back to article iPlayer chief pushes tiered charging for ISPs

The executive in charge of the BBC iPlayer has suggested that internet users could be charged £10 per month extra on their broadband bill for higher quality streaming. The comments by the BBC's head of digital media technology Anthony Rose reopen a contentious debate about how to pay for the bandwidth consumed by iPlayer, which …

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How to pay?

"how to pay for the bandwidth consumed by iPlayer". Err... don't we pay for it already? On BT Option 2 I get a 15GB download allowance, if I use it all on online gaming or I use all of it on iPlayer whats the difference, its still 15 GB.

Not that I can use iPlayer very well on BT as they appear to throttle it which means in fact I already can't use the 15GB as I see fit resulting in me about to drop BT as soon as my contract expires.

Paying an "extra" charge is a non-starter as your basically saying "you pay us X for your broadband, now pay us Y and we'll actually let you use it".

Surely a better answer is for OFTEL and the government to tell the ISPs to actually honour the services they are selling and if they can't tough luck, they go out of business. For them to moan and whine and say "oh but we don't have the bandwidth".. well you shouldn't be selling something you don't have, no other business can get away with that so why should they?

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Anonymous Coward

how about

we pay nothing!

I'm already paying to recieve a 10Mb/sec connection, why shoudl i pay on top of that just to recieve iplayer content.

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Stop

No Way!

"The future lies in tiered services"

There is but one tier, either you have paid for a TV licence, or you haven't. I strongly disagree with the BBC's stance that they should run different tiers of service hand in glove with the ISPs. The BBC is one of the few 'universal access' service providers in the UK (yes, I know, that could be a whole other debate) and the licencepayers should not be expected to shell out additional monthly charges to receive any of the content we have already funded and the connection we have already paid for. Period.

Once ISPs accept the responsibility of accurately describing what people are buying - limits, real performance and so on, this problem will go away. The selling tactics of our ISPs are now distorting the way content is being delivered. I should have, as a licence payer, the right to access all the available streams without additional payment for doing so.

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Alert

Never going to happen

So, they must be planning to have some really good content availiable exclusivley on the high quality iplayer service to encourage initial takeup.

What's that going to be then? The new series of Dr Who and that Gavin and Stacy crap or whatever it's called....you know......the one that no one watches.

Sure, I'll pay an extra tenner a month for that.

Plus there's probably something to do with the licence fee that prevents this kind evilness.

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jesus

christ these telcos/BBC are tedious arent they? Everyday, a new reason to carry on bittorrenting.

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Direct lines to the BBC?

I mean it's the peering contracts that cause money, but couldn't they just peer directly with the BBC? Or couldn't they just ask the BBC to put their servers right into the data-centers of the ISPs?

I mean there is no technical shortage of bandwidth. It's just horribly bad management.

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Anonymous Coward

What?

I pay for an 8mb service which is capped at 40gig a month. Now as long as I dont go over the 40gig cap why should I not recieve a 1.5mb stream/download from iplayer. Are the BBC mad? Also I note that with the release of there new adobe air desktop manager the BBC say bandwidth prices have fallen 90% in the last year, mmmm, but they want ISP's to charge us more, ok.

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Stop

Hah!

So, I pay £140 per year for my TV license, and they want me to pay another £10 every month just to watch stuff I've missed? Who are they kidding?

No doubt we'll have the joys of the TVLA as usual (letters, threatening letters, letters saying you're being taken to court, jumped-up 'officers' knocking on the door and forcing their way into your home), regardless of whether or not you've got a TV/have internet access/watch iPlayer/etc.

If it's going to cost me another £120 per year for iPlayer, I say scrap it. It's not worth that much (plus I get it free on Virgin TV anyway).

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Anonymous Coward

Table stakes, not value add

If iPlayer becomes a must-have, ISPs that provide a usable service for no extra cost will survive and ones that don't, won't. As for giving the ISPs licence-payer money, I predict a riot.

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Flame

They can shove it up their arse's

I pay for the bandwidth as specified in my contract, to use how I decide.

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f**k off

I only receive the BBC via broadband - for which i have bought a licence, I don't have an ariel, sky or cable service - as far as I'm concerned it's paid for - they can shove their tier's up their rears.

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Happy

Time to carve up the BBC like a turkey come christmas.

It's huge, inefficient, duplicates the commercial aspect of other channels and a waste of taxpayers money. Yes, it's the BBC.

