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BBC iPlayer a bandwidth killer?

BBC iPlayer a bandwidth killer?

Bit-tech's Rich Swinburne, shown here about to fall over, almost killed our internets by using the iPlayer.

Update: After looking more into the issue, Bindi has discovered that closing the iPlayer program doesn't actually stop the processes from running. Read here for more info!


The BBC iPlayer, which offers online video on-demand, has come under fire today from internet service providers for being a massive bandwidth hog.

According to BusinessWeek, Tiscali in particular has expressed considerable concern about the level of demand the service has placed on its network. Tiscali told reporters that it feels the additional bandwidth being generated by customers using the BBC iPlayer should be payed for by the BBC.

A spokeswoman said: "We don't see any reason why some of the cost of transmission over our network shouldn't be paid by the provider of the content. We don't believe that the potential for it to cause congestion is being properly recognised and acknowledged."

That latter point may definitely be true. For instance, the internet connection in the bit-tech offices has been a little bit slow and sluggish lately and it was only after a day or two of investigation and head-scratching that we found the culprit. It turned out that our very own Bindi was using the iPlayer almost constantly, subsequently bringing our connection to its knees. Shame on him!

He was completely unaware that the iPlayer is based on peer-to-peer technology and was both downloading and uploading content continuously.

The ISP trade association has issued a statement saying that it will be monitoring the service closely, especially as the service is set to expand over the next few months.

The BBC is already in regular discussions with several ISPs and is working on finding a solution to the problems. "We will be playing our part in this, and are working closely with ISPs... to deliver the best experience that we can to the audience," the BBC said in a statement earlier this week.

Which ISP do you use and what sort of connection are you on? Have you used iPlayer and what do you think about the future of online TV? Drop us your thoughts in the forums.

35 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Wolfman_UK 16th August 2007, 12:02 Quote
The way I see it, ISP customers pay for their internet usage and if they see fit to use iPlayer then they can!

ISPs shoudln't complain that their networks are getting used and expect the BBC to pay! Its like saying that manufacturers of electricity hungry 1000watt+ PC's should pay for the electricity their machines use in peoples homes! Mind you, wouldn't be a bad idea! Nicely subsidised electricity bill! ;)

-wolfman
yodasarmpit 16th August 2007, 12:05 Quote
I've only tried iplayer for a couple of days and even when downloads were paused or the player switched off, my bandwidth was being used to the point of crippling my 8meg connection.
DXR_13KE 16th August 2007, 12:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfman_UK
The way I see it, ISP customers pay for their internet usage and if they see fit to use iPlayer then they can!

ISPs shoudln't complain that their networks are getting used and expect the BBC to pay! Its like saying that manufacturers of electricity hungry 1000watt+ PC's should pay for the electricity their machines use in peoples homes! Mind you, wouldn't be a bad idea! Nicely subsidised electricity bill! ;)

-wolfman

and car makers should start paying because of road congestions and the repairing of these.....


edit:
doesn't it have some kind of user controlled bandwidth limiter?
Dr. Strangelove 16th August 2007, 12:07 Quote
Quote:
He was completely unaware that the iPlayer is based on peer-to-peer technology .....
hmm I thought this was a tech site and the people who worked there would check/know these things :D

Anyway I completely agree with Wolfman. You can't have a company being payed for supplying a service and then complain if their users use the service. The problem is really that their hardware can't handle the number of costumers they have if they all use their connection fully.
Bindibadgi 16th August 2007, 12:07 Quote
I actually used the iPlayer as an excuse to cover my porn downloading

:o

In my defence, it's not listed as "iPlayer" in netlimiter, instead it's a service and has no indication that its actually uploading in the program.
CardJoe 16th August 2007, 12:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
I actually used the iPlayer as an excuse to cover my porn downloading

:o

NO WANKING IN THE OFFICE!
Hustler 16th August 2007, 12:18 Quote
Of course, if our Internet infrastructure was even half way decent there wouldn't be this problem would there....
Freedom 16th August 2007, 12:19 Quote
I didnt realise that Iplayer is based opon PToP tech either doh must pay more attention but it is a great litlle service thou espically as i dont currently have a working tv
Fr4nk 16th August 2007, 12:35 Quote
Signed up for the beta, though seems I'm too late :/ I can see my peak (4pm to midnight) 3gb limit being an issue here... even with 20mb...


-Fr4nk
failsaif1924 16th August 2007, 12:58 Quote
in netlimiter it should be Kontiki, Kservice or Khost its also wise to kill these process after using iPlayer library.

