    If you can't supply something as advertised, at the price that you are advertising it for then don't take up that market position.

    Too many ISPs are taking the low cost position rather than billing for quality, clearly stating defined limits...we had the same problem with webhosts a few years back - everyone was unlimited but when push came to shove they could supply.

    I'd rather know my limits, be able to work within them...and pay a fair price for my bandwidth at the time of usage.

    The BBC should not have to interalise someone elses costs!

  139. Chad H.

    Hey, ISPs.

    I pay for "All I can Eat", not "All you can eat thats economicly viable to provide", just "All I can eat". If you cant provide it... DONT SELL IT.

  140. Dave Bell

    Why did it have to be Tiscali?

    They've never made a profit, their advertising is a blatant lie, and they won't even admit to the obvious "traffic shaping" that they're doing. If you only see their network at "peak time", it's crap.

    They really don't have any credibility.

    But Tiscali being a bunch of crooks and liars isn't sufficient to let the BBC off the hook.

  141. chris Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    tight wads, uk traffic is cheaper than intercontinental traffic

    These ISP's are complaining about bandwidth that originates and is transported within the UK. Yes it eats into their contended services, yes it'll raise the number of support calls and complaints from end users because of the crap iplayer performance, but it won't eat into their expensive intercontinental connections like youtube et al do. The local exchange to the home has been consistently recognised as the place that needs improving to deliver a superior broadband but none of the ISP's (not even cable) want to put their hand in their pockets to sort it out.

  142. rob forrester

    I heart BBC

    I may sound like a total boy scout here but the BBC have offered an amazing service, they shaped the internet in the early days, their current web presence, in my opinion, is excellent, and i will use iplayer regularly.

    As others have said, its interesting to see that they havent targeted the other big loads.I watch HD clips constantly on and I have surfed youtube for hours on end, and granted the quality is lower, but it must be equivilent to one or two iplayer programs a night? Surely not many people are taking in more than an hour or two.

    I think that this is sadly a case of "oh look they are doing well... lets get them!". thank god the BBC is standing up for themselves this time.

    If they want to get something back from heavy traffic why doesnt tiscali just ask some of the porn merchants for a bit of cash?

  143. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just because it's not a physical product...

    I have PS3's for sale, just £150 each*

    *While stocks last**

    **OK, I only have 2 of them but I'll charge everyone who wants one £150 anyway!

  144. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @tight wads, uk traffic is cheaper than intercontinental traffic

    Everything in your title is correct... not.

    except you.. like a few others has completly *missed the point*

    1) its p2p traffic

    2) its p2p traffic

    3) did I mention - its p2p traffic :)

    4) The local exchange to the home.. and from your local exchange to your isp is commonly recognised as being where the problem is.. the problem is THE COST OF THE BANDWIDTH TO GET THE CONTENT (over bt central) TO *YOU* Not to exchange it between each ISP or send it over to Asia for example.

    5) If everyone pissed off to telehouse and watched iplayer there, the problem wouldn't exist.

    6) If you really do believe 'uk traffic' is cheaper than 'intercontinental traffic' then do yourself a favour - go and price yourself up a 1 gig connection to linx (And the associated hardware, ripe membership).. and compare it to a 1 gig connection to cogent, hurricane electric (or many many other low end transit providers).. I'll give you a clue.. the one that gives you UK + intercontinental routes works out cheaper than the one which will give you 'uk traffic'.

    Until you've been there.. done it.. got the associated tshirt and understand exactly what you are talking about.. you should not comment. :)

  145. Lance

    @Anonymous Coward

    All content providers already pay. They do have connection(s) to the Internet and those are not free. So, you think the BBC (or anyone else) should pay that and then for the consumer as well? Then what is the consumer paying for? What you are asking for is that the ISP’s can get paid twice to provide the service? The content providers pay the cost for their pipe and the consumer and then the consumer pays as well.

  146. Paul Hampson

    @Nick Palmer

    "The BBC, whose license fee is ALSO supposed to cover the provision of distribution methods"

    The BBC is not responsible for distribution, only transmission, which is why they don't pay for the electricity we use for our TV sets.

    The BBC is still incurring costs for transmission.

    I only hope that someone from the BBC and the other TV company's see these comments and take heart. It may be that future services from other companies will be cancelled as a result of this "Outcry" by greedy, besuited ISPs.

    Why is the register and the media in general not ridiculing the ISPs claims?

    Why do they just brush over the near fraudulent representation of services by ISPs?

    Why ,in short, are issues in the telecom sector always seen as a failure by civil servants like Ofcom and now the BBC.

