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BT Content Connect May Impact Net Neutrality

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.

United Kingdom 138

a Flatbed Darkly writes "BT's Content Connect, a service which many have accused of threatening net neutrality, has apparently launched, although it is unknown whether or not any ISPs have bought or are planning to buy it yet; BT has denied the allegations, from Open Rights Group among others, that this, despite certainly being an anti-competitive service, does not create a two-tier internet. From the article: '"Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery," a BT spokeswoman said.'"

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Welcome to new-speak (5, Insightful)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753318)

She denies that their service creates a two-tier internet, then goes on to describe their service which, is to create a two-tier internet. Nice.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (4, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753390)

Marco: "Commissar. I have rehabilitated another group of the party's enemies."
Murphy: "Ha haaaa! Yeah! What does rehabilitated mean again?"
Marco: "Beaten the asses of."
Murphy: "I LOVE new-speak!" ....
Murphy: "Now, if you'll excuse me, we need to rehabilitate Phil...in the face."

Re:Welcome to new-speak (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754604)

The chin...it isn't jutting enough

Re:Welcome to new-speak (5, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753430)

She denies that their service creates a two-tier internet, then goes on to describe their service which, is to create a two-tier internet. Nice.

Your problem is that you're mistakenly thinking of them as "tiers." That's not the case. It's more like two different levels of service.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753448)

Your problem is that you're mistakenly thinking of them as "tiers." That's not the case. It's more like two different levels of service.

Lucky bastards. My ISP doesn't even give one level of service.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (-1, Redundant)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754140)

"Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery,"

So can you maybe explain the difference. From the perspective of the user (content provider and content consumer) it doesn't matter what it's called, the result seems to be the same.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754574)

The difference is that, one one level, there is you. On a higher tier, making a 'whoosh' noise as it passes' is the joke.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (4, Interesting)

Fembot (442827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753498)

Far more worryingly than a CDN in the exchange which people might *gasp* be expected to pay for, the page promoting it http://www.contentconnect.bt.com/ [bt.com] Seems to include clips of "Elephants Dream" which is CC-BY licensed without any attribution anywhere that I can see.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (5, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753554)

If you click the 'More' tab, there's a note which reads "This website uses OpenSource video content. (c) copyright 2006, Blender Foundation / Netherlands Media Art Institute / www.elephantsdream.org". BT do tend to be hypocritical asshats, but they appear to be following the terms of the license in this case.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (3, Informative)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753598)

This wouldn't be a BT first; the Home Hub, their free router, used to rather egregiously violate the GPL [zdnet.co.uk] . MoonBuggy does appear to be right, though, it'd be an interesting debate to have over whether concealed attribution constitutes attribution.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753814)

CC-BY license requires attribution according to how the rights-holder specifies; it's not specified by the CC-BY license terms itself.
Without knowing how the copyright owner wants it to be specified, you can't know whether a specific method of attribution is in compliance.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753634)

BT has rolled out a new set of pneumatic tubes. One set if you pay will let your messages move around the UK with delightful burst of Steve Ballmer's "Obsession For BT" - dedicated BT only optical path.
If you dont pay you can wait for the converted "Bring out your dead" cart to be filled and get pushed along a dirt track. -kept to the shared, oversubscribed best effort networks.
BT should have spent more on backhaul.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753738)

BT should have spent more on backhaul

That doesn't automatically make a CDN node in every exchange a bad idea though, in fact it's probably a good idea if it shifts load off the backhaul.

I factor peering and local mirroring into my ISP choice right now, as well as physical location to some extent. CDNs make money from selling well connected, distributed hosting to content providers and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754364)

A CDN in the exchange, from a technological prespective, could be a very good idea. The question is over the long-term business implications. A CDN, after all, is worthless if the un-CDNed best-effort service is good enough. Running the CDN gives BT an incentive to delay upgrading, lest they reduce the demand for the higher tier.

It's just good business sense on any tiered business. Don't make the cheap product too good, otherwise you cut into demand for the expensive product.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (4, Interesting)

thoromyr (673646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753628)

Is it a two-tier Internet, or is it a glorified video-caching service? How is this different from Akamai?

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753846)

The articles seem somewhat unclear. Although it talks about local content caching, the BBC article also refers to a BT spokesperson explaining that "BT would not throttle or discriminate against other video services on the network, but did not rule out that ISPs using the network could do so.".

