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BBC and ISPs clash over iPlayer

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BBC and ISPs clash over iPlayer

A row about who should pay for extra network costs incurred by the iPlayer has broken out between internet service providers (ISPs) and the BBC.
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ISPs say the on-demand TV service is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope.

Ashley Highfield, head of future media and technology at the corporation, has said he believes the cost of network upgrades should be carried by ISPs.

Simon Gunter, from ISP Tiscali, said the BBC should contribute to the cost.

He said the BBC did not understand the issues involved.

'Bit odd'

The popular iPlayer service lets users download or stream programmes to a PC.

In its first month of launching, the catch-up TV service saw 1m people download more than 3.5m programmes.

According to figures from regulator Ofcom it will cost ISPs in the region of £830m to pay for the extra capacity needed to allow for services like the iPlayer.

Mr Gunter is leading the call for the BBC to help pay for the rising costs.

"The question is about whether we invest in extra capacity or go to the consumer and ask them to pay a BBC tax," he said.

Bandwidth problems

Mr Highfield told the BBC's Today programme such "inflammatory" comments were not helpful.

"The success of the iPlayer should be of benefit to the whole UK broadband industry, increasing those who want to take up broadband," he said.

"It may be putting extra strain on the network but it would be a bit odd for the BBC to fund such an upgrade," he said.

n his BBC blog last week Mr Highfield laid out a 19-point plan of action for ISPs, and warned they should not try to charge content providers.

"Content providers, if they find their content being specifically squeezed, shaped, or capped, could start to indicate on their sites which ISPs their content works best on (and which to avoid)."

In response Mr Gunter said it was a "bit rich that a publicly-funded organisation is telling a commercial body how to run its business".

"Inflammatory comments about blacklisting ISPs do not help. There seems to be a lack of understanding about how networks are built. Either we are not explaining it properly or it is falling on deaf ears," he added.

So-called traffic throttling has long been controversial and has been used by ISPs to control those users who eat up bandwidth by downloading huge amounts of material from often illegal file-sharing sites.

But the BBC's iPlayer service has changed the nature of the problem.

"The iPlayer has come along and made downloading a legal and mass market activity," said Michael Phillips, from broadband comparison service broadbandchoices.co.uk.

He said he believed ISPs were partly to blame for the bandwidth problems they now face.

"They have priced themselves as cheaply as possible on the assumption that people were just going to use e-mail and do a bit of web surfing," he said.

ISPs needed to stop using the term 'unlimited' to describe their services and make it clear that if people wanted to watch hours of downloaded video content they would have to pay a higher tariff, he added.

He said he believed the BBC needed to compromise.

"There has been talk, for instance, of the BBC bringing their servers into the loop as a way of lowering the backhaul costs," he said.

But Mr Gunter said he was not convinced this would help.

"I have heard that the BBC is working on building a caching infrastructure so that storage devices can go on an ISP's network but even if it goes ahead it doesn't save costs on the backhaul network," he said.

Gridlock warning

Geoff Bennett, director of product marketing at optical equipment maker Infinera, said he believed the government should broker a deal between the BBC and ISPs.

While allowing BBC content to be 'cached' by ISPs might be an instant fix to the problem it may not be the answer as more on-demand, bandwidth heavy applications come online, he said.

"There is a broader issue about the downloading of content and this requires an increase in the pipe where the bottleneck is occurring," he said.

This would mean upgrades in the so-called backhaul or second mile network, he said.

"The industry has talked a lot about upgrading the last mile network with fibre to the home but the question needs to be asked about whether we should upgrade the second mile. The price of this would be ten times less," he said.

Some reports, including one from US analyst firm Nemertes Research, have warned of net gridlock as early as 2010 as networks struggle to cope with the amount of data being carried on them.

But the BBC believes that the growth is "manageable", said Mr Highfield.

"We estimate that currently the iPlayer is having between 3-5% impact on the network," he said.

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It's a good point really. People are increasingly watching videos by streaming over the Internet. I'm even encouraging this at Smeggys where most Forums have a video subforum with a growing collection of free content that peeps can watch. :)

This is an area of the Net that is going to grow exponentially IMO.

Give it 10 years and TV and Internet will be one and the same

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As was mentioned in the internet overload thread, all the ISPs are feeling the pressure from these huge downloads.

The ISPs will have to put up their prices per GB to pay for the upgrades to their central pipelines. Any idea that the BBC is going to pay out the best part of a billion pounds to the providers is loony. :):

There is bound to be more on-demand material in the next few years - including bandwidth hungry high definition. And although there are some ideas that locally focused wireless solutions could be provided in the long term, until then there is a need that this will be for this to be delivered via the 'phone cable for the foreseeable future.

