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BBC iPlayer Bandwidth Explosion Bodes Ill For ISPs

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the economics-of-broke dept.

The Internet 249

penfold69 writes "Dave Tomlinson is one of the network gurus at PlusNET PLC, a Tier-2 ISP in the UK. He recently put up a blog post about the ramifications of the BBC iPlayer for the ISP industry in the UK. The post makes some very interesting reading regarding the bandwidth usage triggered by the iPlayer, and raises timely questions about the Net Neutrality debate. The Register also picked up on this story with a good review of who is going to have to pay for all this legal video streaming."

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249 comments

Copyright or Tech? (4, Insightful)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514920)

Could we do a better job if we could cache intelligently and do p2p and whatever else made sense in the absence of copyright restraints on the setup?

all the best,

drew

Re:Copyright or Tech? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22514938)

But that would be the smart thing to do!

Re:Copyright or Tech? (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515390)



What I don't get is where this cost of x pence per Gb comes from. If an ISP has the wires and the routers all running, why does it cost extra to be sending more data? I see that you might ramp up electricity costs slightly in the systems that route this data when it's processing lots of packets, but I have trouble seeing this being the source of the cost.

Once the infrastructure is in place, then where is the big cost? That's what I'm not getting.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515596)

Bingo! You hit the nail on the head.

Bytes don't cost money. The capacity to transfer them does. That T-1 costs the same amount of money sitting idle as it does running at 100% 24/7.

To be fair, the ISPs wind up paying higher costs because they have to purchase more capacity when their users adopt higher bandwidth applications -- but this idea that bytes have a direct cost that can be calculated is absurd. A byte of data is not the same thing as a kilowatt hour or liter of gasoline.

In any case, I don't see how they think they can get away with not investing in network upgrades. Is innovation on the internet going to stop because ISPs would rather rest on their laurels cashing checks instead of investing in infrastructure upgrades for the next killer app?

The standard response to "increase bandwidth" is "P2P apps consume all available bandwidth, increasing bandwidth won't solve anything", but that response overlooks the fact that you aren't automatically obligated to increase the bandwidth provided to end users. Improve your core network while keeping your customers in the same bandwidth tier they currently have and you'll solve the problem of p2p bogging things down.

It would be a lot more fair to provide a 3.0mbit connection that actually delivered what it promised then it is to provide a 10.0mbit connection that achieves that speed at the expense of your neighbor.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515656)

I'm sure the IETF is pulling their hair out (along with slashdot), but the reason that ISPs don't deliver on their bandwidth promises is because they can get away with it. They make more money oversubscribing their bandwidth and not giving you what you pay for. So that's what they do. That's the price of freedom- capitalism.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (4, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515786)

They make more money oversubscribing their bandwidth and not giving you what you pay for

There's nothing inherently wrong with over subscription -- it would be pretty stupid to pay your Tier 1 provider to provide a dedicated 3.0mbits for Grandma who only wants to check her e-mail -- the problem starts when they try to cheap out and use a bad oversubscription ratio.

To be fair, a few years ago nobody could have seen the rise of p2p (though foresight should have predicted the rise of streaming video), so that probably changed the ratios they should be using. I lose all sympathy for them though when they whine about how much money upgrades cost.... most of these outfits (here in the states anyway) are literally swimming in profit. It's not as though they are running their businesses in the red and can't afford to invest in upgrades.

Beyond that, I really don't understand this push to "shape" p2p traffic. Wouldn't it be much more fair to just give your customers the highest amount of bandwidth that you can provide them with and allow them to use it as they see fit? What's the damn point of raising the speed again and again if you can't actually provide it to your end users?

Re:Copyright or Tech? (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515748)

The standard response to "increase bandwidth" is "P2P apps consume all available bandwidth, increasing bandwidth won't solve anything", but that response overlooks the fact that you aren't automatically obligated to increase the bandwidth provided to end users. Improve your core network while keeping your customers in the same bandwidth tier they currently have and you'll solve the problem of p2p bogging things down.


That's half the problem

The other half is stuck in the last mile. Cable is a bad way to upload a lot of data. Sure there's a lot of bandwidth, but cable has very poor uploading characteristics. Just a few people in the highest paid tier of service using all the upstream can easily deny the rest of the people of the node access to the Internet.

It's not just the ISP, but the last mile technology used. Cable and DSL came about with the assumption that most people download way more than they upload. Unfortunately, Bittorrent doesn't do this (if you want a good ratio, you have to upload as much as, or more than you download). A few people paying for 10M/1M service in a cable node can easily take down the entire node.

You may notice that the companies having issues with this tend to be cable companies. Shaw (BitTorrent throttling) and Rogers (encrypted traffic throttling) in Canada (two largest cable companies), Time-Warner Cable (iTunes throttling, byte metering), Comcast (RST packet spoofing for P2P), amongst others. Cable just can't handle the upstream component of P2P.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515958)

The way the cable works, they have a total amount of bandwidth. They can dedicate specific percentages to different things. They could give symmetric connections, but most people don't need them. Web browsing is mostly downloading. If they dedicate 75% to tv channels and 22% to download and 3% to upload it used to work ok (guessing at those numbers, makes sense from my perspective), now when you add things like bittorrent and other stuff, the upload percent isn't high enough, they could dedicate more bandwidth to upload, but that doesn't gain them anything from their perspective.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515982)

It's not just the ISP, but the last mile technology used.

That excuse only goes so far. There are ways with DOCSIS networks to mitigate this. The easiest way is to allocate more channels on the HFC plant to HSI services. A more expensive option would be to split your network into smaller nodes so less customers are connected to each coax segment.

Cable and DSL came about with the assumption that most people download way more than they upload

That's still a valid assumption, even with p2p. I leave all my torrents running until I've hit at least a 3.0 ratio, but at the end of the day I still download more data then I upload (mainly due to streaming video). I have often wondered why there isn't a provision with DSL (dunno if it would work with cable) to dynamically shift the bandwidth as needed between upload and download. It doesn't seem like that would be technologically impossible to achieve.

A few people paying for 10M/1M service in a cable node can easily take down the entire node.

Hell, even at 5M downstream it takes less then eight users to peg the DOCSIS node. At the end of the day though, the ISP shouldn't be offering that tier of service if they can't actually provide it.

Time-Warner Cable (iTunes throttling, byte metering)

Actually, the argument that I heard about Time Warner is that they are more scared about streaming video undercutting their cable business then they are about being able to provide the bandwidth. If that's actually the case then I find that hugely ironic -- they've been beating up on the telcos pretty badly by pulling people away from POTS and onto their VoIP product. It would be poetic justice if they found one of their key revenue streams threatened by new technology.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516000)

I don't know if is true or not, but I've read that the holders of the major backbones do charge per GB for their use. Your ISP (unless it's a backbone holder) does have to pay per GB.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515606)

What I don't get is where this cost of x pence per Gb comes from. If an ISP has the wires and the routers all running, why does it cost extra to be sending more data?

