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BT Wants Cash For iPlayer, Video Bandwidth

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-do-you-want-cash-for dept.

The Almighty Buck 229

eldavojohn writes "British Telecom is asking for more money for the bandwidth that iPlayer and video streaming sites eat up. The BBC's Tech Editor is claiming that 'Now Britain's biggest internet service provider is making it clear that, in a cut-throat broadband market, something is going to have to give — and net neutrality may have to be chucked overboard.' The BBC and BT are currently already in talks over how to get past this together. This might sound like a familiar battle from over a year ago."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305445)

bitches

This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (5, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305449)

BT have a TV over the internet offer called "BT Vision" its suffering (and just lost its CEO) in competition with Rupert "any view that pays" Murdoch's Sky. Now if BT could get a richer experience out of iPlayer and access to a longer back catalogue than simply the last 7 days then this would help them in competition with Sky.

So I'd expect this to end up with BT agreeing to support iPlayer in the same way but an "interesting" tie-up between BT and the BBC around the delivery of iPlayer+ features to its BT Vision customers.

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (5, Insightful)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305567)

BT Vision is awful. Depressing and misleading adverts, the sales people on the phone lie to get you to sign up, no lives channels beyond the standard Freeview stuff, poor image quality and even after paying your monthly subscription you still can't access most of their online content without paying extra. The sooner it goes away the better.

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305669)

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (5, Insightful)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305729)

This is just BT believing that because they used to be the national phone service they have a right to dominate any communications market and charge whatever they like. We have a similar company in the Netherlands KPN who used to be the national telephone and post service but since they were privatized have shown a total disregard for fair competition from other companies and tried every trick in the book to hold their dominant position so they can abuse it to make bigger profits.

No doubt there are some influential contacts in the government who get paid well for these agreements. If you ask me the expense scandal in the UK is just the top of the iceberg and our governments are basically nearly as corrupt as the US, they just make more effort to hide it.

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (5, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305801)

BT Vision is Freeview TV, with a hard drive. The part that needs broadband is minimal. Here are a list of "Features" : [bt.com]
  • Pause rewind and record Live TV
    The Vision+ box is a digital TV recorder that lets you pause, record and rewind live TV.
  • 160 GB hard drive
    Record and store up to 80 hours of Freeview TV with the huge 160 GB hard drive.
  • # Dual tuners
    The Vision+ box's dual tuners can record one or two programmes at once while you watch another recording.
  • Record whole TV series
    The TV guide shows scheduling 14 days in advance. Simply press the R button twice to record a whole series.
  • HD Experience
    The HD Vision+ box gives you selected films and TV in crystal clear, High Definition picture and sound quality.
  • # Convenient billing
    Any pay per view movies, sport, music or TV shows you watch will be added to your next BT Vision bill. If you take one of our Value Packs, you will be billed in advance each month.

Combined with bittorrent, I already have what they are offering. Except their speeds are derisory. I recently switched provider to Be [bethere.co.uk] , and experienced a doubling in download bandwidth, and a trebling in upload bandwidth, for 25% less per month including a fixed IP. Plus BT claimed that "it was not possible to get faster speeds on my line". Funny that, considering you need a BT phone line to sign up with Be. But now I'm not with BT broadband, I can't get BT Vision. So there was no net neutrality in this case. All their stuff was prioritised already.

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (2, Informative)

moggie_xev (695282) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306253)

I recently switched provider to Be [bethere.co.uk] , and experienced a doubling in download bandwidth, and a trebling in upload bandwidth, for 25% less per month including a fixed IP. Plus BT claimed that "it was not possible to get faster speeds on my line". Funny that, considering you need a BT phone line to sign up with Be. But now I'm not with BT broadband, I can't get BT Vision. So there was no net neutrality in this case. All their stuff was prioritised already.

I am just about to move house but I have used Be for the last two years. I have called them a couple of times with technical questions and they have always solved them quickly ( under 20 minutes ). Even canceling my service with them easy.
I have 18Mbits/second down and 1.5Mbits/second up. They are a great service provider.

Re:This is more about BT Vision than bandwidth (5, Informative)

kyz (225372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306309)

BT, the monopoly provider of telephone landlines in most of the UK, only have IPstream [wikipedia.org] in their exchanges, which has a maximum speed of 8Mbps. Most broadband providers, including BT Broadband, are merely reselling this 8Mbps access.

Be, Virgin and TalkTalk took advantage of the OLO (other licensed operator) scheme that BT was forced by OFTEL/OFCOM to provide. They put their equipment in BT's exchanges. They can provide broadband speeds higher than 8Mbps.

However, in order get access to those other providers inside BT's exchanges, you need a BT line, even if you never use the BT line. Sure, it sucks to be you, but what's the alternative? Other operators would be forced to build and operate all their own cables and exchanges, rather than rent a corner of BT's exchange, and given they don't have access rights to the land like BT does, there are many places they wouldn't be able to go.

That's the tradeoff - you can get better-than-BT broadband almost anywhere in the country because you need a BT line.

Non-issue (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305457)

This shouldn't be an issue at all; the BBC's ISP should be charging them a fortune for their high bandwidth use and then the squabble is between ISPs for peering costs. Also BT should be charging by the gigabyte instead of offering unrealistic "unlimited" packages that cause problems when people actually use their bandwidth.

