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Rory Cellan-Jones

BT and the iPlayer

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 10 Jun 09, 15:21 GMT

A quick update to our story last week on the throttling back of the iPlayer at peak times by BT. You may remember that BT suggested there was a real issue for the BBC to address when it came to managing iPlayer traffic. But now the company has made a far more explicit call for the BBC to stump up some cash.

Screengrab of BBC iPlayerJust before I was due to discuss the whole issue on Radio 4's You and Yours, the programme received an e-mail from BT, with details of their position.

The e-mail talked about the huge costs of bandwidth to deliver iPlayer programmes, and said that Internet Service Providers could not be expected to pay for everything in a highly competitive broadband market.

It also said that the BBC and other content owners "can't expect to continue to get a free ride". They would need to make a fair contribution to the cost of delivering online video and other content.

BT also pointed out that Lord Carter's Digital Britain review next week will call for broadband for all at high speeds and low prices - and said making that happen would involve content owners paying their fair share.

Now while other ISPs have grumbled about the impact of the iPlayer on their costs, I could not remember BT ever making such an forthright call for cash. And when I called the company, a spokesman made it clear that this was a new stance, and BT was happy for the world to know about it.

This comes in the context of negotiations between the BBC and ISPs, and obviously both sides are manoeuvring in advance of the Carter report. So far the whole issue of net neutrality - the idea that the internet should not discriminate between different types of traffic - has not made much of an impact in Britain.

Now Britain's biggest internet service provider is making it clear that, in a cut-throat broadband market, something is going to have to give - and net neutrality may have to be chucked overboard.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Seems funny to me. BT are the ones providing the internet service, so shouldn't they be the ones meeting the costs?

    I run a few web sites, and every time people visit them they'll be downloading text and images from my server.... does that mean that I should start paying ISPs for the honour of carrying my data to their customers, customers who are themselves paying the ISP for the provision of the service?

    Next, we'll see the Department of Transport demanding that car manufacturers pay the price of resurfacing our roads....

  • Comment number 2.

    If BT cannot support a modern broadband operation then make that clear when people sign up, then people can vote with their feet and join a company who can deliver.

    BT need to know that things have moved on from when people downloaded a couple of MB, these companies always assume that if you download large files you must be breaking the law, the BBC iplayer or Apple itunes represents where the internet is now, if BT cannot cope then give us our money back..

  • Comment number 3.

    The BBC isn't getting a "free ride". In common with every other content provider hosting every other website in the world, they're simply making content available to Internet users from their own datacentres, often at great cost. It's the end user, the BT broadband customer, that is paying BT for the {priviledge, right} (delete as appropiate) to access this content on the terms of their own personal contracts. If BT is now finding that the bandwidth uses of the average user is no longer cost efficient, this is a problem that BT is having with its customers, rather than content providers on the Internet. Perhaps this means that customers should be expected to pay more for their connection? The trend for more bandwidth isn't specific only to users of iPlayer, and isn't something likely to soon be reversed.

    Whatever the solution, asking the BBC to pay BT for content that they host would set a dangerous precedent for the Internet as a whole. I'm sure that Google also places a strain on the network infrastructure. Should they also be expected to pay BT extra for this? Couldn't this just end up being extended infinitely, with me being unable to host an SSH server on my local machine without having to pay BT for "my share" (however small) of the costs?

  • Comment number 4.

    This seems like a very odd stance from BT.

    BT charge customers for bandwidth, they have different tiered 'packages' that they offer their users, each with a different limit for the amount of data they can use. Thus, they are charging users per GB. Also, once a user goes over their quota, they are charged a disproportionate amount per GB.

    So now BT want money from content providers too? This seems incredibly unwarranted. If BT are having such an issue with the data usage on their networks, then they need to sort out their networks and get the users to pay for the data they are using.

    BT shouldn't go after legal content providers i would imagine that the amount of illegal P2P that goes on BT's network would dwarf the data use of the iPlayer.

    And why all this fuss over the iPlayer? Why is it different from the similar service offered by Channel 4, ITV and Sky? Why is it different from Google, YouTube, Facebook? These are all high data usage services which would significantly reduce data on BT's network if blocked.

    The beauty of the internet is that anyone can access any service that is on the internet, there should be no extra fee for getting content from specific services.

    Plus we have to remember that the BBC will have to pay their ISP for any data that they send, so it's hardly fair for them to pay twice because they offer a popular service.

    The day that content providers have to pay for users to access their content should be the day internet connections are free (and i never want that to happen)!

  • Comment number 5.

    Presumably the BBC already pay their ISP a sizeable sum for carrying their traffic, don't they? What more to BT think they should be paying for?

  • Comment number 6.

    The problem is that the ISPs to build market share sold "unlimited" download offers then found people took that literaly. If they charged by the GByte heavy usage would give them money to invest in infrastructure. Someone is going to have to be the first to do this or the internet will grind to a halt

  • Comment number 7.

    @Paul Freeman-Powell: Your analogy isn't a bad one, but maybe there's a case that the car owners pay (ie, those that seek to access the content - in this case, the BBC licence payers, aka you and me). After all, bandwidth is finite and BT needs to provide a service to all users. If there's a logjam in the evening, they need to find an answer and it's difficult to see what else they can do. They have a duty to their customers and their shareholders and the challenge is that they're in the future business. If they're to protect the interests of both parties over time, they need to be able to strike a balance between service provision and investment and I can't see another way of them achieving that without finding finding or seeking a compromise somewhere.

  • Comment number 8.

    Website operators don't get a free ride, the BBC included. They pay for transit (although, by nature of situating servers in convenient locations, it often costs less than consumer broadband for the equivalent amount of bandwidth), and enter into peering arrangements. That's now the Internet works, and is what makes much of it possible in the first place.

  • Comment number 9.

    #1 Paul

    In a way car manufacturers (and road users) DO pay for the cost of the roads, through taxes, although because of our tax system the link is perhaps not as clear as it might be.

    A better analogy might be with the track access charges rail franchisees and freight companies pay to use the rail tracks. The freight trains mostly travel at night when costs are lower because there is less demand on scarce track space. Extra trafic can only be accommodated by investment in more lines, better signalling, longer trains and other bottleneck solutions

    This can be compared with "slots" at airports, which were not in the past priced according to demand (they were just issued to companies when there was not a shortage of slots). Now bigger planes like the 787 and Dreamliner will be needed unless new runways are built...

    If broadband is run as a fully marketised service (unlike the post which is a semi-socialised one where almost everyone gets the same minimum service at the same price regardless of where in the UK they live) then these tensions are bound to arise.

    The distribution of costs and revenues of broadband and the internet has developled in a haphazard way so far, as it is difficult to price. But negotiations like the one BT has now started in public are going to have to take place sooner or later...

  • Comment number 10.