Regarding the BBC having to pay the ISP that is utter nonsense, I think ISP's need to upgrade their infrastructure and get upto date with the needs of broadband internet users of today.

I agree with statements above, this would be like Microsoft charging games developers for making their precious Xbox 360 overheat :P
kosch 16th August 2007, 13:10 Quote
To be fair we should start charging athletes for the amount of oxygen they consume as its obvious they use more than the rest of us chair dwelling folk!
Salazaar 16th August 2007, 13:13 Quote
I don't see what all the fuss is about, iplayer barely uses any bandwidth on my system. Then again, it does cause it to BSOD every time I try to start it up!
samkiller42 16th August 2007, 13:13 Quote
Tiscali dont like you using the internet, or allowing your Modem/Router to connect, as that can cause a slight amount of Bandwidth. As long as you pay each month, they dont mind. I got fed up with Tiscali after they sent me an email, saying I was a heavy user, after playing xbox live for about 3 hours.

Sam
[USRF]Obiwan 16th August 2007, 13:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by samkiller42
Tiscali saying I was a heavy user, after playing xbox live for about 3 hours.

Sam


Maybe they ment it literary...

mikeuk2004 16th August 2007, 13:46 Quote
Tut tut Bindi. Get back to work, stop skiving and keep it in your trousers. :)
Mother-Goose 16th August 2007, 14:04 Quote
So the video being streamed is kind of a *******ised torrent in a sense? I never realised that!
Bindibadgi 16th August 2007, 14:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by failsaif1924
in netlimiter it should be Kontiki, Kservice or Khost its also wise to kill these process after using iPlayer library.

Oh my god! I killed it this morning after queuing some stuff for later and have just checked it again and it was whoring 30kb upload all morning! That's ****ing disgusting.

>:(
ralph.pickering 16th August 2007, 14:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfman_UK
The way I see it, ISP customers pay for their internet usage and if they see fit to use iPlayer then they can!

True, but ISPs charge based on average use, and if average use suddenly doubles because of something like the iPlayer, then they're going to have to look at making somebody foot the bill. They know that internet users aren't going to pony up another £30 a month for internet usage, so rightly or wrongly they are looking to the BBC to subsidise the cost. The way I see it is either the BBC foots the bill or part thereof, or you'll see the end of unlimited broadband fairly soon.
steveo_mcg 16th August 2007, 14:48 Quote
I was a little annoyed that there wasn't going to be a linux player for this. Now i'm much less annoyed.
proxess 16th August 2007, 15:01 Quote
Its sad. More and more people use the tubes with more regularity, TSPs (tube service providers) should understand that (its visible in the figures) and be increasing their services for the need of the consumer. TSPs seem to forget a golden rule, the client is always right.
eek 16th August 2007, 15:03 Quote
I don't see what all the fuss is about, ISPs like to charge extortionate amounts for going over their low download caps...
DXR_13KE 16th August 2007, 15:16 Quote
that is a little stupid peace of software..... it behaves like malware....
eek 16th August 2007, 15:18 Quote
Then it's up to the consumer not to use it, if they are too stupid to use it then they deserve to pay big internet bills as their bandwidth use sky rockets...
DXR_13KE 16th August 2007, 15:31 Quote
i am using veoh tv beta at the moment and i like it..... they are going to put in a bandwidth limiter soon and erase some bugs and then it is perfect :D
xion 16th August 2007, 16:16 Quote
the only thing that bothers me is that it seems no ISP's perform trend & forecast alalysis, sure there once was a time then the average customer would happily check text emails, use telnet, or browse plain text websites because of their painfully slow (days of baud!) modems, average Joe evolves as does the technology. This has been coming for so long, the ISP's advertise such "Rich Media" functionality, now they want you to stop! Tiscali i will once again try to disonnect tinight, and don't even try to sell me tiscaly iTV
cyrilthefish 16th August 2007, 16:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kosch
To be fair we should start charging athletes for the amount of oxygen they consume as its obvious they use more than the rest of us chair dwelling folk!
The comments like this one are spot on :D

The annoying thing is that most ISP's have this problem solved already: the majority of broadband lines are bandwidth-capped.
Seems like sheer money-grabbing on the ISP's part here.

