back to article iPlayer chief pushes tiered charging for ISPs

The executive in charge of the BBC iPlayer has suggested that internet users could be charged £10 per month extra on their broadband bill for higher quality streaming. The comments by the BBC's head of digital media technology Anthony Rose reopen a contentious debate about how to pay for the bandwidth consumed by iPlayer, …


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  1. Dave Cumming
    Thumb Down

    How to pay?

    "how to pay for the bandwidth consumed by iPlayer". Err... don't we pay for it already? On BT Option 2 I get a 15GB download allowance, if I use it all on online gaming or I use all of it on iPlayer whats the difference, its still 15 GB.

    Not that I can use iPlayer very well on BT as they appear to throttle it which means in fact I already can't use the 15GB as I see fit resulting in me about to drop BT as soon as my contract expires.

    Paying an "extra" charge is a non-starter as your basically saying "you pay us X for your broadband, now pay us Y and we'll actually let you use it".

    Surely a better answer is for OFTEL and the government to tell the ISPs to actually honour the services they are selling and if they can't tough luck, they go out of business. For them to moan and whine and say "oh but we don't have the bandwidth".. well you shouldn't be selling something you don't have, no other business can get away with that so why should they?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how about

    we pay nothing!

    I'm already paying to recieve a 10Mb/sec connection, why shoudl i pay on top of that just to recieve iplayer content.

  3. Gulfie

    No Way!

    "The future lies in tiered services"

    There is but one tier, either you have paid for a TV licence, or you haven't. I strongly disagree with the BBC's stance that they should run different tiers of service hand in glove with the ISPs. The BBC is one of the few 'universal access' service providers in the UK (yes, I know, that could be a whole other debate) and the licencepayers should not be expected to shell out additional monthly charges to receive any of the content we have already funded and the connection we have already paid for. Period.

    Once ISPs accept the responsibility of accurately describing what people are buying - limits, real performance and so on, this problem will go away. The selling tactics of our ISPs are now distorting the way content is being delivered. I should have, as a licence payer, the right to access all the available streams without additional payment for doing so.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Never going to happen

    So, they must be planning to have some really good content availiable exclusivley on the high quality iplayer service to encourage initial takeup.

    What's that going to be then? The new series of Dr Who and that Gavin and Stacy crap or whatever it's know......the one that no one watches.

    Sure, I'll pay an extra tenner a month for that.

    Plus there's probably something to do with the licence fee that prevents this kind evilness.

  5. Dave Ashton


    christ these telcos/BBC are tedious arent they? Everyday, a new reason to carry on bittorrenting.

  6. Christian Berger

    Direct lines to the BBC?

    I mean it's the peering contracts that cause money, but couldn't they just peer directly with the BBC? Or couldn't they just ask the BBC to put their servers right into the data-centers of the ISPs?

    I mean there is no technical shortage of bandwidth. It's just horribly bad management.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I pay for an 8mb service which is capped at 40gig a month. Now as long as I dont go over the 40gig cap why should I not recieve a 1.5mb stream/download from iplayer. Are the BBC mad? Also I note that with the release of there new adobe air desktop manager the BBC say bandwidth prices have fallen 90% in the last year, mmmm, but they want ISP's to charge us more, ok.

  8. Thomas Jolliffe


    So, I pay £140 per year for my TV license, and they want me to pay another £10 every month just to watch stuff I've missed? Who are they kidding?

    No doubt we'll have the joys of the TVLA as usual (letters, threatening letters, letters saying you're being taken to court, jumped-up 'officers' knocking on the door and forcing their way into your home), regardless of whether or not you've got a TV/have internet access/watch iPlayer/etc.

    If it's going to cost me another £120 per year for iPlayer, I say scrap it. It's not worth that much (plus I get it free on Virgin TV anyway).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Table stakes, not value add

    If iPlayer becomes a must-have, ISPs that provide a usable service for no extra cost will survive and ones that don't, won't. As for giving the ISPs licence-payer money, I predict a riot.

  10. Steve

    They can shove it up their arse's

    I pay for the bandwidth as specified in my contract, to use how I decide.

  11. Sampler
    Thumb Down

    f**k off

    I only receive the BBC via broadband - for which i have bought a licence, I don't have an ariel, sky or cable service - as far as I'm concerned it's paid for - they can shove their tier's up their rears.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Time to carve up the BBC like a turkey come christmas.

    It's huge, inefficient, duplicates the commercial aspect of other channels and a waste of taxpayers money. Yes, it's the BBC.

    Because we can't convince the beast to kill itself, I propose that the stuff you can get on other channels anyway (imported american soaps, 'entertainment' programs and such) gets moved to a separate channel and supported by an advertising model (lets call it BBZ).

    Then we can retain a 'proper' BBC channel that only focuses on news, weather, sports that arn't economically viable to put on commercial channels and 'culture', whatever that means. (And of course messages from beloved leader during war times).

    I'd estimate the cost of the 'proper' bbc to be about 20 quid a year worth of licensing fees.

    The 'other' bbc (the one with the commericals) would then be allowed to die a slow death at the hands of the competition once they couldn't throw licensing fees around anymore.