There's also the very real risk that with paid content caching done at the ISP level, the backbone connection to the wider internet will be neglected (or deliberately crippled) - the end result is ISP contracts being sold with an AOL-style walled garden of sites available from the caching servers and the connection to the actual internet being provided at extra cost or reduced speed. Sites wanting the widest reach are then forced to pay to be included in the cache, or be cut off from those customers who didn't pay extra for "full internet" access.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753968)

Just to clarify after re-reading my post: even if the service is similar to that provided by Akamai, there's a significant conflict of interest when that service is provided by an ISP. They have the power and the motive to simply throttle all connections except those who pay to be part of the 'upgraded' service - a protection racket, basically. Akamai and the like never had the power to do this, so it wasn't an issue.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754392)

They don't need to throttle anything - that would be legally dubious. It's much safer for them to just do nothing, neglecting to upgrade the connection. They will still be providing a 'best effort' service, but just making sure that the best they can do isn't too good.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753640)

These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753682)

It's not a two-tier internet! It's not a two-tier internet! (How many times does she have to say it?)

And it's true it's not a two-tier internet -- it's an infinitely tiered internet with the fastest lanes going to the biggest bucks --- why would you only do two tiers?

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753906)

The British dont call it a two-tier internet.

They call it the "class system"

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753686)

Anyone else noticed this trend in companies where the bad news or damage control is always handled by spokeswomen?

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753754)

No, it seems that's always been done. It does seem like they're more likely to confirm the accusation in the denial now though...

"Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery,"

Or in other words:

"Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply [add a second tier of] content delivery,"

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754124)

It's logical; both men and women usually react better to women.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753784)

No no no, normal bandwidth is 100%.
premium bandwidth is just a bit more 100%-ier than plain bandwidth.
They're all equal, some are just more equal than others.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (3, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753948)

Um, did you read up and understand what this is all about? Or am I misunderstanding completely what BT is offering? Seems to me BT is simply offering to cache content on their own network to eliminate a lot of network hops, and reduce latency.

Can someone tell me how an ISP offering to cache media content, for a price, violates net neutrality or somehow manages to create a two-tier internet? Is Netflix _not_ allowed to pay BT to keep a copy of their movies available just for BT customers? Is BT _not_ allowed to cache high usage content that gets repeated hits from their users? I absolutely, positively don't see why anyone is making a big deal of this. Caching servers have been around for ages, and this seems to be just the next logical step. Are caching proxies now verboten?

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754100)

It's the specific implementation that's the issue. To paraphrase what I said in a few other posts: when it's the ISP doing the caching there's nothing to stop them from throttling content from providers who don't pay to be included - in fact, there's a decent business incentive pushing them to do exactly that - it rapidly changes from an upgrade to 'protection money', a problem that did not exist with non-ISP cache servers.

If they were not an ISP, they wouldn't have the power to artificially degrade services that aren't on their caching servers, so it wouldn't be a problem. If they were caching high-traffic content to save themselves bandwidth (rather than caching content only from those who pay a fee), there wouldn't be an incentive for them to artificially degrade other services, so there wouldn't be a problem. The way they are doing this provides every incentive for them to cripple connections to content providers who don't pay up, that's the problem! A BT spokesperson even mentioned that as a possibility to the BBC, saying that while they would not do it at the wholesale level, they are happy for the ISPs to throttle non-"Content Connect" content if they so choose.

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754308)

She was probably misunderstood -- "there are no tears here!"

Re:Welcome to new-speak (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754588)

Of course it's not a two-tier internet. It's lots more than two!

two tiers (2)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753324)

"differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery" Certainly sounds like two tiers to me...

Re:two tiers (1)

Pharago (1197161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753600)

and they do it by throttling down transfers not ascribed to their 'new service', that is stealing bandwidth from everybody else, at least when they are running at full capacity again, they will have no choice but to upgrade their infrastructure so some people can start to enjoy the speed japanese folks got for a base broadband connection plan a few years ago

Re:two tiers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753836)

No, they do it by putting mirror nodes in local exchanges, freeing redundant, duplicated transmissions. Not stealing, releasing.

So what? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755386)

Nobody has yet to explain why it's wrong for them to charge for access to their private networks however they wish.

What a polite euphemism (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753334)

Contrary to recent reports in the media, BT's Content Connect service will not create a two-tier internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery

I ran that through babelfish and got the translation: "Fuck you! We'll do whatever we want and you can't do a thing about it."

Re:What a polite euphemism (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753432)

That's the BT way!

Re:What a polite euphemism (3, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753646)

I set my copy of Babelfish to Simpsons and got Nelson's "Ha Ha!"

Definition of two tier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753342)

So it does not create a two tier internet but differentiates their broadband between enhanced content delivery and regular content delivery? Don't spit in my face and call it rain...

Re:Definition of two tier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753378)

Don't spit in my face and call it rain...

Oh don't worry -- she's not spitting...

Re:Definition of two tier (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753616)

From the BBC article:

The spokesperson said that BT would not throttle or discriminate against other video services on the network, but did not rule out that ISPs using the network could do so.

BT already do. Between 4PM and 12AM, some services are throttled to a point where they are not usable. Youtube being one of them.

