broadband End User internet net neutrality

My Bandwidth is Precious (GET OFF IT!) — or — Autoplay Angst

Bandwidth usage of streaming video from in page ads uses up data bundle for those people with low data caps on their service – such as satellite based broadband

Oh joy. I keep falling over sites that autoplay videos, and some — I’m looking at you, Facebook — do not appear to have a simple option to switch off this, er..uh, ‘option’. Ignoring some of the real basics are the spurious claims that our bandwidth is being protected with such tricks as  video ceasing to play when the screen is scrolled down, or “it only works when you are connected to wifi”.

First, the video by playing has already consumed some of my precious bandwidth. You can’t just mine these bits at home, you know; data bits are a commodity that have to be bought and paid for. I will press the Play button if I want a video to play, otherwise autoplay is actually forcing me to (a) view something I probably don’t want to view, and (b) causing me to pay for the privilege of viewing that something I don’t want to view, which is on the whole, utter dross. And it is usually advertising dross at that, funded by “someone” to reach an unwilling and hence unresponsive audience. You, oh advertiser, may have money to chuck down the proverbial drain, but many of us out here who are paying to receive your video message do not!

Click Here, Lindsey

Second, what on earth has a wifi connection got to do with it all? Apart from moving the video dross onto a marginally cheaper option than mobile (i.e., by using my fibre, cable or landline-based broadband tariff instead), someone still needs to pay for the bits received. And for those on satellite dishes it makes no difference how video is configured to play, the consumer is going to be extremely cross to find their monthly data allowance munched through regardless of the pain this can cause to the unwillingly disconnected.

Cloud End User media video

BBC iPlayer growth – tablets shifting our viewing habits

Richard Cooper runs the BBC’s online platforms. He was guest speaker at the ISPA Conference last week and his subject was naturally iPlayer which with 245 million requests in September has enjoyed 23% year on year growth.

bbc_iplayer_request_growthI took pics of some of his slides – this first one shows the increase in requests. The step function in January is interesting. The BBC have labelled last Christmas as the year of the tablet. The growth in traffic is largely down to the increase in people getting tablets as Christmas presents. Apparently you could almost plot the rate of opening of presents based on the growth in the traffic on the day.

bbc_iplayer_trafficnov13The second pic shows the exponential month by month growth in iPlayer streaming traffic expressed in TeraBytes. Impressivo. Apparently, according to Richard Cooper, the perceived wisdom is that this rate of traffic growth is set to continue until 2025, based I think on the continued development of Video quality and usage until the point comes where the human eye can benefit no more.

bbc_iplayer_timeofdayFinally we have a chart that shows how TV viewing habits are changing now that people are watching programmes on more than just the TV. Internet usage peaks at approx 5pm – this includes all web browsing. TV watching peaks just after 9pm and iPlayer requests peak around an hour later. People are taking their tablets upstairs and watching in bed.

A few observations spring to mind. People are starting to do everything online. Music listening is moving to streaming, movies are moving to catch up TV and video on demand and why would you bother with physical copies of games? The time is rapidly approaching where people won’t bother with hard copies of anything (me excepted – I’ll be a book buyer until I pop my clogs – I am of a certain generation and won’t buy an eBook). On this basis there’ll be hardly anything left for people to open on Christmas Day – it’ll all just be brown envelopes with gift vouchers & subscription codes for downloads. The frenzied throwing of paper around the front room will become a thing of the past. Sad really.

The other snippet is that apparently with 4k video you need to be sat 8 feet away from a 10 foot diagonal screen to get the benefit. Screen tech is getting better than our own eye tech. Not sure I completely understand this one but it’s all to do with pixel counts of screens versus what your eye can interpret. Maybe someone can elaborate. Just maybe (I think that’s an advert for something – not sure what).

Whatever happens it’s going to be some time before traditional broadcast TV is replaced by streaming video – there just isn’t enough bandwidth available. Bring it on.

PS pics aren’t perfect soz – better than nothing as you can see the data.