Re:Non-issue (3, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305601)

These motherfuckers make me see red. You pay for a service and you're not supposed to use it!? Burn down the entire fucking BT HQ, because this mafia behaviour is really, really getting on my fucking nerves.

Re:Non-issue (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305757)

I've often suggested trashing local exchanges. Then I realised that I'd just end up in jail.

Boycott them financially instead. It makes more sense. Money is your weapon.

Re:Non-issue (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305823)

Boycott them financially instead. It makes more sense. Money is your weapon.

Try to tell that to a nation (= any nation) full of clueless idiots that don't understand the meaning of consumer.

Still my statement was merely symbolic. I do agree that civilised behaviour is better. Though I'm more pissed off at the people than the mafia corps. Mindless fucking zombies walking around eating this kind of shit without ever even knowing what hit them. Serves them right for being so ignorant, but then again it affects those that aren't as such.

Re:Non-issue (1)

DanEllisUK (761274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305917)

It is not the companies that concern me, they have marketing departments that exist solely to make their products seem better than they are, and that is the same with all companies.

My anger is at the watchdog, Ofcom [ofcom.org.uk] , that continually allow these companies to lie.

Re:Non-issue (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28306019)

what a fucking numbskull. you need to get out more. wanting to burn down a building because you disagree with the terminology of ISP bandwidth metering?
get a fucking life kiddie.

Re:Non-issue (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306105)

Kiddie? And you're supposed to be a big boy behind the AC sig? No you clearly misunderstood me. The point was not to burn the building down, but I accept your short sighted ignorance for now. The point was that the service providers sell a product. You as a consumer buy that product. Not a similar product. When the service provider goes "oops, we promised too much, we weren't exactly expecting you to use the capacity you purchased", you just sit there and take it up the ass. I don't.

Re:Non-issue (3, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305771)

BT are already on the ball. From 4pm to midnight, iPlayer is unusable for me, rebuffers every 10 seconds. Other services such as Youtube and Vimeo suffer too.

Re:Non-issue (2, Informative)

Phydaux (1135819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305837)

I've noticed this recently too. I used to be able to watch BBC programs using the High Quality setting without problem, but like you say, sometimes at peak times I can wait 30mins for a 5min you-tube video to load, or a BBC iPlayer program is constantly buffering. And I pay for an "Unlimited" package.

If I had a viable alternative to BT in my area I would switch already, but I'm in one of the many areas that BT still haven't done LLU on my local exchange so the only real competitors are companies I hate more than BT.

Re:Non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28306099)

If I had a viable alternative to BT in my area I would switch already, but I'm in one of the many areas that BT still haven't done LLU on my local exchange so the only real competitors are companies I hate more than BT.

You can use any of the ISPs that offer a service through a BT line. You'll pay BT for phone line rental, but you'll pay the other ISP for your broadband. Even if the speed isn't any greater, at least you're not giving BT as much money.

Re:Non-issue (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306307)

I've seen similar issues on Virgin Media. When watching iPlayer streams, the player frequently buffers and then complains that there is insufficient bandwidth. Looking at the network monitor, it's getting around 40KB/s average. Strangely, if I use iplayer-dl, I can grab the show at 1.1MB/s, which typically only takes about 2 minutes and then I can watch it without any problems. Oh, and the CPU load is much lower using QuickTime on the downloaded version than using the Flash thing. For about two weeks, there was a problem where after 10 minutes of playing, it would drop to about one frame every 2 seconds (network monitor showed no drop in bandwidth used), so I am more inclined to blame the crappy coding in either Flash or the iPlayer flash program than the network.

Re:Non-issue (5, Informative)

DrogMan (708650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306343)

You have a viable alternative - or rather about 130 of them, so get clued-up, ask BT retail for a MAC and migrate to another provider who can provide you with the service you want.

The BT Wholesale network is actually rather good. BT Retail is just one of 130 ISPs who use the BT wholesale network, and they're a particularly bad example.

It's vitally important to not confuse the two, and do not let BT tell you otherwise. I have BT copper to my home/office, I pay BT the minimum amount a month for this copper, but my Internet access is through the BT wholesale network, via another ISP, not BT.

Re:Non-issue (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305849)

That may just be peak hours.

Re:Non-issue (4, Informative)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306069)

Really? No problems for me on my LLU ISP. Maybe you should consider one of those instead. Most exchanges are LLU these days, unless it is you really have no excuse to still be with BT's overpriced and underserviced offering. One example of this, on my LLU ISP when it was first activated it was only at 1meg down 256 up, I should have been on their max offering with 2.2ish down and 768 up. Were I with a BT ISP this would have probably taken a fault report to BT to get them to fix their DSLAM, but with this ISP it was done in 5 mins, no hassle. It was a freephone number too. BT are a fail, if you continue to give them money (even on an ISP that uses their network) you are asking for trouble.

Re:Non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305781)

Yeah, as Bill Gates has said, 640KB is enough for everyone. Anyone needing more than 640KB per month is a pirate, because bandwidth is fucking damned expensive.

Except in places like Sweden, South Korea or Hong Kong where everyone is downloading by the gigabytes every week (hell, even every day for some users) with no problem. But everyone knows those places don't really exist. It's just a global conspiracy to spread false rumors by the likes of thepiratebay.org.

