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Ofcom Suggests £36 Yearly Fee For BBC iPlayer & VOD Services

A report published by telecommunications watchdog Ofcom is the clearest indication yet that UK could be heading towards a UK broadband sector devoid of the notion of net-neutrality.

The fourth edition of the technology research programme document published by Ofcom and entitled "Converged Communications in Tomorrow's World" reckons that " In the case of extreme traffic demands, the costs to do this [delivering services such as video-on-demand] might be in the region of £1 to £3 per household per month on top of existing Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscriptions; however, given the increase in value of the data consumed in the home this increase in price might be acceptable".

The last few words, coming from the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries is the clearest indication that charging extra for "premium" services like video on demand is acceptable.

The £36 per year would be equivalent to an annual toll fee which will let customers get prioritised bandwidth for time-sensitive content like VoIP, video on demand and gaming.

The revenue generated by this additional "broadband tax" would be used to upgrade the existing network. Many BBC's Project Canvas, to be the catalyst that could bring UK's broadband infrastructure to its knees as millions choose to view television via broadband and not through the normal broadcast channels.

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In related news, the BBC Trust has delayed its second hearing on its Canvas project, which is a partnership between BBC, BT and ITV to launch a broadband based video on demand set top box solution. Ironically, BT has made it clear in the past few days that free video on demand services are putting undue strain on the network and should be charged.

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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 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.