BBC To ISPs: Don't Traffic Shape Me, Bro

from the name-and-shame dept

While there have been some complaints from ISPs about how much bandwidth the BBC’s iPlayer offering takes up, the BBC is being rather aggressive in responding. mike allen writes in to let us know that the BBC has announced that it will publicly “name and shame” any ISP that tries to traffic shape in a way that harms its iPlayer offering. As the BBC’s Ashley Highfield says: “Unlimited broadband should mean unlimited.” He then goes on to suggest that other websites also agree to name and shame traffic shaping ISPs: “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).” Sounds reasonable enough. Of course, you might say that if all ISPs agree to traffic shape, then naming and shaming them won’t do much good. But, if there’s a truly competitive market, that would simply open up the opportunity for one ISP to publicly claim that it wasn’t traffic shaping, and then happily watch customers come running.

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Companies: bbc

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Comments on “BBC To ISPs: Don't Traffic Shape Me, Bro”

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Hellsvilla (user link) says:

Good on em!

Naming and shaming works very well when it is used with brutal honesty. It does an excellent job swaying public opinion, which then sways joe publics spending habits.

However, it has be done with brutal HONESTY. One ounce of inaccuracy and you wind up making a mockery of yourself. So I hope that everyone that takes part in this name and shame effort has clean hands before they start, and they keep their hands clean throughout.

Shandor says:

Invasion of the Traffic Shapers

This is probably the first time since the abolition of the slave trade that the Brits have beat us to something good!
Don’t forget that the US Govt has allowed temporary monopolies (phone) and local monopolies (cable) when appropriate, and rescinded them later when appropriate to the times. It’s prob’ly time for it to step in again for the customers’ sake, and stop this rapacious shaping/tazing of the customer.

Fritzo says:

Before everyone agrees with the BBC, take a step back and look at it from the standard ISP’s point of view. They have to maintain a very expensive backbone to the Internet, and because there is no connection that exists that will allow every single broadband subscriber to run flat out, ISP’s use a metered formula to calculate how much bandwidth is needed. For instance, an ISP may have an OC3 connection (155mbps), and this would normally service, I don’t know, 1000 subscribers. They’re then able to give those subscribers a set low price.

Now, if just 25 of those 1000 subscribers start flooding the network, they screw up the quality of service for every other customer that is using their connection in a foreseen manner. The ISP could buy more bandwidth, but that extra pipe has to get paid for somehow, and that means your ISP subscription will go up. The more effective and economical way of dealing with the issue would be to cap the offenders.

So, here’s the question I’m proposing: Is the BBC’s iPlayer tool maybe pushing the Internet too hard? People see ISP’s as just out to make money, but truthfully after wholesale prices profit margins of subscriber accounts are pretty thin. The BBC telling ISPs to simply “add bandwidth because we’re doing something that demands it” is a bit arrogant and selfish, as it’s going to end up hurting the subscriber in the end with higher prices.

Octothorpe says:

Re: 1000 subscribers to OC3

As a network engineer, I must dispute your claims. Your arguments are exactly those of ISPs, however as a large business, I pay roughly $20,000 for 1Gbps of throughput. in other words, $19 per megabyte of throughput (and that is symmetrical). At home (Comcast) I pay $60/month for a throttled 376k UPLOAD 6Mb down connection. I would much rather have a 3 Mb “unlimited” connection for the same price or even 1.5 Mbps symmetrical truly unlimited connection allowing for a 50% markup. If a given rate is sold as “unlimited”, it needs to be truly unlimited.

Jake says:

Additionally to MikeJJ’s comments, the iPlayer isn’t all that heavy a burden compared to YouTube et al. They don’t have to deal with international traffic, which probably helps some, and the player itself is well-made and loads quickly on even a fairly mediocre connection and PC.
Besides, if ISPs go around letting their marketing teams make promises that their infrastructure can’t keep and then try to paper over the cracks in a way that hurts someone else’s business, the BBC has as much right to complain as a private company.

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