3:57PM, Youtube is fine, 4:03PM, good luck trying to play anything that is HD. iPlayer plays fine.

Re:Definition of two tier (1)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753848)

I'm, sadly, with BT currently (not my choice); BitTorrent seems affected from about 2pm onwards, though I'm unsure when it ends as I'm generally offline after 11pm.

differentiating = not neutral (2)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753386)

By definition, differentiating negates net neutrality

Do they think people are so stupid that they can just use big words to lie to people? Oh wait...

Re:differentiating = not neutral (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753476)

Don't be silly. Some services will just be a little less neutral than others.

Re:differentiating = not neutral (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754298)

No, having non paying client become less neutral is what we are all fighting about.

*THIS* allows paying clients/customers to become even MORE neutral, while leaving the unpaying client(s) completely the same neutral.

Re:differentiating = not neutral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34755834)

Relax and read Animal Farm. Then you'll understand what everyone keeps referencing.

Re:differentiating = not neutral (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753580)

What is Content Connect

The Content Connect product is designed to enable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver video content within the UK to their customers more cost effectively than it has been possible to do previously. This is achieved by connecting a Content Distribution & Delivery platform to the IPstream Connect and Wholesale Broadband Connect networks. The Content Distribution & Delivery platform will be placed in the broadband network so that content by-passes the ISPs backhaul. Content Connect gives the opportunity for the ISPs to have a commercial relationship with the Content Service Providers (CSPs).

The Content Connect Basic product is for the CSP market

The Content Connect Standard and Premium service is available to ISPs who have a commercial relationship with CSPs.

Content Connect Key Benefits

End Users benefit from the new Content Connect product:

TV video entertainment will be delivered to the home through a broadband line with the option of an enhanced experience including HD internet video on TV.

ISPs benefit from the new Content Connect product:

Brings ISPs into the content value chain and allows them to earn revenue from delivering internet video from CSPs .

CSPs benefit from the new Content Connect product:

CSPs can have their content delivered at a higher quality of service.

For further information please contact your Account Manager

I think I like this. It basically says hey, ISPs pay for back-haul bandwidth (i.e. Level 3 plugs into Qwest, NetFlix is on Level 3's side, Qwest lets you access NetFlix, Qwest pays for the ASSLOADS of bandwidth they ring up across their link to Level 3's network), so now ISPs have the option of entering a deal with NetFlix to coordinate between NetFlix, Qwest, and technical consultant BT to get NetFlix's data on Qwest's side of the fence. NetFlix doesn't move; it just puts a back-end link or a copy of their data (data warehouse) over in Qwest's playground so they can avoid pulling it down through Level 3, which is slower and more expensive.

If Qwest wants to pay Level 3 for bandwidth, they can pay Level 3. If Qwest wants to pay NetFlix to maintain content locally on the Qwest network, they can pay NetFlix. Anyone who isn't a Tier-1 provider will be paying an assload (for example, I think Comcast is a Level 3 customer, and their network is all on Level 3's back-end rather than just connected to it), and would similarly benefit both financially and performance-wise by dropping a NetFlix box in their network.

As long as they can't charge NetFlix for being on the other side of the fence and thus costing them money every time their users watch a movie, this is fine. If NetFlix wants to charge them to have hardware installed and maintained on their network, that's great; if not, too bad, you can't just shut NetFlix off because you don't like what your users are doing to your bandwidth bill.

Re:differentiating = not neutral (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753684)

In UK terms, back-haul refers to the connection from the ADSL provider's kit in the exchange ( central office ) back to the ISP's network through the ADSL provider's POPs. This is distinct from the ISP's connection to the Internet ( Level 3 in your example ).

ISPs which rent ADSL services wholesale from BT Group generally use BT's back-haul but there are various back-haul options ( big players being BE, Easynet and C&W ).

This BT service delivers content from the POPs, so that the ISP's backhaul is not loaded with streaming media.

BT Content? (0)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753388)

"BT's Content Connect, a service which many have accused of threatening net neutrality, has apparently launched, although it is unknown whether or not any ISPs have bought or are planning to buy it yet

Why would ISPs have to pay to use Bittorrent? Isn't it free and Open Source?

Re:BT Content? (2)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753438)

Just in case you aren't being silly, BT (in this case) is short for British Telecom.

Re:BT Content? (1)

nullifi (1085947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753720)

Better than me, I read the summary two times substituting "bluetooth." I was very confused.

Re:BT Content? (3, Funny)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753904)

Yeah and I read this as Bi-Tier

Re:BT Content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753618)

Why would ISPs have to pay to use Bittorrent? Isn't it free and Open Source?

Besides the obvious troll, the Bittorrent client hasn't been open source for several years.

Re:BT Content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753776)

Why would ISPs have to pay to use Bittorrent? Isn't it free and Open Source?

Besides the obvious troll, the Bittorrent client hasn't been open source for several years.

