Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



BT Throttling Online Video For Competitive, Not Congestion, Reasons

from the not-nice dept

While the broadband providers often talk up the need to break network neutrality in order to avoid "congestion" problems, most people have recognized that's just a smokescreen. The congestion issues are not an issue at all. Broadband costs have been going down, consistently, and most network engineers admit that with basic upgrades (nothing out of the ordinary), there's no bandwidth crunch to worry about. The real reason why broadband providers are interested in breaking network neutrality is because many of them want to get into the content business -- and they don't want to compete on even ground.

Case in point? BT. The British telco is starting to heavily throttle all video -- especially the BBC's online video player. This is the same BT, by the way, that just two years ago was saying there was no need to traffic shape or break net neutrality, and that it could handle all traffic issues with basic upgrades. So what happened? Well, it appears BT didn't like the competition from online video providers, so it decided to pretend it needed to do this for congestion purposes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 7:34pm

    The "heavily throttle all video -- especially the BBC's online video player" link doesn't work. it says "Apologies: Something isn't right."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Re:

    I sort of have hard time taking that site seriously, it is quite the mess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Clevername, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 8:57pm

    This was foreseen some time ago, it will be humorous to see them attempting to deny it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    anon, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 9:04pm

    Blu-Ray is already broke...

    i mean fixed :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    anon, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 9:07pm

    oops

    wrong FA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Jar, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 9:15pm

    Bandwidth crunch shit

    I swear, I'm so sick of all of this bandwidth crunch capped/metered broadband bullshit. It's like the economy crisis of the internet (as in, it being all over the place and being so debated). It's just the telcos being money hungry pigs for no good reason other than to make a little extra money. The whole situation just leaves me so pissed off that I'm speechless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 3:20am

    Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    I swear, I'm so sick of all of this bandwidth crunch capped/metered broadband bullshit.

    First realize that capped/tiered/shaped service is not the same as metered service. Capped/tiered/shaped service is bad. True metered service (like electric service where the customer pays only for the quantity used) can be good. Why? Because with metered service, the more the customer uses, the more the ISP profits. This gives the ISP an incentive to provide higher speeds so as to facilitate more usage. So no matter who customers get their "content" from, the ISP profits from the download. Of course, ISP's don't like the idea of true metered service. They'd rather use caps and tiers and shaping so that customers get less than they pay for. Even with flat rate service, ISPs have little incentive to provide faster or better service since the customer pays the same regardless of how useful the service is or isn't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Merlin, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    There is nothing positive about metered service. The cost of bandwidth after initial capital investment is negligible. It barely costs the ISP anything to send electricity down the 'tubes'. Bits are not a finite resource like electricity or gas.

    ISPs are not required to release the true cost to them of bandwidth, and as can be expected none of them ever do. There is no way to know what would be a 'fair' metered access price.

    Most of all, metered usage would force everyone to negotiate with their internet. It would frighten the vast majority of consumers into never using their internet connection for fear of running up their internet bill. People have to use electricity and gas, but the internet can be avoided if one is really desperate. In other words, all bandwidth-intensive online services would be killed by metered usage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    The problem I have with metered service in broadband is that nothing is being consumed. With water, gas or electric, the provider has to produce clean water, siphon or refine the gas, or generate the electricity. With broadband they only need to maintain the servers, switches, routers, wires etc. Since the only part of the broadband infrastructure that I might affect as an individual is the wire coming into my house, I don't feel that metered service is an accurate model for my use. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the tel-co doesn't have a router dedicated solely to my connection.

    So, if i live in a dense area, perhaps it is more costly to upkeep the infrastructure given the heavier use. If that's the case then it might make sense to set pricing based on ones metro area, but individually it's just price gouging.

    Tel-cos are in the business to make money, they are not non-profit groups, so I can't really blame them for trying. However, they need to try harder to find legitimate reasons to raise rates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Whisk33, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    Title

    The title should be Competition not competitive or
    congestion should be congestive... noun noun or adjective adjective

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    GJ (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 8:40am

    come to canada

    and sign up with Rogers Internet.

    Then you can have shaped *AND* capped *AND* metered internet service.

    All encrypted traffic is downgraded. That includes such activities as encrypted (reliable) email and VPN access.

    I'm thinking that Rogers is planning to become the ISP of choice for the Chinese government. Their philosophies on what constitutes "desirable internet access" are closely aligned.

    --GJ--

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Mechwarrior, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:15am

    The stable state of almost any old-guard company is where there are no customers to satisfy and that the profit is provided by the government. We are reaching the point where many old-guard industries are reaching this stable state.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    The problem I have with metered service in broadband is that nothing is being consumed.

    No true. Capacity is being consumed. You mention water. There is a lot of water on the planet, but as with information, the cost is in getting it to you, and that requires distribution capacity which you typically pay for based on usage.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the tel-co doesn't have a router dedicated solely to my connection.

    They could, but in most cases they probably don't. But the electric company probably doesn't have a power plant dedicated solely to your house either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    The cost of bandwidth after initial capital investment is negligible.

    The question is how to apportion payment for capital investment in a way that is fair to both heavy and light users and that encourages ISPs to maintain and improve infrastructure. Oh, and there is ongoing capital investment after the initial one that must be met.

    Bits are not a finite resource like electricity or gas.

