Engineer media

29% of USA ISP traffic is Netflix

Interesting talk from Nina Bargisen of Netflix. What surprised me was the chart she showed of the main traffic drivers on ISP networks in the USA. Netflix comes out top, representing 29% of all traffic carried by ISPs in the US. YouTube is only 15% of traffic with http coming third at 11%.

The thing to consider here is that as people move to higher quality video -3D,  Super HD, Ultra HD (4k) and ultimately 8k format the percentage of traffic that is video is clearly going to grow. Also clear is that this move to higher bandwidth video is going to seriously drive bandwidth requirements – both in operator networks and at the home broadband level.

Netflix recommend that you need 12Mbps bandwidth to carry 3D and between 5 and 7 (optimally) for Super HD. In the UK you would therefore be able to stream one 3D video or two Super HD, assuming an average download bandwidth of 14Mbps. 4k video will need 15Mbps per stream.

If for the sake of argument we assume that Netflix and YouTube represent all the video traffic in the USA then as 4k comes on stream and the bandwidth required to support it therefore doubles then video could well end up at almost 90% of all internet traffic. I realise that other applications will also grow their bandwidth needs but I don’t think I’m a million miles off the mark.

It’s coming folks. Better get your broadband speeded up. Pic below is of the chart shown by Nina at the conference.

PS no idea why people watch TV – the only good stuff on is Time Team and Storage Hunters and I’ve already seen Mary Poppins quite a few times.

USA ISP traffic statschart courtesy of Netflix and Sandvine


Business media online safety

Maria Miller ISP Safety Summit

PortcullisThere’s been a lot in the news about the Government’s Safety Summit where a number of consumer  ISPs and online entities (such as Google) have been asked to attend a meeting to discuss how they can do more to prevent people accessing illegal online child abuse material.

Sometimes when this kind of news hits our screens I don’t bother to comment. It seems like every man and bonzo gets their word in.

It is worth however emphasising a point made this morning by The Today Programme on BBC Radio4 which was that there are two issues here. One is accessing illegal child abuse material and the other is preventing children accessing legal pornography.

Access to illegal online child abuse material is totally wrong and the ISP industry already works to stop accidental access to this stuff via the Internet Watch Foundation which produces a list of sites to be blocked. Most of these sites reside outside the UK and really it needs a concerted global Government effort to take them down. They should discuss it at this week’s G8 Leaders’ Summit.

Consumer ISPs have measures in place to block access to these sites where they are known. However the nature of the internet being what it is all that these measures do is to prevent someone accidentally landing on an illegal page. The determined sicko will easily find a way around the blocks. Interesting to note the BBC report that the Government has actually cut funding in the area of online child protection (CEOP).

There may be a discussion to be had with Google and other search engines (are there any others?) re how they themselves prevent illegal material coming up in search results but it seems to me that the real issue here is how we identify the sites so that they can be included in the IWF list and ultimately taken down.

The issue of how to prevent kids accessing porn is totally separate.

Business Cloud net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality: An ISP View

Net Neutrality and whether the government should regulate ISPs to guarantee an open and fair internet for all has become a trending topic. As an ISP my natural inclination is to say that there should be no regulation. A government’s job is to regulate only where necessary. ISPs are easy targets because the whole world is moving its operations online and ISPs are the conduit to that world. We are constantly warding off regulation.

Ofcom has said that there is not enough evidence for them to come up with any proposals for regulation in this space.

At the same time ISPs, in particular mobile ISPs have said that in order to be able to invest in the growth of their network infrastructure they need to be able to charge premium rates for premium services. The nature of these services has yet to be determined, at least publicly. Mobile network operators are expecting a hundred fold increase in bandwidth demand over the next three years and in their minds they need somehow to be able to pay for this capacity. O2 has been very vocal about this.

Business internet ofcom piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Digital Economy Bill–Act–Farce continues beyond Parliamentary grave #DEAct #DEBill

In a continuation of the farcial speed that the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through into Law I’m told that Ofcom has already conducted two meetings with the 5 largest ISPs to discuss the implementation of the Code of Practice with a third planned for next Wednesday.