Maybe not the official client, but there are plenty of other clients that are. Not only that, but the specifications for the protocol (which is more likely what was being referred to) is available and free to use and implement/re-implement to your heart's content completely free of charge.

Re:BT Content? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753778)

They dream to pop each packet and charge Apple, MS, Google ect per packet.
Until then they will just cash in on the end users addiction for a non buffering connection every month.
Bittorrent does provide a nice cover in a press release when all non enhanced content hits a hard shaped wall.

akamai (2)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753490)

Sounds like Akamai

Re:akamai (1, Informative)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753532)

Akami is saying 'we can deliver your stuff faster' but BT is saying 'pay us more for everything you dont want slowed down'.

Re:akamai (1)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753572)

There is some overlap here; BT've been in a long-running dispute over alleged prioritisation with the BBC over iPlayer, which is served by Akamai.

Re:akamai (3, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753960)

I think this is basically an Akamai-like caching server. And I can see where the controversy lies.

If BT implements this and doesn't intentionally throttle other services, I don't see this as a violation of neutrality - BT is not discriminating against anyone in using the Internet pipe, they are simply maintaining a cache service for those who want to cough up a little more dough for their web sites to be stored in a local cache. BP customers can still access anything they want on the Internet at Internet speeds, but certain things run at local speed which is faster.

However, I can see how this could be easily abused, if BT started speeding up the Internet packets (*) coming from their customers who paid for the caching service and slowing down everyone else's, or started blocking or throttling sites that refused to pay for it, or lowered their overall Internet connection to the point where only cached sites were useful.

I can also see how this could be interpreted as a "two tier" system, but such systems have been in use for quite some years in the US and have been very successful here. They do make some web pages faster than others, but I haven't seen many reports of ISPs intentionally throttling their regular Internet bandwidth to punish service providers who don't pay up. I've heard of ISPs who try to force high-bandwidth content providers to subscribe, and that's wrong, but that's a matter of abusing the technology, not a problem inherent to the technology.

Frankly, I don't understand why an ISP wouldn't want to simply start caching all static content. But, unfortunately, that means that most content they really want to cache is not going to be. Streaming video from someone like NetFlix is encrypted so the movie you watch is a different set of bits from the same exact movie your neighbor watches 5 minutes later. BitTorrent is not only comprised of a great deal of illegal content that the ISPs don't want in their cache servers, it's also frequently encrypted, and the BitTorrent protocol is going to tend to prefer "local" clients so it's already optimized to save backbone usage when possible anyway.

YouTube would be brilliant for this sort of thing, and YouTube actually uses Akamai if I recall correctly.

(*) By "Internet packets", I'm referring to caching customers who might only cache static content. This is how my company uses Akamai - we give Akamai a copy of all of our static content (ie. pictures of our product), they replicate it out to all of their edge servers around the world as needed, and we simply use an Akamai URL to access the image on the web site. Akamai automatically determines the closest server to the customer and serves them up the replacement image. All encrypted and dynamic content is directly between the customer and our web servers.

Re:akamai (2)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754428)

That is very short sighted.

It will DEFINATELY become abused because then either everyone needs to start paying, or the service will get so bad that it will become unusable. For example netflix which has PLENTY of outgoing bandwidth, and I which have nearly 10 times the bandwidth to receive a movie can't watch it because it gets bottlenecked by the connection between my ISP and netflix. My ISP won't upgrade their connection, and instead starts to suggest that netflix buy a caching server on their network to fix it for a (small?) fee. Netflix then either needs to raise their prices to everyone to pass on the additional cost, or directly charge those on my ISP the additional cost. Rinse repeat for every semi-bandwidth hungry website on the planet, and now the ISP is getting paid by everyone AND me. Try starting up a website then, when in order for your "customers" to actually get to your website and have a decent experience you now need to negotiate with every ISP on the planet to pay them an added "speed" fee, or have them host a caching server on their network.

Re:akamai (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755194)

I think you may have missed my point, or I made it poorly (which is likely). Let me try again.

The issue at hand is network neutrality.

A caching service like this can easily benefit both the ISP and the customer by reducing unnecessary bandwidth, as long as it isn't abused. The gist of the article is that "caching servers bad", and I disagree. I agree that caching servers can be abused, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

So in the network neutrality discussion, do we want to say that:

1. Caching should be off-limits forever and completely (as the article implies).

2. Caching should be available absolutely for free to all content providers who ask, at no charge and regardless of how much content the provider wants cached (forcing BT to basically cache the entire Internet if they choose to cache anything at all, and some things like NetFlix and encrypted data are un-cache-able without the content provider's cooperation and assistance).

3. Caching and charging for it is allowed but ISPs must maintain sufficient bandwidth to support non-cached activities as well, with the only difference in speed being the obvious speed boost you achieve by caching something locally.

