So, basically ISPs hate video

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UK ISPs say that the the BBC's iPlayer video service is "threatening to bring the network to a halt":
The success of the BBC's iPlayer is putting the internet under severe strain and threatening to bring the network to a halt, internet service providers claimed yesterday.

They want the corporation to share the cost of upgrading the network - estimated at £831 million - to cope with the increased workload. Viewers are now watching more than one million BBC programmes online each week.

The BBC said yesterday that its iPlayer service, an archive of programmes shown over the previous seven days, was accounting for between 3 and 5 per cent of all internet traffic in Britain, with the first episode of The Apprentice watched more than 100,000 times via a computer.


The whole reason I get Internet service is so I can download stuff off the Intertubes, which means that whenever I find something cool and want to suck it down I don't want my ISP complaining that I'm using too much bandwidth. Now, it's true that it's true that when there is a lot of data flowing from a server on ISP A to ISP B, it's a bit confusing whether A should pay B, B should pay A, or whether money should change hands at all. Note that these aren't networking issues, but pure economic issues—issues like this have been relevant ever since the days of paper mail. (In the Internet world, a lot of this is social. The amount of money you have to pay in settlements sort of scales with bandwidth until you get big enough that people want to peer with you, at which point you don't pay). And I'm not saying there isn't a need for the ISPs to upgrade their infrastructure and figure out who's rates to jack up in order to pay for it. But these issues aren't really effectively solved by every ISP trying to hold up any service that gets popular.


It also might be an ISP that doesn't have a good cache infrastructure, because this is something that should cache wonderfully.

There's a backstory, of course. ISPs in the UK mostly don't own their network, or at least, they don't own an important part of it. Rather, they buy that from BT Wholesale. And the cost for that varies depending on the traffic.

Which is fine so long as customers are watching YouTube and a few are using P2P, (and presumably a significant proportion are spewing spam from trojans) but along comes iPlayer which provides generally attractive legal content and installs kontiki. So all of a sudden lots of customers are (likely without realising it) using P2P all the time their PCs are on.

That's a headache, and the obvious economic options (being more explicit about AUPs, or actually charging per G) aren't especially attractive. Well, nobody much wants to be the first, anyway...

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