I’m also told that Ofcom has also met with 9 Music Industry Rights Holders and 5 from the movie making industry. Perhaps Ofcom could elaborate on this? If this is the case it seems hugely disproportionate in terms of representation. Hugely unfair in fact and feels very familiar with the way the Law was rushed through in the first place.

Despite what seems on the face of it to be a substantial consultation with Rights Holders no attempt appears to have been made to involve any small ISPs, the ISP Association, ISPA, or the London Internet Exchange, LINX. In fact the majority of the organisations that stand to lose out under the Digital Economy Act.

A threshold is likely to be applied in respect of which ISPs must comply with the DEA. This however has not been set yet and without it seems reasonable that all ISPs likely to be affected by it get a chance to participate in the discussion.

Being a reasonable minded person I am able to look at it from Ofcom’s perspective and observe that they have very little time to put together a Code of Practice around a hugely complex and controversial subject.  You might say Ofcom has been stitched up just as the ISPs have been. However in this case it just isn’t good enough. I think everyone concerned here should complain to Ofcom in the morning.

The Ofcom Switchboard number is 0300 123 3000 or 020 7981 3000. Ask for Ed Richards, Chief Executive.

Follow on note – check out these posts from Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser, JANET . He was at one of the meetings.

Business internet piracy Regs

3 weeks to go to an election announcement is bad news for ISPs and democracy #DigitalBritain

It might be my naivety but I was surprised nay shocked at the ISPA Council meeting today. You must read all this post.

The informed betting is that the General Election is going to be on May 6th. The betting for the dissolution of Parliament is either the 1st or 8th April. Normally notice given is 6 weeks but I’m told that because the Labour Party is (allegedly) short of funds they only want a 4 week election campaign – eat yer heart out US of A. My bet is the 8th because they will all want a nice Easter break before the pitched battle to come.

The Government has confirmed that the Budget will be on 24th March (at 12.30pm for the detail minded – warm the TV up soon). Normally we might expect a week to be given for the media to digest and comment about what will presumably be a budget pitched to give us all as much of a feelgood factor as possible after the last year or two of financial hell/instability/crisis/disaster/nightmare/worry/prosperity (delete as appropriate).

Business internet mobile connectivity voip

What are ISPs doing about Voice?

The question is being asked “what are ISPs doing about voice?” This is particularly relevant as the market consolidates and B2B ISPs not only seek economies of scale but additional sources of revenues.

Timico was founded as a fully converged ISP from the outset. Early on we had to decide whether to simply white label services from other ISPs and ITSPs or do “get into manufacturing” and do it all ourselves.

At the outset there were no real white label VoIP options. You had to do it yourself. However there were plenty of ISPs providing Virtual ISP services.

broadband Business

21CN trials successfully completed

Yesterday I signed off our ADSL2+ service for production. As one of a small number of ISPs selected by BT for the trials we have been careful not to rush too quickly into using the 21CN network. As it was new we felt it was important to make sure that the customer experience matched our own business quality requirements.

After a few hundred trial connections we have been getting more of a feel for the actual performance capabilities of the network.

ADSL2+ is marketed by some ISPs as a 24Mbps technology but in fact it is unlikely that customers will achieve such high connection speeds as the actual speed achieved is very dependent on the customer’s distance from the exchange and the quality of their line. Because of this, we are promoting our offering as an “up to 16Mbps” service. As with existing ADSL connections, users experience a range of speeds. The highest we have seen so far is 19Mbps so there is a chance that people could get a faster connection than advertised.

Transparency for business customers is very important, as is responsive and professional support. I am extremely proud of the technical service levels which we provide free of charge to customers. Timico operates exclusively in the UK with its own in-house staff, rather than outsourcing customer support functions to UK or overseas contractors.

Business ofcom security voip

Skype Security Italian Style

The BBC today has reported that Italian crooks are using Skype to avoid detection by police who use traditional wiretapping to monitor phone calls. The Skype signaling and  media path is encrypted which makes it very difficult to tap into. Also because, as a Peer to Peer protocol Skype doesn’t use any centralised servers that might be able to be monitored it adds to the difficulty for law enforcement agencies.

