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Broadband Providers Wary Of Online Video Services

Aug 23, 2007
Broadband providers have warned the growing popularity of online video services, such as YouTube, Channel 4's OD service, and the newly introduced BBC iPlayer, may lead to an increase in prices for broadband in the forthcoming years.

The main problems is the amount of bandwidth which broadband customers are using. Previously many broadband providers advertised their service as unlimited meaning that consumers could download as much as they wanted with no risk of their service being capped or of them being charged extra. Now in order to cope with the increase of bandwidth use broadband providers are capping downloads and slowing speeds down at peak times but fear that if the trend of increased downloading continues then higher prices will have to follow.

The use of video services requires more bandwidth in order to download both the video and audio content of a particular file. Services such as YouTube usually stream their content for videos often lasting only a few minutes. However, Channel 4's On Demand service and the BBC's iPlayer allow consumers to not only stream entire programmes, often lasting from between 30-60 minutes, but they also allow users to download programmes to their hard drive to be watched at a later date.

According to figures from Ofcom it could cost up to 830 million pounds to upgrade the network to cope with the so-called traffic jams expected to arise as a result of the video sites. And of course that extra cost will be passed onto the consumer so that broadband providers can continue to keep running and making profits.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mary Turner, the Chief Executive of Tiscali UK said: "Peer to Peer traffic is the first to be affected at peak times making downloading slower but not limiting it with any caps. iPlayer traffic would fall into this category, although at present would not be specifically targeted. The internet was not set up with a view to distributing video. If the iPlayer really takes off, consumers accessing the internet will get very slow service."

The BBC responded by saying: "We are in regular discussions with the ISPs and together are monitoring the costs associated with video on demand. The delivery of TV programmes over the internet is still a very young service, and we can expect that everything from ISP service packages to consumer electronic equipment will evolve over the next few years."
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Guide2Broadband discusses broadband options for residential customers, primarily for the UK market. Find out more about getting the best broadband option for your home at http://www.guide2broadband.com
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