    Surely the BBC and ISPs should be working together to overcome bottlenecks in path between content and user to everyone's benefit. Would it not be sensible to develop caches for use within ISP's internal networks to reduce bandwidth on external links?

  • Comment number 11.

    The iPlayer can't be chewing up more bandwidth than YouTube, iTunes or torrent sites can it?

    I often rent movies on my AppleTV in full HD which are around 4GB+ in size or watch HD/HQ videos on YouTube which I anticipate are considerably larger than the non-HD content on the BBC iPlayer but I don't see BT asking Apple or YouTube for any money.

  • Comment number 12.

    Paul is spot on with his car analogy, and BT is spouting complete rubbish. The ISP's have for far too long promoted their superfast broadband suitable for downloading and multimedia, and now they complain because people are actually using their connection, give me a break.

  • Comment number 13.

    If I was responding to this my letter would go something like:

    "Dear BT

    Thanks for the note. Presumably if we don't reply to your demand for money you will start throttling or blocking our traffic? Unfortunately if we give in to protection racket demands like this every other two-bit ISP will be coming to us for a handout.

    As you probably know we pay for our bandwidth and your customers pay for theirs. It is somewhat cheeky for you to expect your customers to pay for the traffic you want us to pay for. Presumably if we went totally insane and actually gave you a wad of cash your customers won't need to pay you anymore? After all you wouldn't want to be paid twice for transferring the same bits around would you?

    By the way, just a gentle reminder. If it wasn't for the content providers your customers would not have much of a reason to pay an ISP as there would be little to see.

    Seems to me you'll only be happy when your customers pay for bandwidth but don't actually use it. Good luck.

    Lots of love
    BBC"

  • Comment number 14.

    Its all a smokescreen to cover up the fact that BT can't deliver Iplayer to the public, the infrastructure can't cope. It takes half a meg to stream Iplayer. so 4 people on one line would have the line at capacity, assuming they were getting 2 meg which most aren't that is.
    Most ISPs have between 50 or 70 customers on one line, so work it out for yourselves. Physics say it can't be done. The users say it isn't being done. The Carter team say a 2meg USO is sufficient for everyone by 2012. Who is gonna make them see sense? Keep rockin Rory, you will get through to the suits one day. 2meg can't cut it now, let alone in 2012.

  • Comment number 15.

    Surely it is the people choosing to access the content online who should pay for its delivery? Like all other 'content providers', the BBC is funding the creation and hosting of the content (and presumably for its own connections to the Internet too).

    BT earns money by charging its customers for the broadband connections over which they access all forms of content (not just BBC content). If the revenues from this aren't enough to cover the investment required to deliver adequate service quality, that's a problem for BT and its customers, not the BBC.

  • Comment number 16.

    And what happens when other providers do online video? Onlive promises gaming on demand - these services are becoming more and more common.

    BT should invest in it's network instead of trying to grease the back pockets of it's shareholders. This has been caused by BT promising speeds it can not deliver ACROSS it's network - not just to its own internal mesh.

  • Comment number 17.

    As others have said, this is BT's business model failing. They simply don't have the capacity, their networks are built to handle email and text only with a few images. It's designed with a 40:1 contention ratio, such that the average user is only downloading for 1 minute of every hour, and not one where everyone is constantly streaming videos, despite what they may claim on their advertisements. In short, it's built for text-based chat, not video conferencing.

    And no, it's not just the BBC. It's just that they're an easy target, being tax-payer funded.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Most ISPs have between 50 or 70 customers on one line" - utter tosh.

    The iPlayer gets targeted because the BBC is tax funded so a state entity is looking to private companies (ISPs) to deliver its content to viewers, a service that otherwise they would be paying for via broadcast transmission networks.

  • Comment number 19.

    Perhaps BT shouldn't have such an ageing network across the country, and if they'd have invested in infrastructure as they went along rather than when they are being forced to through customer demand.

    There are many other ISPs which charge far less than BT which aren't moaning anywhere near as much.

    Another thing is that services like Sky Player/ITV Player/4OD/Five.TV/iPlayer/YouTube etc... are what creates demand for broadband, without these services then BT may suddenly find themselves without without Broadband customers, but then again that will probably solve the problem of a crowded network.

    Finally, as has been mentioned above BT offer tiered pricing, the more you pay then the more you get. How can they not make this work, when all around them can?

  • Comment number 20.

    What a load of rubbish, total and utter rubbish.

    How the hell can BT say "free ride": BBC has huge server costs and BT customers pay for their bloody internet access: BT has absolutely no right what-so-ever to have such "demands".

    I'm seriously disgusted that they're even playing this card.

  • Comment number 21.

    Push back and on behalf of customers demand ISPs publish their network planning rules - see http://www.bbbritain.co.uk.

    If they have only allocated 30Kbps of peak bandwidth per user we should be told! At least we know.

    We do need net neutrality (norwegian style). If our connectivity is restricted, we need to use what is there to do what we wish!

    It's about transparency of service and end user control.

    Once the true nature of our connectivity is understood, we will need iplayer to support scheduling of downloads like a TIVO.

    The issues are separate.

  • Comment number 22.

    And yet BT want the BBC to let Phorm's Webwise trawl all through licence funded website content so that BT can make a commercial gain from the BBC valuable copyrighted, and licence-funded web content? It's time for the BBC to politely but firmly tell BT where to get off. As a BT customer I have ALREADY paid BT handsomely for the bandwidth I use to view BBC programmes on the iPlayer, and the BBC have already paid their own ISP for uploading the material to the net in the first place. If BT can't market bandwidth successfully to their own customers, then that is hardly the BBCs fault. Perhaps if BT hadn't played fast and loose with their customers' privacy, they might have more contented paying broadband customers today? Or does this perhaps have more to do with yesterdays announcement of the departure of the BT Vision boss Dan Marks?

  • Comment number 23.

    I move for a referendum on forcibly removing the word "British" from their company name, based on the fact that this shows they are a blemish on the name of our country.

  • Comment number 24.

    or is it the fact the most of the content on BT vision is available on iplayer without having another box and contract from BT?

    and so BT are not seeing the expected demand for BTVision?

    also i thought last time this came round BT, MV etc agreed that the BBC had a (peering arrangement) link direct into their networks, so reducing the load on their internet gateways?

    as to people downloading excessive amounts perhaps ALL the isp's should abandon this "unlimited" broadband package that is in fact limited by a "fair usage policy", and stop bundling services at lower and lower cost (and lower profit or even loss) and return to a sensible pricing structure

    the other thing BT should can is the use of DPI kit (like webwise / phorm / webwise discover) to snoop in customers to provide targeted advert and make income to try and cover some of the losses they are making

    peter

  • Comment number 25.

    This is a consequence of BT over selling 'unlimited' internet access to consumers, rather than charging by consumption.