Because the ISP buys "bandwidth" from another supplier who charges per bit/byte/MByte transferred. The ISPs, (well those who have "unlimited" packages) of course, bet that most won't use all of their share, but then get stung when everyone does.

Personally, I'm on a PAYG scheme where the first X MB are "free" and then I get charged a very small amount for every additional MB. It seems like a more realistic scheme.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515816)


Because the ISP buys "bandwidth" from another supplier who charges per bit/byte/MByte transferred. The ISPs, (well those who have "unlimited" packages) of course, bet that most won't use all of their share, but then get stung when everyone does.

Then that just puts the same issue at one more remove. This panic is a false panic in some ways. If greater infrastructure is built, then pricing models do not need to be changed. And in fact, changing pricing models for quantity or type of data would only "solve" this problem in so far as it would price it out of people's reach. In contrast, building greater infrastructure allows greater uptake and usage without changing the pricing model.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516020)

But it still costs money to upgrade the existing network and laying new fibre through the middle of a city to the exchanges is not going to be cheap.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515884)

Don't forget that while the supplier's T3 (or whathaveyou) has a fixed capacity that either goes unused or doesn't, it doesn't have unlimited capacity. Once you hit one over a certain threshold, you have a *huge* bill to upgrade with higher capacity lines, followed by generally higher monthly upkeep. And it is very likely that two or so of the companies along your upstream are intentionally running very close to capacity, and have periods of degraded service speeds just to get all of the current traffic through their pipes.

Of course as consumers we can brush all of this off with "You offered 'unlimited.' What did you expect, dummies?" But this is slashdot, and some of us are going to be the ones dealing with this stuff.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516018)

And you expect us to have sympathy? Do you have any idea how high the pile of gold is that the telecom dragons are sleeping on? They offered unlimited, and it's not our problem if they only give you a tiny budget to work with.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

Zombywuf (1064778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515612)

Even better, the BBC is working with ISPs to deploy multicast, which should reduce bandwidth costs. This is actually just the age old story of ISPs overselling their bandwidth and the crying foul when people try and use what they've bought. That's where the cost comes in, they have to deploy new tubes to make up for the discrepancy.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514960)

I'm not really sure how you'd go about caching things like audio streams, at least not on a large scale... besides, where would the caching take place? The packets still have to get from point A to point B, and unless everyone at your house or office always listens to the same thing (kinda defeating the purpose, I would think) it's not going to get you any bandwidth reductions.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515084)

unless everyone at your house or office always listens to the same thing (kinda defeating the purpose, I would think)
I think that the idea is if you receive the feed from the closest people on the network, avoiding the need for the ISP to use the more expensive connection to the overall internet.

Of course, I think that the ISPs will just set up mirrors internally to accomplish the same goal. It HAS to be cheaper to mirror the BBC/iTunes/etc than to buy all that bandwidth. I don't think that the providers would object, either, since it reduces their costs as well.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515228)

avoiding the need for the ISP to use the more expensive connection to the overall internet

That's why major ISPs peer with major content providers instead of trying to use their main edge connections to pull down all of that traffic. Here in the states I know that Roadrunner at least (possibly others, though I don't have direct experience with them) is working on building out their own nationwide IP network and relying less and less on their Tier 1 provider (Level 3).

I think peering arrangements like this will prove to be more fruitful in the long run then trying to cache the data locally. It's a hellva lot easier to peer with Youtube/Netflix/the BBC/what-have-you then it is to try and mirror terabytes of content on your own network and keep it up to date.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

gr3kgr33n (824960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515170)

We have caching. Very fast caching that ISP usually allow full saturation. Usenet

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

Zombywuf (1064778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515746)

Or alternatively, ISPs could raise the caps on communicating with people in your area. Then you get the automagic caching of BitTorrent.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515880)

That's assuming anyone in your area is hosting the same torrent as you.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515442)

Nope. Bandwidth is bandwidth though, from an ISP standpoint.

P2P reduces the bandwidth requirement from the originating host but pushes it out to the edges instead; the ISP still has to support it, and instead of a single pipe of high quality they need multiple individual pipes instead. Caching moves the bandwidth to a different host.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515954)

Well, caching and P2P could have the same desired effect, reducing thousands if not more connections over a paid pipe tier to their in house network in which they don't have to pay usage on. If you could control the P2P to only use nodes in network, it would have almost the same effect for non-live-streamed content plus the benefit of not needing all the storage space to cache everything. Of course for sites with a pay model for content access, both caching and a local P2P would create issues.

And this isn't to say that copyright might not actually disallow caching or P2P proxies.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (4, Informative)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515632)

Ian Wild, a PlusNet employee, left the following comment on TFA:

It would make no difference whether we had the content stired on our network or whether it is served directly by the BBC. We have great peering links with the BBC and the cost of transferring the data from them to us is effectviely zero, a well a being very fast. The bottleneck is within the BT Wholesale network and your line speed.

All of the ISPs costs come from the BT Central pipes, which link the exchanges around the country with the ISPs network. Because each customer has their own 'tunnel' through this network there is no further significant efficiency to be had with the current infrastructure as provided by BT.

Not entirely sure what the implications are for caching solutions, but it sure is interesting.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

Zombywuf (1064778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515788)

I think the implications are BT being first against the wall come the revolution.

Re:Copyright or Tech? (1)

MikeyVB (787338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515654)

Could we do a better job if we could cache intelligently and do p2p and whatever else made sense in the absence of copyright restraints on the setup?
You mean something like this [arstechnica.com] ?

Re:Copyright or Tech? (0)

antarctican (301636) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515896)

Could we do a better job if we could cache intelligently and do p2p

That would help, but ultimately the question that's being asked is, "who will pay for this bandwidth?"

The answer of course is the ISP users are already paying for it. The ISPs just don't have the bandwidth they've claimed to have sold their clients. And I would call this bordering on fraud.

Say an ISP has 1,000 clients, and sells them all 1.5Mbps DSL connections. But if 500 people go and try to stream video at the same time, and the infrastructure can't handle it, the ISP has sold you a product it actually didn't have. If a store tried to oversell the latest Harry Potter book, and asked customers to "share" the books because they didn't actually have enough to go around, there'd be lawsuits flying.

