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Two-tier internet already a reality?
Saturday 15 September 2007 10:24:53 by Andrew Ferguson

The recent news that the US Justice Department has made noises giving a nod and a wink to broadband providers being able to charge for priority traffic has re-ignited the debate in the UK. While the debate is happening, for many broadband users in the UK there are already two or more tiers to how fast different sites and services work - all that is missing is charging to alter the priority

There are some differences between the US internet market and the UK obviously. A major difference is that peering between providers and content providers is not done on the same commercial basis as the US. Of course this does not stop providers from implementing traffic management techniques on individuals connections.

Traffic management alone is not necessarily evil. If used to ensure that time sensitive protocols do not suffer at peak times, it is often welcomed. Where providers are using it to throttle customers as a way of avoiding network investment it becomes more noticeable and annoying. The ultimate danger is that providers will start to favour individual content portals based on a commercial deal. This could manifest as video from one website running at dial-up speeds, whereas the preferred provider runs smoothly even at peak times. If a broadband provider were to take this route, then it is likely they would offer people a paid for upgrade path.

The one area that is likely to bring this debate to a head is TV over broadband which, if it becomes more than a flash in a pan, will have the power to saturate the capacity between broadband providers and the consumer. BT Retail with its BT Vision is partially running a two-tier system already. When video on demand (VoD) content is requested, an assured rate session is booked to ensure a smooth stream, whereas people viewing streamed content from other sites will not get a prioritised session.

The broadband market is well used to hype and IPTV would appear to be the area where the most marketing hyperbole is being used at present. No serious provider seems to want to be seen to not have an offering, and there is no shortage of manufacturers trying to sell their systems to providers. Unless High Definition content can be provided then it seems unlikely that IPTV will be massive in the UK as the Freeview, cable and satellite TV markets already offer myriads of choice to consumers. As with the debate surrounding the BBC iPlayer and the costs to the broadband providers, issues like impact on usage levels and network capacity often seem to be ignored or swept under the carpet.


Posted by CARPETBURN over 10 years ago
Funny this appears with less than a month til 21CN starts... I guess now we know BTs new plans, they are gonna say its an UPTO whatever speed service and only give that speed on certain uses. Those that want the higher speed for other things are gonna have to pay a premium, how refreshing a new service which is said to cost less than MAX and its going to be crippled and maybe cost more... why am i not shocked if that happens!
Posted by herdwick over 10 years ago
zzzzzzz. Assured bandwidth just gives a QoS advantage over a contended best efforts service. Like special delivery vs 2nd class mail.

These "net neutrality" debates always confuse me, are the Yanks talking about traffic on the internet in general as opposed to retail access to said internet via an ISP ? The BBC delivery to UK consumers need never go near the internet per se as many ISPs have direct peering already.
Posted by c_j_ over 10 years ago
"The broadband market is well used to hype"

Ain't that the truth.

"Unless High Definition content can be provided ..."

How does that work when a huge proportion (a majority???) of DSL punters can't even get the 4Mbit/second needed for BT Vision's *standard* definition "on demand" stuff? Afaik this is down to local loop limitations, a situation which 21CN does nothing to address?

The leading edge punters who are interested in HD content already know where to find it, and it isn't "on demand" via their DSL ISPs.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 10 years ago
Since when did BT Vision need a 4Mbps connection? Streams are 2Mbps.

On the HD like I said unless HD can be provided (to the masses) then IPTV will remain relatively small market. HD could be done as download rather than stream - which looking at a range of box manufacturers seems a common thing.

