BBC Controller Supports Paid-For Tiered iPlayer

BBC's Controller for Vision and Online Media Anthony Rose has backed the idea of tiered broadband tariff in the UK which has worrying undertones of net neutrality controversy attached to it in an interview with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)

Rose revealed that BBC's video on demand service accounts for only 7 percent of the bandwidth used in the UK during peak periods with other online video services like Youtube consuming significant amounts of resources as well.

The corporation has plans to release tiered iPlayer services that will satisfy users that enjoy different broadband speeds.

Rose gave the example of service providers like Virgin which is already providing 20mbps and 50mbps cable broadband and would allow near HD content to be streamed at a much higher streaming bitrate.

The acting BBC Controller also said that it should provide ISPs with an opportunity to market different products to fit different viewing needs and different budgets.

iPlayer is currently streaming at 0.8mbps and could possibly go to 1.5mbps with another lower 0.5kbps bitrate being proposed to entry level users.

This could lead ISPs to charge up to £20 per month as ISPs try to curb excessive bandwidth usage in peak hours; Newteevee reports that during the Olympics, the iPlayer traffic accounted for 20 percent of all UK broadband traffic.

Rose said that the iPlayer is actually costing ISPs money, adding "The ISPs license the bandwidth for IP stream, based on peak usage. For this reason, iPlayer traffic is costing those ISPs. It is not just iPlayer, all traffic from YouTube, Facebook and other services is costing them."

The BBC is also investigating ways to encourage downloads to happen during offpeak hours to ease ISPs load and could possibly use Personal Video Recorders and Peer to Peer in the future to achieve this.

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Our Comments

Some may argue that since we're already paying for the TV licence, there should be no need to pay extra for getting the better quality content. But then, there's the fact that ISPs are ultimately paying for streaming the vast amount of data that the iPlayer demands. More than 300,000 people use the iPlayer (either online or through one of the various platforms available) with more than 100TB worth of data being streamed every day.

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