Engineer internet

iOS7 release causes internet traffic to double

traffic growth on lonap network due to ios7 upgradeiOS7 caused a stir in more than one way last week. Twitter abounded with all sorts of comments regarding how slow the Apple servers were responding to download requests from excited fanbois eager to checkout the latest slightly iterative functionality of their new iOS. When the dust settled it seemed that the majority of people had been sorted.

Taking a look at the effect of iOS7 on networks comes up with some interesting results. The graph in the header pic above shows the traffic over the Lonap core before, during and after the flurry wave (ocean?) of downloading. Steady state is around 30Gbps or maybe slightly more. Once iOS started to hit the fan this doubled to around 60Gbps.

It’s good that networks such as Lonap can take the capacity hit.

The growth in traffic comes as no surprise when you consider the size of the download. This seems to have ranged from around 700MB to nearly a Gig depending on the device with 3GB of space needed on your phone for the install. I guess you wouldn’t want to be eating into your mobile data bundle with that.

4g Engineer mobile connectivity

4G Spectrum snippets – why LTE spectrum is important

Spectrum is the key resource in the mobile network game. It is what the operators paid billions of pounds (arguably too much too soon) each for during the 3G auctions. Users for the services weren’t there and nor were the handsets that would encourage bandwidth consumption.

It is a different game today. Don’t be surprised to see even greater sums of money paid for 4G spectrum. It would be commercial suicide for a mobile operator to not have any.

Spectrum when allocated is then divided into 20MHz bandwidth slots. 20MHz of spectrum allows for an 80Mbps data throughput using LTE. If you double this to a 40MHz slot you double the throughput. The higher the spectrum frequency you have therefore the more capacity your network can handle.

The downside is that the higher the spectrum frequency the lower the range and the harder it is to penetrate objects such as buildings. The lower frequencies are preferred for rural deployments – Vodafone in Germany used 800MHz for this. There isn’t a “right mix” of spectrum to own however. Vodafone operates in 30 markets and each market has different spectrum requirements.

That’s all folks…

broadband End User

What Would You Do with Unlimited Broadband Speed and Bandwidth?

I sat in on a BT call recently where the experience of people on the FTTP trials was discussed. Individual users begin to see the bandwidth  constraints of far end networks and servers. In other words their own connection might be like a cow pat off the proverbial shovel but they were still having to wait for a response from a website they were looking at or downloading from.

It would be quite interesting to hear what people might do with the internet if they had unlimited broadband, no bandwidth constraints anywhere.

As a starter I asked around the office and was inundated with good inputs – though there is a theme if you read through the  bullet points below. Thanks to all who provided feedback – I don’t think I need to comment further myself at this point other than to say that whatever you can imagine yourself doing with your connection I could easily envisage multiplying it by orders of magnitude. ie if you think you could regularly use itto download 10TB data then 100TB is around the corner.

