cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

We're ready for the Beeb's iPlayer

We're ready for the Beeb's iPlayer

We're ready for the Beeb's iPlayer

As some people may be aware the BBC will be opening up its iPlayer service for a large scale trial on Friday, details are available here. At PlusNet we've been taking part in the initial closed trials to ensure that the service is fully compatible with our traffic management systems. We've had the iPlayer on our radar for a while and this Friday has been firmly noted on our traffic management roadmap since the launch date was announced. We are pleased to report that no problems were seen using the iPlayer on our network. For those that don't know the iPlayer allows people in the UK to watch BBC programmes from the previous 7 days. There are limitations, it currently only works on Windows XP for example; Mac and Vista versions are planned for a later date. This has stirred up some controversy as can be seen here. In order confirm that the iPlayer works as expected I conducted a final bit of testing before the launch this afternoon. My tests were done using a PC running Windows XP and a Voyager 105 USB modem. The line syncs at a speed of 6.6Mbps and the account type used was Premier Option 1. These tests were done between around 3:30pm and 4:30pm. Previous testing has been done at other times of the day including evening when the network is busy and overnight. I downloaded three shows to check the speed of the downloads, to run wireshark captures to check the traffic is being identified correctly and to look for any other obvious problems that PlusNet customers might experience. My Experience Installing the software was fairly straight forward and no configuration was needed on our test PC other than checking the Windows Firewall settings. Some people using routers may need to forward the port (194Cool on their router and/or firewall. It's also a good idea to run a Windows Update before installing the software and rebooting afterwards before trying to download anything. The speeds seen on the downloads seem pretty good. The first I downloaded was last night's Mastermind. This started off quite slowly, around 10-20KB/s. I was a little concerned at first that something wasn't right so fired up Wireshark to get a grab of the traffic. It firstly gave a possible reason for the speed; it looked like I was only downloading from one peer, the BBC themselves. Leaving it downloading for a few minutes a few more peers started to appear and the speeds increased to around 200KB/s. Fortunately the Wireshark grab also showed that the traffic was being properly identified as gold traffic, as per this screengrab: The second show I downloaded was Saturday's National Lottery Draw, I selected this because it was a fairly small file size and hoped because it had been up a little longer there'd be more peers. My hunch was right, after about 30 seconds it was downloading around 300-400KB/s. The speed was fluctuating a little, as you'd probably expect from a P2P download that is dependent on the upload speeds of others. The third show I chose to download was an episode of Bargain Hunt, this seemed to give the best speeds of the three often hitting about 480KB/s. Again the speeds were a little spiky as you can see here in a DuMeter graph: This was a 45 minute show with a file size of about 120MB, on our test line it took about 10 minutes to download. One important thing to note is that the iPlayer can upload data whenever it is switched on. My tests today showed small amounts of upload but likely because of the closed nature of the initial beta trial there aren't that many people downloading so not much uploading going on. It will be interesting to see if this changes after Friday when more people are bound to start using it. We will of course keep a close eye on the performance when the trial opens up and also monitoring any impact it has on the make up of traffic on the network as a whole. With the school holidays we are already seeing an increase in gold and titanium traffic during the day as per this post. We have set the priority as gold and customers will see usage showing up as "streaming" in the View My Broadband Usage tool. One of the beauties of the iPlayer is that you can download the shows at one time to watch at another (some shows can be watched up to 30 days after downloading) so you can always set the downloads going when you go to bed so they download overnight. I'm already predicting the Wednesday's Top Gear special will be one of the most popular downloads when it goes live on Friday. Dave Tomlinson PlusNet Comms Team

0 Thanks
11 Comments
518 Views
11 Comments
Grafter
Just built a new media PC for my living room last week. Looking forward to getting home and trying this out tomorrow. Can anyone think of a simple way of scheduling the iplayer to only download/upload in off-peak hours? Something like a timed firewall would probably do it. Does that exist?
Newbie
I only got as far as 1% - 2MB - of (my first) attempted download last night.. which took about 45 mins before I gave up and went to bed. But even having aborted that and deleted the show from the library list, I seem to be using exotic amounts of bandwidth uploading stuff elsewhere - nearly 100MB uploads today, compared to a daily average of one or two for a few emails. So I fear Mr Add/Remove Programs will be coming out to play Smiley
Not applicable
Shame the BBC decided not to implement it to be Vista compatible straightaway - how long have they had to get it Vista ready?
Grafter
It looks as though it does actually work on Vista, it just won't let you download the install files on Vista. See here :- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/31/iplayer_launch_frustration/
Grafter
We Apple Mac users, on the other hand will have to wait even longer for this player and if we go for OS X 10.5 when it comes out in the autumn god knows when we'll be allowed to get a version of iPlayer
Plusnet Staff
Tam, Windows task scheduler (or whatever they call it in XP) might do the job, otherwise maybe Netlimiter: http://www.netlimiter.com/ Tim, I found that while testing it out, seems to depend on the show and how many peers you connect to. One of the shows I tried downloading only connected me to the Beeb themselves, once more peers appeared the speed started speeding up. Other shows seemed to have lots of peers to start with so gave good speeds all the way through. Andy, I'd like a Mac client too. If you have an Intel Mac and use either Parallels or Boot Camp then you can at least use the Windows client. Hopefully they've thought about Leopard.
Not applicable
Dave you mention setting downloads overnight which is fine, but truth is you can't. Is it possible to add an iPlayer block except during off peak hours. I have a Vigor router which couldn't probably do this using schedules as well, any idea what ports I need to put a block on to stop uploads eating bandwith and slowing my network down.
Plusnet Staff
The BBC iPlayer uses port 1948, so blocking this port should block the iPlayer from using bandwidth. I'd have thought that a custom block would be possible but would need a lot of development work to implement.
Not applicable
Should be possibly to block ports by schedule in most modern routers, certainly is in Netgear (although this seems to bork Windows Live Messenger).
Dabbler
I have been using this off and on for a few weeks now, though like many I am annoyed that I have not been able to run it natively on a Linux machine. There have been problems with server overload at the BBC plus some DRM issues with the player. You may need to delete older DRM licences from your machine to get this to work - look through the Beeb forums for advice on how to do this. I am not sure, however, whether I would be a heavy user of this. I found I was going a bit cross-eyed viewing the small picture and expanding it up made me feel drunk, if you know what I mean. The BBC trust has insisted that this is made cross-platform compatible, but that has got to mean a move away from both Windows Media Player AND IE7, which probably means the service at some point will have to be re-launched! Somebody boobed, me thinks!
Grafter
I signed up for the service as soon as it was available and next day got my installation pack, entered username and password and was informed they were incorrect, tried again same result, phoned and was told this was a common error and to try again tomorrow, after 3 days of phoning and getting the same advice decided to sign up again, 4 weeks later still waiting for a reply, is this what we pay our license fee for?, Jack.