BBC iPlayer Bandwidth Concerns – More Investment Needed, Regulator Says

What’s the best way to extricate the BBC from the bandwidth nightmare some ISPs this week said the corporation’s iPlayer will wreak? Build faster broadband, says the U.K. media regulator. BT, Tiscali and Carphone Warehouse earlier this week expressed concerns to the broadcaster that its P2P web TV catch-up service, currently in beta, will clog their networks with too much traffic. In response, an Ofcom spokesperson told The Times: “It’s the right time to be examining whether there may be a role for utility companies, who could potentially offer their infrastructure as a way of laying out new fiber-optic cables.”

The regulator estimates it will cost the industry £800 million ($1.09 billion) to keep pace with the growth in bandwidth-hogging online video, Guardian reports today, while The Register, doing its sums, reckons an hour-long BBC show downloaded for free via iPlayer will cost an ISP £0.67 ($0.91) to deliver. Some ISPs are due to trial 20 Mbit and 50 Mbit services over copper and cable, but this was a rare and stark call from Ofcom that only fiber can offer truly high speeds – and that the likes of electricity providers should help lay the network. Meanwhile, campaigners outside BBC HQ this week staged a protest against Windows-only iPlayer DRM, wearing radiation suits.