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ISPs Get Thrifty Over Video Streaming

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With free – and legal – mass market services like the BBC's iPlayer, Sky's Anytime on PC and 4oD encouraging users to playback prolonged, high quality, full length programmes and films ISPs appear determined not to carry the can.

In a hugely competitive market Tiscali has been first to break ranks this week declaring: "Our position is that high bandwidth content services like iPlayer are being launched without proper attention to the cost of delivery. As these services become more popular they will undoubtedly cause congestion. It is only broadband operators that can increase bandwidth and this comes at a cost."

What Tiscali says does carry some weight (though it also bares some of the brunt with its Tiscali TV service. With video streaming broadcasters are effectively transferring their distribution costs directly onto the ISP and walking away unscathed. The numbers certainly appear to back this up too with Tiscali claiming the average BBC iPlayer programme is "at its minimum about 30 times as bandwidth hungry" as an average YouTube video.

So what happens as these offerings (inevitably) gather momentum?

Ultimately a deal is going to have to be struck between either broadcasters and ISPs or ISPs are going to have to pass some of the cost back to consumers, something that is going to be bad for business.

Bulldog and Pipex recently flogged their consumer broadband divisions (the latter ironically to Tiscali) and with the likes of Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Sky recently stepping into the arena it seems the days of the little guy (and decent customer service lines?) are long gone...

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Tiscali

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