As for leading edge punters I presume they are already chasing the 4000x2000 streams, which look seriously impressive on a TV
Posted by CARPETBURN over 10 years ago
Half the Over the web Tv services the uk have are a pile of rubbish anyway. Things like the BBC iplayer service and 4OD are a pile of poor anyway, with stupid but easily bypassed DRM protection and a silly system used that limits the amount of operating systems that can actually use the content, and finally stupidly small bitrates and resolution all wrapped in a dated WMV container format often with mono sound or poor quality stereo.If BTvision is anything like that they can keep it and their bound to be overpriced 21CN service.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
Vision is pretty decent, atleast the pictar quality, they need a bigger libary though and 24hrs isn't enough.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 10 years ago
Thanks for that FRS_Plunderer, ive never seen vision in action but just from that i gather 24 hours bit you mention is the amount of time you can still watch programmes back. If thats the case agreed 100% its not enough, ideally id say it needs to be 3 days minimum and a week would be more ideal.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
ya i'm sure its complicated with licences and stuff but BT really should be aiming to match the Libary, Price and viewing time of the videos with say rental stores like Blockbusters.

Then they can market the Vision service on its convenience i.e. not having to make a trip out to get the video or bring it back to the store when finished, or get there and find its out of stock or get it back and find its damaged and won't play right etc.

That said the Vision box is a great little Digital PVR and its a decent TV upscaler to boot!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
"If used to ensure that time sensitive protocols do not suffer at peak times, it is often welcomed"

Subject to the ISP's definition of time-critical, not the users. This allays means that gamers get shafted.

In any case, I await needing to pay an extra £10/month to play games at all. Or rather, because the landlord won't pay extra, I won't be able to play games or do anything not in the very limited core package.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 10 years ago
Things like BT vision have so much potential it is a shame things like licencing etc get in the way and in a fashion degrade the service slightly. Also i have to agree with dawn while in theory traffic priority can be a good thing it always means someone gets the poopy end of the stick so to speak, its going to be very intersting what the future holds for services like 21CN and digital TV. Lets hope the mole hill problems dont become mountains and a good balance is found
Posted by herdwick over 10 years ago
" because the landlord won't pay extra, I won't be able to play games " - time to get out of the pub then :-)
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
Can anyone give me any ideas as to how I can improve my talktalk wireless broadband download speed. The fastest "one off" I have ever obtained is 1869 Kbits/sec. Although I never expected to acheive the 8Meg advertised speed, a consistent 2Meg service would be very acceptable.
Somebody at talktalk told me that they are installing new equipment to increase speed but I have no idea if this is happening and what the national coverage/schedule is.
I wrote to talktalk over a month ago regarding this but unsuprisingly, I have not received a reply.

Running on Empty, Gerrards Cross
Posted by beeflin over 10 years ago
Eclipse are already charging in a very flexible way depending on usage.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
gedwards don't spam this discussion with your question, there is a whole discussion forum to look through and post your question.
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
FRS_Plunderer, I take it that you don't have any advice you could pass onto me? Instead, can you tell me where to find the discussion forum, someone there may be able to help.

G.J. Edwards Gerrards Cross
Posted by wilsenda over 10 years ago
What the heck are all you guys talking about? Can someone post an "Idiot's Guide" giving clear advice as to how this subject will affect all us ordinary PC users?
Posted by adriandaz over 10 years ago
go to the forum...
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
wilsenda, I thought that was what I was trying to do with my question about talktalk download speed, but
FRS_Plunderer I think is trying to be clever or patronising or both.
Or perhaps it is an automatic spam generator.

G.J.Edwards Gerrards Cross
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
simply pointing out the fact you are de-railing this thread by not posting your question in the propper place. Now stop being such a nooblet and go post your question in the new found forum.

oh and signing your posts looks stupid, we can already see who you are.
Posted by herdwick over 10 years ago
"clear advice as to how this subject will affect all us ordinary PC users" - if you use services that use a lot of bandwidth (TV over the internet, for example) you may find in the future that you either have to pay more to use it or pay to get it quickly as the ISPs may be unwilling to invest in extra capacity for no extr revenue to bring it to you for free. A bit like ebuyer or amazon's free delivery takes up to 5 days but if you want it tomorrow morning you pay extra.
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
FRS_Plunderer, I was right, you are trying to be clever by using words I have never heard of like nooblet and by the way I think you mean proper unless propper is another word I have not heard of.