Now I know in reality having 1,000 x 1.5Mbps infrastructure probably would never happen, and there would be some bandwidth sharing, that's the point of packet switched networks. But scaling up to meet the needs of customers for what the ISP claimed the customer was buy, is ultimately the ISPs responsibility. Net neutrality should not be used as an excuse to not provide the minimum infrastructure needed for the service ISPs are collecting money for.

Multicast? (2, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514922)

I always thought that BBC had Multicast-BGP arrangement with the participant ISPs? Isn't this perfect application for multicast? It would be nice if bandwidth would only be consumed once, and duplicated at branching points, not unicast from BBC's network to all customers individually.

Skimming the article I couldn't find info on whether this is archived-videos type service like Youtube, or for streaming the same over-the-air broadcast that you could pick on normal TV - assuming the latter since the charts talk about "BBCW_1", (assuming these are channels).

Re:Multicast? (4, Informative)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515032)

The BBC iPlayer is a Youtube-style service. It contains every in-house and second-party programme broadcast in the last week, and selected shows older than that; mainly previous episodes of series that are ongoing.
This is distributed in two ways: the first is a flash video player, modelled on youtube, that shows the videos low-res in a browser window. The second is a via a kontiki P2P system, which allows users to download DVD quality DRMed videos onto their (currently Windows, Mac soon, Linux almost certainly never) computer.
The BBC also do multicast via several ISPs, but this is almost completely unpublicised, and apart from news, nigh-on content free.

Re:Multicast? (3, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515302)

This is distributed in two ways: the first is a flash video player, modelled on youtube, that shows the videos low-res in a browser window.

In my suspiciously successful attempts at using this aspect of iPlayer outside the UK, I discovered the actual video data being sent from an Akamai-controlled IP address. So presumably, if ISPs want to control bandwidth usage from this source, they'd just need to host an Akamai node thingy?

The video quality for this 'lesser' iPlayer is still pretty good. I clocked it at about 100kB/s (i.e. ~800kbit/s) - it looks okay fullscreen if you're using the computer as a telly. Haven't tried the Kontiki thing yet - I've been doing this on my Macs...

Re:Multicast? (1)

Filmcell-Keyrings (973083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515036)

Its a streaming service for shows that were on TV. You can watch shows from the previous 7 days.
There is also a download option, with DRM, but this was XP only, and I think most people just use the streaming option, as it seems to work quite well, I have experienced few buffering problems, and quality is OK. There was an issue with it crashing every 15 mins, at least for me, but that seems to have been fixed now.

If only it worked with Opera on the Wii.

Re:Multicast? (5, Interesting)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515048)

The BBC iPlayer lets you download content for a week or a month after it was shown on the channel, as well as letting you stream it. The iPlayer then starts a background service (which is always running) which uses P2P to distribute the files you've downloaded to others. It saves the BBC bandwidth, but it does mean it'll chew your bandwidth allowance if you use it a lot or have Windows running and don't kill the process.

Multicast would be a good idea for live broadcasts, though.

Not that I actually use any of it - my wireless and 2GB cap wouldn't cope. A co-worker found the "always running, even when iPlayer isn't" service recently, though.

No need for multicast. (1)

uuxququex (1175981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516062)

There is no need for multicast.

What the BBC is trying to do has been available in the Netherlands for years: every program that's been broadcast is available here: http://www.uitzendinggemist.nl/ [uitzendinggemist.nl]

The site is responsive and works great, without any technical rarities.

Sometimes supply drives demand (3, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514940)

And sometimes demand drives supply.

Speaking as an American, where all our telecoms basically conspire to screw the consumer and offer substandard bandwidth, I long for the day when the demand for bandwidth surpasses the ability of their crappy networks to handle it, sparking an all out bandwidth arms race amongst providers desperate to cater to the needs to demanding consumers. I dream of the slug-like cable and phone companies being driven under by agile local providers...It will get to the point where small networks will be able to compete, because the advantages of a giant infrastructure are of limited use in a local environment.

So pardon me if I don't give a crap if the little ISPs are feeling the pinch. If they'd used a little foresight, they'd have plenty of free bandwidth.

Re:Sometimes supply drives demand (2)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514998)

I dream of the slug-like cable and phone companies being driven under by agile local providers
You mean the agile local providers who buy their bandwidth from larger suppliers, and then proceed to oversell it to maximize their profits (or even just be competitive enough to stay in business)? Right, that's gonna work out real well...

Re:Sometimes supply drives demand (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515368)

It will get to the point where small networks will be able to compete, because the advantages of a giant infrastructure are of limited use in a local environment.

Hey, I hate the big players too and am as big of a supporter of small business as anybody (I cut my IT teeth working for a small town ISP) but you can't deny that large networks have economy of scale working in their favor.

Your hometown ISP probably isn't going to be able to establish peering relationships with major content providers as easily as a state-wide or national one can. Your hometown ISP is going to have a harder time getting as good of a rate on that OC-12 or OC-48 as the large company that buys dozens of them.

So pardon me if I don't give a crap if the little ISPs are feeling the pinch. If they'd used a little foresight, they'd have plenty of free bandwidth.

I do feel a little bad for them, because nobody could have envisioned the rise of bittorrent or streaming video when they were building these networks. But that sympathy ends when they start trying to limit my functionality of the network instead of upgrading it to support new applications. Did they actually think that bandwidth requirements wouldn't go up over time?

Re:Sometimes supply drives demand (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515422)

I don't know if Americans will have such a huge demand for bandwidth anytime soon. I spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, and there people get around the lack of CDs and DVDs for sale legally (and their lack of money) by downloading huge amounts of music or films, ever-expanding their tastes and knowledge of the canon of art. Meanwhile, a lot of my friends in the U.S. have responded to the high price of CDs and DVDs by simply not buying much music or film these days, but when the occasionally feel like seeing or hearing something new they just get an authorized copy.

Re:Sometimes supply drives demand (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515936)

Speaking as an American, where all our telecoms basically conspire to screw the consumer and offer substandard bandwidth

Not to mention screwing the tax payer by accepting funds to invest in infrastructure and then just pocketing them.

Re:Sometimes supply drives demand (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516046)

Here's [tispa.org] the link I should have included earlier.

The fiber optic infrastructure you paid for was never delivered.

Starting in the early 1990's, with a push from the Clinton-Gore Administration's "Information Superhighway", every Bell company - SBC, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest - made commitments to rewire America, state by state. Fiber optic wires would replace the 100-year old copper wiring. The push caused techno-frenzy of major proportions. By 2006, 86 million households should have had a service capable of 45 Mbps in both directions, (to and from the customer) could handle over 500 channels of high quality video and be deployed in rural, urban and suburban areas equally. And these networks were open to ALL competition.

