Project Canvas and CDNs
A few interesting links from 2011 reflecting past news coverage and discussion of the debate about CDNs, net neutrality, and Project Canvas (now YouView).
From BBC News:
From a Digital Spy forum:
BT UK Prep Broadband TV Content Connect Service Despite Net Neutrality Fears − ISPreview UK Newshttp://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2011...
By: MarkJ - 4 January, 2011 (11:37 AM)
BT Wholesale is officially gearing up for the launch of its new Cisco based Content Connect (BTCC/WCC) product. The service aims to handle the growing demand for broadband internet TV services by caching popular video content, effectively on an ISP's own network, as opposed to dragging it over several remote servers to reach the end-user.
Many online media groups already use Content Delivery Networks (CDN), such as Akamai, yet these services often only reach the edge of an ISPs network. BT's position in the UK internet access market allows them to get much closer and avoid congested areas.
...some critics fear that it could allow BT to abuse Net Neutrality (the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal).
In fairness [net-neutrality proponents'] interpretation of the service, which is effectively an optional extra available for any ISP that seeks to use it, could be a little wide of the mark. BTCC's primary focus is to support the new IPTV / YouView (Project Canvas) TV platform (here).
YouView, which will launch through several ISPs (e.g. BT and TalkTalk UK) this year, claims to be an "open standard" for delivering subscription free broadband ISP based UK internet TV services (e.g. BBC iPlayer, 4OD etc.) directly into homes via special set-top-boxes.
As an IPTV service YouView cannot function affordably without a specialised Content Delivery Network (CDN), such as BTCC. TalkTalk is developing its own solution, although many ISPs on BT's wholesale platform do require an alternative because they could not afford to develop their own.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether any ISPs use Content Connect to develop a more restrictive internet experience, although that would not be BT's fault for developing a technology that some other big ISPs already have in one form or another.
From BBC News:
BT has introduced a controversial service that some say could allow broadband providers to create a "two-tier internet".http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-...
Content Connect, as it is known, allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that use BT's network to charge content firms for high-speed delivery of video.
It could spell the end of so-called "net neutrality", where all traffic on the net is treated equally.
Critics say it will also reduce competition for consumers.
But a spokesperson for BT denied that the offering would create a "two-tier internet".
"BT supports the concept of net neutrality, but believes that service providers should also be free to strike commercial deals, should content owners want a higher quality or assured service delivery."
It said that its new service would speed up download speeds across its network - even for those not buying into Content Connect - by easing congestion.
Network neutrality is one of the founding principles of the internet and is meant to ensure that all ISPs treat all web traffic equally - serving merely as a conduit for whatever data is passing from content providers to end users.
But debates have been raging around the world as the explosive growth in internet traffic - and particularly video - has put a strain on the existing infrastructure.
In the US, regulators recently voted in favour of rules that are designed to uphold the principles of network neutrality.
The EU has openly backed network neutrality, but has introduced regulation that allows network providers to manage traffic on their networks, provided what they are doing is transparent.
The UK regulator Ofcom is expected to clarify its stance later this year.
In the meantime, the UK government has already said that it backs a two-speed internet.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said in November that ISPs had to be free to experiment with new charges to help pay for the expansion in internet services and infrastructure.
"This could include the evolution of a two-sided market, where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service," he said.
The new offering from BT seems to be the first major step in that direction.
From a Digital Spy forum:
Originally Posted by Geoff_W
Has anyone involved in the Canvass/YouView project considered the impact on ISP's? Where do they think all this additional bandwidth is coming from?
Bandwidth isn't free, and the amount needed to service all these upcoming VOD and catchup services, will have to be paid for somehow. Video, and particularly HD video, produces enormous files to download. ISP's already cap their broadband services or have a 'fair use' policy, so I can't envisage them pouring more and more resources into the black hole of consumer demand without wanting to be paid for it. All this will create is yet another revenue stream for the media providers.
And finally... when lots of people in your neighbourhood are all trying to watch VOD/Catchup programmes over their broadband connections, don't complain about the stuttering and freezing this will inevitably cause.
I suspect they've given it some thought.
But, and this is fairly important.
Ultimately bandwidth provision is the ISP's area, and Canvas might lead to an increase in bandwidth used, but VOD is already in increasingly common use via various portals, so at worst the ISP's are probably just going to have to act a little sooner than they might have had to (VM/NTL/BY saw this coming something like 5 years ago when they negotiated with the content providers to put Iplayer, then ITV and C4 onto their STB's as VOD).
If anything VOD may see a slight reduction in the bandwidth bills amongst some customer groups, as if you can use a VOD service like canvas to easily catch up on something you missed, you're a lot less likely to use something like bit torrent (which is very inefficient,uses several times the bandwidth of a VOD equivalent, not to mention the strain the upload puts on the ISP's*).
Ultimately though, network congestion is an ISP's fault, not the providers of services, and customers have the choice of either putting up with it, complaining to the ISP, or moving to an ISP who actually spends a bit more on maintaining their network (of course that ISP is likely to be a little more expensive than the free offering you get with your box of wheetabix, or £15 a month mobile phone contract).