BT Caught Throttling BBC's iPlayer On Broadband Option 1

Raising concerns over BT's broadband policy, the BBC has accused the broadband service provider of limiting speeds of its internet connections in the evenings when users try to access and download TV content using the BBC iPlayer.

A broadband user having BT's cheapest Option 1 deal with 8Mbps line could see his broadband speed substantially plunged to just 1Mbps during peak hours, between 5pm and midnight, affecting videos streaming from services including BBC iPlayer and YouTube, the BBC reported.

BT responded to the charges by saying that it manages bandwidth under the traffic shaping policy implemented by almost all ISPs to optimise broadband experience for their customers.

The broadband provider asserted that its traffic shaping policy is mentioned on its site, on the page depicting Broadband Fair Usage policy, which notifies: “We do limit the speed of all video streaming to 896Kbps on our Option 1 product, during peak times only”.

The BBC has asserted that while these low internet speeds don't affect the customers streaming low quality audio and video, it could have a negative impact on users streaming high quality videos.

As of now, the BBC iPlayer is available at three distinct speeds, 500kbps, 800kbps, as well as 1.5Mbps, entirely depending on user's broadband connection, with users seeking high definition video and audio streaming are required to have connections at 3.2Mbps.

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Our Comments

Traffic shaping is a very murky and grey area. While most ISPs have in effect implemented traffic shaping systems to manage their broadband services, some employ different approaches to BT. Sky for example doesn't have any fair usage policy and no download limits, same goes for Be or O2. Virgin Media's traffic shaping is so lax that it would still allow you to download tens of Gigabytes per week.

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