Re:Non-issue (2, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305911)

You forgot Japan, which has the best infrastructure in the world. The US and UK, however, have poor infrastructure and it actually does cost telecoms tons of money to bring broadband to households.

Re:Non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305891)

This shouldn't be an issue at all; the BBC's ISP should be charging them a fortune for their high bandwidth use and then the squabble is between ISPs for peering costs.

I seem to recall from a visit to the BBC's research lab that the BBC itself has peering agreements -- ie, it is its own ISP.

Re:Non-issue (5, Informative)

JTL21 (190706) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306001)

Erm, the BBC don't have an ISP. They produce enough traffic in the UK that they peer directly with most UK ISPs at LINX.

BT's cost is only on its internal network, they won't be paying someone else for bandwidth.

BTs customers are paying for a connection speed e.g. 2Mbit and they should be able to get that rate from the BBC if they want. BT needs to change its customer charging infrastructure not bitch and whine

Re:Non-issue (3, Interesting)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306007)

This shouldn't be an issue at all; the BBC's ISP should be charging them a fortune for their high bandwidth use and then the squabble is between ISPs for peering costs. Also BT should be charging by the gigabyte instead of offering unrealistic "unlimited" packages that cause problems when people actually use their bandwidth.

Both of these already take place more or less; the BBC does pay an ungodly amount for bandwidth already.

BT's packages also have a 40GB soft limit in their FUP - virtually no british home user ADSL ISPs offer a truly unlimited service any more, you need to get a business class ADSL account for £80-100 a month or so.

BT also throttle video streaming down to 750Kb/s in peak periods on the standard packages, so users already have limited access to the higher quality streams on iplayer in the evening with BT, something a number of other ISPs have been using lately in their adverts.

So not only are the BBC paying for their bandwidth, and users are paying through the nose for a pretty limited service, BT now want to double dip and charge twice for the same content, with the BBC picking up the bill instead of the customers.

Must be good business when you're an ex-public service monopoly and still the largest ISP, and can get away with bullshit like this.

Re:Non-issue (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306121)

This shouldn't be an issue at all; the BBC's ISP should be charging them a fortune for their high bandwidth use and then the squabble is between ISPs for peering costs.

Please, how can large companies afford to pay their CEOs obscene salaries if their busy charging each other instead of ass raping their customers?

Providing service and value for payment is so last century.

Re:Non-issue (3, Interesting)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306233)

The BBC are peered with every UK ISP. If you don't peer with the BBC you don't get any content at all. The BBC doesn't pay for bandwidth at all.

Historically the ISPs have concluded that in the UK your broadband should come with access to the BBC.

It's essentially going to be a peering spat, BT may pull peering from the BBC and try to get the BBC to pay. The BBC will cut off access to all streaming services if they do it. BTs customers will flee.

If the BBC are really nasty, I bet they could get a superb deal for streaming from Sprint who transit BT and nail BT for a huge transit bill for delivering the content.

Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305471)

So video over IP is wasting BT's bandwidth eh? How about increasing the bandwidth instead of reducing the share of it subscribers are allowed to get? This is typical greedy telco mentality: let's milk the existing infrastructure for all it's worth, instead of investing in said infrastructure. Heck, if Japan or Korea ISPs can provide very high bandwidth residential internet to their customers, why couldn't the UK? This is called investing in the future, and it's what we need in times of economic crisis.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (5, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305641)

Look, I'm going to type this really slowly so that you understand.

The choice quotes in this article are slighly misleading. The issue isn't the "cost" to BT of carrying the bits. That's as close to nil as makes no difference. The issue for BT is that they are running out of capacity to carry those bits, and will have to upgrade their infrastructure, as you note.

Heck, if Japan or Korea ISPs can provide very high bandwidth residential internet to their customers, why couldn't the UK?

Who. Pays. For. It?

Who pays the wages of the guys digging the holes? Who pays for the fiber that goes in them, and the switches and routers?

That's all BT are arguing over: whether they have to increase the cost to consumers directly, or whether they can tax the producers (who will then have to tax the consumers through the 'television' license fee).

The only issue here is who's going to look like the bad guys for making the populace pay for upgrading BT's infrastructure. BT would prefer that the BBC do the squeezing, that's all.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305727)

And this is all the fault of the iPlayer? I really couldn't give a rats arse about BTs incompetence. Why are they not asking youtube for money to dig them out of their own stupid hole. Frankly I'd rather see BT go bankrupt, be broken up and sold into little bits.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305737)

The only issue here is who's going to look like the bad guys for making the populace pay for upgrading BT's infrastructure. BT would prefer that the BBC do the squeezing, that's all.

This is exactly right, but it's pretty evident that the BBC shouldn't be paying for general-purpose bandwidth. Just because iPlayer's the driver right now, doesn't mean all kinds of other services that rely on high bandwidth will benefit.

If it's to be subsidised (for which there is a case - having consumers with good connectivity stimulates the online economy) it should be from some other form of taxation.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (2, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305761)

That's a really generic argument, so I'm guessing that you are not from the uk. Correct me if I'm wrong.

BT have already squeezed the money out for their upgrade. After the Century-21 roll-out they have enough fibre in place to handle video traffic. After getting to maintain their monopoly for a few years beyond when they should have because DSL didn't fit into the legal view for breaking their monopoly on POTS - they got to rape the entire UK internet industry for bandwidth charges.