In order to pay for these upgrades, in state after state, the public service commissions and state legislatures acquiesced to the Bells' promises by removing the constraints on the Bells' profits as well as gave other financial perks. They were able to print money - billions of dollars per state - all collected in the form of higher phone rates and tax perks. (Note: each state is different.)

* ADSL is not what was promised and paid for. It goes over the old copper wiring, can't achieve the speed, has problems in rural areas and is mostly one-way.

* 0% of the Bell companies' customers have 45 Mbps residential services.

Cynic in the house. (1)

ratbag (65209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514948)

Something "new" on the net => ISPs moan.

Re:Cynic in the house. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515346)

Yup, the same happened with audio, and before that, images. Yet somehow the 'net survived.

Re:Cynic in the house. (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515432)

I think you'll find that ISPs would moan a lot less if the telcos weren't charging extortionate fees.

cash servers (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514950)

I'll admit I flipped over the article only briefly, but it does look like they know where their bandwidth is going.

Now I'm left to wonder why they haven't implemented caching servers for all the popular media sites they log. It seems like in one month it would rather pay for itself.

It should be the ISPs that pay (5, Insightful)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514958)

Most advertise "unlimited bandwidth" or "unlimited transfer". Now that fine-print isn't going to save them.

Live by the marketing hype, die by the same.

Regards,

Re:It should be the ISPs that pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515088)

And what of those wretched Fair Usage Policies? Seems like the fine print might become a little more well known at this rate...

Re:It should be the ISPs that pay (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515174)

Here (in the US) I've noticed the phrase: "No Pre-Set Limits!". The credit cards are on this bandwagon right now. Obviously, they do not mean "unlimited" - otherwise Microsoft would just put Yahoo on their credit card :)

Google even uses it, though in terms of "No preset user account limit" [google.com] .

Re:It should be the ISPs that pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515866)

Most also have "We may change the terms and conditions as long as we notify you" which means "hi BBC iPlayer user we now double your internet bill kthx"

Re:It should be the ISPs that pay (1)

a16 (783096) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516044)

Why does the average slashdot user replying to these topics seem to show so much hate towards the ISPs for offering you 20mbps but not intending you to use it all? Have you all thought of the other possibility - the ISPs become honest and ignores their competition overnight, as you want them to, and we all get completely unlimited 512kbps connections for our £20 per month. Newsflash: your monthly broadband fee does not cover the ISPs cost if you use it 24/7. Why is it particularly evil for ISPs, when competing with each other, to have presumed residential connections won't be used to stream multimedia files to the rest of the internet 24/7?

Yes the ISPs should be more clear and include fair use clauses or even limits in their contracts, but then what happens when they do - we all complain that they are cutting our service back. You may want 20mbit for $20 per month, but if that isn't possible, *something* has to give.

I will! (5, Insightful)

styryx (952942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514968)

I'll pay... or more to the point, I have paid.

"unlimited" was part of the title of my service plan; so, unlimited bits at the contract rate or I get to sue!

There is no neutrality issue; what we are debating is greed(or incompetence coupled with back tracking and lying) in newspeak!

Re:I will! (4, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515314)

...for very small quantities of "unlimited"

Re:I will! (1)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515904)

Agreed. I see no reason that ISP's should be complaining about bandwidth usage. Bandwidth does not cost that much, I can rent a 1U CoLo for £39.99 /month (inc VAT) which comes with 3TB /month transfer. Some ADSL ISP's are charging that much for 50GB /month transfer. I am failing to see where exactly ISP's are loosing out here in terms of bandwidth costs.

Personally I pay £24.99 /month for 1meg ADSL to a small local ISP that mostly deals with business customers. I am paying over the odds for it, but I'm getting REAL unlimited transfer, no questions asked and am also getting some bloody good tech support. The one time we've had a serious problem with the connection they actually called me back with a resolution at 8.30pm on a friday, which is not the level of service you'd get from a lot of ISP's.

Pure moaning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22514970)

The post makes some very interesting reading regarding the bandwidth usage triggered by the iPlayer

It really wasn't that interesting. He mostly just shows you a bunch of network traffic graphs.

raises timely questions about the Net Neutrality debate.

His argument basically boils down to "Waaa! Customers are actually using their internet connections! The BBC has lots of money, give some of it to us! Waaa!".

This particular ISP may be bitching and moaning but frankly that's because they're discovering they can't compete. Virgin Media (Cable) recently announced a UK-wide upgrade for all of it's customers. My currently 4MB connection is going up to 10MB. I don't hear the any bitching from them, and they clearly wouldn't be doing it if bandwidth was really a problem.

Re:Pure moaning (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515042)

This particular ISP may be bitching and moaning but frankly that's because they're discovering they can't compete.
Well, when companies essentially sell something they don't really have (overselling their bandwidth), it starts to look an awful lot like banks that can't cover their deposit obligations. Not pretty, the main difference being that big government isn't inclined to bail out an ISP that screws itself.

Re:Pure moaning (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515284)

The problem is when companies do things like this for the bottom line and don't push their savings onto the customer. Absence of business sense. Any smart business knows pushing savings onto the customer (and profits) returns more business and makes a business better across all levels.

Now if they actually had realistic amounts of bandwidth purchased and sold to customers, this would never been an issue. It would be business as usual, let alone a way for them to increase their business by proving "hey, we can give our customers what they want". Instead it's "hey, we can't even give our customers what we want, let alone what they want".

I mean seriously. Anyone on an 8GB a month plan is just out of their mind. 5 or 10 years ago maybe it was remotely viable in a household, but not today for sure.

Sadly, I bet these guys are going to traffic shape their customers into the ground.

Re:Pure moaning (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515408)

I think that critisism directed at PlusNet is a little unfair. PlusNet are one of the few UK ISPs that do not advertise unlimited bandwidth, and are in fact very up-front about their traffic-shaping in order to prioritise real-time data over e.g. peer-to-peer.

If you read the conclusion of the article, you'll see the author writes

We aren't saying that the growth of streaming isn't a scary proposition... but it's got to be even more scary for some.
In other words, it's uncomfortable for PlusNet, but it's going to be much worse for the ISPs who pretend to offer unlimited bandwidth and don't have any effective traffic-shaping.

This is rather more PlusNet blowing their own trumpet than whining about how bad everything is becoming.

I write as a (fairly) satisfied PlusNet customer.

Cost vs. Benefit (2, Interesting)

the4thdimension (1151939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514972)

Push the cost off on the end-user and the ISP will benefit. All kidding aside, this would be a pretty huge non-issue if they sucked it up and went to fiber like they have been told to do time and time again. The problem here is capping bandwidth usage in areas where it was previously uncapped encourages users NOT to use a high-bandwidth service like iPlayer which is bad for the BBC's business model as well as many other downloading/streaming sites. Places which allow you to download music and movies legally for pay(iTunes for example)stand to take a huge business cut because people will only download the bear minimum.

