By: MarkJ - 18 November, 2010 (12:30 PM)
bbc online uk video and net neutralityThe BBC has waded into the current Net Neutrality (principal of treating all internet traffic as equal) debate by announcing its intention to warn any users of its popular iPlayer catch-up TV video streaming service when their broadband ISP is restricting traffic and degrading its quality.

The move follows yesterdays speech by the UK governments Minister for Communications, Ed Vaizey, whom supported proposals by Ofcom that would shun Net Neutrality and allow big broadband ISPs the power to effectively favour some online content over others; depending on who paid them the most money (here).

Apparently the BBC intends to adopt a form of Traffic Light style warnings, which would consist of RED, AMBER and GREEN icons/notifications. No doubt RED would indicate that a high level of Traffic Management was being applied and thus slowing the performance and quality of their iPlayer service.

In addition the BBC's current Director of Future Media and Technology, Erik Huggers, told the FT that it was "highly unlikely" the corporation would pay ISPs to guarantee the quality of its service. We recall that the BBC first warned of its intentions over two years ago.

In April 2008 the BBC's Director of Future Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, said:

"Content providers, if they find their content being specifically squeezed, shaped, or capped, could start to indicate on their sites which ISPs their content worked best on (and which to avoid). I hope it doesn’t come to this, as I think we (the BBC and the ISPs) are currently working better together than ever."

Some readers will be quick to point out that several ISPs are already notorious for restricting iPlayer traffic (e.g. BT Retail) under their Fair Usage Policies (FUP). However a lack of awareness often allows this issue to go unnoticed, which is something that the BBC hopes to change.

At present it remains unclear whether the BBC's system will have the ability to tell the difference between standard Traffic Management for general load balancing purposes and restrictions that are specifically targeting their content. However both warnings could prove educational and might help consumers to find a better service for their needs.
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Comments: 10

asa logoBrad
Posted: 18 November, 2010 - 1:37 PM
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So the iPlayer then becomes a kind of measuring device for the end user. ISP any good? Whip out your iPlayer.

At the same time, the iPlayer becomes the streets people march in. Everybody watch the iPlayer at the same time, all the time. Let's "waste" some bandwidth.
asa logoPeter
Posted: 18 November, 2010 - 2:01 PM
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The Beeb will need to be very careful about this or they could open themselves up to lawsuits from ISPs that are "targetted" by the Beeb as throttling iPlayer when they are doing no such thing and it is just their network getting busy (for example).
asa logoMarkJ
Posted: 18 November, 2010 - 2:08 PM
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Standard load balancing Traffic Management is still throttling, even if not specifically targeted at the BBC. I can't see how the BBC could be sued for pointing something like that out.
asa logotim m
Posted: 18 November, 2010 - 6:21 PM
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Stop all traffic management! I refuse to use an ISP which engages in this horrible practice. Offer "up to 20 meg" then throttle it so much so you can't use it. What non-sense is this?

Bandwidth is cheap, there is NO reason to throttle the internet connection. It's only profit for greedy CEOs.
asa logoVM
Posted: 18 November, 2010 - 6:31 PM
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Really sick of tired of uk traffic management. Broadband is ALWAYS ON and the future is now 21st century. Come on isp's, BT, Virgin Media, stop being so greedy of too pricey for broadband what the point to have to up to 24 Meg and Virgin 50 Meg where they throttling and shaping BBCi player online. Disgusting !
asa logotimeless
Posted: 19 November, 2010 - 5:13 AM
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l know marketing "upto" 20meg can be annoying but when you consider line length theres not allot one can do, its a best effort hence the "up to" l just wish ISPs were more transparent about their speeds and that such information wasnt hidden in the small print or small text one can hardly see in the barrage of TV adverts they push their services with.

as for FUPs, the larger ISPs have to balance the load somehow, while its annoying, l guess with the increasing speed they offer the more load is on their servers meaning they have to cut some slack somewhere because their networks cant cope because they are continually trying to undercut other ISPs prices meaning there is less money to put into network expansion id assume.
asa logoMartin Pitt - Aquiss Internet
Posted: 19 November, 2010 - 8:12 AM
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tim m, transit is indeed cheap and so too is peering. However, transit is 1 part of the cost. I believe yourself, like the BBC, don't appear to have factored in the cost of getting bandwidth (your words) from BTW.

It's no secret that ISPs have chains around our legs due to the handover cost from BTWholesale, which is at best 10x the costs of open transit.

A small number of ISPs got around this cost by moving to LLU, however the bulk of those ISPs just offered very cheap deals instead to customers, which means any advantage for better speeds went out the window.

Therefore to conclude, under the current pricing situation, and with a large portion of ISPs focusing on price, rather than quality, there is EVERY reason for traffic management to be used to the scale it is. Buy cheap, get cheap.
asa logoStuart
Posted: 19 November, 2010 - 1:24 PM
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Just a note, I see alot of people refure to servers being involved in networking of bandwidth, the way the bandwidth from a server actually works is through a nic ( Network Card ) in most cases as bbciplayer itself this would be high grade fiber, the issue that bt etc face is that they simpley do not have the capactity on there own networks to provide everybody with the required bandwidth, pushing a network through a fixed route like forcing everyone to use a single lane of a motorway when theres other routes they could use to peer there networks, in london there is no need for any form of management if they actually put there network together in a manor that meet demand like laying more fiber from key points in a lot of cases these fibers already exist in one form or another.

So it's really down to routing policy's of the isp they can act but dont quiet simple.
asa logoLee
Posted: 19 May, 2011 - 2:29 PM
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A bit of advise...do not under any circumstances go with XLN telecom as your ISP. XLN Telecom have been throttling my broardband down from 6.7mbps to around 1.3mbps, even as low as 0.6mbps. This is on a contract offering the maximum my line can support of 8mbps. Ive just found out XLN Telecom will share your line with 20+ users. apparently thats good as its 50 for home users rather than business. After requesting my mac code From XLN Telecom so i can change provider, all of a sudden they have managed to change it the stable 6.7mbps. their customer service is disgusting and i would advise not to go with them under any circumstances. they are disgraceful.
asa logoPercival
Posted: 16 November, 2011 - 12:50 PM
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Talk Talk have started throttling my line since I purchased a TV which could directly access i-player through my wireless network. First they cut my max speed from 7 to 3.4kbps so I can't play HD content and even standard content often pauses and stutters which implies speeds lower than 1.4kbps.
Talk Talk use their own equipment so they can't blame BT.



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