    The popular programs previously made by the Beeb would then be bought up by other commercial channels, and we would have a situation where the BBC actually did what it was supposed to, for a licensing fee that doesn't pay for imported (or homegrown) shows that the commercial stations could support.

    wouldn't that be a nice world to live in?

  13. M7S

    BBC living in their Elysian Fields again

    I complain frequently that despite living only 35 miles from the capital city of what is supposed to be a first world country, I can only get 1/2 meg. At best. It doesnt matter what internet package I buy, nor from which ISP. How then would I get the benefit of this? It takes me twice as long as any program lasts to download it, and watching the stuff that is online with iplayer but not downloadable is out of the question.

    I like the institution and much of its output, but being driven by commercial considerations turned ITV from a once great service to what it is today, and I would hate to see the BBC as the final bastion of decent TV go the same way.

    If they want to charge, they should guarantee the bandwidth and fund the fibre upgrade to the nation.

  14. Mark Broadhurst

    Not watching telly.

    Since the iPlayer has come out. I've stopped watching telly.

    1. theres not a lot on.

    2. I can download it when I want to watch it on BBC iPlayer, ITV catch up, Five ondemand and channel 4 what ever their service is called.

    That means that if I get rid of my telly I dont have to pay a licence fee and can enjoy it all for free with out adverts.

    If more people realise this they will also realise that the BBC should be charging for the service since they already do.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PAYG Broadband

    This isn't news.

    My ISP already has a range of charges for differing data volumes and quality of service.

    The issue may simply be that most broadband customers haven't noticed because most ISP's have been able to get away with not being clear about what you get... so far.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    The BBC also dont put people in prison for non-payment of the licence fee (they just wait for the judiciary to whack a big fine and then glee as non-licence fee payers go to prison for not paying the fine.

    BBC's hands are clean

  17. Graham Wood

    Advertising rather than reality...

    A lot of people seem to have got the wrong end of the stick here.

    Yes, you've been told that this is a "5GB/s unlimited" connection - but that's because, when they started selling it, people used so little bandwidth per month that it was "safe" for them to do so (as well as that being the way that BT wholesale sold them to the ISPs). Now that people are using the connections more (Even a few years ago, streaming video was a pipedream), the "misrepresentation" is coming home to roost.

    With that out of the way (so that people don't think I'm defending the current state of affairs):

    1) You're not actually paying for an unlimited connection. What you're paying for is a link which may (or may not) work well (or indeed at all), and the speed quoted is literally just what you get between your modem and the exchange - beyond that is a totally different state of affairs. If you want a proper "unlimited" connection to the "internet" then there are companies that will give it to you - for about 20 or 30 times the cost of your ADSL.

    2) BT used to sell "unlimited connection at speed <x>" to the ISPs, then moved to "as fast as the connection will run, but you pay per MB transmitted" - meaning that the ISPs started to get billed differently.

    That second point is very important. Someone watching TV on their PC via their ADSL (on a BT line) is costing their ISP additional money per minute.

  18. Stephen Wright

    Streaming is old hat

    I just download from iPlayer, never stream.

    I have "8Mb" ADSL.

    If I try to download at 6pm, it takes about an hour for an hour programme.

    If I try to download at 6am, it takes about 20 minutes for an hour programme.

    The main thing to bear in mind in terms of bandwidth caps and streaming, is that they aren't related. You may be allowed 40GB in a month, but you can't have it all at peak times, and this is a completely fair arrangement on the ISPs part.

    They've said "up to 8Mb" and they've said "bandwidth allowance = 40GB" but they never said "8Mb speeds at all times" - that's what paying more money gets you, hence I don't, and download iPlayer programmes.

    Surely the point of catching up, is you're less restricted to when you want to get it, so why the huge desire to stream? Downloading the files makes the content caching solution more viable too. ISPs should pay for this in partnership with the BBC. They pay for it, and thus protect their networks.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Oh, clever move

    Pay more for high quality iPlayer feeds? Nope, most people will simply reach for a p2p client. If p2p is killed by throttling, or some other method, then we suddenly have enough bandwidth to carry iplayer traffic at high quality on the existing networks. Of course, if I were a cynical, I'd be trying to work out a way to do p2p-over-iplayer already...

  20. Nick Drew
    Thumb Down

    Setting a precedent for content providers?

    When you strip out the BBC's sense of self-satisfied self-importance - leading the way so that us proles can enjoy our meeja - what we have here is a content provider telling the consumers that they should pay more for their services (hmmmm) and that the carriers should charge their consumers more for the content provider's content.

    Now the former is one issue - we already pay for content via our TV tax; if the BBC wants to diversify perhaps it should split into public service broadcasting and a for-profit subscription content service - but the latter is surely ridiculous? If the ISPs have any sense they will tell the BBC exactly where to shove it; unfortunately many of them appear blinkered to the fact that the BBC is nothing more than a content provider, albeit one paid for by the public purse, and with friends in very high places.

  21. David Hicks

    Um, what?

    I paid for a net connection so I could do stuff like this.

    People across the country are realising the potential of the net because of services like this.

    High bandwidth apps are the future of the net. Lets not respond to this new development by pricing them out of the reach of the populace, lets respond by making the UK better equipped to handle them!

    Did we invest in a motorway infrastructure when people started using cars more or did we keep to single lane country roads and tell people they could only drive a little bit because roads are expensive and if you use them a lot it's "unfair" to light users?