The usual suspects, one would hope... (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514992)

The BBC pay their ISP, the consumers pay theirs, everyone in between negotiates traffic prices between themselves. Where exactly is the problem?

The only issue I can see is that dishonest ISPs want to keep charging their customers the "Unlimted* Fast** internet for the low low price of $X a month!", whilst either denying them the service being advertised by throttling some traffic, or charging the server side twice, once for the real cost and once for "access to consumers".

It's greed and weaseling out of advertised services, pure and simple.

Re:The usual suspects, one would hope... (2, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515044)

This.

The answer is obvious, and the answer is the same whenever this sort of question comes up.

It is the same for Bittorrent, it is the same for multi-player games, it is the same for email.

The only thing about this that is different is that you see a website which potentially has millions of users (how big is the UK again?) all of whom are downloading large amounts. (Actually, seeing as this is the BBC, I guess the UK TV subscribers are going to be paying, along with the UK tax-payer.)

Re:The usual suspects, one would hope... (3, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515130)

"The only thing about this that is different is that you see a website which potentially has millions of users (how big is the UK again?) all of whom are downloading large amounts."

60 ish million folks in the UK.

This sort of thing will only get more common as time goes on a people use the net for ever more and bigger media. Personally I think ISPs need to do more to bite the bullet and price their services honestly, rather than pricing them cheap and then coming up with a million and one reasons you can't have what you thought you'd paid for.

We'll all be throttled (4, Informative)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514994)

I've just had an upgrade from Virgin Media to 20Mbps. I do get that speed, too. Trouble is, after I've downloaded a gig or two, I get throttled back to 5Mbps until midnight. Virgin reserve the right to tweak these parameters at their own convenience. I guess that is the future we have to get used to.

Hahaha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515054)

That's what you get for living in an Internet third world country.

At various times, I've transferred more than 40GB a day, but never noticeably been throttled.

Re:We'll all be throttled (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515200)

No offense, but what are you downloading that is a gig or two PER NIGHT? if you're running some commercial enterprise you should pay commercial rates.

I barely use several gigs PER MONTH, let alone per day.

In short, why should I pay for your net usage?

Re:We'll all be throttled (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515370)

Good idea. Maybe we can expand that reasoning to other applications, too. How about roads or public transportation? After all, I never use public transportation and since I live close to work I rarely use roads. Instead, I bike or walk.

So why should I pay for others' transportation costs?

Same with health care...and education...and trash collection...etc.

Re:We'll all be throttled (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515462)

what are you downloading that is a gig or two PER NIGHT?
Try renting a movie from iTunes. That's a gig right there. Granted, not everyone watches a rented movie each night, but the equivalent of two hours of television works out to a similar data transfer rate.

I know a gigabyte of transfer sounds like a lot, but we're living in different times. Delivering media over the Internet means that the infrastructure has to be able to sustain rather large amounts of data delivered to each user on a regular basis. If that means the infrastructure needs to be upgraded, then so be it. Progress cannot stop because ISPs have gotten cold feet about upgrades.

People, you need to realize that a gigabyte of transfer per day is no longer the exception, it's the rule. The sooner we accept that and move to supporting it, the sooner all our lives will improve.

Re:We'll all be throttled (2, Informative)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515832)

Someone who can afford to pay 4 dollars for a minute can easily burn that bandwidth each day.

For example see this : Amazon Unbox Movie Rentals [amazon.com]

File Size 2.3 GB
Bitrate 2500 kbps
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Audio Channels 2


If I have the highest plan that my ISP offers me and I can afford to pay four dollars to rent a movie, why should my ISP restrict me from using my bandwith legally? They've set the prices and have a contract with me, they should fulfill their part of the deal without moaning.

Re:We'll all be throttled (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515862)

It's supposed to be 3GB [virginmedia.com] , then you get throttled for 5 hours.

ntl:Telewest Business [ntltelewes...ness.co.uk] costs £3 more than Virgin's 20Mbit package for 10Mbit, but doesn't have throttling, has call centers in the UK (no crossing your fingers hoping you get Ireland and not India), optional static IP, and supposedly has some sort of SLA for support (6 hours iirc). 20Mbit's supposed to be available soonish too.

Penny per minute? (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22514996)

Keep in mind, I'm not a networking person, this is an honest question.

I don't really understand where this penny per minute comes from. Ok, the ISPs need to "order more pipes" but wouldn't the move to DOCSIS 3.0 solve this bandwidth problem?

To me, the story attached sounds like the ISPs who didn't move along with the changes fast enough got screwed.

Re:Penny per minute? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515428)

The ISPs themselves aren't connected to the rest of the Internet using DOCSIS. It doesn't matter how much they upgrade their "ISP to customer" connection speed if their infrastructure and pipes only allow 1Gb/s of traffic between them and the rest of the Internet.

Thats the part where the extra expense is cropping up.

I don't see the problem (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515008)

Charge the user reasonable-and-actual costs plus a small profit per GB, perhaps with different charges for peak- and off-peak times.

That should keep the ISPs happy and make people think about the resources they are utilizing.

Just don't gorge the customer.

I'd hesitate to call The Reg "good" on this one... (5, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515034)

The reality is that that "extra penny a minute" that they "eat" is because they didn't PLAN on you using the bandwidth that
the ISPs promised you and then seriously overbooked for a major profit. It's not that the claims weren't true on the networking
solutions being better overall- it's that greedy people didn't implement what they claimed and pocketed the extra, we can't seem
to get people to move to things like IP Multicast to shed most of that load, and things like the aforementioned.

I don't go boo-hoo for the ISPs. They knew this was going to eventually happen. They didn't prepare for it. They had the
chance to do the right thing and they didn't- and still aren't. All in the name of large profits- something that nobody can
sustain for long, ever. Nobody gets rich quick save by stealing or dumb luck. Once people start remembering that concept
perhaps sanity will resume...naaahhh...we would never have that, now would we?

Re:I'd hesitate to call The Reg "good" on this one (1)

zenasprime (207132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515376)

"who is going to have to pay for all this legal video streaming?"

Are we not already paying for our streaming after we sign up for service? I know I get a bill every month for about $50.

Is it really my fault that my ISP hasn't planned their business model to properly support their claims?

What's with the people that run these companies that somehow think that it's a privilege to pay for their service?

To be perfectly honest, I'm looking forward to the day when the wireless market really starts opening up and these land line based companies can no longer compete.

What about public wireless mesh networks? Has anyone put any thought into this kind of development? I would really like to find and get involved in the local development of such a project.