    Charging by consumption creates a virtuous circle; increased consumption -> funds future infrastructure investment -> provides increased capacity.

    And it is self regulating too. Excess consumption means excess cost to the consumer.

    Charging content creators for access to consumers (who have already paid) is simply wrong.

  • Comment number 26.

    On behalf of BT shareholders, ask them to stop wasting millions on BT Vision and spend just some of that cash om improving the nations backkhaul.

  • Comment number 27.

    Some thoughts in favour of the Beeb paying up;

    1. The BBC pays towards freeview and digital terrestrial costs
    2. Why should customers pay twice for content once for license fee and once in ISP (overage download charges)

    And some thoughts against;

    1. Freeview offers method of accessing all of the BBCs content already so its not down to the BBC to fund
    2. ISPs need to wise up and restructure packages to take account of the new video age

    Whilst you can appreciate both sides of the issue, the more you mull the more you come to the conclusion that such an approach is untenable. Why should one content provider have to pay up more than others? I think this is really a challenge for ISPs to look their customers in the eye and give them an honest appraisal. ISPs must stop using the language of unlimited, to minimise consumer frustration when they dont appreciate the small print. If you want to download more, then pay for the data, if you just want to surf and download the odd music track then you still get the cheapest prices. Of course one approach BT could have taken would be to ask the BBC to look at technical innovations which would ease the burden on ISP networks..? (Michael Phillips, director, BroadbandChoices)

  • Comment number 28.

    For once I agree with BT.
    Yes I know website owners pay for bandwidth but only within the data center the server is located not the web as a whole. iPlayer and lots of other on demand services use p2p technology and as such save vast amounts on the bandwidth usuage becuase their datacenters are not spreading the programs the users are and therefore its ISP's bandwidth thats gets hammered. As a result users of lets say BT that have never used nor use iPlayer take a hit on their speed and all because some player like to stream programs to there PC instead of watching the programs when there on or recording them using a hard drive.

    iPlayer and other on demand services are a massive (and i do mean massive) drain on global bandwidth and frankly yes the providers should pay for the bandwidth they are using up. the other alternative is that those that use the services should pay a lot more to use them. So iPlayer users how would you like to stump up £70 a month for an 8mb connection to watch programs you can just record for free?

    We as users of the net have got get real, this country has a poor internet backbone, we don't have the 100mb speeds of germany etc and tehrefore we don't have the capacity for everyone to stream video on demand yet. Why people even use the correct services is beyond, put people do and its killing the internet in this country for those that don't.
    BT and ISP's should throttle users so that everyone gets a good speed no matter what and if your a high users tough pay a lot lot more. Its either that or content providers need to start paying for what they actually use instead of just sticking up vast quantities of files.

  • Comment number 29.

    Oh dear BT are finally realising their infrastructure, i.e. the entire non-cable broadband network we have here in the UK is woefully inadequate and they're grabbing for money to invest to improve it.

    I think they should be looking to the fat cats and shareholders that have been creaming the profit off the top when it should have been invested in improving the network for extra payments, instead of saying content providers and the consumer must pay.

  • Comment number 30.

    @28 giantBikerider:
    That is rubbish! BT charge users for bandwidth, thus, anything that the user uses, is paid for. No one makes that user view streamed media, they will do it if they wish and it will take some of that bandwidth they have paid for. For BT to then expect double payment for it is ridiculous.

    Also, P2P transmissions with in the BT network should not be a problem, the problem is data at the gateways between BTs networks.

    Obviously one 'greedy' user's use shouldn't have a negative impact on anothers, and the fact that it does says more about the set-up BT use than the usage habbits of the 'greedy' user. If BT are offering a service, then they need to be able to meet their obligations without getting funding from content providers!

    Ok, so the BBC pay for their bandwidth and that is for their data center. But the data center use that money to pay for the bandwidth they use when they send the data onto the net and then BT pay when the same happens. So the BBC pays for its bandwidth, they aren't getting a free ride, nobody is.

    The point has been raised earlier, if BBC stops people accessing this content, let's see how long they have broadband customers for.

    Throttling is hardly the answer. The answer is to price and sell broadband packages realistically and to not over sell. Selling 100 'up to 8mbps' lines to customers when only 10 of those lines could actually max out at a time (numbers for arguments sake only) is not feasible. BT are trying to maximise profit.

    The simplest solution is to price bandwidth to a user at a realistic price and then charge people per GB, just like your telephone. Let people pay a 'rental' charge (which can include however many GB) and then each GB on top can be 10p and hey presto! We have people paying for what they use!

    PS: Oh, what's this? BT upgrading lines to 20mbps?! [http://www.btplc.com/news/articles/showarticle.cfm?articleid=%7B04baed28-4a23-4dbc-9250-1f0a4ace808d%7D%5D If they can't handle the load on their network at 8mbps, then this is crazy! They only have themselves to blame.

  • Comment number 31.

    So many comments, so many missing the point, if a consumer buys 4 meg broadband from BT, BT should be delivering 4 meg broadband (or close) as often as possible. The speed shouldn't differ depending on what time the customer is accessing the service, or what the customer is accessing.

    In return BT charges the customer whatever it costs to deliver the service. Why is that business model so hard for BT to grasp?

  • Comment number 32.

    I can't believe that BT can even think about doing this.

    I am not a BT customer although I am sure that, with BT having so much of the network in the UK, at some stage my packets could be traveling over the BT network: I pay my ISP for that bandwidth and my ISP will be paying BT for any packets that go over their network.

    Others have already mentioned how the BBC is already paying its bandwidth cost through the connections between its host servers and the network. Most hosts connect to more than one ISP network to provide resilience and reliability of service.

    Now, picture the scene. BT charges the BBC for BT customer's use of the BBC content. BBC needs to raise the licence fee to cover this added cost. I now have to pay the BBC more - with the increased fee going into the profits of BT, not the BBC and not my ISP.

    BT still charge my ISP for bandwidth originating from the BBC if the data packets travel over the BT network and that cost is passed on to me by my ISP.

    Suddenly, people who do not use BT as an ISP are paying twice for their use of bandwidth from the BBC. BT is able to drop its cost to customers making its pricing structure more attractive than other ISPs who are not being given the nest egg from the BBC paying twice for bandwidth.

    What is the BBC going to do to balance this? Will BT customers have to pay more for their BBC licence fee than the customers of the other ISPs? Surely it is easier for BT to just charge its customers more in the first place.

    Meanwhile, my ISP is able to provide me with a service that works just fine with the iPlayer 365/24/7 - and I am only on a 2Mb package with 4 computers running through my router (admittedly, only one computer downloading BBC video at any one time).

    BT is not the only ISP out there. They may think they are. The sooner they realise that they are just part of the UK network the better.

  • Comment number 33.