And i do hope the iplayer isn't like the Blizzard WoW P2P downloader by having no upload-rate controls, so it maxes-out your upload, so crippling your internet connection if you're not careful.
ZenX 16th August 2007, 17:08 Quote
I think that some people (including me) were about to skip the story, but got dragged in by the line "Also, pictures of Bindi" :D
Bladestorm 16th August 2007, 18:18 Quote
Wasn't that long ago that the cost for 1GB of bandwidth on the core BT network had a raw cost of about 50p, they've done a modest network upgrade since which should have reduced the cost a little, but its still going to be in that general ballpark, add in the other costs like servers, electricity and staff for the ISP and suddenly a 30GB cap starts to make a bit of sense.

Its not that simple of course, especially since the ISP's have a capacity of X 24/7 and during off-hours most ISP's have a lot of capacity they just don't use (thus the better ones giving huge off-peak allowances).

Basically in a lot of cases the caps aren't so much money-grabbing as them and the market in general having fought a price-war to the point that they can't actually afford to pay for the service they provide if they don't limit it somehow.

That and BT and other core providers not having much incentive to expand capacity and lower prices when that just reduces the profit they make on the current capacity.
Joeymac 16th August 2007, 18:24 Quote
I've got a beta key for the iplayer and after looking at what a pitiful amount of content they have decided to not bother... I used the sky p2p service years ago, which also uses the kservice, and it was such a pain... unless they put up the BBC archives up or give people free access to the ENTIRE weeks programming then what's the point.
There are non-public torrent sites for UK tv and they piss all over the iplayer. They also remove any content six weeks prior to it being release on DVD... on the odd occasion the show does get a DVD release. So it's not like they are evil.
completemadness 16th August 2007, 20:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
The annoying thing is that most ISP's have this problem solved already: the majority of broadband lines are bandwidth-capped.
trouble is they expect you (at the most) to use your whole quota over the course of a month

if your downloading/uploading solidly you can burn through it in less then a week
But i have to agree (Again, as in the other thread) were paying for the service, they should provide what they promise, and if i want to burn my bandwidth allotment in 7 days, then why should they stop me
[extra expletives aimed at ISP's here]
g3n3tiX 16th August 2007, 21:35 Quote
hehe in france we don't have any kind of bandwidth limit, even with the cheapest TSP.
I'm with Ohrange, with a 5-6mb down and 60 kB up. It's niiice !
I like to know what's using my bandwidth, but again iplayer is not available to me, being country-locked.
jezmck 17th August 2007, 10:28 Quote
late language police comment:
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
should be payed for by the BBC.
should be "paid"
specofdust 17th August 2007, 10:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupid bitch
We don't see any reason why some of the cost of transmission over our network shouldn't be paid by the provider of the content. We don't believe that the potential for it to cause congestion is being properly recognised and acknowledged.

It fricking is. They pay for their internet connection, we pay for our connection. They pay for the bandwidth they use, we pay for the stuff we use (well, flat rate, but we still pay). Extortionists like this egit just want to extort the big companies that possibly could afford to pay massive the massive bribes (for that is what they are) neccesary.
Kyle_Smith 28th June 2008, 03:16 Quote
I wonder if anyone can help me with some issues regarding the BBC iPlayer.

I need to know how I can limit my bandwidth use, aswell as prevent my internet connection from going 'sluggish'? I know the obvious way is to limit the amount I download from the BBC iPlayer, which I am now doing, but can I also take other measures suc as changing the settings of my internet connection or from the BBC iPlayer itself? I'd rather not rely on the ISP to cap my bandwidth. I want to limit that myself. I have two main priorities:

I don't want my internet connection to be sluggish. That has occured lately! As an aside, I'm also experiencing problems when typing in text fields on Internet sites. I don't know if this has anything to do with a sluggish internet connection, secondary to downloading/uploading via the iPlayer, but I want to eliminate all possibilities.

I also do not want to be charged by my ISP, and I have recently received a message on using the iPlayer, which states I may be charged by my ISP for any further downloading. To be fair, I haven't even noticed that I supposedly used it THAT much.

Also, how can I see whether my iPlayer is uploaing anything? Is there any way I can cancel these? Finally, can someone please explain how the iPlayer relates to P2P use?

I realise I have made a number of requests, but I really would appreciate if you could share your own experiences and give me some suggestions regarding all my questions.

Feel free to email me directly: all_nite_party@hotmail.com

Thank you very much for all your time!
Bladestorm 29th June 2008, 05:47 Quote
I believe the Iplayer uses a Peer to Peer system - the people using the iplayer upload/download from each other more than from the server. Its possible that the client keeps uploading to other users well after you've finished downloading whatever you were getting, thus ramping up the bandwidth usage. By default I believe the client starts with windows as well, though I believe it has settings that can be changed to stop that. Someone with more experience with it I'm sure could be a bit more specific.
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