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BBC iPlayer Content Hosting Change Could Cost UK ISPs

Posted: 21st Aug, 2008 By: MarkJ
The BBC's Head of Digital Media Technology, Anthony Rose, has posted a new blog update (here) where he talks about some of iPlayer's (IPTV) recent and future improvements. Rose's blog touches on what appears to be a plan by the BBC to switch from iPlayer's existing Akamai based Content Distribution Network (CDN) to Level 3 Communications.

The problem, as explained by a spokesman from Zen Internet in a quote given to Thinkbroadband, is that using this method could increase the cost to UK ISPs. Unlike Akamai, which is effectively free (though not to the BBC), Level 3 charges large networks to receive traffic:

"Zen Internet is expecting the decision to increase its costs as economically, all but a select few large networks must pay Level(3) to receive traffic originated within their network. The previous solution using Akamai used content hosted on a large number of small networks which are sited close to end-users and to which access is freely given. This removes the reliance on a single network, improving robustness."

Some larger UK ISPs, especially Tiscali, have already been very vocal in their somewhat questionable belief that the BBC should pay them to distribute the iPlayer's Internet TV content, thus helping to reduce their costs.

It's a shaky idea that would set a dangerous precedent for net neutrality, though if the BBC's latest move does indeed place a further and more direct cost burden upon ISPs then the issue is once again likely to rear its ugly head.
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