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BT says BBC iPlayer, YouTube enjoy broadband 'free ride'

BT says BBC iPlayer, YouTube enjoy broadband 'free ride'

Telecoms giant BT has for the first time publicly outlined plans on how it hopes to charge content owners such as the BBC and YouTube for delivery of bandwidth-hungry video over its broadband network.

John Petter, managing director of BT Retail’s consumer business, yesterday called for an end to the “free ride” that such websites enjoy on its network.

“We can’t give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect,” the Financial Times reports Petter as saying.

He said that increasing numbers of content providers were developing “very profitable business models” delivering content across BT’s networks. Those content providers should therefore contribute to the costs they were generating for internet service providers.

His comments come a week after the BBC reported that BT Broadband cuts the speed users can watch services such as the iPlayer and YouTube at peak times, and that the BBC was “concerned the throttling of download speeds was affecting the viewing experience for some users”.

But Mr Petter said video sites consuming bandwidth was a “much bigger issue than the BBC iPlayer, it’s true of all forms of video content coming across the web. It’s becoming a more and more pressing issue”.

In a statement, the BBC said, “Despite its popularity, the BBC iPlayer is just one of many services on the open internet and only makes up a small percentage of total internet traffic in the UK.” YouTube owner Google said it was opposed to the idea of charging.

Broadband providers such as Tiscali have for two years been campaigning about ‘unfair’ burden that video services place on their networks. Other ISPs are exploring ways to make money from their networks beyond charging customers for access.

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