The whole problem is then compounded by the fact that because VoIP/Skype is a very nomadic service, ie you can use it from any internet connection anywhere, it becomes difficult to track the location of a caller.

This is a problem being looked at by Ofcom as part of the process of caller location identification for the emergency services. Currently if someone makes a 999 call from an unknown address, it is difficult to pin down where that call is being made from, at least in a timely manner.

There was a high profile Canadian case where someone dialled for an ambulance and it went to a location three thousand miles from where the call was actually being made from because the address held by the operator was not the address from which the call was being made. 

When a VoIP call is made the details of the call logged by the Internet Telephony Service Provider include the IP address of the originating party. If you are an Internet Service Provider (note the distinction between ITSP and ISP – an ITSP often does not provide the underlying broadband service) you can correlate this IP address with a physical address (ie house number and street).

The problem is that this is a manual process and would likely take hours at best and potentially a couple of days. This is a process that could be automated but it is something that would probalby cost billons to implement universally in the UK.

I’m sure there will be more to say on this subject in 2009. As a final note it is often said that the security forces, aka GCHQ and CIA et al have not cracked the Skype encryption technology. I find this difficult to believe.

Business datacentre security

It’s all about Security, Security, Security

I enjoy this business so much because of the wonderful diversity it provides me in terms of issues, problems and successes. The latest is the fact that the firewall at our corporate headquarters has been the subject of a number of attacks by some unfriendly person.

These attempts to break into corporate networks happen millions of times daily around the world, which is why businesses need to be on top of their security strategy. What interested me here was the fact that this was the same attack coming from a number of different places around the world.

The sources were in China, the USA, Poland, Australia and a couple of other countries whose names escape me. The same common username and password combinations were used each time from each different source (lesson here – never use “admin” and “password”) .

Of course the same individual or organisation is almost certainly involved in all of them. That person will have systematically hacked into a certain type of server whose operating system and security patches has not been kept up to date. It is likely a company server hosted at a datacentre somewhere.

Our course of action, if the attack persists, is to look up the owner of the IP address from which the attack is coming and ring the business up to let them know they have a problem. In the case of the Chinese source we send them an email – only because they will almost certainly be in bed. 🙂 Usually this sorts the problem out and indeed the recent spate of attempted break ins has abated. No doubt there will be more.

We know what to do in these cases but it is a lot to ask of a business that is not and ISP or doesn’t have a highly skilled IT department, which is why it very often makes sense to outsource your security management.

Apps broadband Business

Consumer ISP Versus Business ISP: The Facts

The broadband ISP community has been coming in for some bad press recently with high profile stories of


  • bandwidth capping and throttling,
  • the use of deep packet inspection to manage and shape traffic,
  • complaints to the ASA by BT regarding deception of customers by Virgin
  • complaints from the ISP industry about who pays for the bandwidth for users of  iPlayer and other internet based video streams
  • complaints on user forums about speeds throttled back to less than that of dial up at peak periods

The B2B broadband ISP community has not generally been suffering from these complaints. They arise in consumer-oriented networks from the need to cram as many customers in as possible in order to meet low price expectations. Whilst a B2B ISP still suffers from the general rise in internet bandwidth usage (currently running at around 3 – 4% a month) it cannot impose the consumer bandwidth management methods described above because a business’ internet connection is normally too important to mess with. For example when throughout drops (as it will with too many users on a network) so do VPNs therefore you have to maintain high quality throughput.


The response of the B2B ISP is to increase the overall ADSL bandwidth available and bear the cost. At the end of the day the cost has to be passed on to the customer otherwise the ISP doesn’t stay in business and the customer doesn’t have an internet connection. Business customers are likely to less sensitive to changes in costs (we aren’t talking about big numbers here anyway) recognizing that they get a better service at the end of the day.


Whilst I can only speak for Timico, and KeConnect the business customer pays for what he gets but at the end of the day he gets a much better service than the consumer.