Apps Business internet media

Bandwidth bandit CCTV

One of the applications rolled out as standard when people are trying to promote the use of faster broadband is Closed Circuit TV. I’ve always treated this with some contempt as a poor contribution by some unimaginative marketeer somewhere desperate to think of reasons why someone should upgrade their connection.

In the interests of pursuing the theme of bandwidth bandits I was however prompted to look into CCTV as a subject. I am amazed the progress in this space. 

Timico uses a product called X-Protect.  Cameras plug directly into the LAN and are powered by Power over Ethernet.  The product supports a number of codecs including H264 and MPEG-4 and you can select the quality of your stream based on how much bandwidth you have.

As an ISP with a high bandwidth Gigabit fibre based WAN Timico has plenty of bandwidth and our cameras stream at an aggregated 10Mbps to the recording server.  Timico IT staff can view these streams from anywhere in the network, including from home and including on the move with their PDAs.  The bandwidth used for viewing from outside the network does not of course have to be the same as on the LAN/WAN.

What this does show though is an application that is promoting high bandwidth usage.  Manufacturer Milestone Systems states a recording capacity of 960GB per day per server.  A quick back of a beer mat calculation suggests this would need a total of around 90Mbps streaming to support this capacity.

The only way is up for bandwidth usage.

Engineer internet media

Video streaming is going to be a mix of technical and commercial problems

Interesting talk  at Linx66 by Giles Heron, Principal Network Architect for 21CN at BT. I’m not going into it all but towards the end he discussed video streaming on the network and ways that this might be made more efficient.

Whilst ISPs and network operators take on the challenge of managing the growth in video streaming I think there is just as big an issue coming along in respect of the commercial and regulatory aspects.

The time is not far off, I believe, where people will stop buying purpose built boxes and rely purely on their internet connection for their TV watching. My kids already do it. The advent of FTTC is going to accelerate this. If you watch TV over the internet the rule is in the UK that you are supposed to have a TV license. This is not currently policed as far as I can see and it is difficult to do so. Last night someone in the family was playing a game on our TV so I watched Usain Bolt do his stuff on my laptop.

It will not be long before the BBC will start seeing its license revenue take start to decline (maybe it already is) which is going to prompt a very high profile crisis. We are going to start getting the same debate re TV watching as we have been having with music piracy – who is going to police it?

The alternative is that the BBC will have to move to a pay as you go model for iPlayer watching.

Well done to Usain by the way if you are reading this. Very good 🙂

End User internet media piracy

94 percent say they would choose a legal music site over a pirate one

Bit of a long post title but this is the feedback from research conducted in June on consumer behaviour and preferences in respect of music downloading.  The research was commissioned by music site We7 and conducted on 2012 consumers aged 16 to 60 over 7 days in June 2009.

Its key findings make very interesting reading:

  • 46% of UK music fans do not understand how to legally consume music online
  • 64% do not know how to stream and share music legally
  • 85% of consumers are happy to listen to a short ad in exchange for unlimited access to free music that they can share with others
  • 94% say they would choose a legal music site over a pirate one if it had the same range of music and was easy to use
  • Women and those over 55 are least likely to stream – 85% say they don’t know how and are unlikely to try
    64% of 16-24 year olds share music with friends online and 71% know what streaming is but only 48% have ever tried it
  • Londoners and Bristolians are the biggest sharers of music online but only 39% and 46% respectively have ever streamed music. 
  • The majority of music buyers (78%) would buy the same or more music if they could listen to streamed music too, showing that the We7 model compliments the industry rather than cannibalises it

All this reinforces the ISP industry’s position that what we need is more legal ways for consumers to easily access music online.  7  million consumers can’t be criminals.  We7 is doing a great job pioneering this so thanks goes to Steve Purdham, and his team. 

Tonight I’m going to go home and listen to some free and legal music streaming online. Frank Sinatra methinks.

Business internet media

We7 cracks free online music streaming business model

I have been getting more and more hits on an old post about We7 where I was giving away promo codes for free music downloads.