    Get your damn acts together UK ISPs. This shouldn't be a problem on a small, densely populated, rich little island like ours.

  22. John Wallace

    Where's this £10/month going?

    OK, let's start with some recent history e.g.

    Someone mentioned peering. The article above (and the comments that follow) explains why, following the BBC's change from using Akamai's content delivery network to Level3's content delivery network, peering with the content source is no longer relevant to most ISPs. Sorry.

    BTwoolsale have for a couple of years offered a service which allows a punter to book a "guaranteed speed" session (guaranteed QoS?) which you can pay for; I believe it's used already by BT Vision's "as live" video streams. But afaik it maxes out at a guaranteed 2Mbit, and afaik doesn't get any better even under BT's much overhyped 21CN. So it's not going to do much for HD. Also as far as I know, nobody outside the BT group sees any point in it, I'm not aware of any retail ISPs other than BT who offer this facility.

    So why do we need the BBC/Level3 to re-invent an irrelevant wheel ? Do *they* want a cut of the £10/month? If so, could they not make just as much money available by (e.g) terminating Ross's contract, letting him and his audience find a new home at "market rates", and using the money saved to fund some actual "public service" broadcasting stuff, in accordance with the Ts+Cs of the BBC's charter?

    How do they do this kind of thing in France? In Germany? Do they perhaps have a regulator who has a clue, or teeth, or both, instead of the idiots we have at Ofcon?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Surely all ISPs have to do... lay realistic usage monthly-up/download caps (or pricing-tiers) on the table. There's no reason for it not to be application-neutral.

    The more you use, the more you pay.

    If they want to charge more for data at peak times (eg evenings), then that too could be done in an application-neutral way.

    The ISPs only got themselves in this mess by promising "unlimited" services which, when something popular came along to increase demand, proved not to be a viable business model.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Great idea

    I'm serious. It will put a clear competition point between operators that can support the higher speed, those that charge extra and those that don't support. Those ISPs moaning at the BBC for providing content that makes people use the internet can shut up.

    The reality is that any competition will force ISPs to provide it at only only what it really cost or for free.

    Now if your ISP is already misleading you about the connectivity they are offering take it up with them but I assume that no ISPs charging extra for 10mbit connections would dare to charge extra for 1.5mbit Iplayer.

  26. Adam Salisbury


    Now feeling the effects of their own burst bubble, the ISPs artifically inflated the value of the connection they've sold you (by saying it's capable of XMbps) and are now unable to cope with that much traffic. Well so far as I'm concerned I've paid my license fee and broadband fee and if Mr ISP is whining because he mis-sold my connection, tough. No one wants accept responsibility for their own dodgings dealings anymore. It's another put up or shut up moment for capitalism and it'll invariably end with the customer always.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It's huge, inefficient, duplicates the commercial aspect of other channels and a waste of taxpayers money."

    Not really, more money comes from licence fees than tax payers.


    not paying more, i pay for 8 meg i will use 8meg, if i want to use 8meg using a high quality iplayer streaming why should i pay my ISP any more (note that, tbh i would be happy to pay the bbc more for it, just not the isp) if they cannot provide 8meg then they need to tell me this, lower my monthly ammount.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    BT's Fault

    Nationalise BT, reduce the ridiculous BT central charges, invest in FTTC: problem solved.

  29. Alex

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "wouldn't that be a nice world to live in?"

    Quite honestly no it would be terrible! Think about it. What has ITV made in the last 5 years that you actually sat down and thought wow that was innovative, exciting television? I know the BBC makes a lot of rubbish too but what I call rubbish (my family, top gear, vicar of dibbly) others will love, while what I like (G&S, Mighty boosh, panorama) you probably hate. It is a public service broadcaster which tries to produce new BRITISH tv so that there is something for everyone., Therefore it will not always hit the mark for YOU as an individual. This is not a reason to "carve it up like a turkey" and just import American TV as you suggest!

    As for charging more for Iplayer which this story is actually about this is a load of bollox, never going to happen. No one is going to pay 120quid for iplayer. Even if it is the best thing since sliced bread! We already paid for its development with the license fee....see that’s another thing you would never have got with your total free market ITV rules fantasy :)

  30. Alexander Hanff

    two words

    Net Neutrality

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I think it's a wonderful idea.....

    ...for some BBC exec to get his arse kicked in when everyone switches to EZTV (or whatever else is out there) and downloads the torrents to that programme.

    I have already paid for my license this year, it's their duty to remain in their budget.

    Money grabbing B*tards who think nowt of paying Jonnythin Woss Mi££ions because they have mugs like us who have to pay a license.


  32. John Armstrong-Millar

    That raises an interesting issue

    Is it true that you do not need a TV licence if you only have a computer and a broadband connection. My computer screen is actually larger than my TV!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It won't happen...

    ... for the simple reason that the quality is already good neough. It's why people don't switch from DVD to HD ... it's just not necessary.

  34. BeachBoy

    Its the ISP's stupid

    Lots of ranting about poor old Aunty Beeb, but all it is doing is providing a service that people want to use, no different from Google or Youtube or Bit torrent. The problem is still, as it always has been, with the ISP's.

