BBC Streaming Causes 'Bandwidth Explosion'

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Will Internet streaming of network TV shows break the business models of ISPs? An early experiment in the UK raises hard questions about that prospect. British ISP PlusNet reports explosive growth in bandwidth usage since the December launch of the BBC’s iPlayer, a Flash app that streams the network’s video programming. Dave Tomlinson from PlusNet said the ISP’s cost of carrying streaming traffic has tripled since the iPlayer was launched, driven by a 72 percent increase in the number of customers streaming at least 250 GB per month.

The iPlayer service makes BBC programs available for free streaming over the Internet for 7 days after they air. Entire programs are available for streaming with no time limit, unlike the 10 minute limit for most YouTube videos. The service is being heavily promoted by the BBC broadcast networks.

The Telco 2.0 blog offered an analysis of how the iPlayer’s popularity will impact British access providers:

The obvious conclusion is that ISP pricing will need to be raised and extra capacity will need to be added. The data reinforces our belief expressed in our recent Broadband Report that “Video will kill the ISP star.” The problem with the current ISP model is it is like an all you can eat buffet, where one in ten customers eats all the food, one in a hundred takes his chair home too, and one in a thousand unscrews all the fixtures and fittings and loads them into a van as well.

The PlusNet data, and Telco 2.0′s analysis, is being discussed at The Register and Slashdot, as well as on the BBC Internet Blog.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.