  • The only real use of unlimited bandwidth for consumers would be for Media functions. The current demand for TV and movies “on demand” both streaming and purchased and stored on a hard drive (both legal and Illegal) and as we are in a I want this now culture waiting 1-2 hours for a download isn’t good enough which is why Streaming from places like Lovefilm and Netflix is taking off .
  • Linking ourselves via wireless into our own neural network to gain information/communication anywhere any time via an implant – I’d have one! I wouldn’t want anyone to upload from me though:)
  • I think the point is “what would you do if you had unlimited internet access and it was legal to download whatever you want”.The reason I say this is that in an ideal world I’d leave it downloading films, music etc all the time, but of course these come at a cost.  This means that in reality I won’t bother doing this as I can’t afford the actual content that is available.  Therefore the argument that it isn’t required sounds quite just.
    However, if the content were free as well (or a volume was provided by your ISP) then this becomes much more appealing.
  • I can’t imagine I’d change my usage.
  • As more and more devices require updates and internet connection – anyone with a “capped” or limited internet connection can be soon either stuck with an out of date firmware or unable to update as they have reached their limit. Or they get half way through watching “All creature great and small” on the iplayer and they hit their limits.One thing that bothers me is the online films – I would love to use this service, but my speed is to slow at peak times and also I would watch one/two films, hit my limit and not have any internet access at all or if I do I am paying through the nose for it.Cars use the internet  (mainly Mercedes at the moment – 3G, but they can connect to you home LAN via wireless if the 3G is not in your area).   Nearly all new  TV’s have an Ethernet connection – some fridges do – kids toys do.The list goes on.If your car is uploading its data, your kids on the PC, your wife is online shopping, your fridge is ordering your shopping – that is peaking your bandwidth how do I get my work email? Like anything in life if it exists should we not be able to have it – or as humans are we being more greedy with our self-obsession.
  • The main benefits for me would be enabling a complete migration to the cloud for all local file access. For example, if speed wasn’t prohibitive for me accessing and editing files in programs such as photoshop, I would.Dropbox for example one become much more useful. Productivity and redundancy – 2 birds with one stone.Then you have the benefits to full digital delivery of entertainment.TV on demand taking off, gaming on demand… Goodbye Blockbuster. I know it happens today, but we are still scratching the surface of what is achievable.
  • Never had an enquiry or request for unlimited bandwidth. My customers just want unlimited usage!
  • For the vast majority of home users I can’t really see the need for over 100Mb which would be sufficient to stream HD quality video. If a 1Gbps home connection was available and affordable I suspect the few people that would actually require this speed would use it to host their own servers instead of using colo / hosted services.It would be inevitable that a large number of these servers would be hosting copyrighted material. Such a fast connection would make remote storage and cloud computing services available to a larger number of people however not everyone would want to use such services given the security implications.Obviously the previous statements would only be relevant if the 1gbps was symmetrical.Given that I myself live in the countryside and struggle to get 1Mb I would much rather money was spent to upgrade the network in the more rural areas to bring them in line with the rest of the country.Such an upgrade would cost hundreds of millions even billions and given the current economic situation I can’t see it ever happening nor would the majority of tax payers want to foot the bill.As a side note a 1Gbps connection is available or will be very soon to some of the Japanese population so I’m sure some usage details will be available at some point.
  • If it was truly unlimited in speed, I would move everything from my 6 Terabytes of storage (entire 250 DVD/Bluray collection in digital form as well as thousands of CDs backed up in digital form and entire photo collection) to the cloud as it would reduce my power consumption and (more importantly) make them available everywhere I went.  As it is, even with our 50MB Virgin Media service it would take too long to upload all of this as well as keeping it up to date.  It would help with other services like BT vision, sky on-demand, etc. It’s not like you need 1Gb to check your facebook 🙂
  • Community area i.e. our Village Hall – Setup Broadband connection for communal use. TV, Games, laptops, i-phones (simultaneously)
  • Stream HD TV, currently a no go for us, and imagine if everyone in the village did it
  • Being a keen users of services like Dropbox, snapfish, spotify and sky-go I would say that if bandwidth were no object we would subscribe to an increasing amount of residential ‘cloud based services’ and make more use of the available software, storage and processing capability that these sorts of solutions provide.Last night for example we uploaded, shared, modified and purchased for print over 300 photos on Snapfish, however the given that I was also working on it created a bottle neck and we had to leave the upload for over an hour to finish off, this would have also put pay to anything else we were doing on the net. If unlimited bandwidth were available I think there would be a vast update in online storage solutions and cloud based services. Equally we frequently pop to Blockbusters or download films from Sky box office however if a reliable, constant and high speed internet connection were available we would simply stream media from whichever provider was making it available.It is not however the only issue that needs to be fixed. We are now finding that with three or four iPod touches, three iPhones, a couple of PSP’s a PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, wireless streaming media throughout the house with Airport express not to mention a couple of work laptops, an iPad and home PC we are now finding that before we can trouble the internet connection we are struggling with our internal network, both wireless and wired as the demands on our pair of not too shabby £120 routers !
  • I cant see the use for 1Gb broadband at this very minute but it can be likely within a year or so.One of the things it would definitely change is the way we watch TV especially since Sky have launched their Sky Go which allows Sky customers to watch Sky content via the Sky Broadband service. Virgin Media have a similar offering but the best thing Virgin is that they are now offering the TIVO box which allows you to record upto 3 programmes while watching another. This clearly will use a lot of data. In our household we are constantly fighting over the remote to watch our programmes and as a result I and my wife have started recording programmes on Sky+ to watch at a later time. My son tends to watch Cars the film over and over again.My TV set is not HD but the one I want is very very expensive so Im having to wait a few months before I can even think of purchasing it. The reason is that the technology allows the TV to connect to the Internet for Rich Content and I believe this is where we will need to have at least 50Mb of broadband connectivity. If we say there are 3 people watching or streaming programmes in HD content, that will using a fair amount of bandwidth. Also I believe we may get into a state like the far-east where we will be bombarded with content based advertising!!Also I have heard of a UK manufacturer whom has launched a games console which is cloud based and I believe our desktops/laptops will go the same way like Google Desktop. I wont be surprised if Nintendo/Sony or Xbox start going down this route. Also with appliances which will be internet based like Fridges automatically ordering your groceries before they expire. I believe we will be looking at a home controlled by the internet, but that said 1Gb does seem to be too much and not really required in my eyes. Most of the above is not essential for life but clearly will make things easy for us but only for those who can afford it.
broadband End User