    For the last ten years or so the ISP's have been playing an economically stupid game of my service is better than yours and its also cheaper. An economically gravity defying trick they pulled off with old fashioned smoke and mirrors, that being ridiculously high contention ratios for the technical amongst us. An idea that was orignially cooked up in they days when you had to install modem banks for your customers to connect. (I was designing ISP and carrier networks way back then).

    I don't deny contention ratios have a place in ISP economic planning, but now with streamed services the idea of one cost fits all has to change. We have to move to tiered services, and tiered costs either through bandwidth throttling, or by coming clean and telling the customer, yes you can have a 8mb/s connection for 10.99 a month but that is an average speed not an absolute (and by the way will probably only be achieved at 4am on a sunday morning), and if you want a real 8Mb/s service to watch eastenders or download Debbie does dallas its going to cost you 30.99 a month.

    The confusion is that the people think the licence fee gives them a right to see Eastenders in High Def any way they want. It doesn't.

  35. Alastair

    Are you sure?

    Looking at the quotes attributed to Mr. BBC Head Honcho, they just seem to be suggesting that users could pay more for more bandwidth- which they currently do. They don't specifically mention a separate charge?

  36. Patrick R

    You need HighDef...

    ...only to realize HD is only adding ~0.1% to the pleasure you get from watching any TV program. It's the content that matters. HD is a scam. You'll find out when you get it.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Paying more for a better service

    Typical response from elReg readers!!

    As long as thte extra cost isnt complusary whats the issue?

    Standard quality iPlayer for free, but a Higher Quality version for a few quid extra? People pay extra £100's a year extra for SkyHD.

    One wonders if Rupert Murdochs shills are out in force again.

    This whole Net Neutrality thing isnt going to last. When it was though out all were were downloading was test and a few "funky" pictures. Now we have oodles of Real Time" traffic flying around fighting for bandwidth with P2P and hugh downloads.

  38. oliver Stieber
    Thumb Up

    I'm happy to pay more

    I'm happy to pay more to make my 14MBs unlimited connection actually unlimited. unfortunattly as it stands I'm not give the option and end up getting capped.

  39. dek

    Here's an idea...

    why don't the BBC concentrate on ordinary TV and make at least a minimum effort to deliver some (any!) value for money paid by licence feeS, get rid of excess staff, stop wasting money on frivolous crap, reduce the licence fee by half and KEEP IT'S F'ING NOSE OUT OF EVERYTHING ELSE!

  40. Rob
    Black Helicopters


    That's the loophole, as long as the program you are watching is not being show on TV at the same time you can watch what ever you want without a TV License, just remember to notify them of that so they don't bother you with their numpty inspectors.

    "You will not need a TV Licence to view video clips on the internet, as long as what you are viewing is not being shown on TV at the same time as you are viewing it."

    "You do not need a TV Licence if you only use your TV to watch videos and DVDs or as a monitor for your games console."

    I suppose those quotes from their website shouldn't be open ended like they are but anything you watch on those services is pre-recorded, the same also applies to the iPlayer as well.

    "If you use the BBC iPlayer to watch BBC programmes after they have been broadcast - either to download, or via streaming 'on demand' you will not need a TV Licence."

    Dump the TV licenses people, everyone with broadband revolt against the establishment.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark Broadhurst

    You would still technically require a license fee even if you are only using the iPlayer as you are still using their services, obviously policing this is unlikely to happen.

  42. Red Bren

    @AC 14:05

    I never realised that Rupert Murdoch was an El Reg reader.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    He should be sacked!

    Rose has consistently shown he is unqualified for the job. Showing preference to Micro$oft and coming out with this tiered payment service - what next?! He should be shown the door for incompetence. He is not impartial in the technology he selects and he is not 'in tune' with the web at all. He has suppliers do his dirty selection work because he can't do it himself. This is absolute nonsense and the technically incompetent tw*t should be shown the door. Sure Micro$oft would hire him, but he would fail at the entrance test. We already pay for the BBC, we already pay for our ISP. Why does he feel that we should pay yet again for something we already HAVE paid for?! Oh, but then again, he's in the back pocket of Micro$oft - that explains everythhing.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Who pays?

    The Beeb already pay (or at least contribute towards the upkeep of) the television transmitting infrastructure don't they?

    So why should they expect the ISPs to happily offer up an alternative transmission route for free? Sounds like a bloody cheek to me.

    By all means provide on-demand services over the Internet BBC, but cough up some cash for those who have to shoulder some of your bandwidth costs please!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I already pay a license fee to use my TV. Why the feck should I pay more on top of my broadband to use the iPlayer? Why don't the beeb compensate the ISP's from the license fee. Oh wait that's right, they'd probably put the price of that up. Doh!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mark broadhurst

    The License Fee is applicable to TV content delivered through not only Telly, but through downloads.

  47. N

    The BBC

    Is an outdated organisation that woke up in the 21st century to play catch up on lost ground.

    iPlayer, seemed hopelessly late & iPlayer for Mac some 18 months later and counting, demonstrates that this organisation will quite happily scoop up license fees backed by its nasty little threatening adverts, but really has a problem delivering to a demanding market of Internet users who can no longer be arsed to sift through the stream of analogue bile supplied to the 'idiots lantern' as broadcast.

    And as for the Victorian belief that what we should pay twice for what we but in terms of bandwidth from our ISPs, I have two words:

    Fuck off.