In a dialogue on this subject with We7 CTO Gareth Reakes I was extremely impressed to find that they seem to be on the way to cracking the business model for giving away “free” music online.

The whole music streaming business model has been a debating point with the content industry for the last 12 months or so as ISPs and the Music Industry struggled to find a viable, mutually beneficial approach.

Several big name sites have got into difficulty over the model. YouTube have allegedly lost hundreds of millions of dollars (apparently 89% of YouTube traffic is(was) music) and allegedly in debt to the record labels for tens of millions.

It is easy to attract visitors to your website if you are giving something away free but not so easy to make money.

What We7 has done is to fine tune the model so that the revenues balance out the costs.

Reakes said “We are trying to grow at while increasing ad revenues as we go and ensuring the model can work. What it comes down to is the number of ad impressions you get per stream you serve (this includes ads as they surf around the site looking for new content). With us that ration is between 3 and 4.

What this means is that you can get to a reasonable CPM rate (cost per thousand impressions – its how ads are priced) which is as low as £2.50. This really is an achievable rate. That’s not even factoring in the recent MCPS/PRS reduction in rate from 0.22p to 0.085p which reduces our costs per stream by over 10%.”

The key here is that We7 can get as many as 4 ads in your face/ear whilst you are listening to a track. This adds up to the equivalent of a CMP rate of £10 whilst the advertiser is on average only charged £2.50. Compare this with up to £60 at the FT and £25 at the Register. Not the same target audience I know but it does give you a feel for the attractiveness of the rates.

The reduction in the MCPS rate has also been a big help although this together with payments to the record labels still amounts to around 1 pence per stream.

We7 has been growing at a very attractive rate.  Reakes again:

“We will reach a couple of good milestones soon (we are nearly at million monthly unique visitors). I suppose one of the most interesting things from my point of view is that we are starting to get great reach with our widgets. We now have partnerships with The Guardian and NME where they show the widgets. They are also picked up in many many other places. The whole distribution of music and being able to listen to it anywhere is very interesting. We have had .75 million unique visitors to the widget on all its sites in the last 30 days! (that excludes anything on our site).”

This is a great story and the team at We7 is to be congratulated on their progress. I didn’t ask them whether they have reached profitability yet but this suggests that it can only be a matter of time.

I have had quite a few unanswered requests for We7 promo codes recently. Hold on tight guys and I’ll send some more out this week. Also We7 have said that if I want more to just ask so keep the requests coming. This batch is for ad free music.

Business media

Rural broadband on the BBC news this morning

The BBC has picked up a rural broadband news item this morning with another community rolling out fibre, this time with a 20Mbps broadband service, presumably with a bigger backhaul than the 2Mbps that serves Wennington and Wray (see posts from 2 weeks ago).

I suspect the media is building up for more coverage when the Digital Britain Report is released in mid June.  There seems to be some disagreement in Cumbria as to the efficacy of the investment already made in the area. Whether individual communities already get coverage or not is somewhat a moot point really.

I think the issue that is quickly going to overtake us is the adequacy of the  “up to 2Mbps” speed being bandied around as a target by Government as a Universal Service Obligation.  Many city dwellers already have access to 40 or 50Mbps and with BT’s Fibre To The Cabinet trials about to start this figure will become very much the standard to aim for, unless you live in a rural community that is.

Whilst BT CEO Ian Livingstone maintains that 2Mbps is good enough for most people’s uses, experience in the Far East, where high speed internet access isn the norm, have shown that people’s online behaviour does change as faster speeds become available. They are more likely, for example, to watch High Definition video online.

This is all going to add pressure to ISPs’ networks but I do believe that the UK is being shortsighted in not considering a ubiquitous Next Generation Access fibre network from the off.

End User internet media

TV license fee for internet watching

In my mind the clock has started ticking ever so quietly for the end of TV Licensing.  A review of the TV License fee by the BBC Trust looks at the issues associated with collecting TV License revenues for the BBC.