    @30
    I agree with you to a degree also but my point is that the BBC with its iPlayer don't pay for the bandwidth it uses becuase it is p2p on a vast scale. The BBC could not afford to pay for the bandwidth iPlayer uses and offer the service for free. Its a documented thing that when iPlayer was launched the internet slowed down (its the same as when warcraft releases a patch). The drain on bandwidth is hugh and everyone suffers not just the iPlayer users but those that don't even use the service.
    Warcraft is a hugh drain on global bandwidth but unlike the BBC blizzard pay for that as they provide the content directly from there servers/data centers and they charge users subscriptions.
    The iPlayer users pay for the bandwidth and not just what they use but also teh cost of sharing all the files with everyone else. Personally I'm glad teh BBC uses p2p becuase I don't want me license fee wasted on on-demand internet programs frankly its not something the BBC should be wasting its money on.

  • Comment number 34.

    @33 giantBikerider:
    BBC *does* pay for its bandwidth, however indrectly, it pays for its bandwidth. [NB: iPlayer *doesn't* use P2P (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html%29%5D

    Even if it did use P2P (which i still think it should for the reasons you outline, plus it can only offer a better service to others), they pay for the bandwidth to get it to people and if they choose to send that data to another user, then that is their choice and they pay for that bandwidth themself.

    If the BBC offer a service which 'slows down' peoples' internet connections, that isn't there fault. It is the fault of the ISP that is unable to cope with the demand from their users. It is users that cause the problem, not the content providers.

    Just because Blizzard charge a sbscription doesn't mean WoW pays for its bandwidth anymore than the BBC, everytime someone plays WoW they use their personal bandwidth allowance to do so. Blizzard don't give the ISPs a bit of money towards it too.

    The BBC is *not* getting around costs as you imply.

  • Comment number 35.

    #31, "...So many comments, so many missing the point, if a consumer buys 4 meg broadband from BT, BT should be delivering 4 meg broadband (or close) as often as possible...."

    The headline advert and reality never match with regard to most broadband suppliers, the BT one indicates "up to 8MB" so in theory they could only provide dial up speeds and get away with it! Also the terms for the service indicate usage limitations, on option 1 this is 10GB/month, they do mention the iplayer in their terms as 108MB for 30mins streaming.

    They also mention that their own TV/on demand services are excluded from these conditions, maybe they do not like competition?

    Like most suppliers they do have an "unlimited" option, the most abused word in the ISP terms which is managed so exceed some limit (defined?) then your speed is reduced and the service you pay for is no longer available. I like the advert "Downloading as much as you want, when you want", without any reference is the fact you cannot!

    The reality is that BT cannot deliver what they advertise like so many other companies hence the small print, as people expect higher and higher speeds then the headline will look better and better but the reality is very different. Unless major infrastructure upgrades are introduced then the UK will fall far behind the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 36.

    If the National Grid asked electrical appliance manufacturers to make a contribution to upgrading transmission lines, sub-stations and power stations because customers were plugging too many things in they would get laughed at.

  • Comment number 37.

    Let's forget about why BT want to charge the BBC for using its network - let's examine the impact on the smaller ISPs: They won't be able to pay for the iPlayer so that will be restricted viewing to those that can afford it. - That might be how BT thinks the internet should work but the net was built with the principle of neutrality and the W3C should be viewing this move by BT very dimly indeed.

    I fully support the call above for "British" to be removed from BT's name until it actually does something in the interest of the Long suffering british people, and lets the infrastructure arm of the beast actually improve the situation for all of us so that we can enjoy it in the same way that our European and Asian cousins can. At the moment the number of people that can actually get into double figures with their internet is comparable to countries in a far inferior (allegedly) state of development than ours. It is only BT that is keeping us there with its steadfast refusal to upgrade its network.

  • Comment number 38.

    Its quite simple really, If BT isn't charging their customers enough to cover the costs of keeping their infrastructure up to date so it can cope with the ever increasing demand. They need to charge the customers more... Rocket science it isn't...

    Thats the whole point of having tiered charging packages isn't it?
    I live in the Hull area so use Kingston Communications instead of BT (no choice in that). I pay £30 a month for a 75GB package between the hours of 8am and midnight, with unmetered access between midnight and 8am when less people will be online. People complain that it is expensive, but I am happy to pay that for a reliable fast connection (I get around 13Meg typically) The iplayer always works flawlessly for me even at peak times, so if KCom/Karoo can do it and still make a profit, so can BT!

    Charging the BBC (who will already pay their ISP for their bandwidth) is an unacceptable precident.

  • Comment number 39.

    BT have been doing this for months, I live 1 mile from an exchange, I'm supposedly on an unlimited, 8mb package, yet im lucky to see 578/288 KB split. I've phoned and complained about this to BT and their excuse is 'oh its other people downloading', this simply is not the case.

    Also not that BT undertake a lot of packet shaping so that max you can get regardless of torrents etc, is 55-58 kbps, which is no better than a standard dial up.

    The BBC will more than likely pay a substantial fee for a fairly beafy backbone (most probably already to BT), so why should they pay twice.

    This is simply BT trying to get money out of the tax payer, through the back door.

  • Comment number 40.

    If we the end-users want more video then we may have to buy a more expensive connection, alas many providers with traffic management try to sell unlimited, which means the peak spike becomes difficult to manage.

    For years it has been clear that unlimited will cost more than the providers charge us the end users.

    Education of their customers would be better and setting realistic expectations, rather than chasing someone else to foot the bill.

  • Comment number 41.

    The whole idea of the service provider asking for the people who provide the content is absurd. BT should charge what it thinks necessary for its service and use that extra money to upgrade its cables, and allow people to look for a cheaper option elsewhere if necessary.

  • Comment number 42.

    This is absolutely outrageous. If some users are not meeting the costs, then charge them more! But they can't do that, can they? Otherwise people would move to the competitors who are actually delivering what they promise.
    BT prefers to trick people into signing up for 'unlimited' access, and they choke their heavier data downloads down to a trickle. And if that wasn't enough, now they blackmail content providers to for cover their infrastructure costs.

  • Comment number 43.

    #39 You are getting confused between bits and bytes. You will have an upto 8 megabit connection, so your connection speeds seem very reasonable as they are kilobytes per second.

    Also torrent speeds are very much dependant on the upload speeds of those that you are leeching from, its quite common to only get 50k per second when there are only a few seeders and lots of leechers.

  • Comment number 44.

    "Now Britain's biggest internet service provider is making it clear that, in a cut-throat broadband market, something is going to have to give - and net neutrality may have to be chucked overboard."

    And BT want free commercial use of the copyrighted content of the entire web via Webwise for commercial gain.

    If BT want to discriminate between packets, then perhaps the BBC can take a view on the unauthorised use of its public funded web content (which we have all paid for via the licence fee) for commercial gain by third parties, and do the right thing. Block Phorm!