  48. Grant Quinn

    Isn't tiered just different caps and silence by ISPs?

    From my first read of it, I got that Rose was essentially saying that ISPs need to charge an appropriate amount for a connection that's capable of showing iPlayer at high quality. Tiered internet to me meant that some connections have caps. I.e. a 10 GB a month allowance isn't exactly iPlayer friendly, a 100 GB cap is much better and an unlimited account is best yet. But you can't charge the same for all of these and that ISPs need to come up with better pricing and shut up with the moaning.

    The BBC are with us punters in that it's our bandwidth and we should be able to waste it on whatever we want, but they've made it clear they aren't going to pay the bandwidth twice for the ISPs.

  49. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    Get Stuffed, BBC.

    As someone who has *no interest at all* in the Beeb's execrable content (whether streamed or broadcast) I'll happily switch to any ISP who offers me the benefit of *not* providing access to BeebPlayer dross - if it saves me a tenner a month.

    If th Beeb wants to survive, switch to a subscription service/pay-per-view - and leave the rest of us alone.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    haha i make over 6 figures

    and have never paid tv license....just watch iplayer over my neighbours WEP wifi! lol.

    paris coz even she's too smart to pay more tv tax...i mean license fee....

  51. Dan Keating

    Turd in a punch bowl

    Sure I'll pay extra .... but all of a sudden I'm no longer a fan of the 'outmoded' license fee!

  52. Robert E A Harvey


    All ISPs offer the same clunky service for the same subscription. If there were a demand for a faster/uncapped/lower latency/better service for a couple of quid more someone would already be selling it.

    We all converted to BroadBand so that we could stream radio and TV - that is what the adverts told us, and frankly that is what we ought to be getting. If we have to pay 10 quid a month to get iplayer, what are we paying the existing 20 quid for?

    I would cheerfully pay 5 pound a month for some clunky old service that did email and usenet and a bit of web browsing and a bit of downloading overn ight by torrent. I am already paying 20 quid for what was sold as a high speed service. It is not, then heads must roll.

  53. The BigYin

    Typical lefties


    Like most have said here, I already pay for my connection (up to a 20gb or so cap). What I choose to do with that limit is my choice. If I use iPlayer heavily enough (and I don't) to use up that 20gb, that's my look-out. I either pay for a further capacity or do without. If I want to watch high-quality, streaming 'net TV (and I don't) then it is up to me to pay for a connection faster than 2gb/s.

    What next? Tiered water services? "The water will cost of 1p per litre, unless you use it for a games stock or other hoity-toity scran; in which case it will cost you 5p per litre."

    I will pick the service that best suits my needs (capacity and speed); I will not pay *AGAIN* to get access to content I have already paid for (in the case of the BBC, that would be the TV Tax). As for TV; Freeview and a PVR with an enormous HDD does me rather nicely thank you.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why Not Just Ban the Thing!

    I already pay a BBC licence to receive by normal TV, and I have a PVR! Why should I be expected to pay for the same serv ice on my PC? It's bad enough having my BB speeds hampered by this unneccessary service. I say the ISPs should simply ban the bloody thing until the BBC coughs up to them for the extra bandwidth.

    The Beeb can't even stream audio well, never mind video.

    Very Disgruntled


  55. OrsonX


    Hahahha, hhahahaha (gasps for breath) hahahahahaaaaaa......

    no way!

  56. Peter Smith

    ISP's business models at fault

    Too many ISP's still market their products with unrealistic usage allowances, based on the hope that people won't actually use those allowances. There are providers about who are not only very honest about the way they market their products, but work on a 'pay-as-you-go' system where you pay for how much you use. This model is much fairer for everyone as the user knows what they're paying for, and the ISP doesn't have to worry about increased costs from extra bandwidth use, since it's all paid for.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Havin a larf

    An extra £120 on top of the licence fee and my ISP costs? I think the BBC have lost all touch with reality.

    The BBC has had its day. It should be broken up. All the technology exists to offer its content as a series of subscription-based `channels' (one for news, one for nature programmes, one for crappy entertainment, and so on). They could be offered direct (broadcast) or in the net, or via resellers. Then we'd see who really wanted to pay for its output, and how much they were willing to stump up.

  58. Chris C

    But Mommy!

    I can just hear the ISPs: "Waaaaah! They're not playing nice! They're actually USING the service they're paying for! How can I make a profit when my customers keep using the service? Mommy, mommy, make them stop!"

    As for the quote: ""The future lies in tiered services", I think there's a typo in there. I think it may be more appropriately written as ""The future lies in teared services" because there will be plenty of tears all-around if ISPs try the tiered approach.

    Seriously, how difficult is it to understand the the digital distribution system? Company A subscribes to a high-capacity communcation line (DS-3, OC-x, etc). Their monthly fee covers all of the of the data passing through that line, both incoming and outgoing. Customer B subscribes to a consumer-grade communication line (DSL, cable, etc). Their monthly fee covers all of the data passing through that line, both incoming and outgoing.

    Now here's the important part -- the telecomm companies have peering agreements with each other in which they agree on pricing for allowing each other access to their networks. Let me put it another way -- THEY'RE ALREADY GETTING PAID.

