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Monday, October 27, 2008

A classic example of ISP lying

The Register confirms that Virgin advertises "maximum burst" uploads at 256Kb/s but can only manage 200Kb/s for many customers - does it tell them? Does it hell!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scare stories on Euro-NN

It seems both Copenhagen Economics and the Centre for European Policy Studies have new papers - the former commissioned by the incumbents has a headline-grabbing enormous figure for what 'it' (presumably heavyweight NN) would cost Europe.

Hidden in the Guardian piece, Ofcom is actually quite sensibly adopting what I call 'net neutrality lite' (and thanks to Martin Cave for popularising the term):
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said today: "We don't think we should bring it over from the US lock, stock and barrel. We have quite often got more competitors in Europe than in the US. The key for us is transparency. Consumers must know whether there are different arrangements for different ISPs and network providers must have the freedom to make commercial decisions about how to run their networks and invest in new-generation networks."

Well, quite. ISPs stop lying, consumers stop abusing, and we will all be happier.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Re: How will government regulate...?

With Lord Stephen Carter of Convergence, formerly noted control freak boss of Ofcom.

But never fear:
"I wouldn't worry too much.The current bunch of losers couldnt regulate a tap let alone the web. It would probably involve some outside supplier charging the government squillions to do it and then leave all the work they had done on a 1gb memory stick. Oh dear we sem to have lost all the information but we did do it honestly so can we have the rest of our squillions please." From offensive free speech libertarian comment on Guido Fawkes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tendency to corrupt and deprave?

PanGloss directs to an excellent Wendy Grossman piece on fiction porn postings and whether they might lead to the resurrection of the Obscene Publications Act for an adult fantasy blogger. Is this the harbinger of increased attention by the police to adult fantasy material?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Streaming video on the Internet

The great Mr Enck blogs on a recent conference:
"There followed two very interesting presentations, by Anthony Rose and Andy Quested from the BBC. Anthony Rose seemed to express fatigue with the iPlayer bandwidth debate, and stated his hope that the industry could now move on to consider issues around ISP incentivization and monetization. The iPlayer team has resisted the temptation to play out HD content so far, due to concerns that the experience would be unsatisfactory for many consumers, due to contention rates on DSL connections. (Unless I misunderstood his remarks during the Q&A panel later, I believe he said we should see some HD content on the iPlayer "this side of Christmas," probably encoded at around 4Mbps.) The iPlayer server farm, which apparently consists of 60 dual/quad core machines, transcodes content into "six or seven" codec/bitrate flavors, with the average in the 500 - 800kbps range (the latter being for H.264). The BBC is starting a trial of 1.5Mbps H.264 on the iPlayer to Virgin Media's 10,000 50Mbps trial customers in Ashford, Kent. The minimum threshold bitrate for true HD is >3Mbps, which would be challenging for a lot of broadband connections and would risk high buffering levels. So there is a necessity to make sure the experience is not out of line with what HD TV viewers have come to expect. An essential ingredient in ensuring this would be an end-to-end dynamic adaptive bitrate system, but this is not a trivial exercise from a technology standpoint.He made a case for the BBC's role in assembling the puzzle pieces for "others" (presumably ISPs) to build a business model around the iPlayer. He expressed an interest in working with ISPs to develop tiered service offerings to more closely align costs with revenues, as well as to cooperate on technology-based strategies to alleviate pressure on networks. Among these is a trial of Velocix network caching in three London suburbs (presumably this is with Virgin Media, but this was unclear)."

"Next came Kevin Baughan from Virgin Media, who highlighted that the Virgin TV iPlayer contributes 1/3 of all iPlayer sessions, at 11m sessions per month. There was other discussion about the "analogue dividend" and the eventual convergence of video and broadband bandwidth under DOCSIS 3.0, but the topic which really intrigued me was the question of storage vs. transmission. Virgin is experimenting with both edge/network caching, and in the Ashford 50Mbps trial area, has provisioned a 10Gbps link directly to Level(3), in an attempt to answer the question of whether storage trumps transmission, or the reverse. He conceded a fair number of unknowns around edge caching, such as predictability of demand and economics. I will be curious to learn what they determine in the process, but one intriguing idea he floated was that perhaps ISPs should be building their own internal CDN capabilities, striking deals with other CDNs and content players to mirror the most popular content."

How this meshes with the costs suggested by Dave Clark at TPRC will be very interesting, as will Project Kangaroo plans.

How will government regulate Youtube? They intend to try

As they launch the supernanny committee:
Ministers are planning to introduce tough new rules to make websites carry age certificates and warning signs on films featuring sex, violence or strong language.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said that tougher content guidance would help parents monitor their children's internet use.
The move is in response to growing fears about the internet's 'dark side'. An influential group of MPs recently warned that many social networking and video-sharing websites contain material unsuitable for children.
Mr Burnham said he wanted online content to meet the same standards required for television and the cinema. At the moment, there is no overall regulation of the internet.
The Culture Secretary said video clips may soon have to carry ratings such as the 'U', 'PG', '12' and '18' ones used by cinemas.
Mr Burnham pointed to the example of the BBC iplayer which carries content warnings on programmes screened after the 9pm watershed and allows parents to turn on a 'parental guidance lock' to stop youngsters accessing inappropriate material.
He said: 'With the 9pm watershed, parents had complete clarity about the content. But with the internet, parents are ensure about what is appropriate and what isn't.
'We have to start talking more seriously about standards and regulation on the internet.
'I don't think it is impossible that before you download something there is a symbol or wording which tells you what's in that content. If you have a clip that is downloaded a million times then that is akin to broadcasting.'It doesn't seem over-burdensome for these to be regulated.'
His comments were backed by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who said she had been 'shocked' at some of the material viewed by her sons.

Excellent cybersecurity talk

Dr Ian Brown of this parish - hope he comes up with more at the Wharton IS conference in January

Charlie Dunstone's "gotcha" moment 2006

Here's the moment that the TalkTalk owner admitted to getting death threats for traffic shaping - at Ofcom's annual conference when their outgoing Director tried to avoid the issue. Its at about 13 minutes - yours truly pressing the question from 9 minutes in...