I maintain that option #3 is the most logical choice. It maintains network neutrality while giving ISPs the opportunity to manage their network traffic.

Otherwise, BT's going to have to put in a shitload of backbone upgrades in order to accommodate every one of their customers doing streaming bandwidth 24/7 from anywhere on the planet. If they have to do that, your rates are going up.

I'm not saying they should be able to hold a high-bandwidth service hostage, but they might find it in their best interests to give that service a really good deal on caching services and prevent some of those upgrade costs they'll pass on to you.

A lot of ISP's have an Akamai presence. I'm frankly surprised that BT wants to even bother "rolling their own" when there are already third parties ready to do this for them. However, intelligent caching is good for everyone, and it does require a level of content provider cooperation (so the content provider can clearly identify what is cache-able and what is dynamic).

Re:akamai (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754834)

If BT implements this and doesn't intentionally throttle other services,

You can stop right there. If BT's pipes were not already massively oversold to the point of pure comedy, they would not be trying to move companies like YouTube to caching servers in the first place. Therefore, the current state of affairs is essentially that they are massively throttling everyone's services. In short, if they implement this, they'd be violating the principles of net neutrality from day one.

That's the problem. As soon as they implement this, assuming YouTube buys in (or is granted free access as a "special" customer), much of the public will stop screaming about the inadequate bandwidth, but it will still be a problem, which means that from then on, any service that wants to compete with YouTube will be forced to pay their protection fee or will not be able to serve content adequately to BT customers. In effect, it is just masking the problem so that customers don't scream without fixing the real problem---that BT's pipes are way too small.

Re:akamai (1)

philj (13777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755094)

As soon as they implement this, assuming YouTube buys in (or is granted free access as a "special" customer)

I really can't see BT giving away Petabytes of disk to Youtube, especially when it'd have to be in each exchange.

Having said that, I guess they'd just cache the most frequently accessed content (they'd have no choice, given storage constraints).

BT's infrastructure monopoly (2)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753550)

I don't have the exact statistics, so I may be wrong - feel free to downvote if you disprove this - but I've rarely seen anyone not on a BT line, until the '60s the company which was previously BT had a complete (government-instated) monopoly of telecom infrastructure, and it is known that BT still owns the majority of lines. A lot of TSPs won't give service over anything but BT lines, and I've seen a few ISPs do similarly. If this is being offered to all ISPs on BT's network, as the BBC article claims, then this is being offered to near enough every ISP in Britain.

Re:BT's infrastructure monopoly (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753680)

You're only thinking ADSL - and, yes, 90% of the ADSL out there is over BT-owned copper. There are some phone companies that do LLU so although it uses original BT copper, it's literally only using the *copper* and actually connected to non-BT equipment in the exchange, hence BT has no say over it. Bulldog used to do this but they are only available in limited areas, for obvious reasons (where they can make money by pulling enough people off BT equipment and taking the "risk" themselves).

However, over other methods BT aren't involved at all - Virgin Media fibre is totally independent of BT, for instance, and they offer just as good a business deal (even pay-TV, telephone and Internet over the same fibre cable). But again, only where they (or their predecessor cable companies) bothered to cable. In London you can get a non-BT line very easily, and most of the time it's just a matter of switching on the fibre that already runs to the end of your garden. Outside that, I don't know but while it's true that MOST places are BT, it's certainly not true that you can't reasonably get anything else, and I'm not entirely sure that rival ISP's, even if they use BT as backhaul, will be at all happy to be associated with this - Phorm was a PR disaster, this could easily turn out the same.

Re:BT's infrastructure monopoly (4, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753732)

I believe you're slightly misinformed. There are three broad "classes" of internet connection in Britain: Firstly, there's cable, provided by Virgin Media - phone, TV and net traffic all go over their fibre/copper, so BT's services don't apply there. I couldn't find a figure for how many subscribers they have, but they are a very large company so I'd imagine the number is not insignificant.

Secondly, there's BT Wholesale. This uses BT's infrastructure, linked to BT equipment at the local exchange, and resold to consumers via retail ISPs (including BT's own retail division). These retail ISPs are the ones covered by Content Connect. Five years ago this covered almost all users in Britain, and even now BT Wholesale products have many millions of users, but their reach is declining.

The final category is LLU, or 'Local Loop Unbundled' services. These are the ones that require a BT line (in order to connect you to the local exchange), but then hook that line into the ISPs own equipment when it gets there. Ofcom forced BT to accommodate the LLU equipment in their exchanges. This entirely bypasses BT Wholesale (so no Content Connect), meaning that the retail ISP takes home more of the profit, which is why it's becoming more popular with the big ISPs who can afford to install their own DSL hardware at a decent number of exchanges. Services from Sky, TalkTalk, Be, and others use LLU equipment where available but fall back to a BT Wholesale product for those users connected to exchanges where their equipment has not been installed.

Re:BT's infrastructure monopoly (1)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753820)

Ah, thanks. I didn't realize that cable had reached any significant level of popularity next to the latter two yet; it appears that I was wrong.

Re:BT's infrastructure monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754514)

fyi, virgin cable is not available in my area though i am still able to use them over my old phone line (the benefit,for the curious, of that being i didn't have to pay BT extortion connection/cancellation fees)

i guess i fall into the BT wholesale section then. in which case this covers me, despite being with virgin.

Re:BT's infrastructure monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753840)

BT's "lines" are owned by BT Openreach. ISPs on "BT's network" will have contract with BT Wholesale, which is a different entity.

For example I have a BT Openreach line, but my phone service and broadband is with two other companies that have nothing to do with BT. BT Openreach gets money for my physical line rental and that's all that I pay to BT as a group. They never get to see my packets, either, as my broadband provider has its own kit in the exchange to which the physical line is connected.

It's just a CDN. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753556)

To be fair and having RTFA, this doesn't seem to impact on Net Neutrality at all. This is a BT sponsored CDN (Content Delivery Network) that they are offering to their customers. This does not affect the traffic passing over the network, they are simply offering a network of local hosts to optimise content delivery. Like Akami and other such geographical CDN.

CDNs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753594)

So BT have worked out that CDNs are taking a slice of the pie and they want some of that action and so create their own?

Perhaps if the service offerings (broadband connections and networks) were scaled out so that they can cope with the 'exponential' (someone should explain exponential to the website designers) growth of video traffic then we wouldn't need CDNs?

Re:CDNs? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754026)

The problem is that the backbone necessary to do that costs serious money. A CDN is a more efficient use of the existing infrastructure, and costs a whole lot less than an extra few thousand miles of fiber.

What amazes me is that BT and other ISPs don't simply offer this for free, because it benefits them as much as it does their customers. I guess any revenue stream is a good revenue stream, but if they simply cached ALL static content and worked out deals with people like NetFlix to store encrypted copies of their movies for local serving rather than streaming every copy of every movie across the Internet backbone, it would make BT seem like the fastest ISP *EVER*, save them gobs and shitloads of money on backbone bandwidth, allow them to raise monthly caps and allotted speeds to very high levels without putting their network under significantly more strain, put off expensive backbone upgrades for years, and cost them very little

Bingo! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753622)

"[...] offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery"

BULLSHIT! - Wait we're not playing BS Bingo?

BT stands for British Communications PLC (5, Informative)

torrija (993870) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753658)

BT needs disambiguation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT [wikipedia.org]

Acronyms can be confusing, so please explain them before using the acronym.

Re:BT stands for British Communications PLC (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753792)

You must be new here, expecting the /. editors to, well, edit. :)

Re:BT stands for British Communications PLC (2)

Mazca (1851182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753796)

Yeah, I was worried that the Babylonian Talmud was conspiring against net neutrality again.

Re:BT stands for British Communications PLC (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753832)

Specifically, it could easily be confused with BitTorrent in this context.

Re:BT stands for British Communications PLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754116)

Why?

The name "British Telecom" appears on every article linked in the summary. The very first link is directly to British Telecom's home page, for goodness sake!

The summary then talks about spokescritters for BT, so it's obviously a business and not a protocol like BitTorrent.

It's in the context of Net Neutrality, so I think it's safe to say that AirBaltic and Bodensee–Toggenburg-Bahn aren't the businesses referred to, even if you're too lazy to float your cursor over the link and at least read the URL of the article.

I see your point for some more obscure acronyms, BT? Really? Has our collective reading comprehension dropped that far that a brief look at the context (articles linked from bt.com and the Guardian) can't quickly clarify "BT" as "British Telecom" and not a Norwegian newspaper or a Floridian rock band or a county in Kansas, USA?

Not quite getting it (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753714)

Going through the content connect website, it appears that instead of content traveling from content providers through the internet to an ISP, then to end users, instead, now it goes from a content connect content provider, who is hosting the content provider's content, held in cache, somehow physically closer to end users, and bypasses the ISP.

Obviously this cannot be true, but that is what the combination of words and moving images would present.

Most vexing is the concept that this is supposed to make high quality video use faster, but the bullet point list includes that consumers are willing to pay more for higher quality video than speed.

I do not understand what content connect is supposed to be doing, or why. I do understand that if an ISP chooses to use content connect for specific content and not for other content, and this affects speed somehow, that this would violate net neutrality. On the other hand, if all content is shuttled through content connect, in effect, that makes the ISP superfluous.

This is your run of the mill CDN (5, Interesting)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753828)

Similar to those deployed by Akamai and Limelight for their customers, and by Google and Microsoft for themselves.