The report says “The licence fee collection is currently heavily reliant on the fact that almost 98% of households still use television sets (although this number has declined very slightly in the last year from 97.61% to 97.37%) and that viewing on new technologies tends to be supplementary to viewing on television.”

However “research for the BBC Executive shows that 40% of students in halls of residence use a laptop as their main way to watch TV”. iPlayer.

With almost half of all children leaving school now attending an University of some description this suggests that in time a large proportion of the population will move to watching TV online. 

This will present huge issues in collection of the license fee and will almost certainly join the regulatory debate that includes how to police illegal P2P music and video downloading.  Business models in the media industries are bound to have to evolve.


The report covers the problems with collecting the License Fee and specifically mentions the difficulties of proving whether a household has a TV or not.  The Davies household, after 20 or so blissful years of isolation,  got a TV for the first time ever 4 years ago following demands from our increasingly vociferous daughter.

Around 6 years ago we did a house swap with some Californian friends who, horrified at the lack of a TV in the house (how do you keep the kids quiet?) borrowed one and took out a license.  They went home and cancelled the bank payment standing order which triggered a stream of increasingly threatening letters demanding money.

Initially we ignored these but eventually complained to our MP, Gillian Merron, who got tough with the TV License Authority (or whatever their name is) and sorted it.  My issue was that I was offered two means to tell them I didn’t have a license, either by paying for a premium rate phone call or for a stamp.  As a fascist anti TV type this was objectionable to me.

Imagine how I felt when I eventually bought a TV and had to ring the same premium rate number to pay for a License.  I could feel the surprise, nay contempt,  at the other end of the phone of the call centre agent who could clearly see my record of complaint on this subject.

One of the many side benefits of when the kids eventually leave home is that I will be able to get rid of the TV again and, no doubt, renew my battle with the TV Licensing Authority.  Unless, that is, they introduce draconian measures that say if you own a computer you have to pay for a license!

Business media

BBC Radio Lincolnshire drivetime technology slot

Another audio session from tonight’s William Wright’s drivetime show on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.  I talk about subjects covered in recent blog posts. Call it an audio blog.


Business internet media


A bit of an ambiguous post title but considering this is meant to be a technology blog I get more and more opportunities to comment on political and business issues. Following on from yesterday’s post on the Coroners and Justice Bill today brings a report on how to combat Online Radicalisation and also more on the debate between the music industry and ISPs as YouTube pull the plug on music downloads in the UK.

The International Centre for the Study for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) has produced a report recommending how “the world” should combat this problem. It starts off saying that any efforts to date have been either “crude, expensive or counterproductive” and concludes that we need to spend more time deterring the producers of extremist materials, empowering users to self-regulate their online communities, reducing the appeal of extremist messages through education and promoting positive messages.

Call me a cynic but I doubt that this will get anywhere though I suppose at least they are having a go.

The second bit of news relates to a public spat between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society (PRS) who can’t agree licensing model (ie costs) that will allow YouTube to stream music. Unfortunately this seems to be a theme of any discussion between the music industry and those organisations providing internet services. During my time spent in meetings between the ISP and music industries it seems to me that the latter needs to start exploring new ways of making money, and believe you me I do not in anyway support the illegal downloading of another person’s intellectual property.  Link to the Guardian report here though it has been widely reported elsewhere in the UK.

What all this amouts to is a huge change in the way we live our lives. Last night a friend rang me for advice.  His broadband connection was down all day and his family was up in arms. Other than suggesting he moves to Timico all I could do was make sympathetic noises and say at least his family would talk to each other that evening – united in the face of a common problem instead of locked away surfing in their own rooms.

End User media

Tom Davies is the man for me – White on White

This post has nothing to do with IP. I reserve the right as a proud parent to promote the interests of my family. The media file below was recorded on Saturday by “White on White”, a guest band on my son Tom’s radio show Wake Up To The Weekend” on Saturday and Sunday mornings.


