Rivals fail to back BT over challenge to online video

A plan to charge the BBC is unlikely to succeed, as broadband groups struggle with video files

Rival broadband companies have distanced themselves from BT's campaign to charge the BBC and YouTube to send video over its network, while industry insiders believe the move will fail. "They know full well it's not going to change anything, but maybe they hope to add it to the agenda for Digital Britain," one source close to the situation said.

A spat has emerged in recent days between BT and the BBC. The telecoms group broke cover this week to say it could no longer afford to subsidise the cost of sending huge media files from the online video on demand service as its network was suffering. A spokesman for BT said yesterday: "We can't give these companies a free ride any more."

The two sides had been in talks for months to answer the problems faced by the internet service providers (ISP) such as BT as well as Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BSkyB.

"Bandwidth costs money, and files like movies and music take up a lot of that. The situation at the moment is that the ISP picks up the tab," the BT spokesman said. The spokesman would not comment on how much supporting video content cost BT, but said it was a "significant sum".

The group feels constrained because in such a competitive market it cannot put its prices up. It also sees companies making money from content put across its channels, without paying for the costs.

Yet many of its rivals were surprised by BT's move, and rather than back it – as they too look for ways to bring in higher revenues from their networks – many came out against it.

It is understood that no others have requested direct payments from the BBC in recent talks. One said: "We are not going to be shaking a tin at the content providers." Another added: "BT has gone out on a limb."

Some industry insiders believe the move was "tit for tat" after the BBC News website published a report accusing BT of "throttling" iPlayer use – basically cutting the speed of its network – at peak times. The story is thought to have come from an iPlayer staff member, and BT was furious.

Another rival added that it made the move "with one eye on Digital Britain". Lord Carter's report, which will outline the Government's vision of Britain's online future, is due next week, and BT might have moved to "get the issue on the agenda," the rival added.

The BBC put out its official line this week: "Despite its popularity, the BBC iPlayer is just one of the many services on the open internet and only makes up a small percentage of total internet traffic in the UK." The iPlayer is about 7 per cent of internet usage in the UK at its peak. YouTube uses 30 per cent.

The BBC would not be drawn into an open brawl with BT, but behind closed doors the corporation is understood to be unhappy with the group's tactics.

The rest of the ISPs have remained publicly silent, although this is not the first time the issue has been raised. Tiscali has complained in the past of the pressure video files put on its network. Another rival said that while it did not want to support the move, "there is definitely a conversation to be had down the line about content producers contributing to distribution costs".

Some ISPs suggested a service of "express lane delivery" where providers pay to prioritise certain traffic as the networks become more congested. Another suggested a tiered charge for consumers. "If you want to spend all your time online looking at video content, then using these services will be more expensive."

Currently providers such as the BBC pay content delivery networks (CDN) such as Akamai and Limelight Networks a fee to put its videos on the net. The ISPs then take that file and send it to consumers. There were suggestions that BT could monetise by building its own CDN business, or "monetise the relationships with existing CDNs". Other suggestions were to charge customers more, and one wag said they could "throttle more traffic".

Adam Daum, an analyst at the research group Gartner, said: "If content providers and ISPs could co-operate it would be better for everyone. The problem is there are obligations on both sides."

BT and the BBC are continuing to talk, but the relations are believed to have suffered. The move is also complicated by BT partnering with the BBC, as well as ITV, for the online video-on-demand service Project Canvas. Mr Daum said Canvas could provide a blueprint. "ISPs who participate in Canvas will have to guarantee quality of service, basically invest in their networks, but then content providers will have to pay them to carry their programmes."

There will be no regulatory intervention in the market, however. Ofcom said: "There is no immediate reason why the regulator needs to intervene." It added: "We have no remit or powers to resolve commercial disputes between the BBC and the ISPs but will be monitoring the situation closely."

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape