Tag Archives: iplayer

4G’ing it

iphone 6s plus Photo credit: Yanki01 via Visual Hunt / CC BY

I have now been on Three for nearly six months and I am still pleased with the speed of the connection and reliability of the service.

In some areas I am getting nearly 50Mb download speeds.

Download speeds

There are some days when the connection appears to stall, but this is short lived.

I am on an unlimited data contract with Three. This appears to be a full unlimited contract with no “artificial” limits or throttling.

On my previous original T-Mobile (now EE) contract I would usually use less than 2GB. This was partly down to the speed of the 3G connection. On the Three connection I am now using on average 35GB of data. In at least one month I used in excess of 50GB.

As my home broadband is rather slow, I am now using my iPhone connected to the TV via an HDMI adapter for services such as iPlayer, Netflix and other on demand services (well the ones that work through the adapter). As the connection is quite fast, I am able to stream HD video, which probably explains the high data usage!

Nov – 30GB
Dec – 22GB
Jan – 50GB
Feb – 41GB
Mar – 35GB

Checking the bills I used over 7GB on the 7th January, no idea what was happening that day.

There are some aspects that I find frustrating, however these are more down to limitations imposed by others. For example Apple don’t allow you to download software updates, large app updates, movies and TV shows over mobile data, you have to use WiFi. However as my internet contract is much slower compared to the potential speeds I can get on 4G this means that it can be frustrating when I need to download large files.

In terms of signal, one of the reasons I chose Three was the coverage they have for my home address and over Bristol. In other places it has been somewhat sketchy, but was pleased to get a decent signal in Dublin for a conference (and no roaming charges) other places I wasn’t surprised as it was rather rural.

I will say I wasn’t disappointed with the signal of T-Mobile, especially when they merged with Orange. However the lack of an unlimited data contract on 4G meant that I didn’t see it as an option. Though 3G was okay, I do appreciate the faster speeds you get with 4G.

Photo credit: Yanki01 via Visual Hunt / CC BY

And they’re back…

In a previous blog post I mentioned the issues I was having with my new Sony Smart TV.

After getting a response from BBC iPlayer on the Twitter.

I checked the TV to find my UK apps were back.

And they're back

It was apparent that the problem was not with the TV in itself, but with the services provided by Sony. It does demonstrate the reliance that these kinds of devices have on external services. If the decision is made to switch them off, there is very little that the end consumer can do to stop this from happening. Additionally the closed nature of these devices means that you can’t (or if you can not easily) add these services back.

So where did iPlayer go on my Sony TV?

Sony Smart TV

It would appear that many Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK apps. I initially thought I was just unlucky, but it would appear from the internet tubes that many others have found that their Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK based apps, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Player and Sky News apps.

Having recently replaced my TV, one of the reasons I chose the Sony KDL48W605 was the fact that it was a Smart TV and came with BBC iPlayer integrated into the TV. This means we can easily watch catch-up TV. Was slightly disappointed that there was no integrated ITVPlayer or Channel 4’s 4OD, though there is (was) Five on Demand. According to Sony this was down to licensing rights issues, less from ITV and Channel 4, but more from the rights holders of the programmes they show.

The apps on the TV are dependent on regional settings, and if you are based in the UK, then you get UK focused apps. It would appear that the server which delivers the various apps to the TV has failed to recognise those TV that are in the UK and as a result is not delivering the localised UK apps to them.

My initial thought was that only my TV was having a problem. My first few searches on Google only turned up Sony BBC iPlayer issues from 2011. I followed the guidance to refresh internet content to no avail, I then undertook a factory reset, retuned, etc and still no luck.

It was only after browsing the Sony support forums that I found other people were having issues, and the problem was been had by multiple different Sony TVs.

At the time of writing it would appear that Sony have been made aware of the issue on Friday, but as it was a bank holiday weekend, nothing so far has been done.

No magic with BBC iPlayer

No magic with BBC iPlayer

I know many people out there have no sympathy for me now that I have lost access to fibre (through FTTC) and have reverted back to a relatively much slower ADSL connection when I moved house. I am aware that much of the UK population only have similar broadband speeds.

However I do think it is interesting to note the problems I am having, it has certainly made me much more aware of the advantages of FTTC over ADSL and the need to speed up all of the UK (not just my neck of the woods).

The other evening I sat down to watch Merlin on BBC iPlayer and it was stuttering like crazy… My Sony TV has internet capability and BBC iPlayer is accessible from the user interface without needing to use a laptop or iPad. I was slightly surprised as I had recently moved a few things around and connected the TV direct to my router. Previously I had used wifi to connect the TV to the internet and this had proved unreliable; when I had FTTC, it had worked fine over wifi. When I did a direct wired connection this appeared at the time to resolve those buffering issues.

I tried again, and once more it didn’t work…

I thought about it, checked upstairs and found that my son was streaming BBC iPlayer on his computer at the same time.

It was apparent that though my ADSL connection was fast enough for BBC iPlayer, it couldn’t cope with two streams at the same time. When I had the FTTC connection, it coped fine with higher quality BBC iPlayer streams, and streaming two programmes (and doing other stuff on the web as well) was all fine and dandy.

So we waited until my son’s programme had finished and then we watched Merlin.

What this incident made me realise was that the real advantage of FTTC wasn’t so much the speed of the connection, but the width. I find on ADSL that I can cope with waiting for things to download, but what I really miss about FTTC is the ability to use the full capacity of the fibre “tube” to do lots of different things all at once. Now with ADSL I need to schedule streaming and downloads to ensure that, not only do they work, but also to not inconvenience others in the house.

So is FTTC anywhere on the horizon for me? Not that I can see, which is a real pity.

Apple TV Thoughts


Apple calls the Apple TV a hobby, the reason behind that is, that it will never have the sales figures that the iPad, the MacBook and the iPhone gets. The moniker “hobby” tells analysts that they shouldn’t expect the Apple TV to be a mainstream product that sells in the tens of millions! Apple do say that those who bought the Apple TV really like it.

I am one of those who did buy it, and yes I do like it. I use it a fair bit but there are a few things I would like it do better.

First what do I like about it?

I like the fact that I can stream content from my iMac (in the office) to the TV in the front room. As I have an Apple and iTunes infrastructure for content then this works really well. As well as showing photographs, I like that I can show movies and videos from iTunes on the TV. I like the ease by which I can stream rented videos too without needing to “move” them from one device to the other.

I like how I can use AirPlay to stream content from the iPad to the Apple TV and onto the TV. For example I can use ITVPlayer on the iPad and watch it on the TV without cables. This works much better than ITVPlayer does on the PS3, likewise with BBC iPlayer and 4OD from Channel 4.

I like how Netflix works on the Apple TV, films in my opinion work better on the big screen than on the computer or the iPad.

I like how I can watch movie trailers quickly and easily.

So what do I think needs improving?

It would be nice to add UK-centric services to the Apple TV. Why can’t I add BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer, etc to the Apple TV? Netflix got added “automatically” why can’t the other services? I suspect it might be a licensing issue, so I have to do it by AirPlay. Now though I like AirPlay it isn’t perfect and I have had a couple of issues with it, notably no audio and sometimes buffering of the video.

Renting movies does seem “expensive” to me, and I would be happy to rent the cheaper SD movies. At the moment I rent the movies on the iMac and then stream to the Apple TV, but would be nice to be able to do that from the Apple TV direct.

I like the idea of renting TV shows, but I suspect that there are so few TV shows that I want to rent that I haven’t done this very much. I either use iPlayer for more recent shows like Hustle, Elgato’s EyeTV to record a series such as Pan Am that I am going to watch later, or Netflix to watch older series, currently enjoying The 4400 as it happens.

There is a selection of internet video services on the Apple TV, but I don’t really use them. I think this is more me than the fault of Apple TV, I am not one to go through multiple amusing YouTube videos… but I am aware of people who do, so I suspect that this is more there cup of tea.

It would be nice to add music services to the Apple TV, but as Apple’s focus is iTunes I don’t see that happening anytime soon. If I was switched into the iCloud then I guess that would enable me to access some of my music, but I would also need iTunes Match so that I could listen to the mp3s I have downloaded from Amazon and my CDs. Though it has to be said there are a fair few radio stations I could listen to!

Now I know that I can “jailbreak” the Apple TV and install Plex on it, but that’s not really a mainstream option. Firecore’s aTV Flash is another option, but costs $29.95.

I guess my final thought on the Apple TV is that for many of the features you need a decent broadband connection, and not everyone has that. I am lucky in that my exchange now has fibre (FTTC) but before it was upgraded my ADSL connection was very slow and I had a fair few problems with it. FTTC does make the Apple TV much more useful and of course downloading from iTunes is much better too with FTTC.

Overall the benefits of the Apple TV certainly outweigh for me the small number of issues I have with it. I think for £99 as a set top box it really is value for money, but I say that with the caveat that you really do need to have an iTunes ecology for content.