back to article BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network

BT's patent spat with US company ASSIA will start to be noticed by customers, with the carrier reportedly shutting down boxes that provide rate adaptation after it lost a crucial round of legal action. In December 2013, Britain's High Court ruled that BT had infringed ASSIA patents by developing DSL management platforms …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    Rather than cut a licensing deal with ASSIA, and faced with daily penalties of £250,000 per week if it continued running the system,

    A daily rate and you quoted a weekly rate in the same sentence.

    Too many Wheatabix this morning perhaps.

    As far as the patent owners gos, well they would say that wouldn't they.

    If their patent is so vital to the running of a DSL network then perhaps it should be included in the standard for the service. Then they'd get pennies instead of pounds so they won't like that.

    Even thought we all hate BT for blindingly obvious reasons I actually applaud them for removing the offending kit from their networks. If it does not lead to a network meltdown then I wonder if other providers will do the same. Could it be that the Patent owners might have shot themvelves in the foot by demanding such high fees.

    Watch this space.

    This is probably not over yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahem...

      Too many Wheatabix this morning perhaps.


      1. Chad H.

        Re: Ahem...

        Too many Wheatabix this morning perhaps.


        He who can only get pedantic about spelling obviously has nothing worthwhile to say.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahem...

      It was vital. In the days of ADSL.

      You had to run a processing job centrally to do rate adaptation because of the cross-talk in long bundles. Otherwise the performance was sh*te..., especially for uplink speeds/Annex M.

      In the days of VDSL via FTTC and Fiber - who cares. The bundles are much smaller and some of the rate adaptation has moved to the boxes themselves too.

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    They are under no obligation to pay. And you've already cost them a bucket load of money. And there will be similar techniques that avoid your patent - there's never only one way to do things.

    What did you expect? I know a lot of companies will just roll-over and pay, but when you're causing people hassle by saying they are using YOUR tech (unknowingly, most of the time) and must pay you - well there are two options. One of them involves rewarding you for the lawsuit. One of them involve having nothing to do with you ever again.

    I know which one I'd choose. I'm just surprised that, in this instance, BT happen to agree with me.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Bye bye then

    It seems forums are full of problems caused by BT's rate adaption so I doubt it'll missed either.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Bye bye then

      It seems forums are full of problems caused by BT's rate adaption

      Most of the fuss is (was, really due to gradual improvements) about the BTw implementation of DLM for ADSL though. The BTor implementation for FTTC has generated relatively few complaints as it actually seems to do a reasonable job(*).

      Unfortunately this could mean that they have to go down the route that BTw did. I think part of the problem with that system was the lack of line information which resulted in a rather crude response and wide banding.

      There's an interesting discussion here.

      (*)Better granularity, variable interleaving rates (including reverting to none at all if things improve) faster response times.

    2. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: Bye bye then

      It didn't just affect BT customers, but other ISPs too; I've noticed my fibre to cabinet speed increase noticeable recently!

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bye bye then

        It didn't just affect BT customers, but other ISPs too

        Everyone on FTTC goes through the BTor DLM so yes, it will affect us all.

        I've noticed my fibre to cabinet speed increase noticeable recently!

        There have been modem firmware updates that changed the frequency plans which helped a lot of people. Hopefully that isn't related to this issue. It should only impact those with unstable lines and thankfully the nature of FTTC means they are less common than with ADSL.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: Bye bye then

          There's another discussion here.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Bye bye then

        Apparently DLM has been suspended for the moment but is coming back...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crowing a bit, aren't they?

    ... the carrier is harming customers' service levels and speeds.

    It seems to me that BT are doing the logical thing given ASSIA's victory. Why on earth do ASSIA now think it is OK to try to blacken BT's name? To my mind any negative consequences for the customer are as much due to ASSIA's actions as to BT's.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crowing a bit, aren't they?

      the thing is, if it turns out to make no difference, then there is a case for slander / libel right there.

  5. MJI Silver badge

    Who developed the BT boxes?

    Were they independantly developed?

    BT USED to be pretty good technology wise, in fact in some things world leading if you include GPO.

    Are they still good?

    Finally is this why I have had drop outs in my broadband in the last week?

    (On BT Infinity)

  6. Frankee Llonnygog

    No need for ASSIA to get arsey

    In a race to be arsiest, BR's gonna win. Better butt out now

  7. Mage Silver badge

    The patent

    Such an idea or a method to implement it should never have been allowed as a patent. It's a mathematical model.

    If there is a patent involved on GSM / 3G / LTE (all of which do rate adaptation and management) it should be invalid too as this is a basic obvious concept since 1920s or earlier, with Shannon and Nyquist formalising the mathematics underpinning it in 1948.

    Anyone can easily implement the software to do this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The patent

      Yeah, but mathematics is patentable now, according to the USPTO.

      (Anon. because we just did the same thing until the lawyers stop shouting at each other)

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The patent

      On the basis of what Wragge & Co (the law firm representing ASSIA) say about the patent BT were found to infringe (EP (UK) 1,869,790 filed in 2006), namely: "That patent describes a method of using a state transition matrix to decide how to choose the most desirable line profile in which to operate a DSL connection," I'm a little surprised that the patent was deemed valid, as State transition matrix's are a common approach to solving problems - whether it be in a digital camera, an engine management system, OSI protocols, etc.

      If it were a US patent then we could all just say the USPTO simply accepted the argument "state transition matrix in a DSL connection" just as they give patents to things because they contain the magic words "xyz in a handheld computer/mobile device", but as it is an EU(UK) patent we expect higher levels of qualification, so we can only conclude that there is in fact more in the patent than the law firm's statement implies.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So does this ASSIA actual sell their own product?

    further if this IP was how BT were planning to reduce crosstalk between the premises and the exchange then how long before the increasing infinity customers notice the absence

  9. HkraM

    I'm not sure my BT line could get any slower...

  10. Chad H.

    You reap what you sow ASSIA

    To quote the movie the Castle:

    Suffer in your Jocks.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anybody remember when BTwoolsale introduced Rambo/DLM?

    I'd say it was at least a decade ago, but ICBW.

    Is this really the pace at which the IP lawyers (not to be confused with any other IP) move?

    The LLU operators, whose ADSL circuits don't use BTw kit in the exchanges and who therefore don't 'benefit' from DLM, are presumably not included in this suit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MrSaffron says (over at thinkbroadband):

      "The presumption we are making is that the removal of the DLM refers to JUST the Openreach FTTC based services and will thus affect all providers, not just Infinity. "

      He's usually well informed on these things.

      So maybe it's not been as long arriving in the courts as it appeared to be.

  12. CrashM

    How about giving customers access to control their own line speed and features... that way when they accidentally unplug their modem/router they don't lose a chunk of their speed for a week or 2.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    Is this why my internet

    connection keeps dropping out?

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Has anyone actually said.

    Did BT pinch their code or use it without permission, or did they independantly develop it?

    Perhaps BT should patent the electronic computer!

  15. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Here's a simple question: does any other ISP in the UK use this tech? From Arsier's comments I think that we can infer that they don't. If Arsier could say competitors were using the tech then I think they'd have a point. But if nobody is using this tech in the UK then their comments mean nothing to BT customers.

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