iPlayer upgrade may bash smaller ISPs

BBC iPlayer - crushing the life out of small ISPs?
BBC iPlayer - crushing the life out of small ISPs?

The BBC is getting stick about rumoured plans to switch to a new delivery provider for iPlayer – apparently choosing a company who favour bigger ISPs and hang smaller ones out to dry.

Previously, Auntie worked with the provider Akamai, who used servers within individual ISPs to hold cached data, making it immediately available to users of that ISP and meaning that the provider didn't need to buy extra bandwidth to carry the data from further away.

However, as revealed in a recent blog post, the BBC's Anthony Rose, new head of digital media, mentioned that provider Level3 are "now able to stream H.264 content to ISPs in the UK".

Many saw this comment as hinting towards a change, but the problem with Level3 for smaller ISPs is that it distributes its media content from its own central servers, meaning data transfer costs are greater, and would be shared between the BBC and the ISP – bad news for smaller, poorer ones, who may not have the financial resources for themasses of content required to stream iPlayer.

This is all still speculation though, and in a statement to MacUser today, a spokesman from the BBC denied the company had any definite plans for the near future, saying: "We use a variety of distribution methods to meet our needs, and are always looking at ways of reducing both our own costs and those of ISPs."