They have already collected enough tolls. This is not about who pays for infrastructure upgrades. The backbone is in place, only the exchange endpoints need upgrading and they do not pay for that. Local loop unbundling means that the ISPs pay for that.

The truth is that BT is a monopolist who grew fat collecting tolls. And it wants to find a new place for tolls now that it is not allowed to collect the old ones.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305789)

You're confusing BT Openreach - who own the 21cn infrastructure, and have plenty of bandwidth, with BT Broadband, a 2 bit ISP who can't be arsed to pay for any of that bandwidth to actually serve customers.

It's BT Broadband who are trying to get cash out of the BBC.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (0, Redundant)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306025)

Excellent post. But this is slashdot. "Information wants to be free" and everyone associated with making it and producing it should work for free too apparently.

I agree, it makes no fucking sense.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (3, Insightful)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306091)

As noted elsewhere, that's OpenReaches problem. But even if it was BT Broadbands problem, surely the answer would be to charge an appropriate price per MB/GB/whatever? I mean, really, it's fairly simple business issue -- you need to make enough money to cover your costs!

Dodgy analogy: If Tesco were selling soooo many packets of Corn Flakes that they were running out of space in their warehouses, then using the BT-School-of-Business route, they'd want to charge the customer the same for the Corn Flakes and *also* charge Kelogs for the privileged of Tesco selling them! Whereas obviously, they need to make enough money by selling products to invest in building the infrastructure to deliver it all.

Actually... I don't normally resort to expletives, but what sort of a fucking prick is John Petter? I mean seriously, either he's a clown with no business nouse at all (has he though of a career in banking?), or he *does* know exactly what he's doing and he's trying to take the public for a ride.

I'm sick an tired of these cunts -- we need to have a cull!! :D

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28306295)

BT has millions of customers who *already* pay for an internet service. Do they expect to be paid twice???

If BT can't afford to upgrade its infrastructure, then that's their problem. They can easily pass on the cost to their customers, the ones who are demanding BBC content.

I pay the BBC (through the licence fee) to provide a content service. I'm not a BT internet customer. Why should my tax pounds be used to pay for BTs infrastructure? It's got nothing to do with me.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (1)

carlc75 (1331437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305651)

This is the curse of having a pre-existing infrastructure. We cannot simple lay new networks of fiber like Korea and Japan, we have a rather large network of copper that runs everywhere. Economically we can only upgrade bits at a time.

Re:Share the cake... or make the cake bigger (1)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305735)

Your point has merit if all of BT's fiber is maxed out with 10gbps equipment and its just impossible for them to get more fiber. Strangely I doubt they've done that as any company with the foresight and willingness to upgrade their entire infrastructure to 10gbps would figure out how to get more fiber where its needed. These guys are just greedy and poor planners.

WTF? (5, Informative)

AccUser (191555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305475)

Let me get this straight... the BBC pays for their internet connection, and they will have to pay a tariff appropriate to the bandwidth that they use in providing these services, which covers iPlayer video being delivered from their servers. As a consumer, I pay for my internet connection, and pay a tariff appropriate to the bandwidth that I use in consuming services, included iPlayer video that I download and stream. So if both ends are paid for, what is the problem?

It sounds to me like BT has suddenly realised that they have oversold their services on the basis that not everyone uses their internet connection at the same time. This is a classic telecommunications model. Except that, unlike the telephone, our internet access is largely un-metered (flat-rate charge), and we can use it even when we are not physically present.

Re:WTF? (2)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305591)

You're spot-on about the bandwidth stuff, but why do you still have a metered landline phone? Mine has been unmetered for about 5 years, first with Virgin, now BT.

Re:WTF? (1)

AccUser (191555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305619)

We actually pay a flat rate charge for most calls, but some are charged additionally. Mostly, people call us though. ;-)

Re:WTF? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305693)

BT is NOT unmetered. I got kicked off BT for "excessive use" a couple of years back. They considered it wrong to be connected for long periods of time and using software to redial when they dropped it.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305755)

I second this. I got kicked off of BT Internet in the dial up days for being connected for too long.

Re:WTF? (2, Informative)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305835)

Unmetered is not quite the same as unlimited. IIRC the terms of both phone contracts limit call durations to an hour, but (with BT's at least) you are allowed to call them back again immediately. It's designed for voice use - might even say this somewhere - not computer connections.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305627)

Doesn't iPlayer have a significant peer-to-peer side. That won't be using the Beeb's bandwidth.

Re:WTF? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305699)

as of a month ago, iPlayer no longer uses peer-to-peer

Have you noticed that poo smells? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305477)

It smells like poo and farts. Some people are so obsessed with the computer and the windows that they didn't know about the stinky smell that is their poo?

Solution (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305505)

BBC shouldn't give a penny to BT. They should cut them off.

From the perspective of BTs dumb mass audience, who chose BT because it bundled the prettiest ADSL modem, the word will quickly spread that BT is pants because your can't get "teh TVs".
Problem solved.

Re:Solution (5, Interesting)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305599)

Nice idea, but the BBC is a public service and would probably be violating parts of its charter by doing this.

