BBC in more hot water over iPlayer

The BBC is facing criticism from ISPs over iPlayer

The boss of ISP Tiscali has once again repeated his demand that the BBC help pay for the infrastructure needed to provide access to high-bandwidth services such as the BBC iPlayer.

"The question is about whether we invest in extra capacity or go to the consumer and ask them to pay a BBC tax," said Simon Gunter who was even mumbling about the iPlayer at a Westminster eForum next-gen broadband debate we attended back in November.

Gunter’s comments follow 19-point plan written by the BBC’s Ashley Highfield and posted on the BBC Technology blog last week. It detailed a ‘broadband charter’ that included aims for not only content providers, but also the Government and ISPs to boot. Gunter was understandably wound-up by the comments, saying it was a "bit rich that a publicly-funded organisation is telling a commercial body how to run its business."

We first reported on Tiscali's concerns last August.

Ofcom believes that ISPs will have to pay out over £800 million to provide extra capacity for catch-up TV services. And it's not entirely surprising. An hour-long download is 600MB on iPlayer, meaning many users can quickly bust their usage allowances.

As we reported yesterday, Highfield said: “I would not suggest that ISPs start to try and charge content providers. They are already charging their customers for broadband to receive any content they want.”

“If ISPs start charging content providers, the customer will not know which content will work well over their chosen ISP, and which content may have been throttled for non-payment of a levy.” As we’ve previously said, he has a point – content restriction is a whole new kettle of fish.

Highfield told this morning’s Radio 4 Today programme such "inflammatory" comments were not helpful.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.