Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service



February 26th, 2006

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If you've come here looking for a way to uninstall Kontiki from your system then I've found an easier way - Use KClean (here are links to download sites at the BBC who use Kontiki too for iMP Link 1 - Link 2).

After running this go to C:\Program Files\Common Files and if there is a Kontiki shared folder there delete it and everything in it.

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In the UK the main digital satellite TV provider, [tag]Sky[/tag], has recently launched a service where you can download movies to your PC for viewing.  This is called [tag]Sky by Broadband[/tag] and it's available to certain types of subscriber (for more information visit the Sky by Broadband website).

Sky by Broadband

On the face of it is sounds like a cool service and I was eager to give it a go so I could see if there was anything good to watch, as opposed to the continual recycling of the same junk that's usually on TV.  I quickly became disappointed - there was nothing new available and anything that was available that was any good I already had on DVD.  Not only that, but it's slow and sluggish to download movies (nothing close to the 1 hour per movie that Sky claim) and certainly not something you can do when you want something because you are bored - you have to plan your viewing well in advance.

Sky by Broadband

There is, however, a darker side to the Sky by Broadband - it installs onto your system a [tag]P2P[/tag] ([tag]Peer-to-Peer[/tag]) application called [tag]Kontiki[/tag].  The purpose of this is to allow others to access the movie data that lives on your PC.  This means that they entire Sky by Broadband system is a big P2P experiment and everyone wanting in on Sky by Broadband has to take part.  I would imagine that this is to take the load off of the servers at Sky - they dish out the movie a few times and then it's served from other viewer's PCs.  Sky mention this in their terms and conditions, but nowhere else, and they certainly don't make this clear during installation (Sky do mention it on their website FAQ - but how many people are going to read that):

If you download and save content to your computer system (a "File"), during the license period for the relevant File, we may upload parcels of content from the File from your computer system for the purpose of transferring Files to other users of the Service.

What this really means is that Sky in all their advertising are making out that you are downloading content directly from them rather than other users.  Also, the P2P link continues to run in the background after you've shut down the main application, eating up bandwidth by allowing others to download the files from your PC.

Kontiki also collects and sends back to Sky a lot of information about your PC.  There is no mention as to how this data is protected from unauthorized access, however, initial examination with Ethereal seems to show that all data is at least encrypted during transmission.

During the installation process for the Sky by broadband Application, we will detect and store the machine name, KontikiNodeId, CPU, PC bios, videocard, network card and IDE Controller information specific to your computer system, for the purposes of identifying your computer system and your eligibility to access and use the Service each time you log-in to the Service.

If you are on a limited bandwidth broadband service where you have a capped transfer limit or you get charged by the GB then Sky By Broadband is not for you, as you have no control over how much of your bandwidth is consumes.  Theoretically, if you download a popular movie then you could be streaming a lot of data to other users.  This could cost some people a LOT of cash!

Kontiki installs itself onto the system as a service and uninstalling Sky by Broadband doesn't seem to uninstall it - it has to be removed manually after uninstalling Sky by Broadband (I'm not sure if this is a mistake or by design).  Sky's own website gives very little information on how to uninstall Kontiki:

How can I remove or uninstall Kontiki from my PC?

If you no longer intend to use Sky by broadband, then you may wish to remove Kontiki. Please note that removing Kontiki from your computer will mean that Sky by broadband can no longer operate at all.

Kontiki service

Also, conveniently, all the uninstall information is currently unavailable on the Kontiki website (typical).  However, this process will uninstall Kontiki completely.  However, I have found mention of an Add/Remove Programs entry and System Tray icons for Kontiki as standard - so it looks like Sky wanted to hide it as much as possible from users (there are two key files - KService is called Delivery Manager Service and KHost is called Delivery Manager).

  1. Go to Services stop the [tag]KService[/tag] service.  I also set it to Disabled so that it couldn't run.
  2. In Regedit, navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run
    Delete the entry for kdx.
  3. Navigate to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Services
    Delete the entry for KService.
  4. Close Regedit and open Windows Explorer
  5. Click on Start > Run and type the following:
    regsvr32 -u c:\windows\kdx\khost.exe
  6. Delete the folder KService from C:\Program Files\KService.
  7. Delete the folder kdx from C:\windows\kdx.
  8. Restart the PC.