Re:Solution (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305655)

Well then the other option is to do nothing.
If BT nerf the iplayer, inject phorm ads, or charge a surcharge to customers, the result will be -> "BT is pants"

Apart from carphone warehouse or AOL (if they are still even in the ADSL market), anything is a better choice than BT

Re:Solution (3, Insightful)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305667)

Why should the BBC cut them off? If BT doesn't want their users accessing the video content THEY should block it. Once their clients realize that they can't get what their paying for over BT it will quickly lose its status as 'largest'. Market forces are at work and BT is plugging its ears and going nya nya nya nya, let them go the way of the Dodo.

Market forces in natural monopolies..? (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305775)

Well, I guess that depends on whether or not customers can find another ISP...

Personally I'd like to see regulation from EU... :)

Re:Market forces in natural monopolies..? (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305809)

What? There are only, like 100 of the damned things.

This isn't like the US where the ISPs have carved out local monopolies.

Re:Solution (2, Insightful)

kieran (20691) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305811)

Speaking as an ISP senior network engineer for over a decade:

Yes. BT can get stuffed, and any other provider who violates net neutrality will see me vote with my feet.

Re:Solution (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305853)

Every ADSL subscriber in the country goes through BT some point. I suspect that BT wholesale is providing the BBCs net connection directly.

Competition (5, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305511)

When people sign up for broadband, one of the main things they want it for in this country is iPlayer. If iPlayer doesn't work well on BT Internet, they will go to another ISP where it does work. That will be a selling point for their competitors. For that reason, BBC can tell them to get lost.

Re:Competition (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305661)

Remind me, which other UK ISPs don't use BT's backbone?

The only real choice is which intartubes wire you get your bits from: the copper going to the local BT exchange, or the copper going to the local Virgin Cable hub.

Given that Virgin Cable provide iPlayer through their TV Watch Again service, if BT squeeze iPlayer too hard, then it'll be Virgin that benefits, and nobody else.

Re:Competition (2, Insightful)

rich_r (655226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305719)

BT Internet are a separate division to the organisation that owns the physical backbone. In theory, BT internet buy their wholesale access in exactly the same way as any other ADSL provider.
So if BT internet play silly buggers with iPlayer you can migrate and you will see a difference, provided that the problem lies with the isp and the amount of money they're prepared to spend on their backhaul and pipe. If the problem is that if the BT Wholesale network can't cope, then that's a different kettle of fish!

Re:Competition (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305765)

"Remind me, which other UK ISPs don't use BT's backbone? "

Remind us where it matters?

Its a numbers game, if people go to someone else they pay someone else - that that money may end up with BT is not really relevant.

Re:Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305707)

Have you forgotten the one year commitment on BT service?

An by the way in my area there is NO other ISP providing the service
because all the available "connections" belong to BT (Canary Wharf, London):
that is what I was said by other ISPs I've contacted.

Encyption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305523)

When all the bits look the same, there is no way to discriminate between them.

Re:Encyption (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305797)

When all the bits look the same, there is no way to discriminate between them.

The IP's of the BBC aren't going to be changing on a daily basis - you can match on that.

That's the way BT is (5, Interesting)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305535)

Don't forget that BT is the incumbent telecoms operator in the UK - they were originally a state owned monopoly and got most of their infrastructure in place using taxpayers' money.

These are the same guys that were holding back broadband in the UK a couple of years (all the while broadband adoption in the rest of Europe was taking of like crazy) ago until laws were passed forcing them to allow other ISPs to use their lines. Even now, they will still make it extra hard to use ISPs other than themselves.

They currently censor their customers connection using the list from the Internet Watch Foundation (a state controlled quango) - the same guys that were blocking Wikipedia some months ago - and will voluntarily give contact data for an IP address to any "content owner" who asks for it.

These guys are not the good guys and they haven't been so for many years now.

Re:That's the way BT is (4, Informative)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305639)

I feel I need to put some of that in perspective - BT aren't saints, but they're not as bad as you're making out. This is from experience working for a UK ISP (not BT, one of the other ones).

These are the same guys that were holding back broadband in the UK a couple of years (all the while broadband adoption in the rest of Europe was taking of like crazy) ago until laws were passed forcing them to allow other ISPs to use their lines. Even now, they will still make it extra hard to use ISPs other than themselves.

That was indeed the case, but is not nearly as bad now. BT Broadband (the ISP), and BT OpenReach (the infrastructure operator) are required by law to be separate entities, and can not give each other preferential treatment. In my experience that's also the case, with it being no more hassle to get a line setup regardless of who you're subscribing to.

They currently censor their customers connection using the list from the Internet Watch Foundation (a state controlled quango) - the same guys that were blocking Wikipedia some months ago

So does every other major ISP in the country. There's an agreement in place since the government essentially said "do this voluntarily, on your terms, or we'll make it a legal requirement". Believe me, the terms written up by a bunch of network engineers are far better - the original request included logging anyone who hit something on the list, which was thrown out early on due to the possibility of false positives.

and will voluntarily give contact data for an IP address to any "content owner" who asks for it.

I'll concede that. It's a terrible move to screw over your own customers like that.

These guys are not the good guys and they haven't been so for many years now.

Of course they aren't, they're a large company. Large companies are never the good guys.

Re:That's the way BT is (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305833)

There's an agreement in place since the government essentially said "do this voluntarily, on your terms, or we'll make it a legal requirement". Believe me, the terms written up by a bunch of network engineers are far better - the original request included logging anyone who hit something on the list, which was thrown out early on due to the possibility of false positives.