Well, if using my real name and location is stupid, what does that make you hiding behind a daft title like Fellow of the Royal Society.

Can anyone help me with talktalk download speeds? or have I inadvertently stumbled on a meeting of anoraks?

Posted by kamelion over 10 years ago
No you have posted on a news item. Click the link on the left that says "forums" and find the appropriate forum for your enquiry.

I can understand your mistake, if you are visiting for the first time, and yes FRS_plunderer was a tad intolerant. We were all "noobs" once.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Herdwick - what "pub"? If you want to ant up the 20k or so I'd need as a bare minimum deposit for a house round here...

And no..

"If you want to use your internet connection in future for anything not on a short list of approved activities from your ISP you'll be paying extra".

This is nothing whatsoever like a once-off charge which gives you a tangeable benefit. This is paying to have blocks on what you can do on the internet removed. This is allready happening in parts of the world with VoIP and we can expect it to spread rapidly.
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
Thanks very much kamelion, that was very helpful.

FRS_Plunderer, not difficult was it.

Are you really a Fellow of the Royal Society?

Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
don't try to bait me noob, i'm glad you found the proper place to post your questions, maybe you can cease de-railing this thread now.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
Posted by Kaufhof over 10 years ago
My single comment is - How can all this talk of fast speeds possibly concern people living outside the Greater London conurbation and the Home Counties? Take a look at some of the exchange to user distances in the real world.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
If it really concerns them to any important degree they will move closer to the exchange.
Posted by KarlAustin over 10 years ago
I wish people would stop bleeting on about "London, London, London", I live in a small village 180 miles from Londom, I'm still only 1km from the exchange though, so will get decent speeds - it's nothing to do with being in a big city.
Posted by warweezil over 10 years ago
If they want to introduce these whizzy new services, they should either be forced to invest in network upgrades or charge those using the new services.
Why the hell should I be forced to suffers an evenmore second rate service because for example some people cane be bothered to go rent a movie from a shop, or set the vcr/pvr to record something.

Its yet another excuse to rip us off.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
investing in the network won't solve the backhaul issues that are caused by these 'whizzy new services'.

As for being ripped off, no ones forcing you to get anything from the company you think is ripping you off, just switch ISP's.
Posted by csimon over 10 years ago
"I wish people would stop bleeting on about London..."
You'll find that people on this site's forum do have that opinion. When I was talking about my exchange being too far away from the places it has to serve (in a rural location about 230 miles from London), I got replies about my "peripheral location" which is "away from major society" and is "not London WC1".
Posted by csimon over 10 years ago
...implying that the reason for the large exchange-to-user distance is because I'm not in a place of large population.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
FRD_Plunderer - Great, what other cable ISP do you suggest I use.


Right. So sorry I want ISP's not to massively oversell.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
Cable ISP? when did this thread become about cable? Use whoever you like, just read the small print first.

Not wanting ISP's to massively oversell is like asking Kellogg's to not say Coco Pops turn the milk chocolaty...
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
FRS_Plunderer, I am really into this now, my cat will not eat anything, do you have any advice?

I do not mind being called stupid by an anorak, but I do mind being patronised.

Do you know that another Fellow of the Royal Society is Tim Berners Lee, heard of him?

But maybe I have it all wrong, FRS also means Fire and Rescue Service, maybe more applicable in your case.

Posted by wilsenda over 10 years ago
Thanks, Herdwick & Dawn_Falcon - I can sleep easy now!
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 10 years ago
Fire & Rescue service? what are you jabbering on about now?! You just can' help your pompas self can you? Thread de-rail after thread de-rail.

Oh and trying to claim any kind of superiority through association by proxy is a very sad, even more so on an internet forum...
Posted by gedwards over 10 years ago
FRS_Plunderer, you are very clever, pompas, is yet another word I have never heard of, can you please explain it's meaning to me.

Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Mad propz to PlusNet 2 posts up for the demonstration.

And FRS_Plunderer, come on, put up. Or are yu saying that a good chunk of the UK's BB population indeed don't have a choice and get to eat it?
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