Business internet media piracy

ISP and Music industries meet at UK Summit

At the board room of the Performing Rights Society in London today the great and the good of the UK Music industry met with representatives from the mainstream ISP community for an open discussion on how to handle illegal P2P music downloading.

Organisations represented included UK Music,  BAC&S, PPL, PRS, MMF, MPA, MU, MCPS, MPG, Timico, ISPA, O2, Orange, AOL, Yahoo, BT, GlobalMix, LINX, Playlouder and KCom. I’m sure I’ve missed some out and you will have to work out for yourselves what some of the acronyms stand for.

I was essentially there on behalf of the Internet Service Providers’ Association to represent the smaller ISP community who have been left out of the talks up until now. Whilst the “big six” largest ISPs probably represent over 90% of the market the other ISPs, of which there are easily in excess of 300, do represent a “significant other”.

As much as anything the meeting was a “getting to know each others’ perspective” session but a few points in particular stuck in my mind.

  1. We were not allowed to discuss commercial issues and there was a lawyer sat in the corner who interrupted whenever the conversation moved towards this area – the concern being that nobody wanted the meeting to be seen as price fixing. I understand that any initiatives up until now have failed because the Music Industry can’t agree on prices that will allow ISPs to make money out of offering legal music download services. 
  2. It was suggested by yours truly that to make the whole business model work there needed to be a wholesale provider that would make it easier for smaller businesses to participate.  This wholesale provider would have sorted out the rats nest of copyright and licensing issues. Some larger ISPs had 5 corporate lawyers in a department exclusively dedicated to this area. What hope the rest of us!

There is clearly some way to go to get to a working solution although there was general agreement around the table that  everybody wanted to help.

ISPs present were asked whether P2P traffic caused problems for them on their network. I stated that typically B2B ISPs did not throttle P2P traffic  and customers were provided with a high quality experierience for which they paid a premium.

In the consumer space customers seem not prepared to pay for quality and thus in order to try and preserve a reasonable experience for “ordinary” applications such as browsing and email  it is often standard practice for ISPs to throttle P2P traffic. In fact in fairness some ISPs publish these policies on their website. This touched a nerve with one Tier 1 ISP who avoided the word throttling using, instead,  “traffic management” as a less contentious phrase.

Business media

Appearing on BBC Radio Tomorrow Morning

For anyone interested I am appearing as the sofa guest on Rod Whiting’s breakfast show tomorrow morning which should be fun since I enjoy his show. I’ve no idea what we will be talking about – life the universe and Trefor Davies. And probably the weather.

All this assumes the BBC doesn’t devote the whole programme to school closures which is what happened today, much to my children’s delight.

You can catch his show on and I am down to be there from 8.20 am until 9.30.

End User internet media olympics

BBC iplayer

I caught up with some reading on the BBC  iplayer last night and lifted some interesting facts.  iplayer now has over a million users a day with 1.7 million download requests. The BBC is expecting it’s 300 millionth “play request” anytime now.

During the Olympics usage rose by 40% which is is reflected in the increase in internet usage I reported back in the summer.

What I found amusing was the fact that people only watch a programme for 22 minutes on average which the BBC finds to be a good statistic. Only 35% of viewers watch a 30 minute programme in its entirety. To me this is an indictment of the quality of what is provided for punters to watch and reinforces why I don’t watch TV (Dads Army, rugby internationals and other free to air sports excepted).

For the geeks amongst you the BBC runs the service on 200 servers, has 92% peering which hugely reduces their cost of delivery (though not ours) and peaks at 100TB a day of streaming traffic.

There’s lots more to read in the EBU Technical Review which quotes a number of sources : 2008-q4_iplayer

Business media

BBC Radio appearance – audio

Wav file of my chat on the BBC re the Data Protection Act, Monday 12th January at 18.30 hrs.

monday-tech (8.65MB)

Courtesy of William Wright, BBC Radio Lincolnshire.