You, Sir, are a useful idiot, and you fail to understand even the basic principles of negotiation.

(1) Any negotiation must start with the skilled party requesting far more than he expects to get. The concessions merely amount to reducing the agreed terms to what that party was hoping for. In this case, "logging everyone who hits one site on the IWF list" was not going to happen anyway - but if you ask for it, your opponent will rejoice when that term is conceded, while the government can be content that what they were actually aiming for, which is an infrastructure for censorship, has been successfully implemented.

(2) "Do this voluntarily or we'll force you to do it" is logically equivalent to "we're forcing you to do it". EITHER you do it OR you do it.

(3) Network engineer terms, oh really? No "bunch of network engineers" would agree to reporting as 404 what is (generously) a 403 Forbidden. A "bunch of network engineers" getting the final say would not have the final detour of the list being through government, which can add sites at will and in secret.

The IWF has a singular purpose: ensuring that there is a framework for censorship on the Internet, to be used whenever necessary. Also, if it became necessary to do some official logging, it'd just be be a matter of saying "please forward us those logs periodically". Of course IWF hits are logged unofficially at least temporarily, because all hits to IWF list IP addresses go via caching servers, and you can assume that any server has logging on unless there's some mound of evidence to show otherwise.

Re:That's the way BT is (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306027)

So does every other major ISP in the country.

Which does in no way somehow make it ok.
It's like saying "We follow Hitler, because they are all doing it!". (Godwin can kiss my ass on his bogus rule. ^^)

Needs a translation (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305537)

"We oversold and can't cope with the costs. Subsidise us."

Well, fuck you BT. You made your bed; Lie in it.

Re:Needs a translation (4, Funny)

MiKM (752717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306159)

Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasels.

What do you expect? (3, Insightful)

shin0r (208259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305547)

When you charge pennies for a service - the big UK ISPs have been on a race to zero for years now - you'll come unstuck when people actually want to use the service. Duh. Whatever happened to charging a fair price, and then delivering a fair service? It's not rocket science.

Re:What do you expect? (5, Funny)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305613)

1. Sign up users who don't use their connection much
2. Price War
3 ???
4. Loss

Re:What do you expect? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305779)

Some companies do. You'll find them here [thinkbroadband.com]

Discovering unlimited internet use (3, Insightful)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305549)

If all these ISPs realized advertising unlimited internet use would sell people on the idea they could use unlimited internet use maybe they should have built their infrastructure to handle it, or not market it as such. If they have anyone to whine to, it's themselves and their own short sightedness.

Having worked with... (5, Insightful)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305555)

..BT (not for them, mind you, just with them on technical projects), all I can say is that if BT (and OpenReach) would spend more on their hardware and infrastructure and less on their asinine marketing and the outsourcing of their customer support (which is a hugely inefficient operation), and all the other stupid crap that they spend money on, this would be a none-issue.

Hey, BT, you still have a freaking monopoly, despite the creation of OpenReach. If you can't make money with a monopoly, you deserve to go under.

"Free ride" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305557)

I find it frustrating when ISPs falsely accuse content providers of "getting a free ride". It's not free, it's far from free, the BBC pay huge bandwidth costs to deliver content.

BT should not be allowed to blame "the internet" for loss in profits because of a poor business model. Especially as BT Wholesale accounts for a savage percentage of the UK broadband market.

Stop whining.

The BBC should just ignore BT (1)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305565)

I mean, why even enter into discussions with them? It's not like they're obligated to. If BT decided to cut them off I'm certain there would be a massive backlash from their customers as it's certainly a very popular service.

Get with the times, BT (1)

Obama$$$RIAA$$$ (1527151) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305579)

It's time for BT to die and make way for municipally owned fiber. Hell, it's been time for at least 5 years.

Wrong Approach (5, Informative)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305585)

Here's an independent UK ISP ratings site [dslzoneuk.net] . BT is third-from-bottom for a reason.
  All the top ISP's on the list implement download quotas instead of throttling and port blocking to manage traffic, it is the fairest solution to load management IMHO.

Re:Wrong Approach (1)

Some Bitch (645438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305821)

BT also have download quotas, they're just too stupid to set them appropriately.

Re:Wrong Approach (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305939)

Many of the ISPs on the list resell BT's service... BT charges ridiculous amounts for the backhaul from the local exchange to the ISP... Actual Internet transit is much cheaper (from the ISP upwards) and peering with other UK based organisations is very cheap or free... For example, the BBC will peer with you for free because it saves transit costs for both of you.

Of course (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306043)

They could just start selling only what they can provide, instead of selling what they haven't got.

Re:Wrong Approach (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306113)

I have to say I'm astonished that BT is third from the bottom. I would have expected it to be bottom. I had to help a friend recently, who had made the mistake of signing up to BT, with some bandwidth problems (other than the standard throttling from 5-midnight).

BT operates a slave plantation in India for customer support. They are the singular worst customer support I have ever encountered. They tell you absolutely anything you want to hear, lying in the process. A engineer needed to come and check the line. However it took 3 weeks of shouting at customer support to actually get someone to turn up. Every day we were promised the engineer would come the next day, they never ever showed. In the end had to make an official complaint by snailmail to get someone to turn up.

And let's not forget Phorm.