    Maybe, if the register (and similar media organizations) saved some of their bile for ISPs and BT we wouldn't be having this discussion .

  147. Anonymous Coward

    How dare you!

    You want to actually transfer data using the internet connection you paid for? The very cheek of it!

    You'll be wanting the data rate they advertised next!

  148. Matt


    the ISP's should just stop bulls--tting everyone and trash _all_ of their "unlimited bandwidth" deals.

    Unless they charge realistic fees.

    Bandwidth isn't cheap, it isn't unlimited, and the ISP's should take responsibilty and start putting together realistic packages.

  149. Mark

    re: laugable

    "For example, youtube pay millions per day for their bandwidth...obviously tiscali et al don't provide it, because they don't have the infrastructure to host a banana"

    But then again, youtube's millions of bandwidth cost isn't solely to tiscali customers: it's worldwide. And it's not even just £6.49 a month, either: it's £6.49 per month per customer. Which is easily enough millions per day.

    Sure, youtube's money doesn't go to tiscali, but then again, for many people, if there were NO youtube service, they wouldn't need more than 1MB service and how much does THAT cost? So tiscali are getting money because services like youtube exist.

    And do youtube get any of this?


  150. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You get what you pay for.

    I am sure that my ISP costs me more than I would pay to use Tiscali but I have unlimited bandwidth and can speak to a real person if I need support.

  151. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Dear

    The saddest part of this whole farce is that the most popular iPlayer show to date is 'The Apprentice' with amateur presenter, Alan Sugar. (Source: BBC Radio 4)

    A wholly depressing thought considering you could be watching the wonderful David Attenborough instead.

    Modern life is rubbish.

  152. Carl
    Dead Vulture


    In other news today, the Highways Agency are trying to get approval to instroduce a 'Ford Tax'. It seems that more people are buying Ford cars and this is contributing to congestion on the nations roads which are already over-saturated and unable to cope with the flow of traffic. The HA are requesting that Ford be required to pay a fixed amount of money each time one of their cars uses a stretch of road...

    It's a joke, and I think that Tiscali are just trying to pick an online content provider with high bandwidth requirements and use it as a scapegoat to cover up for the fact that its network is vastly over-subscribed. Thank god that my migration should be complete by the 16th and they will no longer be my problem.

    ISPs need to come to terms with the fact that users don't just use the Internet for sending emails and viewing static web pages - those that do will sign up for some sort of 'Lite' package - so they need to stop crying like little bitches and do something about it. Let's face it, the volume of traffic isn't going to go down...

  153. Steven Hewittt

    ISP's are twats

    FFS - There is no argument here.

    ISP's offer me an "unlimited" connection to their network. That covers all costs including the connectivity to other networks. I pay for this.

    The BBC pay for the peering they use to the internet.

    Now if the BBC pay to place data into a network that is connected (via other networks) to my ISP's, what part of the data moving process hasn't been paid for exactly? The ISP's use my money to connect their network to other networks. The BBC pay to have their data accessible from various networks, and I pay a fee set by my ISP to transfer unlimited data between said networks.

    Now forgive me if I'm wrong, but even taking into your account your stupid argument that it's not unlimited and is really fair use (which is stupid on the basis that ISP's sell it as "Unlimited"), then they should at least be able to maintain me having the full 5Mbps from the Beeb's site until I hit my fair use cap. (I pay for 8Mbps, but I realise due to technical constrains that it's actually 5Mbps). I have a 5Mbps (real speed) pipe to the ISP. They are shaping and limiting my traffic, and then during peek times my traffic speed goes down even further.

    So "unlimited" isn't the real issue. Even with caps on at 40Gb or whatever, I STILL don't get the performance as the ISP cannot give me 40Gb's of data at 5Mbps during peak times as they simply don't have the infrastructure to support even that.

    Let's not forget the fact that the few people here that support the ISP's are wrong. The vast majority of iPlayer traffic is STREAMING. That's NOT P2P. That's YouTube, Webcasts, movie/game trailers etc.

    Personally, I would LOVE to see:

    - No packet shaping

    - No Phorm

    - No DNS Hijacking

    - UK based technical support

    - Uncontended access

    - Monitoring for botnets

    - Network based AV (you can add yourself to the whitelist via a control panel if it's causing issues)

    - Ignoring any request for disconnection unless it's from the Police with a warrant

    - Wires only

    - No port blocking

    - ADSL Max

    I would happily pay £40 a month for a 50Gb cap on the above. That would be great.