  • Comment number 45.

    1) BT get paid by the broadband customers for their monthly subscription, and any usage over quota.
    2) BT gets paid by any business/corporation/content owner that uses a BT connection for upload.
    3) BT will, if it deploys, be able to use any internet content it feels like to gain revenue via Phorm partnership.
    4) BT is attempting to get the BBC (wait for it, other content owners will come next) to pay.

    So they want paid 4 times for the same thing. If a business model is dependent on such a ridiculous model, it is flawed, and should be rebuilt, or closed.

  • Comment number 46.

    This is a ridiculous demand.

    It is BT's responsibility to ensure their network can handle the traffic that is advertised. If they can't handle that amount of network traffic, then they should be forced by Ofcom to stop accepting all new customers immediately until they upgrade their network.

  • Comment number 47.

    BT is an embarrassment. Years back, they failed to pioneer broadband for shifting data in this country, because BT was convinced we'd mostly all want broadband to view things like movies, and the company's board failed to get their myopic investors to splash out on modernising by replacing old copper cabling with something a little more 21st Century. Then, when it dawned on them that they'd missed a boat that had long sailed elsewhere around the globe, they quickly offered so-called 'Unlimited Broadband' via those same inadequate copper lines. Now they're moaning because iPlayer - not to mention Youtube, MySpace, iTunes and all the other things so many of us have come to use daily - is whacking their disgracefully inadequate infrastructure for the antiquated junk that it is. And don't even get me started on their abysmal 'customer service' and inflated bills. Tried calling BT lately? Did you manage to speak to the people you were after or did you get transferred to the wrong department a few dozen times?

    I escaped BT a year or so ago and I haven't looked back. My current ISP offers a service four times faster than BT's, and it doesn't cut out several times a day (and they didn't offer me a shiny new VOIP phone and wi-fi modem in a case that concealed 15-year-old technology, either).

    Time for the BBC to embarrass BT right back and expose our 'leading' telecoms provider for the penny-pinching charlatans they are.

    Right, now that's off my chest, I can go and get a cup of coffee.



  • Comment number 48.

    It has been a long time coming, but it was inevitable that BT would get involved in the cash for content debate.

    Previous efforts to instigate changes to the business model by Tiscali, Talk Talk et al have largely been ignored and the BBC is clearly winning in the court of public opinion. BT Retail have to step in to avoid the rout.

    What has happened is that unlimited* products have been bought by people who think there are no limits to how much they can use. How could customers be so naive?

    Sarcasm aside, this market positioning was a huge mistake by ISPs when they launched broadband, and was compounded as they bought market share even as the problem of growing consumption was becoming apparent.

    The ISPs biggest problem is that in a flat rate world, when new subscribers dry up, there is no new money to pay for new investment. As with all great commercial failures over the last few years, the ISP business model was a pyramid scheme - new revenues from new users meant you could price them all at marginal cost and win market share. This failed to take into account future investment requirements once subscriber growth stopped.

    Then subscriber growth stopped. The money coming in paid the ongoing costs, but there was nothing in the kitty for upgrades.

    I should make clear that the money the BBC pays for hosting does not flow to the ISPs. This money ends up paying Akamai and others for content distribution (data centres, distributed servers, power, cooling etc).

    The traffic flows to the ISP because the content distribution networks (CDNs) connect to the ISPs in Transit or peering relationships. This is fundamental issue with internet economics as the ISPs started off many years ago paying to get content (Transit) because that won users who valued the faster links that could be achieved by peering.

    Now the users are all there, ISPs are still paying to receive the packets their users request (at best it is free to interconnect, but that still leaves the ISP with the transport cost).

    Whereas in the past, people would switch ISPs for quality reasons and pay a premium (fixed) price, users now see the content provider as the source of quality and the ISP as necessary evil. Failures are the ISPs fault and success is reflected on the content, device or application provider.

    The problem is that for ISPs, higher bandwidths mean new equipment in the exchanges and more fibre to connect those exchanges to the backbone at a high enough speed to cope with the increasing peak aggregated demand. And yet the ISP is not seen as delivering value with these upgrades - it's the content working faster, at higher resolutions and utility.

    But make no mistake, these upgrades need to be paid for unless we want our ISPs to end up like our banks. This can go in one of four main ways.

    1. Everyone pays more. Regardless of what you user, your bill could go up by x% every year to pay for all the people that are hammering their connection.

    2. ISPs introduce meetering. Just like we pay our electricy bill based on KW hours, we may end up with a seemingly random charge that we don't understand on our bills every month (or quarter).

    3. ISPs charge the content owners or the CDNs for premium (unthrottled) content pass-through. The idea is that if it is important enough to publish a file that takes up 2Mbps solidly for an hour, then there must be some commercial value in delivering that file (ie the user will be paying you for it directly or indirectly). This value can be shared with those who have to pay for the networks.

    The problem with this debate is that it is happening over a service (BBC content) with no commercial value because there is a wideheld belief that such content is a universal right. You might see the position slightly differently if we were talking about ITV Player for example, where the company makes money from advertisers for you watching the service.

    4. ISPs can find other ways of recouping costs by using the data they have on you as a customer to deliver targetted adverts to you. If you don't like Phorm, the you need to vote for one of the other options.

    So you have a choice: either you pay for the gluttony of others, you learn all about Gigabytes, Megabits per second, relative file sizes and the time you spend online. Or you can pay it as a lump sum (including postage and packing) when you buy the content, or you can be advertised to.

    Which will it be? There is no such thing as a free lunch.

  • Comment number 49.

    What utter rubbish!

    I pay my ISP for an 8MB ASDL line with a 40Gig fair usage limit. What I choose to do with the 40Gig is my problem and if I go over they should have a right to charge me. I assume BT's subscriber contracts and not dissimilar.

    Therefore if I choose to use the iPlayer (or whatever else) and I go over my limit the ISP should be coming to me about costs, not going to the BBC. Trying to go to the BBC for money is going to raise the costs for everyone and is nearly impossible to administer universally (what if I was downloading from Mexico, what could BT do then?) whereas only those people why use these services should be charged.

  • Comment number 50.

    In the end if you have to move from 1:50 contention to something more generous and predictable (as opposed to the best efforts internet as it is today) to allow video watching in the evening, someone will pay. So, what's wrong if ISP offers an OPTIONAL service to content providers, say multicasting or guaranteed throughput, and charges for it? Otherwise we can just dream about iPlayer HD 3Mbit/s ever be streamed to us. In any event, smart content providers (Google) are already doing similar stuff with their mirrored servers and such, and there are many commercial offers around already (Akamai). (I accept that selective throttling down is a different case altogether)

  • Comment number 51.