Re:I'd hesitate to call The Reg "good" on this one (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515946)

To be perfectly honest, I'm looking forward to the day when the wireless market really starts opening up and these land line based companies can no longer compete.
Wireless just makes the underlying problem worse.

Think of the network as a whole. The streaming servers are towards the center, they have lots of bandwidth and very fast connections. The viewers are out towards the edges. They have less bandwidth, and most of it in the download direction only.

Now, you want to get video from the center to those edges. At each branch point, the bandwidth lessens, but the number of clients increases. If you use multi-cast, this is fine, but since we're using point-to-point connections, this makes everything slow. The ISPs on the edge rapidly run out of space on the lines.

P2P doesn't help this because now all those edge people are just putting more back in, further choking the ISP sections.

Wireless makes the problem even worse. Right now, I'm sharing bandwidth with everybody on my segment. With wireless, I'm sharing bandwidth with everybody in the immediate area. Scale it up and now I'm sharing bandwidth with everybody in the whole town.

What about public wireless mesh networks?
Mesh networks are even worse. With a wireless mesh network, everything is repeated wirelessly, hopping from node to node. This is not too bad if you assume that every node has multiple wireless signals and are highly directional, but since each node only has one wireless signal that is probably broadcast and not directed in any particular direction, now every single transmission takes up 3 or 4 times the bandwidth along the way, since forwarding a packet means repeating it and preventing the original sender of it from talking while you repeat the packet he just sent you...

Re:I'd hesitate to call The Reg "good" on this one (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515440)

Overselling network capacity has been going on since networks were invented. It happens in Cell Phones (which is why emergency personnel often can't use cell phones at a major event) & long distance (at least pre-internet... The telco did not have nearly as many lines going to the long-distance switches as they had to their subscribers).

If there's a change in the usage assumptions underlying the overselling ratio, then the ISPs are going to have to increase capacity. And, that's going to cost money. That money is going to have to come from some place, and there are only 3 potential sources:

(1) The ISP's customer
(2) The remote end
(3) The government

If the answer is (2), then you are, rapidly, going to see free high-bandwidth services disappear, as those service's costs are going to increase. If the answer is either (1) or (2), then at least the customer is going to have to bear an economic cost when he does something that imposes a cost on the ISP. That feedback mechanism, basic in economics, will keep him from wasting bandwidth. If the answer is (3), then both the user and the remote end freeload, each has an incentive to waste bandwidth, which will drive up the cost to the government.

Note that in any of the three options, the customer, in the end, pays -- the only question is who he pays it to: the ISP directly, the ISP through the remote end, or to the ISP, filtered through the tax system. (Actually, under the tax system, he may share that cost with people who don't use the internet at all.)

Misguided (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515148)

This quote from TFA caught my eye:

There's another elephant in the room. As we noted here, yesterday, the brave new world of Web 2.0 doesn't generate any meaningful additional income. Social networks illustrate how hard it is to get advertising revenue even with a mass audience. It's the dirty secret the technology utopians never like to talk about.
The reason it bothers me is what it implies: that everything should exist in order to generate a revenue stream. That a social network can't exist just for its own sake. Or even that a site whose ad revenue is enough to cover costs (hosting, etc.) but not turn a gigantic profit, is somehow a failure.

The idea that everything must be monetized to have value is irksome and tiring. This fallacy permeates the article and is, in my opinion, why the article sometimes misses the mark.

I think it's also interesting to note that the main point of the article is "ISPs, who are in the business of selling connectivity and bandwidth, are doomed because the demand for connectivity and bandwidth is large and getting larger." Imagine how silly it would be to say "grocery stores, who are in the business of selling food, are doomed because the demand for food is large and getting larger."

The fact that demand is increasing would be a good sign for most industries. (Perhaps the ISPs view it as a bad thing only because they are so accustomed to over-selling their networks and not having customers actually use what they pay for?) This is not the death knell for ISPs, this is an opportunity for them to compete, expand, and sell more of their product. Until they wake up and understand this, they will keep complaining and deliver shoddy service, I guess. But make no mistake: the consumer thirst for high-bandwidth Internet applications is a good thing.

Re:Misguided (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515660)

I thought about modding you, but it seems more appropriate to reply.

It's not about existing to generate a revenue stream, it's to provide a return on investment for services offered. There's no magic pot of free money to create cool stuff. Things cost money to create and run. Sure, it may only be $0.05/GB for transmission costs, but somebody paid to put in the infrastructure, set up the distribution, plan and code the software, implement the system, and a zillion other things before the first bit came out the other end. The people who paid for that would like a return on their investment, otherwise they'd go invest in something else that would make money. Don't forget that some of these investors are investing your money - they money you expect to grow so that someday you can retire.

Utilities, unlike grocery stores, would like to limit the amount of product to their current capacity. Installation of new facilities is wildly expensive, and it is hard to make back that capital expenditure. That's why power companies, for example, give rebates and discounts on energy saving appliances, and have time-of-use switches that they'll pay you to activate during peak (aka expensive) load times. The telecoms are worse off, as they have gone down the dangerous road of selling unmetered service, figuring that nobody would really use their (speed x time), or anything close. Switching back to a metered service is not going to be a happy, but added loads on the system is going to drive costs without additional revenue.

Is it their own damned fault? Yes. Will the consumer pay for it. Eventually.

good games? (5, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515172)

Crap, I missed Bandwidth Explosion Bodes I and II. Were they any good? Are they available on a Mac?

Are they some kind of guitar hero/FPS mashup?

Duh! They're *movies*... (2, Funny)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515872)

So they spelled it wrong in the title. They're movies of... er... an "educational" persuasion: Bandwidth Explosion Bodies 1-3 (downloadable through your local USENET or bittorrent client).

They Already Are (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515178)

At least in my area, customers are ALREADY paying, for service they don't even get.

Looked at your Comcast bill lately? I was HOW MUCH???

Tried to download a legal P2P file? Yeah, right.

Re:They Already Are (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515258)

Tried to download a legal P2P file? Yeah, right.
All the time, yes.

I can't stand when people such as Mark Cuban and cohorts don't see the benefit of P2P in the enterprise just because at home their DSL connections might get capped. There are literally thousands of legally downloadable files on P2P networks, if you haven't seen them it simply means that you're looking for something else / less legal.

Bodes 3 What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515204)

It's funny how much I and l look alike. At least in my browser.

Well.... Duh! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515220)

I have been concerned about this issue since 2002, when I was a cable internet installer and I happened to think one day, "everyone's going to need fibre to the home if all the media companies start streaming things on the net... who's going to pay for that!".