A typical case of a Telco moving into an additional market.
Arguably, it does allow BT to offer multi-tier services. But it is not packet-level differentiation
in the network, which is the issue at the heart of the net-neutrality debate.

If Content Distribution Networks violate net neutrality and the /. crowd thinks so, then
we should be blasting Akamai and Google long time before we started blasting the Telcos.

Re:This is your run of the mill CDN (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753920)

I'd say it's a CDN with a significant conflict of interest. There's nothing to stop BT from throttling content from providers who don't pay to be included, for instance - in fact, there's a decent business incentive pushing them to do exactly that - it rapidly changes from an upgrade to 'protection money', a problem that did not exist with non-ISP CDNs.

Re:This is your run of the mill CDN (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754018)

No.

The issue here is preferential treatment of packets originating from CDNs on BT's preferred (paying) provider list. If Google or Akamai offered my broadband connection, and gave their own products preference over other people's competing products, they'd be shot down in seconds by anti-competition laws. The fact that they're paying BT for this service is the very definition of a breach of network neutrality: A packet being given preference over another because of its content, source, or destination.

Re:This is your run of the mill CDN (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754074)

Absolutely not. You don't need to differentiate packet based on content, source or destination to provide CDN services.

You just need to build a CDN, i.e., caches, mechanisms for content replication close to its destinations etc etc.

Akamai does not need Telcos to differentiate packets for its CDN to work. Similarly Telco CDNs do not imply that Telcos differentiate packets.

If I am still not understood, here is the wikipedia definition to make it easier for you.

"A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a system of computers containing copies of data, placed at various points in a network so as to maximize bandwidth for access to the data from clients throughout the network. A client accesses a copy of the data near to the client, as opposed to all clients accessing the same central server, so as to avoid bottlenecks near that server."

Re:This is your run of the mill CDN (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754518)

My point is that this "Content Connect" service is the equivalent of putting an Akamai cache at BT's central exchanges, so the content from Akamai is always faster than those served from outside the network. It's preferential treatment in exchange for payment.

Maybe Akamai is a bad example. Think of it more as Skype and $Foo VoIP service. Skype doesn't pay for Content Connect, $Foo does. When the network is saturated, $Foo packets will be given priority over Skype packets, making Skype's service less valuable. This is how Content Connect is a breach of Network Neutrality.

Yuo faifl it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753850)

the developer 5Sux0r status, *BSD

For the network ignorant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753852)

Please excuse what is probably a fairly ignorant question, I'm not too clued in about networking.

A quick look about the BT website in the summary brings up a page supposedly explaining how it works: what they seem to be saying is that they take "Connect Content" and put it on its own server which is physically closer to wherever you are. Then, instead of having to connect to a server, say, 3,000 miles away via choc-a-bloc networks for that video, you're connecting to one maybe one or two hundred miles away with fewer users, saving you a lot of routing and time in exchange for a fee.

My question is, how exactly is that related to net neutrality? I generally thought NN was more about the possibility of an ISP throttling or even completely blocking data from someone they don't like if you don't pay up. To me this seems to be more like the "premium download server" different hosting websites seem to have where if you pay more you can jump the queue to faster hardware with fewer users. What are the differences in principle between this and paying a fee for your own home server and hosting the video there instead of streaming it from [media website here] every time? Or has the BT PR department tactfully left something out of their explanation?

Re:For the network ignorant (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754012)

As I've mentioned in a couple of other posts, the problem is this: there's nothing to stop BT from throttling all traffic except that on the 'premium' cache servers.

liar or a moron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753864)

Net neutrality - The principle that data packets on the Internet should be moved impartially, without regard to content, destination or source.

BT supports the concept of net neutrality but believes that service providers should also be free to strike commercial deals should content owners want a higher quality or assured service delivery.

So I guess the real question is.. is she a liar or a moron?

Australia already have a kind of tiered internet.. (1)

the_mind_ (157933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753938)

A lot of the mobile phone subscription deals and some of the 3G internet-only subscriptions have severe limits but 'unlimited' access to sites like facebook and youtube.
You can also buy additional access to a selection of usual social-media sites for most subscriptions. Look here [three.com.au] for some pricing examples.

With our restrictive data limits even on fixed ADSL lines i would not be surprised if we get so see some "unlimited access to facebook" deals in the near future.

Its already bad and it is only going to get worse.

Re:Australia already have a kind of tiered interne (2)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754048)

The situation is the same here in the UK too; extortionate data charges and use policies, but all you can eat data for YouTube and Facebook.

I find the YouTube deal particularly annoying, simply because whenever I went over my data limits, it was normally for email and browsing, and certainly not streamed video. So based on the effect that streamed video is going to put a much bigger strain on a mobile network than web and email, I can only assume that backroom deals have been done, and hence a multi-tiered internet is beginning to appear.

