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ISPs Threaten iPlayer

4:45 PM -- Reports are circulating that Internet service providers in the U.K. are threatening to throttle video content broadcast over British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) 's iPlayer.

According to those reports, Tiscali UK , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), and Carphone Warehouse Group plc (London: CPW) are considering limiting bandwidth for the service, which allows users to download and watch BBC programs on their PCs.

The iPlayer uses the Kontiki -based P2P delivery system, which transparently downloads bits and pieces from several peers in the network, rather than from a single server. That makes it cheaper for the BBC to deliver programs than if the broadcaster used a traditional content delivery system.

But the decentralized nature of peer-to-peer delivery can be a headache for carriers, as P2P applications typically gobble up as much bandwidth as possible over any given network.

That has some ISPs looking at deep packet inspection and traffic shaping solutions to limit bandwidth driven by applications like the iPlayer, from which service providers receive no revenue.

While network neutrality has been an issue in some legislative circles in the U.S. for years, I find it interesting that the debate is spreading to include content distributors and ISPs in the U.K., where cries for net neutrality seem much less pronounced.

Unlike in the U.S., where carriers are mum on their plans for traffic shaping due to net neutrality concerns, network operators have embraced the technology. BT, for instance, hasn't been shy about its intentions to manage traffic, and named Ellacoya as its DPI vendor of choice earlier this year. (See BT Picks Ellacoya.)

The issue is how ISPs plan to make money off of content delivered over their networks, especially in the case of content that competes directly with bandwidth-hogging video-on-demand or IPTV services.

While they could throttle, or limit, that traffic, it's more likely that they will "get in on the value chain" by offering higher levels of QOS to those content distributors willing to pay a premium, which is possibly the real reason that bandwidth hogs like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) are so amped about net neutrality.

So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the U.K.

— Ryan Lawler, P2P Proselytizer, Light Reading

ronenzur 12/5/2012 | 3:04:04 PM
re: ISPs Threaten iPlayer ISPs business model is based on a statistical model of bandwidth consumption of its users, it assumes that on average a single user will consume X-Gig of bandwidth and not more than that, at the early stages when most traffic was pure HTTP, it could work... today with P2P and Video steaming like youtube this model is breaking down, and ISPs must reinvent, I believe that using a Per User diffrentiation - meaning that a user should pay more if he consume more, the technology is available and should be implemented that if a user desire to get better service using TV over P2P technology, then the ISP should charge for it...

Regards,
Ronen
Ryan Lawler 12/5/2012 | 3:04:02 PM
re: ISPs Threaten iPlayer Ronen,

Good points. Differentiated levels of service -- including increased bandwidth for more cash and application-specific QOS -- are already in the works, if not already in place in European carriers (or so I've heard).

The question is, do carriers really want to annoy their subscribers (who they depend on for revenues) by asking them to pay more?

Wouldn't it make more sense to open an additional revenue stream from the content side by creating differentiated levels of service to content providers who are receiving ad or subscription revenue, but not paying a whole lot to have that content delivered?
Ryan Lawler 12/5/2012 | 3:04:02 PM
re: ISPs Threaten iPlayer Ronen,

Good points. Differentiated levels of service -- including increased bandwidth for more cash and application-specific QOS -- are already in the works, if not already in place in European carriers (or so I've heard).

The question is, do carriers really want to annoy their subscribers (who they depend on for revenues) by asking them to pay more?

Wouldn't it make more sense to open an additional revenue stream from the content side by creating differentiated levels of service to content providers who are receiving ad or subscription revenue, but not paying a whole lot to have that content delivered?
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