    To analogize, imagine you own successful retail outlet. Some of your customers, and most of your vendors, use a toll road to access your store. In addition to this, you offer a home delivery service, and all of your deliveries are routed via that toll road. Your customers are paying a toll to drive to your store, your vendors are paying a toll to drive to your store, and you are paying a toll to deliver goods to your customers. What the ISPs want to do is start charging your customers when you make a delivery, even though you are already paying a toll to use the road for that delivery. In other words, they want to get paid twice for the same service/usage.

  59. This post has been deleted by its author

  60. David Simpson
    Thumb Down

    Why does a public body kiss commerical ass ?

    I watch BBC, ITV & C4 streams through a useful plugin for media center called TunerFreeMCE.

    I pay for a 10Mb connection with Virgin and I pay for a TV licence. Why exactly should i pay more ?

    I pay for 10Mb downstream and I can't watch a 1.5Mb stream over that ?

    We pay for the BBC isn't it about time they stopped kissing the asses of ISPs and gave us what we pay for ? Give us (the people who pay for it) the high quality streams don't give them to ISPs so they can sell them to us, surley that goes against the BBC's charter.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    molehills into mountains

    How is it the least bit controversial to say that if you want higher quality streaming (from anyone), you'll have to pay your ISP more? This is what happens now, and it's not going to change.

    Paris, 'cause she only fakes being dumb.

  62. Pete

    Hahah, no.

    I don't think so. I already pay out my arse for a 20mbit connection, why should I pay more?

    At least I can get it through the cable telly for free (at the moment).

  63. Matt


    I so far have NEVER watched a program on BBC's Iplayer... but I do pay my BBC TV tax on a monthly DD. My Tv pattern revolves around mostly Sky channels and other content... I already begrudge my licence fee for Eastenders and the array of something factors that they like to pump out (someone works hard for their cash there!!)

    I sure as well will not pay extra for useless online content... as far as im concerned, I pay for it twice already...

    as for people that have stopped watching telly... god only knows waht sort of TV you are using as any streamed content looks crap in some poky window let alone blown up to 42"!

  64. David Barrett


    "I only receive the BBC via broadband - for which i have bought a licence"

    I'd check with that.. apparently you dont need a licence to watch iPlayer content as its not live and the licence fee does not cover playback of recorded content (According to the iPlayer FAQ a few months ago anyway)

    So you could probably save a few quid there...

  65. Matthew


    How is 20gb used in the iplayer application different from 20gb used from bit torrent/gaming?

    If you pay $$ for a service then that's what you should get, and if the ISP's can't deliver then they should raise prices until S=D.... Do none of them do econ101 any more?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Absolute Bargain! Where do I sign up?

    I'll joyously pay an additional £10/month for this. In fact, £10/month would be a bargain considering the costs involved in running fibre out to this little village I call home or whatever they'd have to do to get my net connection to even approach its advertised speed.

    El Gordo and his merry crew should bring the last mile (all of it, VM and BT) back into public ownership and use some of these billions they're wanting to spend to boost the economy to actually do something to boost the economy. FTTH for the win.

    Paris, 'cos she's as fast as advertised.

  67. Steve Liddle
    Thumb Down

    reviewing the tv licence

    As it happens am reviewing my little use of TV viewing, watch it for a few times here and there, thought the lack of signal was my problem, but never suffer from drop out on the shopping channels, just the freeview ones that have films on.

    If my ISP wants to offer an option to pay more, then fair enough, if it is compulsory, then will pay for it by dumping the TV licence and watching the little I do watch online :)

  68. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    An age old UK -ahem- scheme?

    Over here in the UK there appears to be nothing better than having people pay two or three times or more for what should be covered in a single charge.

    Examples include nationalizing railways with public money, selling the service to the public and then selling the industry back to the public then subsidizing it with even more public money before loosely banding it together again as circumstance and permissions allow.

    Similarly so with the health service along with it having a private shortcut route that charges way in excess of our neighbors in Europe as well as cousins over the pond.

    The basic UK principles going back to the 1980's seems to be: why let them pay once when we can make them pay twice, thrice or even more!

    Uh-huh. It is time to stop the charade and in this case to take the bottleneck out of broadband as it presently stands at no additional charge to endusers. Make it (whatever it may be) do what it should, how it should and preferably without additionality in form of extra dosh/spondoolies from the punter.

    Oh how cutting edge UK could be with internet that should do what it ought to?

  69. Dick Emery

    TV Licence not needed for TV

    It's a little known fact that you do not have to pay for a TV licence if you do not RECIEVE LIVE TRANSMISSIONS AS THEY ARE BEING BROADCAST.

    Link to official site that proves this.

    As long as your TV is not connected to an aerial, satellite dish and is detuned (Meaning NO channels must be being recieved no matter how badly). Then you do not require a TV licence to own a TV. You can even have an aerial on the roof, satelllite dish and satellite box etc as long as it is not being used to recieve programs as they are being broadcast.

    Most of the general public does not know this. The BBC assume that EVERYONE watches TV and try to put the frighteners on you even if you own a TV and never watch a TV program.

    You can playback prerecorded material (Even BBC TV programmes) as long as they are time shifted. You still do not require a TV licence.

    The BBC hire a debt collection firm called CrAPITA who are just glorified bullies who harrass people all the time. Even if they have no TV (agaib because everyone has a TV right?).

