BBC squares up with ISPs over iPlayer; unlimited broadband to vanish?

The iPlayer has been hugely popular with internet users and has been one of the major highlights of the Beeb this year; but ISPs have been quick to respond to this popularity and pointed out that they were losing money.

Some ISPs have also tried to manage BBC iPlayer data, something that the corporation has vehemently opposed and has threatened to blacklist those ISPs which would try to throttle iPlayer downloads.

On his BBC Internet Blog, Ashley Highfield, BBC's director of future media and technology, wrote a post entitled "Hidden Costs" of Watching TV Online? which refered to a previous article written by The Daily Telegraph and in which he attacked the stance and double standards of Internet Service Providers.

Highfield has also hit out at ISPs for saying that their packages are unlimited in nature and then applying all sorts of blocks and obstacles.

"Content providers, if they find their content being specifically squeezed, shaped, or capped, could start to indicate on their sites which ISPs their content worked best on (and which to avoid)," he wrote.

"I hope it doesn't come to this, as I think we (the BBC and the ISPs) are currently working better together than ever."

The problem is complex and the fact that the BBC is a public body doesn't make things easier; ISPs have to generate profits and in its current format, video on demand is an expensive proposal, which is why ISPs have implemented traffic shaping or management in most of their broadband offers.

As mentioned before, one episode of Life in Cold Blood weighs in at 600MB and while iPlayer's Peer to Peer technology might alleviate the bandwidth issue for a while, the face-off between BBC and the ISPs might mark the beginning of the end of Unlimited broadband in the UK.