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BBC Introduces Higher Quality iPlayer, ISPs should be worried

A recent Adobe Flash upgrade has given the BBC, the perfect excuse to start encoding video content at a higher bitrate for its popular iPlayer video on demand service.

At 800kbps and in H.264 format, the corporation promises better and sharper images which will be ideal for large size, HD ready screens and simultaneously, the BBC will start using AAC+ for audio.

The transition also means that iTouch and iPhone users will enjoy better quality content as well.

BBC's move from the VP6 compression technology is due partly to the fact that both H.264 and AAC+ are fairly open platforms compared to the aforementioned one which was developed by On2.

Future iPlayers versions could also adopt variable and automatic bitrate detection to cater for the wide range of broadband speeds across the country.

BBC director of future media and technology Erik Huggers said: “The advantage for the audience will be a noticeable improvement in audio and video quality. Furthermore, it should become easier for the media to simply work across a broader range of devices. While it’s not a magic bullet, it certainly is a significant step in the right direction.”

Now, ISPs could well be miffed by the announcement since it means that in effect, the bandwidth consumed by the average iPlayer user could jump by nearly 60 percent overnight piling pressure on them.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.