    I don't pay for this crap and never will. Know your rights. If they come visiting just do not answer the door or if you do close it on them. You do not have to talk to them or let them in unless they are accompanied by a police officer and have a warrant.

    If you do wet your pants with fear. Buy a cheaper black and white TV licence instead (Although I bet they try to phase that out too).

    Join the resistance!

  70. Goat Jam
    Thumb Down

    Re:Compulsory or not

    "As long as thte extra cost isnt complusary whats the issue?"

    Because it opens up all sorts of abusive prospects for ISP's, the main one being "Hey, let's throttle iPlayer traffic by default and then charge people for a "fast" connection"

    before long iPlayer would be useless and people would have to pay just to get the crap service they are getting now for "free"

  71. Mr Lodestone

    Bob the Builder?

    Let's not forget all the cash they make out of BBC Enterprises, BBC Worldwide, flogging off select popular shows that we paid for to other countries, flogging off nearly all shows (that we paid for) to BBC Worldwide jointly-owned UKTV (or whatever it's called this week - Dave. Chris. Simon. Something like that.)

    I grudgingly pay my licence fee, I willingly pay for the bandwidth I use. That's my limit.

    Why not get Bob the Builder - and all the other cash cows that we all were forced to contribute to the making of - to pay for the upgrades to the IPlayer service themselves? Instead of asking US to do it over and over again.

    Favourite aunty or not, she's still a greedy bitch, so the icon is Auntie Beeb rifling through all our fucking pockets.

  72. Nathanael Bastone

    Why do we need it?

    Why would anyone need a higher speed on iPlayer? The high quality setting on my admittedly small (AA1 small) looks as good as on TV, and the normal quality is really watch-able. I remember watching TV that flickered and was in B/W (no, I am not that old, its just our reception used to be that poor!) BBC iPlayer is great how it is, and I have an unlimited contract with my ISP and so far they have always honoured it. I am almost always on Youtube or iPlayer, as often are one or two others in my household. If my ISP, (AOL in case you were wondering, and yes I know they have had bad press but they really are exceptional [providing you have no need for tech support, which I tried to use once before giving up and researching the answer myself] but other than that, no downtime, fast speed) can do it, why cant the others?

  73. P. Lee
    Paris Hilton

    it was a great plan...

    ...until someone thought of bittorrent!

    My Australian ISP breaks my download allowance into peak and offpeak. I just use my intelligence to balance my usage so large downloads use my off peak allowance. atd is your friend! Why would you pay for extra bandwidth/low latency when you can download off-peak? Your ISP and the BBC spread their bandwidth requirements and you get viewing without pauses. If you use BT instead of a direct download from the BBC, you spread the bandwidth requirements over a larger number of connections - that has to be more efficient!

    Paris - she knows how to do it!

  74. Volker Hett
    Thumb Down

    So ISPs sell what they don't have

    and now that they couldn't get away with it, they look for ways to charge even more for what they don't have?

  75. michael

    re:Who pays?

    the bbc presumably pay a service provider for there leased lines so they all ready pay to "brodcast" over the internet the same way any other ineter net company dose and you pay a isp to "recive" that broad cast in the same way the bbc pays to erect a broadcasting arail and you pay for a reciver

  76. michael


    "All ISPs offer the same clunky service for the same subscription. If there were a demand for a faster/uncapped/lower latency/better service for a couple of quid more someone would already be selling it."

    check out some of the smaller isps like mine that do lines for small bissneses they give you some good bandwith but you do have to pay for it

  77. JJ Mail

    Get orf ma' land!

    Alternatively, the money grabbing bastards could make the iPlayer a subscription based service. BBC does some sort of deal with ISPs. Subscriber pays for bandwidth tier they require, a percentage goes to the BBC and a percentage to the ISP. But then, as the BBC is only too aware, a subscription model might just expose how unpopular and unessential it really is.

  78. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Checks schedules for anything worth paying a Kings Ransom to watch


    Nothing here.


  79. Daniel
    Thumb Down

    The BBC needs to take notice of what they already have.

    :( BBC can shove their "pay extra to use services you already pay for" up there (well you get the idea)

    I hardly use iplayer as my PVR records all my BBC needs (which is normally only TopGear), it only get used to watch something i forgot to record.

    If mr iplayer wants to talk about tiered interwebs, how about we start talking about ditching the BBC licence fee, 95% of my viewing isn't BBC, and i pay less a year for cable channels i watch, OK so we get adverts to pay for it but least i'm not forced to hand over 140 quid a year for stuff i never watch, I always have the option to drop channels i don't watch and either pay less or pick up a differnt channel in its place.

  80. Dave
    Thumb Down

    Hang on a sec...

    ...And exactly where is this "dedicated" bandwidth going to come from? If you listen to (and believe *hahahaha*) the ISPs then the UK is running out of bandwidth. So how the hell can paying MORE just for video streaming guarantee the necessary bandwidth?

    If 14 million households all pay up, then that's 14 million lots of a minimum of 1.5Mbps CONTINUOUS streaming to be made available. Lets say 2Mbps - just in case. Now how many bloody ISPs fail to deliver that NOW? FFS! This is so pointless, it's beyond comprehension!