    All the broadband companies are up to this. They-re oversubscribing an under-capacity network to make money. Ofcom refuses to do anything about this, so each company is pushing it a little further until everyones performance is degraded. ANY company selling an "unlimited" connection should be fined for any attempt at traffic shaping. If you havnt got the bandwidth, DON'T SELL IT.

  • Comment number 52.

    BT customers pay for a broadband service, that ought to cover the full cost of providing the customers' internet access. But it's basically the same as the U.S. "network neutrality" argument, where TV and other media companies also own and provide the broadband service. And they don't want you to watch competitors' services on the cable connection, or to watch free services. They want to charge for what you watch, extra.
    It's also like the prototype "walled garden" data services initially offered for mobile phones, and before then on private computer networks like AOL and Compuserve, all of which pretty much collapsed as businesses in that form because, reasonably enough, customers wanted the whole Internet, not edited highlights or a substitute. And we wanted to text or e-mail anywhere, not just to subscribers on the same network (can you believe that?) And we still want the whole Internet, and we don't want to pay extra or to have our access artificially reduced. Which is the opposite of what not only BT but other Internet access companies want to sell to us.

  • Comment number 53.

    If the BBC are getting such a free ride, BT could always block them. I would like to see how many broadband customers BT had after a month or two of that.

    While we're on the subject of BT, they get 11.50/mo for line rental on top of any connection for a phone service that would also not be paid by consumers if we couldn't connect t the websites we want on the internet. I haven't used a home landline phone in years. If anyone is getting a free ride it is them over that particular monopoly.

  • Comment number 54.

    Personally i think this whole argument is really petty. BT and other ISPs should make sure that the cost that they charge users covers all reasonable levels of usage, or they should keep their mouths shut and absorb the cost.

    I think personally it's going to move back to the "dial-up" days, where users are charged for their usage. Its the same way webmasters are charged for the amount of traffic their websites get, so i don't see why it shouldn't work with the consumers.

    Also, i think the BBC shouldn't necessarily fan the flames by posting so outright about their stance. I don't see BT doing the same on their website...

  • Comment number 55.

    "Just before I was due to discuss the whole issue on Radio 4's You and Yours, the programme received an e-mail from BT, with details of their position.

    The e-mail talked about the huge costs of bandwidth to deliver iPlayer programmes, and said that Internet Service Providers could not be expected to pay for everything in a highly competitive broadband market.
    "

    perhasps its time to remind the BT executive that infact ALL UK ISPs can and have been given the chance several times to freely peer directly with the BBC on the MULTICAST trials of several years in order to save vast amounts of bandwidth and costs.

    BUT BT VM and CPW etc, HAVE CONTINUALLY REFUSED TO freely PEER, OR Unfilter the Multicast protocol and the massive savings that the BBC MULTICAST traffic brings ,to and from their own end users/customers paying the monthly bills CPE kit sat on their desks.

    see:

    keep in mind also, the official free Multicast peering came on line on the 23/02/06.

    thats over 2 years ago now, so there is no excuse to the major UK ISPs not to have implimented this purpose made massive bandwidth saving Multicast protocol and peered with any video streaming providers such as the bbc already payed their fees to their co-location providers for their bandwidth.

    there is infact no reason they couldnt use multicast as ALL ISP grade routers and related kit the world over has this generic multicast protocol capability as standard and even comes from the vendors fully activated, the worlds ISP actually have their core network departments take the time and effort to turn the Multicast protocol OFF and filter it from and to the end users certified Multicast capable Cable and *DSL modems.....

    http://support.bbc.co.uk/multicast/peering/

    http://www.uknof.org.uk/uknof4/Rice-BBCmcast.pdf

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/multicast/

    until the UK ISPs (are forced? to)re-activate this long standing, existing, currently powered, and currently unused Multicast protocol inside all the ISPs router kit all the way to and from the end users, we the end users can never take advantage of these massive multicast broadband bandwidth upload/download savings, or re-innovate the old MBONE multicast backbone apps and retofit for todays P2p DHT streaming AVC video and related high bandwidth data market place....

    put simply, the UKs ISPs have had the choice to use the existing multicast peering o noffer for free, save vast amounts of bandwidth with Multicast, and help REAL innovations to and from the end users of this country.....

    the largest UK ISPs such as BT and Virgin Media have refused to take this simple exist Multicast peering option for their own reasons, and its clearly not cash related as Multicast clearly save vast amounts of bandwidth compared to the antiquated unicast point to point video they force us to use as the only option they provide......

  • Comment number 56.

    http://support.bbc.co.uk/multicast/peering/


    BBC R&D Peering
    The BBC operates a separate research network where we trial next generation services & technologies.
    Today's project is - Multicast

    If you also wish to peer with our production network see http://support.bbc.co.uk/support/peering/

    We will peer with any ISP participating in our projects both directly and at Internet Peering Points.

    Our peering policy is as follows:

    We will peer with an ISP if to do so would be of mutual benefit.
    We require you to demonstrate a competence in BGP and TCP/IP networking.
    We require you to maintain an english speaking NOC able to respond to issues by email or telephone 24x7.

    We do not require a formal peering agreement, but will sign one, subject to negotiation, if you require one.

    All BGP sessions should be configured with an MD5 password of at least 15 characters length.

    Due to the localised nature of BBC content we require differentiation of UK and other country routes.

    For the UK multicast trial you must not distribute 233.122.227/24 and SSM sources from 132.185.224/20 beyond the UK (for avoidance of doubt we'll define UK as areas covered by the TV License fee)


    Here is a list of the Internet Peering Points that we currently have a presence at:
    .....

  • Comment number 57.

    As I write the matter is moot, the BBC have broken iPlayer and video within the BBC News website.

    To many changes at once perhaps?

  • Comment number 58.

    no 51, "ofcom...", afraid they are as good as most regulators (energy companies, mobile phone operators or low cost airlines as other examples where the UK public are badly let down) for standing up for consumers and letting the industry walk all over the people who pay their wages. Most of the public have started to see through these talking shops much in the same light as the useful Government that runs(!) we have. The consumer comes last, its the shareholders who are priority.

  • Comment number 59.

    What do BT and the other ISP's think the £millions they get from their customers every month is for...?

    Providing a network that reflects the demands of their users is something they should be aiming for - instead we get an '8MB if you are lucky ' service that will get throttled back at busy times. BT shareholders will love this approach because it means they won't be required to cough up for infrastructure investment at the expense of reduced dividends. BT make it difficult enough to move to other providers and their contracts are expensive and poor value for money. /When my contract is up I will certainly re-evaluate my on line contract - - BT seem to want the money and do nothing in exchange. I don't see them complaining about the bandwidth their BT Vision service takes up !

  • Comment number 60.

    It is ridiculous for BT to suggest that the BBC and therefore us licence payers should help to fund BT's, or any other Internet Service Provider's bandwidth costs.

