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By: MarkJ - 4 January, 2011 (11:37 AM)
bt wholesale content connect ukBT Wholesale is officially gearing up for the launch of its new Cisco based Content Connect (BTCC/WCC) product. The service aims to handle the growing demand for broadband internet TV services by caching popular video content, effectively on an ISP's own network, as opposed to dragging it over several remote servers to reach the end-user.

Many online media groups already use Content Delivery Networks (CDN), such as Akamai, yet these services often only reach the edge of an ISPs network. BT's position in the UK internet access market allows them to get much closer and avoid congested areas.

bt uk content connect

At present the service is still under trial by BT Retail, although it's imminently due to be rolled out at Wholesale level for other BT based UK ISPs. However some critics fear that it could allow BT to abuse Net Neutrality (the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal).

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), said:

"We are talking about ISPs competing with the Internet for content delivery. Whether films, music or gaming services, the idea is that ISPs will deliver this stuff better and more reliably than the Internet.

The result could be a fundamental shift away from buying services from the Internet to bundled services from ISPs: which would reduce competition and take investment away from Internet companies. That would be bad for everyone."

A BT Spokesperson responded:

"BT's Content Connect service will not create a two tier Internet, but will simply offer service providers the option of differentiating their broadband offering through enhanced content delivery.

BT supports the concept of net neutrality but believes that service providers should also be free to strike commercial deals should content owners want a higher quality or assured service delivery."

In fairness Killock's interpretation of the service, which is effectively an optional extra available for any ISP that seeks to use it, could be a little wide of the mark. BTCC's primary focus is to support the new IPTV / YouView (Project Canvas) TV platform (here).

YouView, which will launch through several ISPs (e.g. BT and TalkTalk UK) this year, claims to be an "open standard" for delivering subscription free broadband ISP based UK internet TV services (e.g. BBC iPlayer, 4OD etc.) directly into homes via special set-top-boxes.

As an IPTV service YouView cannot function affordably without a specialised Content Delivery Network (CDN), such as BTCC. TalkTalk is developing its own solution, although many ISPs on BT's wholesale platform do require an alternative because they could not afford to develop their own.

It will certainly be interesting to see whether any ISPs use Content Connect to develop a more restrictive internet experience, although that would not be BT's fault for developing a technology that some other big ISPs already have in one form or another.
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