    How can they talk about additional pricing when the UK infrastructure is so completely borked and out-of-date that it can barely deliver what has been over-sold already? Urgh! It just stinks of a money grab and yet another TAX for the UK populace to bend over and accomodate :S

  81. Andrew Fenton


    Lots of people on this thread getting all hot under the collar based on not reading the article properly.

    1) The BBC aren't proposing they charge any extra at all.

    2) They're suggesting how ISPs may choose to charge you for the bandwidth you're going to need to watch net video services in future.

    For all those who think they're already paying for 16mbit or whatever: you're not. You're paying for 16mbit at something like 50:1 contention, ie you're only guaranteed 1/3rd of a megabit. The only reason the current setup works is the vast majority barely use their connections (eg a few emails, and web pages). People who download lots of video cost their ISPs an enormous amount - if they were paying based on use it'd be £100/month+.

    Essentially they're freeloading off the light users, but when the majority are doing it, as seems inevitable at some point, then the whole setup will collapse. The BBC are trying to address the concerns of ISPs, who see this inevitability coming and have no idea how to deal with it.

  82. Anonymous Coward

    Just maybe?

    If the beeb suggested that ISPs (?) (don't most of them use BT stuff anyway?) need to beef up and solve bandwidth problems then that would be fine in my books.

    Suggesting the end user has to pay more to get what they should already be getting makes for a perception of 1980's based thinking along lines of: charge 'em, charge 'em and charge 'em again.

    Besides that the end result will always be elitist.

  83. Tim Warren

    Everybody Stop and Listen...

    Everyone stop whining. If you want full speed unlimited, unthrottled access, then buy a leased line, and pay leased line charges. They represent the TRUE cost of internet connectivity.

    10Mb is from around £600/month, and 100Mb from £800 depending on proximity to POP & exchanges etc.

    It costs your ISP about £10pm for the DSL port, then about £0.42/GB data over the Centrals, and then about the same for transit / servers etc. So if you are paying less than £10pm fixed cost, plus £2/GB (ie £20pm for 5GB, £30 for 10GB cap etc) then your ISP will be struggling to make a profit, with the expected speed results.

    Go figure.

    It's cheapest for your ISP to ditch the BT Centrals and to move your data over their own network, hence why leased line is half the cost per GB of data than compared to DSL. (10Mb = 3240GB/month max data transfer. £600 / 3240GB = £0.18/GB)

  84. Anonymous Coward

    go tell him

    go tell him what your really thing there.....

  85. mike panero

    Attack of the freetards

    Nice things cost money

  86. Anonymous Coward

    This comment section is full of fucking idiots


    Actually go and read what he actually said.

    Which was the essential *truth* - that ISP's unlimited model is a complete fabrication which shouldn't have been allowed in the first place but has happened. So if people want to watch high quality video from *whatever* source, then it isn't going to work. People are going to have to start paying for some semblance to what they actually use.

    This is not controversial. It's not even a surprise. All those people complaining above about this being something to do with the licence fee are illiterate morons.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and the winner is...

    Indeed this has nothing to do with any license fees, but it is probably the most stupid proposal made in 2008.

    As far as the licence fee is concerned I think they should abandon that and replace it with a tax, payable by all tax payers, regardless of owning a TV or radio. This will make it a lot fairer to everyone. Right now a single person household will pay the same amount as someone who is married with 4 kids.

    There is a need for publicly funded broadcasters. You need an independent broadcaster and judging by the load of rubbish the commercial broadcasters produce, it is a blessing that the BBC is still making quality shows, whether you watch them or not.. There are other reasons why the BBC is something we cannot do without but that is not what this discussion is about.

    The main point of this thread is asking customers/consumers to pay extra for a service they are already receiving.

    Anyone who complains they are not getting what they are paying for is absolutely right. If you are sold something as being unlimited, and at a certain speed, than you should be able to receive that service regardless of what it is you are using it for. There will always be fluctuations but the speed should never fall more than 30% below your (average) connection speed. Keep in mind though that DSL users will get an 'up to' speed. The actual speed is determined by line quality and distance from the exchange. Once you are connected and your line has stabilized, then you will know what your average speed should be. Your nominal throughput is anywhere from this speed to 30% below this. Anything less will be deemed a fault by BT Wholesale. This is pretty much a standard for all access providers.

    In my opinion a provider has no right to throttle you at any time, no right to throttle specific services and no right to cap your usage when it has been sold as an 'unlimited' service.

    They cannot charge you extra for a service you should already be receiving and people who call others who actually use their connections Freetards are probably the ones who scream foul at the Congestion charge, or drive a big SUV and call it an environmentally friendly shopping car.

    We all have our differences but it shouldn't be too hard to agree that you should get what you pay for, as advertised, without any caveats, that changes in demand should be anticipated if you want to run a proper business, and that honesty is the best policy ... or is it?

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    freetards unite!

    not had a TV license fee for nearly four years, spent the money on DVDs, video games and broadband instead - torrents and iplayer hack s/w works for me.

    I despise the Beeb's business model - a TV tax - and the thugs who enforce it.

  89. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    I think a few people placing the blame towards BT are right. BT doesn't sell the ISPs a xmbit service any more either, they bill them per MB. I'm very surprised no enterprising companies have built out an alternate backbone.

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