Because we can't convince the beast to kill itself, I propose that the stuff you can get on other channels anyway (imported american soaps, 'entertainment' programs and such) gets moved to a separate channel and supported by an advertising model (lets call it BBZ).

Then we can retain a 'proper' BBC channel that only focuses on news, weather, sports that arn't economically viable to put on commercial channels and 'culture', whatever that means. (And of course messages from beloved leader during war times).

I'd estimate the cost of the 'proper' bbc to be about 20 quid a year worth of licensing fees.

The 'other' bbc (the one with the commericals) would then be allowed to die a slow death at the hands of the competition once they couldn't throw licensing fees around anymore.

The popular programs previously made by the Beeb would then be bought up by other commercial channels, and we would have a situation where the BBC actually did what it was supposed to, for a licensing fee that doesn't pay for imported (or homegrown) shows that the commercial stations could support.

wouldn't that be a nice world to live in?

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M7S
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Stop

BBC living in their Elysian Fields again

I complain frequently that despite living only 35 miles from the capital city of what is supposed to be a first world country, I can only get 1/2 meg. At best. It doesnt matter what internet package I buy, nor from which ISP. How then would I get the benefit of this? It takes me twice as long as any program lasts to download it, and watching the stuff that is online with iplayer but not downloadable is out of the question.

I like the institution and much of its output, but being driven by commercial considerations turned ITV from a once great service to what it is today, and I would hate to see the BBC as the final bastion of decent TV go the same way.

If they want to charge, they should guarantee the bandwidth and fund the fibre upgrade to the nation.

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Unhappy

Not watching telly.

Since the iPlayer has come out. I've stopped watching telly.

1. theres not a lot on.

2. I can download it when I want to watch it on BBC iPlayer, ITV catch up, Five ondemand and channel 4 what ever their service is called.

That means that if I get rid of my telly I dont have to pay a licence fee and can enjoy it all for free with out adverts.

If more people realise this they will also realise that the BBC should be charging for the service since they already do.

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Anonymous Coward

PAYG Broadband

This isn't news.

My ISP already has a range of charges for differing data volumes and quality of service.

The issue may simply be that most broadband customers haven't noticed because most ISP's have been able to get away with not being clear about what you get... so far.

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Pirate

Prison

The BBC also dont put people in prison for non-payment of the licence fee (they just wait for the judiciary to whack a big fine and then glee as non-licence fee payers go to prison for not paying the fine.

BBC's hands are clean

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Stop

Advertising rather than reality...

A lot of people seem to have got the wrong end of the stick here.

Yes, you've been told that this is a "5GB/s unlimited" connection - but that's because, when they started selling it, people used so little bandwidth per month that it was "safe" for them to do so (as well as that being the way that BT wholesale sold them to the ISPs). Now that people are using the connections more (Even a few years ago, streaming video was a pipedream), the "misrepresentation" is coming home to roost.

With that out of the way (so that people don't think I'm defending the current state of affairs):

1) You're not actually paying for an unlimited connection. What you're paying for is a link which may (or may not) work well (or indeed at all), and the speed quoted is literally just what you get between your modem and the exchange - beyond that is a totally different state of affairs. If you want a proper "unlimited" connection to the "internet" then there are companies that will give it to you - for about 20 or 30 times the cost of your ADSL.

2) BT used to sell "unlimited connection at speed <x>" to the ISPs, then moved to "as fast as the connection will run, but you pay per MB transmitted" - meaning that the ISPs started to get billed differently.

That second point is very important. Someone watching TV on their PC via their ADSL (on a BT line) is costing their ISP additional money per minute.

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Streaming is old hat

I just download from iPlayer, never stream.

I have "8Mb" ADSL.

If I try to download at 6pm, it takes about an hour for an hour programme.

If I try to download at 6am, it takes about 20 minutes for an hour programme.

The main thing to bear in mind in terms of bandwidth caps and streaming, is that they aren't related. You may be allowed 40GB in a month, but you can't have it all at peak times, and this is a completely fair arrangement on the ISPs part.

They've said "up to 8Mb" and they've said "bandwidth allowance = 40GB" but they never said "8Mb speeds at all times" - that's what paying more money gets you, hence I don't, and download iPlayer programmes.

Surely the point of catching up, is you're less restricted to when you want to get it, so why the huge desire to stream? Downloading the files makes the content caching solution more viable too. ISPs should pay for this in partnership with the BBC. They pay for it, and thus protect their networks.