BT would be much better concentrating on fixing their massive problems with their service than talking about iPlayer. The BBC should tell BT to go fuck themselves.

Don't use BT broadband (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305625)

People might diss Virgin Media, but at least they host iPlayer and other TV on demand services like 4od, and provide them through their cable box (however naff the box is!).

BT's crapness in this regard suggests to me that their 21CN (21st century network) is just a pile of shit that has costed billions like everything else they do.

The whole point of iPlayer, etc, is that people will be using it when they have free time (i.e., in the evening) to catch up on TV they have missed. If it is unusable at this time due to throttling, then what's the point? It's not like we're talking about 8mbit streams either...

* disclaimer - I used to work for BT

Re:Don't use BT broadband (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305733)

I'd probably "diss" them as well for considering spying on you with Phorm [virginmedia.com] .

I'm surprised that BT even has a 21st Century Network. Given what South Korea and Japan had, I thought we were still stuck on a 20th Century Network here in the UK.

Not that it makes much difference to me - I'm on Sky's free 2Mbps and 2GB/mo broadband and haven't overused it in any given month enough to be told to stop. 99% of TV is crap as it is, why bother wasting time streaming it or downloading it?

Consumer should pay (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305629)

It seems obvious to me that any ISP (including BT) should pass these bandwidth costs on to the consumer.

One of several things will happen:

  • Consumers decide streaming video isn't that important to them after all, and buy a cheaper service. The market has spoken.
  • Consumers grumble a bit, but end up paying for what they're using
  • Competitors step in with a cheaper way of providing the bandwidth consumers want

Re:Consumer should pay (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305759)

You missed an option:

  * People will grumble because all prices (including the lowest packages) go up, the UK Government will decide that it doesn't meet their "everyone must have broadband" requirement and legislate to make BT upgrade the infrastructure to something closer to what Japan has

Or is that overly optimistic for any government we might get in the UK (Labour or Conservatives)? :D

Heck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28305659)

I would even pay money if the BBC would allow me legally to access their content. Outside of britain there is no way you can get access legally.
The same goes for hulu.com btw, which is only legally acessible from within the USA!

Got to love BT (1)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305665)

Maybe they can make up the shortfall with the proceeds from Phorm [theregister.co.uk] .

BT should paying the BBC (4, Interesting)

OdinOdin_ (266277) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305721)

BT is the principal landline telecommunications supplier in the UK. Most of their income is generated from being a wholesale infrastructure supplier, so I don't understand why there is a "bandwidth delivery problem". Since BT must have the cheapest cost of getting bandwidth from one location in the UK to their customer base. BT can well afford to put multiple 10GbE into LINX and/or BBC directly and connect 1GbE into every local exchange/Point-of-Presence.

So the question has to be asked, what specific thing is it that stops these things from taking place ? Could is be that upgrading equipment at both ends of a fiber optic medium might increase bandwidth by 10 fold but decrease the comodity value of that same bandwidth by 8 fold. Which also has the effect of decreasing the comodity value of all other bandwidth products a telco has for sale. Net result is less profit.

BT inherited their network from the government when it was the "GPO", maybe it is time for the GPO to come back so that the monopoly position BT has is rebalanced against the technological improvements of the past 10 years that a state owned entity could push forward. Some people in the UK don't like privatisation and other people don't like nationalisation, but I say we should have both (at least 2 companies) and let the customer spend their money with the company who best serves their interests.

It is my understanding that when you are a content supplier, people pay you to get connected to you, since you have the content that your "consumers" are paying you to get to. Within reasons the cost of bandwidth is free to the BBC (over and above some ~£million costs to setup, own and manage). Internet bandwidth at neutral exchanges must look pretty cheap compared to satellite video bandwidth needed for a world leading TV, radio, news and media organisation. The money for connectivity flows in that direction, consumer to producer.

BT throttles entire Internet worldwide (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305777)

BT, Britain's biggest broadband supplier, has thoughtfully averted complete congestion of the Internet by throttling all use of the Internet [today.com] on its cheapest broadband package, blaming the BBC iPlayer, everyone else on the Internet and magical pixies.

Customers on the I Can't Believe It's Eight Megabits package have all Internet data flow cut off entirely under its "fair use" clause during "peak periods," defined as being between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 11:59pm. "However," said a customer service telephone voice menu, "the connection itself runs at the full eight megabits the entire time. That we guarantee absolutely."

BT has recently sold the technology to China, where it was put into operation today, blocking Twitter, Blogger, Microsoft Bob Hope and the live webcam of the coffee pot at Cambridge University. "We will not put up with the drop in productivity social networking sites cause," said a spokesrivercrab. "After the terrible onslaught of blue screens at the Olympics, we will stop at nothing to protect patriotic citizens from the influence of Microsoft. And they love us for it. Just find one who doesn't!"

"Besides," said the BT phone menu, "we're still better than Virgin. A high bar to aim for, I know. But you get such better fail whales over a phone line than a cable."

Re:BT throttles entire Internet worldwide (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306189)

Don't you Britishers' have a law against throttling or capping?
I thought Internet Access was a Fundamental Right under EU laws.
Doesn't it apply to Britain too?
Although the main reason Britain entered the ECC is to set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. [wikiquote.org] , thus, in the immemorial words of Sir Humphrey [wikipedia.org] : "Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years - to create a disunited Europe."