  154. Joe

    Against all odds:

    I'm actually with Tiscali on this one.

    It happens that I have a tiscali broadband package, which by-the-way works fine most of the time, and even exceeds the maximum speed (280kB/s on a 2Mb line)

    Now they say they offer unlimited broadband and all, with only a limit on bandwidth between 6 and 11 pm. That doesn't mean you can't use the internet, it simply means that you shouldn't use bandwidth-hungry applications, like P2P, iPlayer and so on. It's a bitch alright, but it allows everybody to experience a decent line speed in the evening, when everybody's on the internet. In France they don't usually have these requirements, and I can tell you it's a pain in the arse when there's a P2P maniac between you and the exchange. My 512 kb/s line gave me a 8kB/s trickle at the best of time (yes, it was a few years ago, but still)

    Now the Beebs comes in and expects ISPs to do whatever is necessary to allow iPlayer traffic to go through without a glitch. But dude, increasing a network's capabilty is fucking expensive!! You can't expect to pay so little for your broadband package, and get lightning speed DLs with a huge bandwidth! The price we pay for broadband is in adequation with the bandwidth capabilities of the line. Then somebody walks in and expect the available bandwidth to double, well who's gonna pay for that?? I personnaly don't use iPlayer, and I would be really pissed if my package doubled in price just 'cause the BBC wants to flood the network.

    And charging only those who use iPlayer wouldn't work, they wouldn't want to pay 3 times what others pay, and with a hike of only a few punds, well it wouldn't bring in enough cash.

    I understand that other applications are bandwidth-hungry, but not on the same level as iPlayer. Come on, when you think about it, soon everybody will be able to watch TV, anytime, using the internet. You can't expect the current network to cope with that, and it's not fair to expect ISPs to foot the whole bill.

    If a car manufacturer came in tomorrow with a car that's 6 meters wide, would you expect the coucil (and therefore the tax-payer) to widen all the roads in the country to fit that car? Hardly. Yet your right to use the roads is "unlimited"... within reasonable limits, like "you car must fit the road in the first place".

    The Beebs' iPlayer service clearly doesn't fit the network, which wasn't designed to cope with that sort of traffic. Seeing how much it costs to upgrade the network, I think it's fair that everybody pitches in, not just the ISPs who seem to be under the obligation to offer lightning-fast line speeds, unlimited bandwidth, at rock-bottom prices...

    In France (I'm French) they are upgrading the network to optic-fiber. Costs them billions!!!! But the government is helping them, otherwise there's no chance it could be done. The result in pretty impressive: 60mb/s for something like £20/month.

    But everybody pitched in, and no-one expected the IPSs to do everything themselves.

    5 years ago, in Paris, I paid less for a 20mb line than I pay NOW in UK for a 2mb line... If we expect ISPs to upgrade the network to optic-fiber without any help, I dare not imagine what we're gonna pay for broadband then...

  155. Bronek Kozicki

    what happened to multicast?

    I know, IP multicast has its share problems - but broadcasting is exactly tke kind of scenario it was designed to handle. With IPv6 around the corner, maybe the time has come to reconsider enabling it?

  156. Carl


    "Now the Beebs comes in and expects ISPs to do whatever is necessary to allow iPlayer traffic to go through without a glitch"

    I think it's actually the user that want iPlayer traffic to go through without a glitch which I think gives us two (sensible) options:

    1. The ISP ups prices and the user continues to get the service that they are paying for. Maybe they bring out an 'iPlayer and other 21st century web based content' package that is priced accordingly.

    2. The ISP absorbs the cost.

    The only one I can see here that is suitable and sustainable is 1.

    If Tiscali contacted Google and said 'Excuse me but youtube is causing us big problems here, we think that you should contribute something to our costs of providing access to your website', I expect and sincerely hope that they would be told to get bent. I think that the reason Tiscali are going after the Beeb is because she is publicly funded and we know that the govt like to fritter away our money.

    I also don't see the issue of content providers naming and shaming why the connection may be bad, the ISPs could even work deals to turn it into advertising their new iPlayer tariffs (see 1 above).

    Maybe the Beeb should ask Tiscali for a bit of cash, because users that have tried to access iPlayer using a Tiscali broadband are given the wrong impression that the iPlayer app is a bag of shit (I thought this when I first accessed it through my '8 meg' max Tiscali connection - but then I accessed it through a real broadband connection and I changed my opinion).