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Black Helicopters

Oh, clever move

Pay more for high quality iPlayer feeds? Nope, most people will simply reach for a p2p client. If p2p is killed by throttling, or some other method, then we suddenly have enough bandwidth to carry iplayer traffic at high quality on the existing networks. Of course, if I were a cynical, I'd be trying to work out a way to do p2p-over-iplayer already...

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Setting a precedent for content providers?

When you strip out the BBC's sense of self-satisfied self-importance - leading the way so that us proles can enjoy our meeja - what we have here is a content provider telling the consumers that they should pay more for their services (hmmmm) and that the carriers should charge their consumers more for the content provider's content.

Now the former is one issue - we already pay for content via our TV tax; if the BBC wants to diversify perhaps it should split into public service broadcasting and a for-profit subscription content service - but the latter is surely ridiculous? If the ISPs have any sense they will tell the BBC exactly where to shove it; unfortunately many of them appear blinkered to the fact that the BBC is nothing more than a content provider, albeit one paid for by the public purse, and with friends in very high places.

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Unhappy

Um, what?

I paid for a net connection so I could do stuff like this.

People across the country are realising the potential of the net because of services like this.

High bandwidth apps are the future of the net. Lets not respond to this new development by pricing them out of the reach of the populace, lets respond by making the UK better equipped to handle them!

Did we invest in a motorway infrastructure when people started using cars more or did we keep to single lane country roads and tell people they could only drive a little bit because roads are expensive and if you use them a lot it's "unfair" to light users?

Get your damn acts together UK ISPs. This shouldn't be a problem on a small, densely populated, rich little island like ours.

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Flame

Where's this £10/month going?

OK, let's start with some recent history e.g.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/22/bbc_cdn_isps_level3/

Someone mentioned peering. The article above (and the comments that follow) explains why, following the BBC's change from using Akamai's content delivery network to Level3's content delivery network, peering with the content source is no longer relevant to most ISPs. Sorry.

BTwoolsale have for a couple of years offered a service which allows a punter to book a "guaranteed speed" session (guaranteed QoS?) which you can pay for; I believe it's used already by BT Vision's "as live" video streams. But afaik it maxes out at a guaranteed 2Mbit, and afaik doesn't get any better even under BT's much overhyped 21CN. So it's not going to do much for HD. Also as far as I know, nobody outside the BT group sees any point in it, I'm not aware of any retail ISPs other than BT who offer this facility.

So why do we need the BBC/Level3 to re-invent an irrelevant wheel ? Do *they* want a cut of the £10/month? If so, could they not make just as much money available by (e.g) terminating Ross's contract, letting him and his audience find a new home at "market rates", and using the money saved to fund some actual "public service" broadcasting stuff, in accordance with the Ts+Cs of the BBC's charter?

How do they do this kind of thing in France? In Germany? Do they perhaps have a regulator who has a clue, or teeth, or both, instead of the idiots we have at Ofcon?

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Coat

Surely all ISPs have to do...

...is lay realistic usage monthly-up/download caps (or pricing-tiers) on the table. There's no reason for it not to be application-neutral.

The more you use, the more you pay.

If they want to charge more for data at peak times (eg evenings), then that too could be done in an application-neutral way.

The ISPs only got themselves in this mess by promising "unlimited" services which, when something popular came along to increase demand, proved not to be a viable business model.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Go

Great idea

I'm serious. It will put a clear competition point between operators that can support the higher speed, those that charge extra and those that don't support. Those ISPs moaning at the BBC for providing content that makes people use the internet can shut up.

The reality is that any competition will force ISPs to provide it at only only what it really cost or for free.

Now if your ISP is already misleading you about the connectivity they are offering take it up with them but I assume that no ISPs charging extra for 10mbit connections would dare to charge extra for 1.5mbit Iplayer.

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Coat

ISPs...

Now feeling the effects of their own burst bubble, the ISPs artifically inflated the value of the connection they've sold you (by saying it's capable of XMbps) and are now unable to cope with that much traffic. Well so far as I'm concerned I've paid my license fee and broadband fee and if Mr ISP is whining because he mis-sold my connection, tough. No one wants accept responsibility for their own dodgings dealings anymore. It's another put up or shut up moment for capitalism and it'll invariably end with the customer suffering....again....as always.

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Anonymous Coward

Hum..

"It's huge, inefficient, duplicates the commercial aspect of other channels and a waste of taxpayers money."