    Actually, electricity is an infinite resource because you can always make more of it. That's why it's usually called "electric service". They aren't selling you electrons so much as they are the "service" of delivering them to you (and then they make you give them back, but that's a technicality).

    Now take the example of a nuclear power plant. After the equipment, construction, distribution and maintenance costs, the cost of fuel is negligible. And in the case of a solar plant, the fuel is completely free. A lot like an ISP, no? Yet, you would argue that there is nothing positive about metered electric service? Would you suggest that everyone should pay the same monthly bill regardless of usage? How many cities in the US have free or flat rate electric service? I haven't heard of any.

    ISPs are not required to release the true cost to them of bandwidth, and as can be expected none of them ever do.

    Walmart is not required to release the true cost to them items that they sell either, and as can be expected they never do.

    There is no way to know what would be a 'fair' metered access price.

    As opposed to, say, flat rate? How do you set the "fair" price for that? You sound like you are arguing for gov't regulated prices. I would argue for free market pricing instead. And in order for that to work, there needs to be open competition. But that's a separate issue from billing model.

    Most of all, metered usage would force everyone to negotiate with their internet. It would frighten the vast majority of consumers into never using their internet connection for fear of running up their internet bill.

    That's easily disproved by looking at electric service as an example. If what you said was true, then the vast majority of consumers would never use electricity for fear of running up their electric bill. I don't think that's the case.

    People have to use electricity and gas, but the internet can be avoided if one is really desperate.

    Not true either. People don't have to use electricity and gas either. They can both "be avoided if one is really desperate".

    In other words, all bandwidth-intensive online services would be killed by metered usage.

    No more so than it has killed electrical usage. Or metered fuel usage has killed the automobile. Or many other examples. I could go on and on.

    Looking back on your post, I see most of it is just not true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re: come to canada

    and sign up with Rogers Internet.

    Then you can have shaped *AND* capped *AND* metered internet service.


    Rogers doesn't provided metered service. It's capped service. I'm unaware of any major ISPs offering metered service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    "No true. Capacity is being consumed. You mention water. There is a lot of water on the planet, but as with information, the cost is in getting it to you, and that requires distribution capacity which you typically pay for based on usage."

    The cost in getting water to the consumer is less in transportation (unless you live in a desert i.e. Las Vegas) and more in treatment. This is why desalinization plants are not yet an economically viable solution. A person could cut out the middle man and drink from the river, but that is not recommended.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    AC, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    When you say that "Capacity is being consumed" that only applies if the line to your house is on a hub. Nowadays networks use switches, and switches switch the whole bandwidth to each port for x milliseconds at a time. So the only way a user is going to add additional cost to the ISP is if the switch is full and the need to put in an additional switch etc. A person would have to be downloading a heck of a lot to max out the throughput on that line and still it wouldn't affect anyone else on the switch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    GJ (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: come to canada

    In my book "metered service" is where you pay more when you use more.

    Rogers charges extra money when you go over their (arbitrary) limit of bandwidth usage per month, which triggers extra rows to appear on your invoice.

    --GJ--

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    The cost in getting water to the consumer is less in transportation (unless you live in a desert i.e. Las Vegas) and more in treatment.

    No, just the opposite is true. And in fact sometimes water from sources requiring much more treatment than some others is used because it is so much cheaper to treat the closer, lower quality water than it is to transport better water from further away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bandwidth crunch shit

    When you say that "Capacity is being consumed" that only applies if the line to your house is on a hub.

    Huh? Not even. If you're on a shared media system, like cable, then all of your capacity is shared right up to your house. Even with a dedicated media system like DSL, you're still consuming shared internet capacity with all the other customers. Hub vs switch? I've got news for you, the infinite capacity switch has yet to invented. You really don't know what you're talking about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: come to canada

    In my book "metered service" is where you pay more when you use more.

    If it isn't tiered or capped and you pay only for what you use, then yes. Otherwise, it's some other kind of "plan".

    Rogers charges extra money when you go over their (arbitrary) limit of bandwidth usage per month, which triggers extra rows to appear on your invoice.

    That's capping.

    (Warning - Automobile analogy ahead)
    Think of it like gasoline. If a station sells gas by the gallon or fraction thereof (within the limits of the meter), and you pay only for what you get, then that's metering. And by the way, you can share or even resell the gas you buy if you want to. In fact, the station's happy to see you come back for more. Basic economics.

    If, on the other hand the station were to sell gas in, say, 10 gallon prepaid increments (tiers) and you had to forfeit any portion of any increment that your tank wouldn't hold (no sharing or hording), that would be tiered pricing.

    Now, if the station sold gas in fill-ups but with an undisclosed cap and meter visible only to them and the ability to fine you an exorbitant fee for going over that invisible cap, but no refund for staying under it, then that could be described as capped pricing. Again, no sharing allowed but everyone would be too scared to anyway.

    And finally, if the station sold gas by the fixed-price unlimited fill-up, limited to the size of your tank and with the condition that you couldn't share any of it, then that would be flat-rate pricing. That might be a good deal for the big rig trucks, but not the motorcycles.

    All of these models use meters, but only the first one is really a metered (or measured) sale. And of all of these models, metering seems the most reasonable to me. The rest kind of seem like scams.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This