    [Yeah, I know that 8mb max depends on the distance from the exchange, blah blah blah, but let's just say if I opened the window at the top of my stairs I could more or less piss all over the roof of my exchange, and I used to get 6.5Mb before all you iPlayer watching bastards stole all Tiscali's bandwidth]

    "The Beebs' iPlayer service clearly doesn't fit the network, which wasn't designed to cope with that sort of traffic"

    Very, very little of what we do now fits into the category of what the Internet was designed to cope with...

    "BBC wants to flood the network"

    Yes, that's what they're doing...

  157. N

    No. Not "with" Tiscali here.

    I recently left Pipex since Tiscali fncked the service with shaping and blocking sites (iTunes for example). I didn't mind paying £25 a month for a decent service.

    I'm a happy Be-ing now. It's fast, effective, and slightly cheaper than Pipex was, but offers less frills. Most importantly it doesn't appear to be restrictive in use.

    So - if Tiscali want to mess up the internet in the UK with shoddy service then they can fnck right off.

    Yay Auntie! Stick it to them!

  158. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    ISPs own fault

    If the ISPs sell bandwidth they cannot deliver, who is to blame?

    I know it may mean higher prices for us all, but I would much prefer to pay more to buy a service that delivers what I have been sold, than get a service that is unusable for much of the day.

    Why should the BBC, or ITV, or Channel 4 or Channel 5, or Sky, or YouTube or its clones (who all have video on demand services) have to pay for anything except the bandwidth between them and their ISP.

    The ISPs are asking for an unworkable charging model. The only thing that might make the BBC situation slightly different is that the high demand material may be slightly more predictible than some of the other content providers.

  159. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steven Hewittt

    I'm sure you would love to pay £40 a month for such a service. If you want a rough guideline on how much it would cost to provide such a service try multiplying the contention ratio you get with the price you currently pay.

    Yup, you are talking about £800 a month and you can already get such a connection. It will set you back around that figure too, also known as a leased line.

    People have to accept they are paying for a contended service. The BBC have to accept that if they want to behave like a content provider, they should pay delivery providers such as Virgin, Sky or BT to host the content for them. That way the network operator can ringfence the traffic like they do already with video on demand.

    Expecting an amateurish flash based application to run at high reliable bandwith is like expecting your moped to go 70 down the motorway when everyone else is in traffic.

  160. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "If Tiscali contacted Google and said 'Excuse me but youtube is causing us big problems here, we think that you should contribute something to our costs of providing access to your website', I expect and sincerely hope that they would be told to get bent. I think that the reason Tiscali are going after the Beeb is because she is publicly funded and we know that the govt like to fritter away our money."

    The difference here is that using your example, YouTube would be complaining that users were having to wait for videos to buffer and demanding that the ISPs do something about it for free.

    The difference in countries such as Sweden/Paris/Tokyo etc they get nice fast 100mbps local networks but still share the same 155mb pipe equivalent to the rest of the world. The BBC would be having the same problems anywhere else. The solution is to have the ISPs host the content like (for example) Sky or BT Vision do.

  161. Joe

    It's Joe again

    I think that youtube and the like are VERY different from iPlayer.

    Look at the quality!!!! Damn image is smaller than a box of matches for crying out loud!! Plus youtube videos are short, in-between them you're not using much bandwidth. If you watch Lost on iPlayer you're using the line to full capacity for a good 40 minutes.

    Upgrading the network is mind-blowingly expensive, if ISPs pay for it all (which they hardly can, seeing the competition and the limited margins in this sector) you'd need to multiply your broadband package price 3-4-5 fold. Now I owuldn't be happy about that!

    ""The Beebs' iPlayer service clearly doesn't fit the network, which wasn't designed to cope with that sort of traffic"

    Very, very little of what we do now fits into the category of what the Internet was designed to cope with..."

    True, but iPlayer doesn't fit the network by a considerable margin. If Youtube vids were of the same quality a iPlayer, you can bet Google would have had a knock on the door long ago.

    It's true that the obvious solution is to up the price ocnsumers pay, but if that cost could be spread around to those who contricbute to the NEED of a better network, weel I think it would be fair.

    I, for instance, don't really have the cash for a £50/month line, which is what we would be expected to pay, if ISPs upgraded the network without any help.

    When internet first came around, my service provider was Deamon (cool name :-)

    Well, they couldn't hope of forking out the necessary cash to lay down phone lines: they hired them from BT for a small fee. Today, how can ISPs hope to have the necessary cash to lay down optic-fiber???