    Internet Service Providers should recover their costs directly from their own customers just like any other form of business. Without content providers such as the BBC, there wouldn't be any point in having internet access in the first place, and BT wouldn't have an ISP business.

    Where would this end? Should the BBC also pay the electricity supply companies for the use of their electricity by viewers' televisions, should ITV pay for the surge in electricity use during advertising breaks caused by viewers boiling their kettles? Will online shops have to pay to allow BT's customer's access to buy their goods?

    I think the real problem is a complete failure of regulation on the part of Ofcom and the ASA in how BT and other ISPs are allowed to describe and market their internet services. ISPs should be required to accurately inform customers of the service they offer: including if, how and when they manage bandwidth, they should explain to potential customers that due to throttling they won't be able to watch video streaming content such as iplayer in the evening if that is the case. Internet sevice providers could then compete fairly, and customers who wish to watch Iplayer or use other high bandwidth applications such as P2P, would have the information to choose to pay more for a suitable package/ISP, rather than choosing the cheapest so called unlimited ISP.

  • Comment number 61.

    BT Retail have the option of buying their backhaul from somebody other than BT Wholesale. Carphone Opera's has a wholesale division and could provide some 21C connectivity. BT Retail could also install their own LLU. Such is the peculiarity of our regulatory regime.

  • Comment number 62.

    Let me tell you all a story.

    Once upon a time, Google and the music industry had an agreement. Google paid the industry to show their content on Youtube. All was good until... the industry demanded Google pay more!! Google said no, and stopped providing the content. The industry wasn't very happy with this state of affairs, and decided to complain but Google wasn't (and still isn't) having any of it. "Its unfair that they won't show our content!! They should show it to people and pay us!!" they cry.

    If the worst comes to the worst, the BBC should do the same. They can't possibly be able to afford to pay such extortionate bandwidth costs for every one of their users. Instead, they should simply block access to BT users. No need to bother arguing the *extremely* important 'net neutrality' argument and waste time. Lets just see how long BT with content providers blocking their customers. How long before they go crying back.

  • Comment number 63.

    What a stupid idea BT, nice try but stupidity. The economy of this country needs efficient transactions, not backward ideas as you are suggesting.

    If a BT customer wants to watch video via the iPlayer and consume lots of the available bandwidth doing so, that's their choice and they need to pay you directly. They should not be paying the BBC (the lic fee) so that they can prop up your inadequate charging model.

    Stupid ideas are not new at BT of course. They "discovered" what they thought was a golden egg a few years ago didn't they (Phorm Webwise and now "Webwise Discover" that apparently 82% of us like the idea off NOT!)

    Digital Britain does need help to sort itself out for the future, but it doesn't need Webwise, it doesn't need inefficient income models, it needs simple cost mechanics that customers understand - pay for what you use. ISPs: compete on that.

    Is it that BT is worried about the wasted resources on Webwise and what about the final outcome after those covert trials in 2006 & 2007?

    The EU is due a response from the UK Gov about now to their proceedings against us for allowing what BT did with Phorm's system. The Crown Prosecution Service is STILL considering the potential charges against them for their actions snooping on customers without consent.

    Do they need to find funds now perhaps for these issues, not just the huge infrastructure update challenges that they face?

    It's probably part of getting their PR story ready to defend their actions; trying to make money out of watching their customers' data communication and internet use. "We were pushed into the Webwise mess by the market place and the changing consumer demands, and it's the BBC's fault too, they won't give us some of their public funds" (bleat bleat)

  • Comment number 64.

    Iwas reading through the current terms and conditions,
    http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumerProducts/dynamicmodules/pagecontentfooter/pageContentFooterPopup.jsp?pagecontentfooter_popupid=13408

    i noticed this.
    (im also assuming that most iplayer users will be on option 3)

    "Things you need to know about BT Total Broadband

    16. All BT Total Broadband options (including any unlimited options) are provided in line with our fair-usage policy as set out in the 'Support and Advice' section at www.bt.com/broadbandusagepolicy.. "

    on checking this i found this

    "B. Network Management .
    6. What is BT's policy on video streaming?
    We do not impose any restrictions that affect the viewing quality of services such as BBC iPlayer or Catch Up on Channel4.com or ITV.com, as these stream at up to 800Kbps. However, we do limit the speed of all video streaming to 896Kbps on our Option 1 product, during peak times only, which is between 5pm - midnight every day.

    This does not affect BT Vision.

    If you are an Option 1 customer and do use higher than 896Kbps video services regularly at peak time, you may wish to upgrade to Option 2 or 3, which don't have this restriction, and will be more suitable for your level of usage.

    So as as it appears to me they will have to charge the change the contract to apply restrictions to any option 3 customers.

    If they did would this section not apply?

    "BT RESIDENTIAL STANDARD TERMS

    Changing these terms and conditions

    If we have made a change which is to your material disadvantage, you will not have to pay a charge if you decide to end your agreement early, unless the relevant price terms say otherwise. However, once we have told you about such a change, you must let us know that you want to end the agreement within 10 days. When we make a change that we reasonably believe is to your material disadvantage we will also let you know that you may end the agreement early without paying a charge for doing so. "

    "mportant information:
    The terms and conditions of each of the above services are made up of this important information and the following terms (including any other document we refer to in those terms).

    BT residential standard terms;
    The relevant service terms;
    Any relevant special-offer terms;
    The relevant price terms;
    If any of these documents contradict each other, the terms will apply in the order set out above.

    Your agreement with BT Payment Services Limited."



    Would this be classed as a material disadvantage?

    what i hope is that this would allow me to get out of my contract if they did carry through restrictions on using iplayer?

  • Comment number 65.

    Hello admin person

    i hit post by accident in a rush, feel free to correct/edit my post as i had not gone back and checked for spelling and punctuation before i hit post.(ment to hit preview)

    Thanks in advance

  • Comment number 66.

    What a fantastic idea. It's like BT run an all you can eat restaurant and when the customers actually start eating more than they anticipated they expect the food suppliers to pay for this ? It's time BT started investing money in infrastructure and customer service rather than outsourcing and blaming the BBC for coming up with a popular product. Oh and while we're at it lets start seeing 8meg mean 8 meg BT !

  • Comment number 67.

    The problem with BT is when Broadband came out they knew the 40+ year old Copper Network couldn't cope with High Bandwidth usage and were well aware that Fibre was the only way to deliver such services.

    But then along came the cost of providing fibre and BT being a money hungry business convinced themselves that their customers (you and me) would never need speeds of anythings higher than 1 or 2mbps as all we used the internet for was e-mail and light browsing. Well that may of be true of the old dial up days but the internet has evolved well beyond that and even this "everyone to have at least 2mbps by 2012" is already 10+ years behind other countries.