Personally, even though I no longer work for an ISP, I don't believe that ISPs should be left holding the bag when it comes to upgrading their networks, becuase a whole whack of other compaines want to make money by streaming add laden videos. That's totally and completely unfair.

Even today most web pages are cluttered with ads that serve no other purpose than to suck up bandwidth and slow down load times (really, use a text browser and see for yourself how fast the internet CAN be...), which only serves to make ISPs look bad. Take out the garbage (aka ads that hardly anyone actually responds to) and the net as whole would be faster. Take out the video, software, and music downloads too and we've a blazingly fast internet.

If it were possible to create a secondary network that worked seemlessly for day to day actions, like HTML/XML/Forms web surfing, 2MB email and ftp tranfers, and another for the hardcore traffic then ISPs could pay for the day to day network and media companies could pay for the hardcore network. That would be fair.

Re:Well.... Duh! (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516068)

Personally, even though I no longer work for an ISP, I don't believe that ISPs should be left holding the bag when it comes to upgrading their networks, becuase a whole whack of other compaines want to make money by streaming add laden videos. That's totally and completely unfair.
The companies doing internet streaming are not customers of these ISPs. The *customers* of the ISPs are the ones paying for a given amount of bandwidth. They're the ones with the contracts.

If the ISP cannot fulfill their end of the contracts they agreed to, then yes, they're the ones left holding the bag. It's completely and totally fair because they agreed to it in the first place.

Don't blame some internet company that streams video when it was the ISP that didn't think ahead enough to install more pipe and/or change their contracts properly.

What is the physical basis for these costs? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515274)

If I pay someone $10 to dig a rock out of the ground, that rock is going to cost at least $10.

If a lot of people want the rock, then it may go for $2000. If there are many similar rocks around the world, as soon as prices get too high, other people will start digging up rocks.

So... why does it cost "X" to send 1gb of data?
Is it the underlying physical cost to install the hardware and the salaries of the employees that support and maintain them.
Or is it the scarcity demand?

I.e. Say a cable costs $100 to install, and $100 a year to maintain and can carry 100gb of data.
Then you must charge at least $101 a year.

If you have one user, using .1gb, you charge them $101 a year.
If you have 100 users, using 1gb of data, you charge them $1.10 a year.

If you have 200 users, then you start gambling but can charge them $.55 a year.
Most of the time, you can deliver 1gb to those 200 users because they are on at different times.
Occasionally, if they are all on, you degrade to .5gb.

It seems to me that a lot of this is about superior caching models.

I can either transmit 100 gb this way.
--- 20gb user
--- 20gb user
--- 20gb user
--- 20gb user
--- 20gb user

or this way

ssss should be spaces but the lameness filter would not allow them.

root..local cache
---20gb ---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
---20gb ---- user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
ssssssss---- 20gb user
etc. 3 more times.

The local cache's and very short lines should be relatively inexpensive.

So-- what am I missing-- where am I wrong?

Net in just-plain-not-ready-for-VoD-shock! (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515286)

Anyone who's sat down and looked at their ISP's Fair Use policy will realise that they just aren't set up to provide the speeds they advertise at anything like a decent capacity. Talk of downloads replacing movies is hilarious when your ISP throws a strop when you download more than 5GB (less than one SD DVD!) in a single evening. Seriously, all the bluster about amazing high-speed ADSL networks is completely overstated by the ISPs. They can perhaps provide the advertised speeds of 2Mbps as a peak for a small amount of their customer base at a given time, but the mean network traffic probably only equates to about 128kbps per customer.

Look at it from the other direction (2, Insightful)

vonPoonBurGer (680105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515336)

This quote in the Register piece from the Telco 2.0 analyst just kills me:

The problem with the current ISP model is it is like an all you can eat buffet, where one in 10 customers eats all the food, one in 100 takes his chair home too, and one in 1,000 unscrews all the fixtures and fittings and loads them into a van as well.

Well let's flip it around. The ISPs are complaining about the minority who consume massively, when there's no rule against massive consumption? What about the majority of users who are paying for the full buffet but then only consuming the bandwidth equivalent of a light snack? The reality here is that the ISPs want to be able to charge a flat rate to people who underconsume, while charging per GB to people who overconsume, and they shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways. If ISPs want to introduce a consumption-based pricing model, then the cost of access for people who use relatively little bandwidth should go down overall, and somehow I don't see that happening. I have little sympathy for a group of companies that are actively trying to get the best of both worlds at their customers' expense.

I expect we'll see a lot of hybrid models that are really crappy deals for consumers. For example, Bell Sympatico recently introduced bandwidth fees on top of their already uncompetitive monthly prices. Needless to say, the price per GB ($1.50 per) over your plan's cap is also exceptionally high compared to other offerings in the market. If you go to their support site [sympatico.ca] , you can see such hilarious questions as "How much Internet is included in my plan?" Remember, it's not a dumptruck, it's a series of tubes! Perhaps it's no coincidence that I'm switching from Bell to an ISP with monthly rates, bandwidth caps and overage fees [teksavvy.com] that are actually reasonable.

If they can't cope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515338)

If the ISPs are having trouble reinvesting all those collosal profits in infrastructure then how about we take the BBC problem to its logical conclusion and use the license payers money to fund a nationalised network. I'm only half joking here too. Our government already proved they aren't scared to take other ailing parts of critical structure, like banks, back to their bosom.

The TV license fee is rather similar to most peoples yearly broadband subscription, and previously the BBC has funded distribution as well as content creation out of this budget (Think of a network of very big and very expensive UHF transmitters).

The UK is a small enough island to do it.

Or perhaps these whining ISP's can stop paying the CEOs 3M bonuses and put that money back where it belongs before someone takes their toys away.

I hope they are logging (0, Offtopic)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515344)

I hope the ISPs are logging everything, to conform to requirements about monitoring for terrorist activity ;)

Less than 15% of global capacity is used! (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515364)

so whats the issue? there more than enough bandwidth thanks to the dot com boom and relatively cheap costs of adding more capacity

http://www.telegeography.com/products/gb/pdf/Executive_Summary.pdf [telegeography.com]

seems some companies are trying to make it appear as bandwidth is a limited resource thats in short supply...

Register not quite sure what it thinks (1)

heffrey (229704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515402)

The Register all reported this two days ago:

Director of new media and technology Ashley Highfield said the impact of iPlayer on ISP networks has been "negligible", with traffic representing a "few per cent" of overall bandwidth.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/20/iplayer_flash_iphone/ [theregister.co.uk]

Seems like it can't quite make up its mind what it thinks.

Simple answer (1)

samael (12612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515438)

Charge us for what we use.