BT's Heavy User package (5, Insightful)

Some Bitch (645438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305785)

BT have a Heavy User package (£20.54pcm) that contains the following as part of it's description...

Downloading 3,333 music files, 26 videos or streaming 40 hours of iPlayer every month

If you can't afford to provide it then don't advertise it, fuckwits. Manage your customer's expectations properly and stop making promises you can't keep, it's a much more sustainable business model.

BBC to Charge BT for Content delivered. (1)

dwat001 (513384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28305879)

In other new the BBC has announce it will start charging BT for the content that BT customers download.

OK I just made that up. But what the BBC is doing with the iPlayer is driving up demand for consumer broadband ... this is good for ISPs not bad. Every time the bbc mentions now available on the iPlayer (lots) any punter with out broadband has another incentive to give ISPs more money.

BT is already getting paid to deliver zeros and ones to its customers by its customers, why should they get paid twice?
BBC is already getting charged to push their zeros and ones to the internet, why should they pay twice.

If BT finds this situation unpleasant they could just block the iPlayer, I think this would be a very good way to see how many customers the BBC has given them, as BT watches them leave.

Pay for your own mistakes! (2, Interesting)

Grey Loki (1427603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306123)

Wait, hold on - BT were short-sighted enough to bypass laying down a high-bandwidth system through the UK while there was time, and now people are raping their servers because of their own short-sightedness, they want someone ELSE to pay for the mistake?

Mirror (0)

apcyberax (1557759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306213)

To me the Answer to this is simple. ISP are moaning becuase it eats bandwidth on thhere pipe to other networks. if people like BT and Virgin mirrored the bbc iplayer servers locally then they can serve there shows with no impact. this is like how ISP host there own News group servers. ISP can then offer 100% of there speeds to people using the server but not impact the backbone. This would also help BBC load balence there servers. I would love to hear what others think about this

It's because Iplayer is stupid (2, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306229)

Iplayer actually could have helped: by actually using Bittorrent instead of their own invented Bittorrent-like protocol, and spreading the load, it could have cut the piracy bandwidth load of people downloading BBC television shows. But their business choices completely ruined the possibility.

1: They chose Windows Media Player to provide their desired DRM, which meant they had to go and stream it anyway for Linux and Mac users.
2: Their interface sucks so badly no one in the UK wants to use it. (At least not the sys-admin there I've discussed it with.) No one cares whether the episode of a child's program you want to see showed at which timeslot, you shouldn't have to scroll through all the times to pick the 6:30 AM or the 10:25 AM or the 2:30 re-run, just name the show and let people grab it.
3: Even when turned off, Iplayer quietly sucks your bandwidth for its Bittorrent like protocol without telling you. So it interferes with your other usage, and companies have to tell their own staff not to run it on their laptops or VPN connected machines, etc.

Re:It's because Iplayer is stupid (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306325)

I only use the online iPlayer web applet. I don't need to download their content to my PC to view later... I'm at my PC now and can watch it now.

If it serupticiously steals (deprive of an asset or service without owners consent) my bandwidth to fund their network, they'll be getting an invoice from me.

The invasion of the paid-for content... (4, Interesting)

Archtech (159117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28306241)

Unfortunately we have different communication technologies overlapping here, each with its traditional pricing structure. They don't fit.

The Internet has always been free to the end-user, thanks to the generosity (and perhaps intelligent self-interest) of parties like the US federal government, owners of the many servers that forward packets to us all, and - let's not forget - even telcos. Where I live, in southern England, I can buy ISP service for about $20/month upwards. That gets me continuous Internet access using ADSL, over a telephone wire designed for speech only, with a maximum bandwidth of about 2Mbps (because I live 3 miles from the exchange). On a good day I might get 2.8 Mbps, on a bad day (and perhaps due to contention) down around 1.5 or even less.

Now this is perfectly adequate for almost everything I want to do. I use email (and have since 1980); download with ftp; browse the Web; and other such traditional activities. The only time I bump my head on the ceiling is when I have to download a really big file, or (occasionally) watch some streaming video that I can't download in its entirety first.

Where it breaks down completely, of course, is if I want to download (or worse stream) movies, watch live sporting events in full glorious technicolour on a large screen without graininess or intermittent motion; or watch TV. That's because the Internet was never intended for those activities, most of which are better adapted to the plain ol' steam TV set (complemented by a video player, DVD player, etc.) Why on earth would thousands (potentially millions) of individuals download high-bandwidth material over separate, contending, low-bandwidth links, when much of that same material is freely broadcast through the air they breathe? It doesn't make very good engineering sense. More to the point, it doesn't make good economic or business sense. Movies, TV, sport, music and other live entertainment have traditionally been things you had to pay for - whether by buying a ticket, subscribing, or just watching tedious commercials.

AFAIAC, the really important aspect of this whole thing is that the Internet itself should remain free - as in speech and as in beer (apart from content-neutral ISP fees). Unfortunately, there are pople like this http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=19552&tag=nl.e539 [zdnet.com] who reckon otherwise. We have got to make sure they don't get their way.

The BBC should tell BT to piss off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28306303)

I'm sure BT would loose plenty of customers if BT starts blocking iPlayer.
Customers are already paying for their bandwidth. This is just a clear case of BT wanting to be paid twice.
Greedy scum.

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