BT hits back in iPlayer throttling row

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bbc-iplayer.jpgYou may remember last week, we published a post regarding BT’s apparent throttling of its user’s broadband connections. Well, the telecom giant has hit back, going public with its condemnation of online video services like the BBC’s iPlayer and YouTube.

Basically this is how the row has unfolded: The BBC releases a story accusing BT of slowing down broadband connections at peak times – to less than 1Mbps between 5pm and midnight – when users should be getting up to 8Mbps. BT responds by sending an email to BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours stating that content providers “can’t expect to continue to get a free ride”. They also go public with this stance.

The Beeb have responded today, via their blog, saying that BT’s move was a “forthright call for cash” and that the row could end with net neutrality becoming obsolete.

What this means is that ISPs, who currently make no differentiation between types of internet traffic, could begin to charge content providers for their output, particularly bandwidth hoggers like the iPlayer.

The row illustrates how much the net has evolved over the last few years. With the mass introduction of high-bandwidth streaming service like the iPlayer, Spotify, YouTube and the like, the pressure on ISPs to provide a fast and consistent service to their users has increased dramatically.

Lord Carter’s Digital Britain review is due next week and should call for broadband at high speeds and low prices. It might just be that content providers are going to have to come to a compromise with the ISPs to make that happen.

Whatever the outcome, the end users should not be the ones who are penalised. If an ISP advertises up to 8Mbps broadband with unlimited data allowance then that is exactly what they should provide. They shouldn’t promote a service if they are going to struggle to provide it.

(via The FT)

Paul Lamkin

2 comments

  • interesting. In never concidered this. In real terms though each will digest content from a variety of sources. Video is just one form of content, and while Iplayer is a UK based service provided by the BBC – the type of institution that BT might argue they can “tax” it would be impossible to charge idividual website that serve video content. In the end throttling services will just loose BT customers

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