We've *never* had net neutrality (1, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753962)

Pay X per month, get 1MBit/second. pay X+Y and get a faster connection.

The ISPs have always had a market where more money == faster service, we are also used to the idea of paywalls where some stuff is free and other stuff needs money to get access to. So where, exactly, does this idea that everyone should get access to everything for the same price come from? Would it still be "net neutral" if Facebook suddenly started charging $10 / year for "membership"? Is that really any different from your ISP saying "If you want to get access to service X, it'll cost you more money"? The only difference seems to me to be who does the charging - one organisation and that's business (or monetising), a different organisation and people bleat on about net neutrality.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754042)

You're paying the ISP for the transfer of bits. Those bits are identical (aside from certain peering and QoS issues) whether they are from Facebook, YouTube or Slashdot - if ISPs start charging for identical bits based purely on their origin, it allows them to extort money from all content providers by simply threatening to slow down or block their traffic if they don't pay up.

If you started paying Facebook a fee, that would be for the services provided by Facebook, not for the data transferred from their server to your computer. It's an apples to oranges comparison.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (0)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754224)

You might as well argue that it's "wrong" for airlines to charge different fares for the same flight on different days (or even on the exact same plane, depending when you book it), or for any other company to alter its prices depending on the demand it sees. In the long run the point is moot. If you think your ISP is screwing you, just change to another. There are dozen / hundreds to choose from - the free market will kill off any that aren't competitive.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754310)

Time based or demand based charging isn't the issue here. If they want to charge more at peak time than the middle of the night I'll hear them out.

The issue is artificially delaying an identical 1MB of data, at the same time of day, over the same network (insert any more 'identical' caveats you feel necessary) purely because one content provider paid their protection money and the other didn't.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754510)

Unfortunately, in many places there aren't that many alternatives. Here we could choose dial-up, satellite, very slow DSL, spotty 3G, or cable. Cable is available only from a single company (there used to be two) and vastly surpasses the bandwidth of the others. Even a severely throttled cable connection beats the alternatives, which is close enough to being a monopoly from the customer's point of view.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755702)

Dozens to choose from? In my city, there is one cable company (Time Warner), and a few unreliable DSL providers to choose from, with peak transfer rates below one megabyte/second. And trying to play even casual realtime online games with satellite is an exercise in frustration. Who, exactly, should I switch to?

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (1)

TSRX (1129939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754556)

You don't see a difference between Facebook charging a fee to make money for themselves, and ISPs charging a fee for Facebook access to make money for themselves at the expense of both users and Facebook? Are you sure?

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754830)

So where, exactly, does this idea that everyone should get access to everything for the same price come from?

Two places: freedom of speech and open market. Ideas shouldn't be allowed to be suppressed behind paywalls unless the author him/herself wants money from the idea. Also, online businesses shouldn't be allowed to be throttled by what are essentially monopolies. Paying for a generally faster connection is paying for convenience on the consumer's end. Paying based on content is paying for said content; ISPs have no right to charge money for that content.

Is that really any different from your ISP saying "If you want to get access to service X, it'll cost you more money"? The only difference seems to me to be who does the charging - one organisation and that's business (or monetising), a different organisation and people bleat on about net neutrality.

It is completely different. Imagine you own a bar. You want to charge people $5 to enter. Thus, the consumers see a $5 charge and you can pay upkeep on your bar.

Now imagine I own the road in front of your bar and I also want to charge people $5 to access your bar. If you want to maintain your bar, you will still charge $5 entrance and the consumer sees a $10 charge.

To compound matters, imagine there is a competing bar next door to you. If I like that bar better than yours, I don't need to charge $5 to the customers there. Thus, your bar is at an unfair disadvantage to the bar next door.

Hopefully that analogy is more illuminating than it is confusing.

Re:We've *never* had net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34755192)

So when the USPS charges postage for delivery of a magazine or newspaper they are restricting free speech? Furthermore, should the USPS (or UPS, DHL, FedEx, etc) be restricted from offering different levels of service for different prices? Should two retailers selling identical products for the same price be unable to differentiate themselves by paying the shipping company more to get their package delivered quicker? As long as both retailers are offered the same opportunity there is nothing unfair about it, even if one accepts and one declines the opportunity. Why should the internet be any different?

No competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34755442)

Is that really any different from your ISP saying "If you want to get access to service X, it'll cost you more money"?

Yes. You can switch social networks if Facebook starts being unreasonable, but you don't have much choice in ISPs.

Critical Information Missing From Summary (0)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754260)

What is "BT"? "Bit Torrent"?

Re:Critical Information Missing From Summary (0)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754912)

I am guessing it is British Telecom from the context, but who knows?

The web address linked in the summary doesnt lead to a webpage, no text, no links, nothing but a request that I load some huge SWF monstrosity. No thanks.

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