Not really, more money comes from licence fees than tax payers.

ANYWAY

not paying more, i pay for 8 meg i will use 8meg, if i want to use 8meg using a high quality iplayer streaming why should i pay my ISP any more (note that, tbh i would be happy to pay the bbc more for it, just not the isp) if they cannot provide 8meg then they need to tell me this, lower my monthly ammount.

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Go

BT's Fault

Nationalise BT, reduce the ridiculous BT central charges, invest in FTTC: problem solved.

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Flame

@ Anonymous Coward

"wouldn't that be a nice world to live in?"

Quite honestly no it would be terrible! Think about it. What has ITV made in the last 5 years that you actually sat down and thought wow that was innovative, exciting television? I know the BBC makes a lot of rubbish too but what I call rubbish (my family, top gear, vicar of dibbly) others will love, while what I like (G&S, Mighty boosh, panorama) you probably hate. It is a public service broadcaster which tries to produce new BRITISH tv so that there is something for everyone., Therefore it will not always hit the mark for YOU as an individual. This is not a reason to "carve it up like a turkey" and just import American TV as you suggest!

As for charging more for Iplayer which this story is actually about this is a load of bollox, never going to happen. No one is going to pay 120quid for iplayer. Even if it is the best thing since sliced bread! We already paid for its development with the license fee....see that’s another thing you would never have got with your total free market ITV rules fantasy :)

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Stop

two words

Net Neutrality

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I think it's a wonderful idea.....

...for some BBC exec to get his arse kicked in when everyone switches to EZTV (or whatever else is out there) and downloads the torrents to that programme.

I have already paid for my license this year, it's their duty to remain in their budget.

Money grabbing B*tards who think nowt of paying Jonnythin Woss Mi££ions because they have mugs like us who have to pay a license.

*******WE ARE BEING RIPPED OFF YET AGAIN********

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That raises an interesting issue

Is it true that you do not need a TV licence if you only have a computer and a broadband connection. My computer screen is actually larger than my TV!

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Anonymous Coward

It won't happen...

... for the simple reason that the quality is already good neough. It's why people don't switch from DVD to HD ... it's just not necessary.

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Its the ISP's stupid

Lots of ranting about poor old Aunty Beeb, but all it is doing is providing a service that people want to use, no different from Google or Youtube or Bit torrent. The problem is still, as it always has been, with the ISP's.

For the last ten years or so the ISP's have been playing an economically stupid game of my service is better than yours and its also cheaper. An economically gravity defying trick they pulled off with old fashioned smoke and mirrors, that being ridiculously high contention ratios for the technical amongst us. An idea that was orignially cooked up in they days when you had to install modem banks for your customers to connect. (I was designing ISP and carrier networks way back then).

I don't deny contention ratios have a place in ISP economic planning, but now with streamed services the idea of one cost fits all has to change. We have to move to tiered services, and tiered costs either through bandwidth throttling, or by coming clean and telling the customer, yes you can have a 8mb/s connection for 10.99 a month but that is an average speed not an absolute (and by the way will probably only be achieved at 4am on a sunday morning), and if you want a real 8Mb/s service to watch eastenders or download Debbie does dallas its going to cost you 30.99 a month.

The confusion is that the people think the licence fee gives them a right to see Eastenders in High Def any way they want. It doesn't.

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Are you sure?

Looking at the quotes attributed to Mr. BBC Head Honcho, they just seem to be suggesting that users could pay more for more bandwidth- which they currently do. They don't specifically mention a separate charge?

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Boffin

You need HighDef...

...only to realize HD is only adding ~0.1% to the pleasure you get from watching any TV program. It's the content that matters. HD is a scam. You'll find out when you get it.

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Paying more for a better service

Typical response from elReg readers!!

As long as thte extra cost isnt complusary whats the issue?

Standard quality iPlayer for free, but a Higher Quality version for a few quid extra? People pay extra £100's a year extra for SkyHD.

One wonders if Rupert Murdochs shills are out in force again.

This whole Net Neutrality thing isnt going to last. When it was though out all were were downloading was test and a few "funky" pictures. Now we have oodles of Real Time" traffic flying around fighting for bandwidth with P2P and hugh downloads.

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I'm happy to pay more

I'm happy to pay more to make my 14MBs unlimited connection actually unlimited. unfortunattly as it stands I'm not give the option and end up getting capped.