    The only thing I do agree on with BT is that why should they be the only one to invest the billions needed to get the whole of the UK onto fibre? There is something like 250+ ISP's in the UK using the BT Openreach and Wholesale Network. All of them should pay a fair share in getting our comunications infrastructure up to 21st Century standards.

  • Comment number 68.

    To be honest with you, an ISP (and a very large poorly run ISP at that) demanding money payment from any content provider sets a very dangerous precedent to all those that provide on the net. BT has long had a history of lazy, slack, greedy, bureacratic, misjudged business execution (as can be seen by the mobile phone debacle of the 90's) and they are desperately trying to catch up with the rest of the competition with what they are able to provide. BT's problems are entirely of its' own doing, and, like a stroppy child, refusing to play the broadband game and make it work (positively) to their advantage..

    BBC.. DO *NOT* GIVE IN.....

  • Comment number 69.

    I work for BT (and also a student) but I do not use them. The services they offer are atrociously bad. I have Virgin and in my opinion it's the best service provider. BT take their customers for a roller coaster ride if the slightest thing goes wrong. They need to realise that they simply do not offer enough for the way the internet works.

  • Comment number 70.

    Is BT entirely neutral in this matter?
    BT sells content with its video services, and is in direct competition with the BBC and other content providers.

  • Comment number 71.

    Rory i would very much like your opinion on this subject,

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/changes_to_international_pages.html

    And whilst yes it is ostensibly about changes made to the International page the relevant point is I cannot access the BBC i player although I live in the West Midlands, because of these crazy changes made to the BBC Home page and International pages.

    It appears that because the BBC now deems that I live abroad because my AoL servers are based in the USA I cannot now access the BBC.co.uk/news home page and consequently the live tv stream or the i player.

    This affects me and clearly many countless thousand of others both home and abroad in diferent ways ! And so your comments and help would be very much appreciated in giving this subject a broader airing.

  • Comment number 72.

    yes please, look into the fiasco that is the BBC news change (craigblaircable at 1251hrs). I am a London worker accessing the internet via a corporate gateway in Canada and now get international news that I don't care for and advertising. To be told that this is for my benefit and to provide more appropriate content to me is insulting.

  • Comment number 73.

    Rory - sorry for attempting to get in touch with you via this blog. I do not currently have any issues with BT and the BBC iPlayer; however, as clairblaigcable (#71) and Dud1961 (#72) are saying, would you please urgently look into the shambles that is the latest 'International version vs UK version' decision by the News editors?

    Several hundreds (!) of us are deeply unsatisfied and unsettled, see the comments in the links http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/change_to_international_pages.html (comments now disabled...) and http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/changes_to_international_pages.html.

    There is simply no one technologically even remotely competent over there willing, or able, to answer our queries. Can I/we ask you to please start an enquiry on this, perhaps on a new blog entry of yours? It certainly must be of considerable interest to you that a number of possibly unwarranted technical and editorial changes have occurred within the past few days.

    Many thanks for looking into this, Rory.

  • Comment number 74.

    @48 "...There is no such thing as a free lunch".

    I pay for my bandwidth, the BBC pay for theirs (although, technically I also pay a bit of that too through my TV licence). Where does the free part you refer to come into it?

    I specifically chose my ISP because they were able to provide a telephone line of their own rather than requiring I already had a BT line and, despite, on occasion, appalling customer service, I've stuck with them for this (that and they operate with the standard English definition of unlimited). Will I be expected to suffer throttling?

    Where have all BT's profits gone? It's obviously not into infrastructure. I'd like to think I'm not the only one who remebers the "£96 per second profit" stories of a few years ago. Why wasn't some of that put into planning future capacity instead of shareholder divvies? Isn't maintaining and/or enhancing the network something that should come under the heading of normal operating costs, and therefore be borne by the company (and the shareholders) rather than a stealth tax on all of us? Should it be what line rental pays for rather than something added on?

    Whilst everyone else suffers in the recession, operating profits at BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach rose by 9pc, 18pc and 7pc, respectively in the three months to Feb 09 and, according to BT's Chief Exec, the quarter would have been the group's "best performance for five years," but for the "very poor" performance of its' Global Services division.

    Am I alone in wondering if BT Retail and Wholesale perpetrate a similarly cozy mutually supporting deal along the lines of that of British Gas and Centrica then? Where's the regulator's teeth when you need them?

    If BT (and other ISPs) are selling bandwidth they can't or don't want to provide it's not the BBC licence fee payer's job to subsidise that.

  • Comment number 75.

    BT is trying to run two distinct scams here -with a third one being a possiblity given the timing of this attack on the BBC.

    Firstly, BT are taking money from customers to pay for bandwitdh but they are not buying the full amount of bandwith to provide a full service to those customers. This is why they have to resort to throttling and their so called Fair Usage Policy. They work on the basis that internet use - and therefore bandwidth requirement - is intermitent. The model they use expects people to load a webpage in a second or so and then spend a few minutes reading the information before downloading more data. Because of this they were able to share bandwidth between several users - often 25 at a time - on the basis that it is statistically unlikely that they will all be downloading at exactly the same time. Clearly this model is entirely unsuitable for the modern internet where streamed data means that each user may need access to their full bandwidth for prolenged periods.

    Secondly, BT are a content provider in their own right and are therefore in competion with the BBC. BT's Vision service generates income by selling the same content that the BBC provide free of charge via iPlayer. To force people into using their service, BT threaten to throttle and even cap anyone watching streamed TV without using their Vision service. They then exclude the Vision servoce from their Fair Usage Policy despite the obvious fact that it still uses bandwidth. If watching streamed TV is "unfair" to other users, why isn't Vision equally unfair? It makes no sense and is little more than an anti-competition move by BT.

    The third possible reason is that the BBC have expressed reservations about BT's proposed use of the Phorm spyware/adware system. This may sound like a conspiracy theory but there are signs that BT may have used this line before.

    In 2006, the UK government tried to force ISPs - including BT - to monitor their network traffic. BT's then boss responded by saying that BT would never do this - he even said it wasn't possible to do this. He uttered that famous phrase - "We are mere conduits".

    It was within weeks of this that the government met with Phorm following an introduction from BT - and BT subsequently began secret trials of a system that is specifically designed to monitor internet traffic.

    It doesn't take much imagination to believe that BT were given the green light to use this illegal system by a government that wanted access to the data they could gather. In return for this, BT would get a projected £85,000,000 in advertising revenue.

    BT seem to be trying the same tactic with the BBC - saying "let us use Phorm and give us a good press or we'll take you to the cleaners".

    BT are bullies of the worst kind and I really hope the BBC tells them where to get off. All it will take is one ISP to say that they won't restrict access to streamed TV and BT will lose customers. Maybe then they sack the idiots who keep coming up with these stupid ideas and get on with providing the servoce that their customers are paying for.

 

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