And then compete on the price you sell us the bandwidth/quota for.

transmission costs should equal ISP costs (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515448)

I'm confused.

For every individual who uses iPlayer (or any other streaming application), the provider must send the same packets which that person receives. In basic terms, what comes out has to go in. So it seems to me that the cost to the BBC of sending this data: the £8.8 million quoted in the article, should be the same as the ISP costs for us receiving it. If the ISP pays more, then they just have a worse cost-per-megabyte deal than the BBC, and I don't beleive that.

Unless these figures that the ISPs are quoting have been independently audited, I would say this is just a precursor to the ISPs looking for an excuse to put their prices up.

Absurd (2, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515572)

Firstly, non-UK slashdotters should realise that PlusNet is a pretty lame ISP by most peoples standards, and doesn't have a huge number of users, so can't be taken as a reliable data point.

Secondly, the whole philosophy behind IPlayer is fundamentally flawed. I am a linux user, who pays the three-figure license fee every year. How dare they say I can't use BBC content I have already paid for how I like? I understand that Auntie gets a significant amount of revenue selling its content to overseas networks - but this is unrelated to the Internet. You can't regulate Jonny American downloading the latest episodes of Dr. Who but you can certainly regulate how much an American TV network must pay to show it. The Beeb is listening too much to traditional media types who don't fully grasp how the internet works. They don't understand to have a public TV service (a fantastic thing in my opinion, and most Britons agree with me) you must allow unrestricted downloads. Britons downloading BBC content are simply utilising what they already pay for. Foreigners downloading the content are extending the reach of British culture. Forcing it through a proprietary system is ridiculous.

The UK's problem is two fold (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515652)

There are essentially two problems plaguing the UK, the first is that we don't have particularly good last-mile infrastructure, specifically everyone is on copper lines and as such we're looking at a limit of around 24mbps with ADSL2 if you're lucky enough to be close to the exchange. For us to achieve faster speeds investment is going to be needed to replace all that copper with fibre, that solves the issue of a possible max speed issue that's going to hit the UK hard a few years down the road as other nations advanced their connection speeds and we hit a brick wall.

The second issue is the UK's internet backbone, it's simply not up to scratch and doesn't meet todays requirements in terms of bandwidth. Many people laugh when there are articles about how the internet is going to run out of spare bandwidth, but the fact is in the UK it's happening, the whole reason ISPs over the past few years have gone from true unlimited to heavily capped is because bandwidth is having to be rationed, there just isn't enough room on the backbone for everyone's requirements in an unlimited world.

As such, the UK also needs investment in it's internet backbone and whilst BT is bringing implementing 21CN, whilst I don't know the technical details it seems a mere band-aid fix as some people in the industry have commented that there will still be similar bandwidth caps as today.

It's not an unsolvable problem, on the contrary the solution is there - Japan with a population double that of the UK quite happily handles 100mbps connections to end users with the requirement for caps and their internet backbone falling over as a result. There are plenty of other examples like Sweden, however some may argue that as Sweden only has around 1/10th the UK's population that they don't have enough end users to clog the pipes up, hence why Japan is a much better example. South Korea is a decent example also at around 5/6ths of the UK's population. The core issue is politics and who's going to give up short term profits temporarily for vastly improved long term profits.

The UK simply needs investment in it's internet infrastructure, but it needs everyone work together. BT are semi-interested in updating their backbone but quite rightly they think why should they when it's ISPs and content providers that are going to make the money off of it? The fact is that a one off investment (to ensure net neutrality) by the major players is required - BT, ISPs, the Goverment and yes, possibly even the BBC and other major content providers.

It's all very well ISPs complaining it's costing them a fortune currently, but when they're not willing to give up that money to BT for infrastructure improvements then they can't realistically expect a solution.

One final point is that it doesn't help the goverment wasting ISP's time and money with their threats about getting rid of file sharers. It's all very well the goverment, ISPs and BT whining about the problems the UK has with internet access, but when they're all doing nothing about the problems, or in the governments case, making the problem worse then they can quite frankly shut up and put up. The only downside to that is, it's us, the end users that suffer.

Oh boo hoo! (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515668)

Maybe they shouldn't have sold the world bandwidth they couldn't deliver, then tried to cover up the fact with (un)Fair Usage policies on those who expected to get the service and speed they paid for!

I'm sorry, (ISP), but it's your own damn fault you sold too much to too many people. In every other business throughout the world, selling a service or product you KNOW can't deliver is called Fraud. I hope they hang you all out to dry.

Let the CEO's soak up the cost; they decided on the Snake Oil policy.

It's the architecture (5, Informative)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515928)

It's a real problem because the UK infrastructure architecture is plain bizarre.

There are two types of ISPs,

BT / Virgin / Easynet + a few others who have unbundled kit in exchanges and their own pipes to exchanges

Everyone else who resells capacity from the above, who pays a fixed price for capacity irrespective of where in the country it came from.

All that capacity goes back to telehouse where LINX is and all the content and internet exchange takes place.

There is no peering at the local exchanges, or apart from London or Manchester.

So when a two BBC users with the P2P iplayer service but different ISPs, all the traffic goes to London and back again. Even if it's the same ISP the ISP doesn't see it until it leaves the resellers pipes in London at which point it gets shipped back down the pipe it came from. When I downloaded a programme on my laptop that was already on my desktop PC I got a download rate of 500Mbits as it streamed across my internal gigabit LAN - if we had peering at the exchanges and decent ADSL uplinks we should be able to do that within metropolitan areas.

Now this may work itself out - there aren't any really long distances in the UK, so we should be able to run 10Gbit ethernet backhaul between exchanges relatively quickly and cheaply for unbundled providers, but to really do it well we need peering in every major city between the majority of ISPs rather than the current model where every ISP ships all their traffic to London.

What's the Problem? (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22515950)

The last I looked, most people in the UK have a bandwidth cap for each month. If people are merely using the bandwidth they are entitled to, and paying a premium if they go over the cap (or they get cut off), I'm wondering what the problem is here?

Some of you lot.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22515990)

Dear god, some of you lot are retarded. The point is that when factoring in pricing, ISPs have to allow for a significant amount of unused usage per customer which is then used by the heavy customers. If they didn't you lot would all have to pay a stupid amount for connectivity.

Although, you wouldn't, you'd just sign up for the cheaper unlimited option and then come here and moan when they disconnect/rate limit you.

Do some research before blurting.

Who is going to pay... (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22516084)

The Register also picked up on this story with a good review of who is going to have to pay for all this legal video streaming.

Here's a concept: How about the people who use the bandwidth pay for it? Well, unless their ISP was stupid enough to advertise "unlimited data transfer", but then that's the ISP's own damn fault.

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