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dek

Here's an idea...

why don't the BBC concentrate on ordinary TV and make at least a minimum effort to deliver some (any!) value for money paid by licence feeS, get rid of excess staff, stop wasting money on frivolous crap, reduce the licence fee by half and KEEP IT'S F'ING NOSE OUT OF EVERYTHING ELSE!

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Rob
Black Helicopters

@Mark

That's the loophole, as long as the program you are watching is not being show on TV at the same time you can watch what ever you want without a TV License, just remember to notify them of that so they don't bother you with their numpty inspectors.

"You will not need a TV Licence to view video clips on the internet, as long as what you are viewing is not being shown on TV at the same time as you are viewing it."

"You do not need a TV Licence if you only use your TV to watch videos and DVDs or as a monitor for your games console."

I suppose those quotes from their website shouldn't be open ended like they are but anything you watch on those services is pre-recorded, the same also applies to the iPlayer as well.

"If you use the BBC iPlayer to watch BBC programmes after they have been broadcast - either to download, or via streaming 'on demand' you will not need a TV Licence."

Dump the TV licenses people, everyone with broadband revolt against the establishment.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark Broadhurst

You would still technically require a license fee even if you are only using the iPlayer as you are still using their services, obviously policing this is unlikely to happen.

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Stop

@AC 14:05

I never realised that Rupert Murdoch was an El Reg reader.

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Gates Horns

He should be sacked!

Rose has consistently shown he is unqualified for the job. Showing preference to Micro$oft and coming out with this tiered payment service - what next?! He should be shown the door for incompetence. He is not impartial in the technology he selects and he is not 'in tune' with the web at all. He has suppliers do his dirty selection work because he can't do it himself. This is absolute nonsense and the technically incompetent tw*t should be shown the door. Sure Micro$oft would hire him, but he would fail at the entrance test. We already pay for the BBC, we already pay for our ISP. Why does he feel that we should pay yet again for something we already HAVE paid for?! Oh, but then again, he's in the back pocket of Micro$oft - that explains everythhing.

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Who pays?

The Beeb already pay (or at least contribute towards the upkeep of) the television transmitting infrastructure don't they?

So why should they expect the ISPs to happily offer up an alternative transmission route for free? Sounds like a bloody cheek to me.

By all means provide on-demand services over the Internet BBC, but cough up some cash for those who have to shoulder some of your bandwidth costs please!

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Cocktard

I already pay a license fee to use my TV. Why the feck should I pay more on top of my broadband to use the iPlayer? Why don't the beeb compensate the ISP's from the license fee. Oh wait that's right, they'd probably put the price of that up. Doh!

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Anonymous Coward

Mark broadhurst

The License Fee is applicable to TV content delivered through not only Telly, but through downloads.

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N

The BBC

Is an outdated organisation that woke up in the 21st century to play catch up on lost ground.

iPlayer, seemed hopelessly late & iPlayer for Mac some 18 months later and counting, demonstrates that this organisation will quite happily scoop up license fees backed by its nasty little threatening adverts, but really has a problem delivering to a demanding market of Internet users who can no longer be arsed to sift through the stream of analogue bile supplied to the 'idiots lantern' as broadcast.

And as for the Victorian belief that what we should pay twice for what we but in terms of bandwidth from our ISPs, I have two words:

Fuck off.

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Isn't tiered just different caps and silence by ISPs?

From my first read of it, I got that Rose was essentially saying that ISPs need to charge an appropriate amount for a connection that's capable of showing iPlayer at high quality. Tiered internet to me meant that some connections have caps. I.e. a 10 GB a month allowance isn't exactly iPlayer friendly, a 100 GB cap is much better and an unlimited account is best yet. But you can't charge the same for all of these and that ISPs need to come up with better pricing and shut up with the moaning.

The BBC are with us punters in that it's our bandwidth and we should be able to waste it on whatever we want, but they've made it clear they aren't going to pay the bandwidth twice for the ISPs.

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Get Stuffed, BBC.

As someone who has *no interest at all* in the Beeb's execrable content (whether streamed or broadcast) I'll happily switch to any ISP who offers me the benefit of *not* providing access to BeebPlayer dross - if it saves me a tenner a month.

If th Beeb wants to survive, switch to a subscription service/pay-per-view - and leave the rest of us alone.

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Paris Hilton

haha i make over 6 figures

and have never paid tv license....just watch iplayer over my neighbours WEP wifi! lol.

paris coz even she's too smart to pay more tv tax...i mean license fee....

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