    It could seem fair that they do it, but I just don't think it's economically possible, just as BMW and Mercedes are not expected to pay for building roads :-)

  162. Ian

    Ian Crawford

    Why should the BBC pay ISPs to let data down their pipes. The BBC aren't actively pushing data down their networks, it is I and others like me who pull the data down, the Beeb just make the content available. How much of the ISPs bandwidth is being taken up by people downloading the latest movie or music video from providers other than the BBC? Are the ISPs going after the likes of Microsoft, for making available for download upgrades of Vista and the like ... I think not.

    Why single out the BBC, do they think because it's funded by the UK public it is an easy target? ISPs leave our BBC alone, if you can't handle the traffic flowing around the Internet, then get out of the business. After all this is what you do. The BBC make programs, the ISPs provide the infrastructure and I watch the programs.

    Who would you trust the Beeb or an ISP that says your going to get a 20Mbyte bandwidth, charges you for 20Mbytes and you get 5Mbytes. I'll tell you what ISP's, if you want to throttle my 20Mbyte connection why don't you also throttle the amount you charge at the same time or is that too technically difficult.

  163. Richard

    Paying twice or three times?

    First of all its the ISPs that tell everyone their service is unlimited, then complain when people actually use the service.

    Some users would rarely use there connection (like me as I am away monday to friday), others used it a lot and the majority sit in the middle. It seems to me that over the past couple of years the ISPs have pursued removing the small number of high end users to increase their profitability without offering a discount to the small number of users who hardly use their service.

    Second don't the BBC pay to link their servers to the internet and are therefore paying for at least some of the distribution costs e.g. the pipe from their servers to the internet hubs.

  164. michael

    @ pepol who do not get it

    I pay 24.99 for max speed (ie as fast as I can get it) 20gb per mounth limited the "streaming" iplayer plays smoth no loading stutetring or what ever it is fast but I am limited but I know the limite and I can move up the cost range if I want (34.99 for 50gb, 150 for true unlimited) I can even move down if I want (19.99 10gb) I get what I want the isp gets a resionable profit and the iplayer works

    it is the range that works and they do not promis what they can not deliver

  165. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should pay for what you use

    My personal view is that the BBC should publish content as they see fit - just like any other provider of content on the web.

    The users of content are mostly in control of how much bandwidth they use, so they should pay for any increase in bandwidth cost via their ISP.

    On the high street, you don't go into a shop and expect them to pay for what you take out of it, do you!

    I think it's about time ISP's stopped "unlimited" cliams - unless it really is - and move to a pay as you use bandwidth tariff. If a client wants a fixed and known monthley budget - and they exceed their limit - give them the option to continue (charged), or drop the line speed until the next bandwidth/charging period.

  166. Sarah
    Thumb Up


    Yep, I understand the ISP's costs in this. Not my problem.

    If Virgin or whoever want to change my package from 'unlimited' to 'limited' then I expect a big, fat, pay off from them for changing the contract and admitting they can't deliver on their end of it.

    Which, is precisely what they do to us.

    ISP's you've made your bed. You've had your chance, time to burn.

  167. Gary Styling

    ...and BT ?

    How come BT are getting away scott free here. For years they have failed to invest enough in modern fibre and upgrade their exchanges.

    For me they deserve a vast amount of blame over the UKs archaic telephone does this two faced Government...say one thing and do nothing.

  168. This post has been deleted by its author

  169. Anonymous Coward

    All very simple really

    First off, no the BBC should not have to pay for upgrading the entire country's network. The ISP's should all stick money in a pot and BT should then (having stuck money in as well) be responsible for upgrading the entire country's network by replacing the copper wires with optical fibre.

    Ofcom should get off the pointy fence and force this to happen.

    Secondly - there has been a set top box invented in a university hear in the UK which allegedly makes the internet much much faster without optical fibre and does so very very cheaply.

    Can we all have one now please?

  170. Carl


    Ofcom aren't on the pointy fence... they're off busily slapping the beeb on the wrists for letting naughty pop and rock stars swear on live TV during the day...

  171. Carl Any On A Mouse

    Stick to content - leave distribution to distibutors

    It wasn't exactly unexpected, but Adobe just launched Flash Media Player. Having spent the past couple of hours nerding out to episodes of Star Trek TOS I can officially confirm that the BBC iPlayer is as dead as a very dead thing. What the hell got into the BBC's heads? That they could take on large companies that actually do this stuff for a living - and do it pretty well? BBC versus Apple, Microsoft and Adobe - it's like Bill Gates trying to write an episode of Doctor Who in hexadecimal notation, possible but pretty bloody pointless. More fun would be to take several million pounds of taxpayers money and burn it in the streets. Oh look, they just did.

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