Advanced Television

BBC says BT throttling iPlayer

June 3, 2009

Britain’s biggest broadband supplier has been accused by the BBC of 'shaping download speeds' on its cheapest package without giving users a clear warning.

A customer who has signed on to an up to the 8MB package can have speed cut to below 1Mbps says the public broadcaster. BT confirmed it managed bandwidth “in order to optimise the experience for all customers”. The BBC said it was concerned the throttling of download speeds was affecting the viewing experience for some users. BT said: “Where we manage bandwidth, we do so in order to optimise the experience for all customers, whatever they want to do online. We believe there is a real issue that content owners like the BBC need to address and we are currently in discussions with the BBC executive to ensure that our customers get the best possible experience in the future.”

The BBC says customers who opt for BT’s Option 1 broadband deal will find that the speed at which they can watch streaming video is throttled back to under 1Mbps between 1700 and midnight. The BBC iPlayer works at three different speeds, 500Kbps, 800Kbps, and 1.5Mbps, depending on the speed of a user’s connection. There is also a high definition service which requires 3.2Mbps.

The BBC said the effect of BT’s policy was to force viewers down on to the 500Kbps service, which can make the viewing experience less satisfactory.

In a statement, the BBC said: “While customers listening to audio and lower quality video streams would be unaffected, we are concerned that at peak times some customers’ higher quality video streams may be interrupted by buffering before falling back to a lower-quality version. This would suggest that traffic identified as BBC iPlayer traffic is being throttled back, thereby limiting the bandwidth used up by the service on slower connections.”

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Broadcast