This year, there will be a variety of internet services available through your broadband connection. VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is already establishing itself in the UK, but soon we'll have a plethora of TV stations to choose from in the form of IPTV (Internet Protocol TV).

Add to that the increasing popularity of online gaming and your broadband connection may not seem as abundant as it once did.

The problem is a lot of broadband users in the UK have what's called a 'capped' connection. This means users can download only a certain amount of information per month. For IPTV such restrictions will be detrimental.

With the heavy demands of services like IPTV, users with capped connections may fill their download quota within hours.

The Venice Project , an IPTV service being set up by the people behind Skype and file sharing phenomenon Kazaa , has pointed out such problems.

For its initial testing, it warned users "The Venice Project uses a relatively high amount of bandwidth per hour. One hour of viewing is 320MB downloaded and 105 Megabytes uploaded."

It went on to say that a two gigabyte capped connection would reach its limit with only 20 hours of viewing. In addition, the service continues to run in the background once the main window is closed.

A potential solution

UK telephone giants British Telecom (BT) has launched BT Vision , an IPTV service which gets around the capped connection problem, but still has its drawbacks.

"Any downloads or streamed content from BT Vision will not come out of users' usage allowance," a BT spokesperson explained. "No matter how much content they buy."

BT told Tech.co.uk that BT Vision will grab the lion's share of a 1.5Mbit/s broadband connection. The company is asking people who are considering the service to have at least a 2Mbit connection, or above.
Even this would barely leave 512Kbit/s for everything else; online gaming, internet phone calls, emails, music downloads, etc.

It's clear, however, that if you wish to use IPTV in the future, and the plethora of choices it brings, you will need a fast and unlimited connection.

The reason capped connections are so popular is they are cheaper than uncapped connections.

For example, BT's basic broadband package, Option 1 - £10 per month, limits its users to 2GB of downloads.

Whereas AOL's Silver broadband package, with unlimited downloads, costs £15 per month.