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The American TV Effect

The American TV Effect

The American TV Effect

The new US TV season is just about upon us. New series of shows like Prison Break, Heroes, The Simpsons, Stargate Atlantis, King of the Hill and Family Guy, amongst others, all return to American TV screens this month. Some people may wonder why this may have an effect on a UK ISP but the short answer is that there will be people out there who will want to download these shows, mainly via P2P or Usenet, and watch them. In the past we've often seen long gaps of several months between the UK air dates and when they were first shown in the USA. With the greater advent of the Internet if you want to go online and read about your favourite show if you're 2 or 3 months behind you either can't take part in the discussion or will end up reading "spoilers" about future episodes. Sky One for one is taking note of changing trends. The recent third series of Lost was shown four days after the US and the new series of Prison Break will follow a similar pattern. It will be interesting to see whether bringing the air dates closer together sees a reduction in people downloading those shows via P2P and Usenet. Ignoring the legalities for the time being, that discussion can had another day (this previous post also addresses some of the legal issues), as an ISP we at PlusNet have to accept and understand that there will be people downloading and we have to be prepared for changing usage habits and whether the broadcasters like it or not it's very likely that we'll likely see an increase in P2P and Usenet traffic over the coming weeks and months as people download the latest episode of Heroes or The Simpsons. We therefore need to be prepared for this, fortunately it's one of easy ones to prepare for, we just look at a US TV Guide website and mark the dates in our Internet Event Calendar and from there be prepared for a possible increase in P2P traffic. This helps us to set up the daily rules we have for the network. The expected speeds on Broadband Premier for example are listed here. On the busiest days the rate limits on P2P will be set at the values there, on a quieter day they will be set higher or they may even be removed on the quietest days. By using the Internet Event calendar we can try and predict the levels of usage on any given day. As previously discussed there are definite daily patterns, Sunday is normally the busiest day of the week for gaming, Saturday the quietest day of the week overall, whilst Monday is the busiest. School holidays cause more gold and titanium traffic in an afternoon and Microsoft patch Tuesday causes more HTTP download traffic on the second Tuesday of the month and the following Wednesday. Putting all of our observations, historical data and future events together lets us determine exactly what rate limits to apply, to what traffic and during what times. On a quiet Thursday we might increase the P2P rate limit between say 4pm and 6pm to 2Mbps, if on the other hand we know that twice as many people will be using P2P at that time (perhaps downloading the latest episode of Lost) we may set it to 1Mbps instead, whereas a busy Monday could be at 192kbps. As such we have a different set of rules for each day of the week and for different events on different days (for example, the Patch Tuesday configuration is slightly different to the normal Tuesday, which is slightly different again to the school holiday Tuesday while the Tuesday after a bank holiday may use the Monday configuration). The better we can predict the levels and type of traffic and the amount of people online the better we can set the rules and better network performance we can deliver to our customers. We can, when needed, make "on the fly" changes, so if we see spare capacity on the network we can increase the P2P speeds for example and if there are high amounts of packet loss decrease the P2P speeds, but the better we can get at predicting the less changes we need to make on the fly and we make the best use of the available bandwidth. The long term aim, as discussed within our traffic management roadmap, is to automate these processes that are now manual in their nature. By taking the "guess work" of predicting usage patterns and setting rate limits based on these out of equation and set the levels based entirely on the traffic on the platform at any given moment. I'm sure there's plenty of scope to discuss this more in a future post. Of course it's going to be interesting to see how the broadcasters adapt, will we see more shows that are shown in the UK in the same week as the US like Lost and Prison Break, will we see shows that are on at the same time like WWE Raw? Apple have just entered the UK TV market, will we see iTunes offer shows to download in the UK straight after they are on in the USA? It could all have an influence on how people use their broadband connections whether it's more usage from video services like iTunes or less usage from P2P and all things we need to keep a close eye on for developments and changing patterns. Dave Tomlinson

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I think heroes is the best!! SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE THE WORLD YATTA!!!!!!!
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Its something broadcasters have to do or they'll lose the big following to the internet where the show are (illegally) available