Breakfast, Broadband Speeds and Bandwidth

I got home last night, reopened my laptop, had food (enchiladas) and started working again. 4 hours later at 11.30 after significant online usage I went to bed.

This morning I had a very refreshing cup of tea in bed, opened my laptop again and kept on going. At breakfast I had all bran and a banana which I ate whilst tweeting and then I cracked on again with some work.

A little later, having sussed the problem I had been working on, I downloaded some Open Source software (phplist if anyone is interested) and began to upload it to a test site.

broadband End User internet mobile connectivity

A Teenager’s Homepage

Before we set off on our camping holiday (destination unknown) I sat down at my daughter’s pc to print out some campsite options in Yorkshire.

I was somewhat bemused to find that her homepage was set to BBC iplayer.

Look out ISPs everywhere. Your bandwidth forecasts are inadequate.

My trusty E71 got me to the first campsite on the list and that is where we stayed. I also used it to write this post.

broadband End User internet mobile connectivity

A Teenager’s Homepage

Before we set off on our camping holiday (destination unknown) I sat down at my daughter’s pc to print out some campsite options in Yorkshire.

I was somewhat bemused to find that her homepage was set to BBC iplayer.

Look out ISPs everywhere. Your bandwidth forecasts are inadequate.

My trusty E71 got me to the first campsite on the list and that is where we stayed. I also used it to write this post.

broadband Business

Internet Bandwidth Usage Doubles Every 18 Months

According to AT&T  their ADSL network bandwidth consumption is doubling every 18 months.


This type of statistic makes life interesting for UK ISPs who currently have to order bandwidth in large increments. This means that effectively they have to order a pipe for only a few users once capacity is reached on their existing infrastructure. What’s more they have to do this three months in advance of when they think the capacity will be required which makes it very difficult to respond quickly when usage trends increment with step functions as new drivers such as BBC iplayer enter the scene.


A consumer ISP will squeeze this capacity to the limit because of the incremental costs involved. Business oriented ISPs have to take the hit because the services they offer have to be of a better quality.


The advent of BT’s 21CN network later this year will make life a little easier though not necessarily any cheaper for the ISP community. ISPs will connect to the 21CN via an Ethernet based HostLink – typically either 1Gb or 10Gb. The up front connection charges for Ethernet products are much lower than for the legacy ATM circuits currently used to link DSL tails to an ISPs network.


The ISP will then pay for bandwidth used on this link rather than having to pay for the cost of the whole pipe. They will be able to order incremental bandwidth capacity with only two weeks notice.


21CN will bring additional benefits in that high speed Ethernet circuits should (eventually) be available almost on a country wide basis with far more cost effective pricing than is currently available.


Incidentally the top five per cent AT&Ts DSL customers consume 46 per cent of its traffic, and the top 1 per cent accounts for 21 per cent all bandwidth. It is easy to see that the industry is going to have to move to an usage based charging model as being the only fair way of doing business.