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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Apr 4th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Different ISP, Same Pipe

    I am guessing there is only one line and all other "competing" ISP's share through a lease or something. An ISP could claim they don't traffic shape but the line owner could be shaping, just like in Canada.

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

  2. identicon
    Hellsvilla, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    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.

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

  3. identicon
    J, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Re: Different ISP, Same Pipe

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

  4. identicon
    Jake, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 11:13am

    Re: Different ISP, Same Pipe

    That could well be true; it's only in the last ten years that we've had any competition to speak of in telecoms. Don't ask me who does own the lines, though.

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

  5. identicon
    mike allen, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    having read the article several times

    Ive come to the conclution that the ISPs have not got the bandwidth to cope but they should have enough to cope for all needs of all customers end off. After all thats what we pay for!!!!!!

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

  6. identicon
    Wyatt Ditzler, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Capital idea

    I thought this was an incredible idea. I am surprised that the content providers in the US have not started a similar action to hedge of network management.

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

  7. identicon
    Shandor, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    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.

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

  8. identicon
    Alimas, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Good on em!

    Wish we could get that kind of thing going on over here in the US.

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

  9. identicon
    mike allen, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Invasion of the Traffic Shapers

    I have no idea how many ISPs in the UK but more like over 100 than under ours can be independent of telecoms the phone companies have to allow the ISPs to put their equipment in tele exchanges.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 4:38pm

    "This is probably the first time since the abolition of the slave trade that the Brits have beat us to something good!"

    Typical arrogant American twat.

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

  11. identicon
    Fritzo, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    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.

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

  12. identicon
    MikeJJ, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 4:54am

    Fritzo, in england BT have sat on 20 old equipment and are recently upgrading to 10 year old stuff. If they made a decent infrastructure there wouldn't be these whole issue of 25 people flooding the network, making the rest suffer.

    Plus ISP's should not advertise "unlimited" if it isn't "unlimited". :)

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

  13. identicon
    Octothorpe, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 8:14am

    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.

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

  14. identicon
    Jake, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 8:19am

    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.

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

  15. identicon
    Steve, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    It has nothing to do with international or transit bandwidth thats cheap its all about BT backbone pricing which we all have to use and that expensive £50+ per Mbit because oftel wont allow them to reduce it as they say its uncompetative.

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

  16. identicon
    Steve, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    I'll name and shame Talk Talk for shaping, Im not sure on iplayer or not as i havent used it since talk talk took over tiscali but even youtube stutters all over the place since these muppets took over.. anyone who wants a good internet connection AVOID talk talk

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

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