BBC's on-demand video service raises concerns over increased broadband costs

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BBC website logoThe BBC’s video on-demand proposal has been given the go ahead today, but whilst it marks another exciting step in the corporation’s rollout of value-added Internet services, concerns have been raised that the consumer will end up paying more for their broadband service than now.

Video eats up a lot of bandwidth, and consumers who choose to dive wholeheartedly into new VoD services (of which the BBC is just one) risk exceeding any limits their ISP places on their broadband service, or being penalised for infringing ‘fair use’ on ‘unlimited’ plans.

The BBC Trust said, “As licence fee payers start to download larger and a wider range of files, broadband providers will face increased costs in transferring the additional data. It is possible that providers could pass these costs onto consumers in one way or another. Any potential contraints should only be a medium term issue in a competitive market while broadband capacity adjusts.”

Whilst individual consumers can choose whether to use the new services, what would be more worrying is if there is a general rise in prices from broadband operators across the board, to take into account the proportion of users who do utilise the new services.

“The BBC service should be seen in the context of a developing market with the amount of data downloaded expected to continue rising. The amount of data downloaded through the BBC’s proposed services will therefore be small relative to total internet traffic,” continued the Trust.

In other words, Britain’s broadband infrastructure needs to continue to receive investment and improvement, as video becomes more important to both users and content providers. The BBC certainly aren’t the only group interested in getting video into people’s homes.

Related stories: BBC to launch its own YouTube channel | Channel 4 launches 4oD – TV when you want it | Netflix offers movies on demand

Andy Merrett