That's a longwinded uninstall routine for users to have to go through.  I get the feeling that they don't want you to uninstall the application.  Uninstalling the Sky by Broadband application also doesn't delete the movies downloaded - I guess this is so that Kontiki can continue to serve these out to other users after you've tried it and decided to uninstall.  Delete these manually with Windows Explorer (they are in the C:\Program Files\KService folder).

In closing, let me just outline the issues I have with this service:

  • Lack of overall clarity about what customers are signing up to - I think that for the many people mention P2P would cool their interest in signing up.
  • No explanation of the distributed nature of P2P and how it might affect bandwidth.
  • No opt-out or at least a way to cap bandwidth.
  • No proper uninstall mechanism that removes the entire application and all downloaded components.

I want to make clear that I don't have an issue with P2P, my issue is with the stealthy install and poor uninstall offered by the Sky service.

I don't like Sky by Broadband - it's baaaad medicine and it's gone off my system.

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There's now an interesting thread over on the Sysinternals forum on Sky by Broadband.

What surprises me aboutmany of the discussions about this software and software like it is the polarity of views - some people are outraged by it while others don't see what the fuss is about and seem outraged by the people who don't like it. My take is simple - software that doesn't have a proper uninstall feature then I look at that as behaving badly. Legal it might be. Ethical it is not.

'Nuff said.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2006 at 17:53 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service”

  1. Geoff’s Blog :: Problems with Kontiki/Sky By Broadband make Slashdot Says:

    [...] The problems with the peer-to-peer nastiness that is Sky By Broadband have made the front page of Slashdot.   The Slashdot article itself doesn't have any new stuff, and it seems to be more annoyed at Sky not making it clear it's a Peer 2 Peer app than it is about the lack of an uninstall capability.  Personally, I still think the worst aspect of Sky By Broadband is that people who believe they've uninstalled it are still running the P2P service and sharing their bandwidth.   Oh, and the uninstall instructions in the article Slashdot references don't include the regsvr32 -u that's in Nick's instructions, and you probably do want to do that just to be clean. [...]

  2. baris’s blog » Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service Says:

    [...] The PC Doctor » Blog Archive » Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service Also, conveniently, all the uninstall information is currently unavailable on the Kontiki website External Link (typical). However, this process will uninstall Kontiki completely. However, I have found mention of an Add/Remove Programs entry and System Tray icons for Kontiki as standard - so it looks like Sky wanted to hide it as much as possible from users (there are two key files - KService is called Delivery Manager Service and KHost is called Delivery Manager). [...]

  3. Broadband Service Information » Blog Archive - PC Doctor computerSerious issues with Sky by Broadband service Microsof Says:

    [...] Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service ” The PC Doctor [...]

  4. NewTeeVee » The Year in Peer-to-Peer News Says:

    [...] Feb. 26: This user’s experience with the Kontiki-powered Sky by Broadband service demonstrates ‘legitimate’ P2P still has a ways to go. [PC Doctor] [...]

  5. Anyone use SkyByBroadband? - SkyUser - The unofficial support forum for everything Sky! Says:

    [...] Anyone use SkyByBroadband? If you do apparently it could be using valuable resource on your machine and broadband connection according to this! Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service The PC Doctor’s blog [...]

  6. Can I Connect My Router Today? - SkyUser - The unofficial support forum for everything Sky! Says:

    [...] Originally Posted by DeeLondon Well I know that I'm currently using more then 40 GB a month worth of downloads and since there's 20 joining fee on the MID package but nothing onthe Max, the Max package only works out another 40 extra over the course of the first 12 months. And I reckon once I know it's unlimited I'll more likely use other services like Sky Anytime. If you are going to use Sky anytime make sure you check this out first! Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service The PC Doctor’s blog [...]

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    [...] Re: Extremely high bandwidth usage showing on Bandwidth Monitor meter Do you use Sky By Broadband / Sky Anytime on PC? See Serious issues with Sky by Broadband service The PC Doctor’s blog john __________________ John in High Wycombe pimp my connection [...]