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BE launch 'Banish Buffering' campaign
Friday 11 June 2010 15:21:11 by John Hunt

Broadband provider BE have today launched a campaign to 'banish buffering' in video streaming which it hopes will help sway people over to BE for the World Cup, which many people are expected to watch. BE suspect that many people are likely to face video buffering which could interrupt their viewing if their broadband speed isn't fast enough or their ISP cannot provide the bandwidth required. Buffering can also be introduced from traffic shaping, a technique used to manage the bandwidth of a broadband providers customers, a technique that BE don't themselves use.

Video buffering occurs when your bandwidth to the streaming site falls below that required to watch the stream. It's often seen when loading a video as the video player downloads more of the video before starting to play than it needs so if there are any blips, these don't show up. Many video players will buffer content immediately to ensure if there are any short slow downs on your broadband line, it shouldn't affect the video. You can see this easily on YouTube for example when the red strip runs ahead of the position of where you are in the video, demonstrating how much of the video has been buffered. Buffering at the start of a video can often only last a few seconds but can be longer on slower connections. Many people will not see the affects of buffering as their broadband is already fast enough to watch the content immediately.

"We want to end buffering, because it’s going to hinder you from making the most out of your online viewing experience. Well, not you – but those on slow connections, are being traffic shaped by their ISP, or have a low monthly usage limit.

For example, the average UK broadband speed is 3.6mbps, but streaming video needs an average of 9mbps of bandwidth to avoid buffering. When you factor in network management people are going to get a poor experience. Streaming will be is at its slowest during peak hours – especially between 5 and 6 pm on a Sunday evening, just when some of the major World Cup matches will be taking place and when some ISPs will be keeping a careful eye on who is doing what online.

We also know that the average encoding rate for video streams is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a 90 minute football match would transfer roughly 1.4GB of data. For high definition video streams, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 2.25GB of data."

BE Blog article

It's unclear where BE get their numbers from in relation to needing 9Mbps to maintain streaming video without buffering. The new beta iPlayer for example requires only 1.5Mbps on their higher quality video stream. If you have an Internet connection faster than this you should be able to watch video streams without suffering from buffering. The new iPlayer also introduces a clever adaptive bitrate system which will automatically adjust video quality up and down every few seconds to match the speed of your broadband connection, a system which should effectively avoid any buffering.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
It will be interesting test in time for the greater bandwidth requirements of the olympics and should bring in some good data.
Posted by jrawle over 6 years ago
I'm with BE and I find most of the buffering is due to the other end, not the ISP. I can get full speed (nearly 14 Mb/s) in a speedtest, yet Youtube does a lot of buffering, with interrupted playback.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
I think it depends on what else happens to be hosted on that particular YouTube server - for one YouTube member profile you can get most of their videos play fine, and just one or two that stubbornly won't load or which buffer all the time which I guess are on a different physical machine.
Posted by deana over 6 years ago
Funny BE should say this...

Im suffering with an ongoing issue, dispite having a Attenuation of 48, a QLT and a BT enginier visit to confirm no internal wiring what so ever I can only connect at 3,253 download.

The acutal throughput is much lower and strugles to go high enough to support bbciplayer.

Be say theres nothing that can be done.

Maybe Be should stop wasting money on lans, merch, and publicity, and focus on being a good ISP.
Posted by krazykizza over 6 years ago
A decent CDN used by the website, correct ISP peering, quality broadband and a computer that is upto scratch to process the incoming bandwidth and dispaying the video at its correct fps is all thats needed
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
Most things never buffer for me, using O2 over BE.

deana in relation to your post I don't see what BE could do at their end to fix your line. It looks like the wrong BT engineer was called out if all they did was look at your wiring and not the phone line.
Posted by comnut over 6 years ago
I do think YouTube and other video sites throttle the bandwidth so that all can get a chance to see a video... otherwise those on cheaper PCs/ISPs, would not have a good chance...
Any speedtest only checks the speed over a few secons... you need to use something like 'netmeter' to indicate how the speed changes over 10 to 30 mins - you will then see some sites load at full speed, and some are much slower...
Posted by Jimkirk363 over 6 years ago
i disagree with Iplayer Beta needing just 1.5mb. my mate is forever complaining about Iplayer buffering and he is on ADSL and gets a 7mb connection almost all the time.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
7Mbps sync does not necessarily = 7Mbps actual download speeds. We have an up to 3.6Mbps connection with actual speeds of 2.7Mbps and no noticeable buffering with the iPlayer.
Posted by donkey_hellfire over 6 years ago
I have been using the BBC iplayer beta for about 2 weeks now and I have never noticed it increase the stream rate automatically only decrease it. I have to do a refresh of the page and click on resume to get it to stream back at the top 1.5mbps for SD or 3.2mbps for 720P HD.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
my PC is buffering because the processor is at 100% load. Now the flash player plugin module has crashed. Would this be better on Be ?

or was Steve Jobs right about flash.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
Aren't BT making their own CDN network, to cut down video traffic? Apparently mean't to come online between May-July.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
Flash works OK on this Vista machine in the current incarnation however I had lots of issues with it on both XP and Vista in the past - for instance 4od relies on it, yet I could never get that to install properly thanks to a permissions issue with the Flash (OCX ?) file.
Posted by CaptainW over 6 years ago
@ Gzero regarding Deana's BT visit:
It will depend on what service Deana has with O2/BE. If they only provide BB to her, then an LL5 will have been booked as apart from callout for noise on the line (before/after30 days since activation), they cannot book any other callout. An LL5 should have the Openreach engineer check the entire length of the line from the handover in the exchange to her House and therefore it could have been the correct engineer hat was sent out ....
Posted by CaptainW over 6 years ago
cont'd ... if however the talk/line rental/bb are on on o2/BE full LLU, then I agree the wrong engineer may have been called out - but even if s/he checked the line for noise etc, that only leaves the MSAN in the exchange and the router in the home at potential fault. Deana, has your router been replaced? Changed filters, yada yada? Did they mention getting a tie pair shift?
Posted by CaptainW over 6 years ago
cont'd ... there's definitely something up as you should be seeing speeds between 6-7Mb on ADSL2+ with that attenuation. Off course, the get out clause of 'depends on the quality of the line' but the fact you're seeing a sync rate 1/2 of what you should be and will in reality only see throughput speeds of 2.6Mbps after tcp/overheads ... shout louder I think
Posted by pigfister over 6 years ago
ah the same old tactics from telefonica. lure ppl in with the promise of fast net then when they have a huge customer base SLAM em all with usage limits like the have on the o2 home service, £25 per month for a 10gig fair use policy, thats £2.50per gig, is any other ISP that expensive?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago listen at 2hr 32 mins for a business ISP describing bandwith limitations.
Posted by PeteK over 6 years ago
Timico on the sales pitch again.. who claim as a business ISP that they have enough bandwidth for all their business customers to munch on-line streaming on Friday next. I sincerely doubt it and I am sure they are praying their customers don't all watch and actually do some work...
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
the only isp I have used that has never ever had any sign of congestion in 10 years of using broadband is ukonline aka easynet. even aaisp had bursts of congestion when I was on it. nildram (in the good days) had issues at one point when I was on it when they had a delayed bt central coming online. ntl/vm not much to say there other then oversubscribing is an addiction to them.
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