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ISP's should have seen the increased use of video and the like coming, movies on demand are growing in popularity and will only make things worse. Our infrastructure badly needs upgrading and overhauling, if this pushes them into it then good. Governenent should help with the funding, I don't see the internet as any different to roads.

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I despise the BBC but the lack of bandwidth has nothing to do with them, blame the beady eyed managers in BT and cable companies for their lack of vision.

If we followed the Japanese model we would all be on 100 mbps for roughly £15 a month.

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Are they going to ask ITV & CH4 as well?


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It is so illogical. It is the equivelent of Smeggy's becoming so popular that so many people keep clicking it and then the ISPs ask for a share of the advertising to pay for the bandwidth.

Poor forward planning on behalf of the ISPs is no reason to take our licence fee money for their own already expansive profits.

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The problem? Shitty little ISPs. - That's it in a nut shell really.

Of course people are going to want to download TV and other things. (They used to have the so-called moral high ground by saying that they were all illegal downloads, like they could dictate what I could do after I had paid them. Now the legal downloads are coming and they have been caught with their pants down)

What were they thinking? Were they seriously thinking that the amount that people wanted/needed to down load would get less? That is madness!

Grubby little ISP who use words like "Unlimited" and then do everything they can to limit your service. They are as honest as used car salesmen! :mad1:

Well something has got to happen as this isn't going away and people WILL want to download more and more. - We are already seriously way behind some other countries and ISPs expect us to stay the same or even go backwards? - THINK AGAIN!

I already have enough problems with my own ISP Pipex. They hate torrents and so put their "traffic shaping" (AKA limiting an unlimited service) on any torrent download regardless of whether it was something illegal or something totally above board. The first line of defence which worked for a while was to turn the encryption on in utorrent. That way, their traffic shaper couldn't see the torrent and it ran at full speed. But then why got wise to this and that didn't work anymore as they started blocking it blocking the ports that utorrent normally uses. The way around that of course is to change the port settings that utorrent uses. I changed it to a port that is used for a certain online game. (Obviously Pipex couldn't slow that port down as they couldn't claim that it was illegal) Now my torrents come in at full speed at any time of the night or day. WHICH IS WHAT I'M PAYING THEM FOR!

Sod the ISPs - get your f**king act together or die - who cares about your money grabbing?

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Hancock wrote:Are they going to ask ITV & CH4 as well?


Or Youtube? - Surely that accounts for the majority of video downloads.

And of course the porntubes.. Red tube and the others

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Bigus Dikus wrote:Grubby little ISP who use words like "Unlimited" and then do everything they can to limit your service. They are as honest as used car salesmen! :mad1:


It's usually the grubby big ISP's that do everything to limit their service. The best ISP's are usually the small ones. Have a look at ISP review or Think Broadband and see which ISP's customers are complaining about. You'll find it's the likes of BT, Tiscali, Talk Talk, Virgin and AOL.

For example here is the list of the top 10 ISP's as rated by their customers on ISP Review:

http://www.ispreview.co.uk

1) Fast.co.uk
2) TitanADSL
3) SurfAnyTime
4) Naims
5) Falconnet
6) Vispa
7) Aquiss
8) ICUK
9) UKFSN
10) IDNet



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Grubby "LITTLE" was a term of disgust not a comment on their actual size, but yes, the big companies are some of the worst - Pipex is a major supplier and they have all out war on torrents uses.

I find it strange that SKY Broadband is not on that list of yours as they are getting very good reviews in general and I was thinking of switching to them. I could get four times faster internet and 3 sky TV packages for the price I'm I'm currently paying Pipex just for broadband alone!

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Ah I see, sorry I thought you were having a go at the very ISP's that were the decent ones. As for Sky I can't get them here as they haven't unbundled my exchange, although I would be tempted if they had as I already have Sky TV and taking their broadband would save me quite a bit of cash.

As for Pipex, well they have now being taken over by Tiscali so I can only see things getting worse for you to be honest.

If your changing ISP I would have a look at http://www.thinkbroadband.com especially their forums, they have individual forums for each ISP, so it's easy to find out which ones have a lot of unhappy customers.



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Thanks for the link, I will head over there and see what they have to say before jumping ship.

They have only recently unbundled my exchange (Dec last year) so maybe yours will get done eventually.

The cost saving is amazing if Sky is ok: I mean why pay for a much slower service with no TV included for the same price - It's silly to continue with Pipex.

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