back to article BT to embrace IPTV as it upgrades broadband network to multicast

British Telecom will change the bulk of its broadband network to use multicast routers as from next year – this will mean that full IPTV services, using quality of service protocols, could then be launched for the first time on the BT network. BT has always said that it didn't see the point of building out its network with …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would welcome this advance in the network but seriously, perhaps BT needs to consider that the network its self is crap and is in serious need of replacing before it spends more money on providing a service that only a small portion of the country will see any real benifit, dont get me wrong, IPTV is a great idea, but not if your getting sub 2Mbps speeds, theres no amount of QOS thats going to help you there. Hell even the current web based video would see an improvment to better lines, i can watch the iplayer in a truly terrible resolution/bit rate, or wait for it to be uploaded as a downloadable file. I choose to download it, looks better and lets me watch it when i want to.

    And yes i live in the middle of a large town not far from the exchange.

    1. Mark 65


      But isn't this happening at the same time as fibre to the cabinet? In which case the network will be improving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        well yes, but given that most of us are on copper and very few of us will eversee the light of day of fiber i think that QOS is pointless for the vast majority of us who cant get any more than 2Mbps. as i said i think its a great idea but they need to address the poor copper situation before spending a fortune on new gear to enable QOS.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It is all very well to offer this

    but while they charge by the bit for data transmission it can get very expensive.

    Over the air Freeview is attractive financially in these times of austerity as apart from the one off cost of the FreeView box it is free. (I'm discounting the TV license as you have to pay for that whichever way you get the TV signal).

    On the other hand, with TV coming over the wires (BT or Virgin) or Satellite(Sky) then youmist keep paying an ongoing monthly fee to keep it coming.

    I know of several people who have stopped their Sky or Virgin subscription due to the ever increasing costs. For them keeping the latest episode of 'I'm a plonker and can't sing or dance'

    showing in their house is getting to be a luxury they can't afford.

  3. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    Ah, right

    So no point when the customers ask for it, but suddenly essential when they want it.



  4. Steve X


    About time too, but why don't they do it properly & go for IPv6 as well?

  5. Christian Berger

    Real Multicast or only single direction?

    Properly implemented Multicast allows every participant in the network to do multicast. Therefore everybody can start their own multicast station.

  6. Jerry

    No Video On Demand

    Multicast is fine for pretimed streaming - I think it's used in 3G video channels for instance.

    When you get to VOD you run into a problem as different people want to watch the same content at differen times.

    In effect the network will become a copper based broadcast TV system.

    What's going to be much more amusing is the hacks and DOS on the system. Multicast routers aren't all that clever so expect some monumental hacks.

    Also, there are two types of multicast in the world CISCO and everyone else. I wonder who will get the gig (not) and how much they paid to get it.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Missing a step?

    I would be happy to be able to get BBC iPlayer 1st.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "I would be happy to be able to get BBC iPlayer 1st."

      What makes you think you'll be able to get this? Just because it's there, it doesn't mean our unlimited "up to" speeds will support it - especially at the 20KB/s peak times.

    2. David Ward 1

      BT vision has iplayer..

      BT vision has iplayer on it, at least mine does.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another one of those BT moments.

    Oh sh*t, maybe we shouldn't have sold O2

    Oh sh*t, maybe pouring money into business services and running down our unglamorous core business was a mistake.

    Oh sh*t, maybe BT mobile was overpriced rubbish.

    Oh sh*t, maybe we do need to install fibre.

    Oh sh*t, maybe we do need multicast.

    I confidently predict:

    Oh sh*t, maybe BT Vision is an overpriced way of getting Freeview.

    Oh sh*t, maybe we do need FTTP.

    Sadly, I also predict:

    Continuing inability to understand their own industry.

    The impression that the management isn't really terribly interested in running a communication network, and would really rather be something more, you know, *exciting*.

    Focus on playing games with the regulator, rather than providing a decent service to their customers.

    Stunts like charging £130 to install a line that they will they charge you to have (not even "use").

    Shamelessly exploiting less well-informed or technologically literate customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You forgot the most important prediction

      Build a network which is built for Variable Bit Rate services.

      A multicast design specifically geared for CBR video is useless in a day and age when even the over the air television broadcasts mix 2-3 types (and rates) into their broadcast (

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I went to several lectures held at BT Labs (Martlesham Heath) in the early 1990s - as a member of the IEE.

      The engineers at BT knew all this. Their head, Dr Alan Rudge knew all this. They were incabable of selling the long term benefits and this is not a surprise by shareholders who care about this year's dividend.

      Now they are run by a young accountant - from a retailer, I fear that they will fail in the long term - yes, bonuses this year are good, the pension deficit is being reduced... but significant long term investment in the infrastructure ?

      That said, are Virgin any better ? I see them as the nearest competitor. What is their network like ?

      Privitisation didn't work - Mercury / C&W are nowhere - unlee you have cable, you have no choice of who runs the best cables to your house.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The IEE?

        Is this a poor mans version of the the IEEE?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          It was the UK version

          Sadly now incorporated in IET.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Which BT?

    Is this BT Retail or BT Wholesale doing this? I.e. does any ISP using BT kit get access to this or is it only for BT customers?

  10. tardigrade

    What constitutes the bulk of it's broadband network then?

    Does this mean that my ADSL2 connection will be faster than it's current 447Kbps (0.44Mbps) limit?

    I shouldn't think so.

    You can stuff your IPTV, I just want to be able to surf the web and watch YouTube videos without having time to make a roast dinner whilst I'm waiting for a 3 minute video to load up. And this is supposed to be the 21st century.

    A group of us pitch fork wielding vill-large-ers are seriously considering burning the village BT exchange to the ground just so that they will be forced to rebuild it with new kit.

    Come on BT sort out your existing network, it's been a joke for years.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Broken Telecomm

    So are they smart enough then on the 132kbps their "unlimited 8mbps (minimum) service" in this to (a) NOT raise prices, (b) deploy IPv6 and (c) fix their other infrastructure mgmt issues?

    If the answers to all 3 are != Yes, then Epic Fail again. More Bad Marketing Acid in effect then as they can't even get the POTS/Last Mile right, yet are going to multicast? That's so early 90's.

    What f*tards they truly are, glad (mostly!) we're on Virgin now, where the network investments made 3-5 years ago would justify such a kit upgrade.

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Maybe Freeview users in Scotland...

    ...could get back the radio-on-Freeview services that we're in the process of losing to make space for a Gaelic-language TV service.

    Or, more TV gambling services and lo-fi pornography.

  13. ac 3


    So what's CDN then?

    1. Terry Barnes


      Content Delivery Network.

      Overlay IP network, not part of the Internet - used to get data from a content provider to a point as close to the recipient as possible. Means that on demand services aren't screwed by 'best efforts' Internet routing or congestion. The most well known company doing this is Akamai, but BT do it for their Vision service.

      Contentious because a CDN isn't compatible with the concept of net neutrality. Many people will argue about this for years, others will just enjoy the video on demand working properly.

  14. Sandtreader

    Open access?

    The key question here - as Christian Berger and an AC both alluded to above - is how open this is. i.e. how are mere mortals able to inject multicast traffic into their network. It would be great if it was fully routed but I'd lay money it is source-specific and hence pretty much only available if you're plugged into their core routers (= if you're BT or a major ISP).

    Done properly this could not only enable IPTV - a multicast fileshare carousel, for example, is far, far more efficient than dozens of unicast connections into a CDN for the same file.

  15. RegGuy

    Type D?

    "Type D internet addressing"?

    Class D surely.

    Coat, coz I'm a pedant.

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