BBC fights back over ISPs' iPlayer objections

The BBC is seeking to diffuse the growing controversy over the BBC iPlayer’s heavy demands on the web infrastructure in the UK, claiming it’s in regular discussions with ISPs regarding the costs of downloading video.

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The BBC is seeking to diffuse the growing controversy over the BBC iPlayer’s heavy demands on the web infrastructure in the UK, claiming it’s in regular discussions with ISPs regarding the costs of downloading video.

The broadcaster is under fire from ISPs over how its new multimedia player may cause an increase in demand for bandwidth, placing greater stresses on the infrastructure of ISP's.

But in a statement, the BBC pushed the issue back to the ISPs, which it said are responsible for pricing, monthly limits on how much data can be downloaded as well as acceptable use polices for their users.

"Inevitably, some ISP packages will be more suitable than others for the download of large amounts of data," the BBC said in a statement. "All broadband is not equal."

The row highlights how much investment ISPs will need to put in their infrastructure to accommodate greater demand for video. Supplying broadband access is not a high-margin business, and ISPs are increasingly looking to provide their own packages of internet access plus content offerings such as IPTV (Internet protocol television), said Jonathan Coham, a broadband analyst at Ovum.

The rift with the BBC over bandwidth may be a red herring, where the real issue is that the BBC's content will eventually compete with content offerings from ISPs such BT and Tiscali, Coham said.

"It's interesting they are making such a big deal out of the BBC's iPlayer," Coham said. "Obviously, the BBC has a very strong back catalogue of titles."

Broadband provider Tiscali said services such as the iPlayer and others "are being launched without proper attention to the cost of delivery". Increasing bandwidth will cost broadband operators more money, Tiscali said in a statement.

A BT spokesman would only say that the iPlayer and other video download services are "being factored into our decisions on bandwidth and quality of service".

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