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UK ISPs seek to charge BBC for iPlayer. UK ISPs run by morons.

ISPs are annoyed because modern internet use has a lot of applications that use the bandwidth that ISPs sell to customers. Applications like the BBC’s iPlayer (a TV on demand service) stream a lot of data over the internet, via your ISP. ISPs now want the BBC to pay for some of that bandwidth, because it costs ISPs money. Well, tough cookie ISPs, maybe you should have factored that in to your business plan. It’s no surprise that it’s Tiscali making such noises either, a company with terrible customer service and a general air of incompetence. UK ISPs need a good harsh talking to by some regulators for mis-advertising their service and for gross incompetence in running their businesses.

The idea of claiming ‘compensation’ from a company that doesn’t directly use your service is insane and should be laughed out of town. Customers use an ISPs services, not websites. A website can exist happily without an ISP at all, they are two separate entities. How on earth is it justifiable for the BBC to pay money to an ISP on the assumption that the ISPs customers are going to use the BBCs iPlayer? If this goes ahead then ISPs could potentially charge every website and service on the internet under the same logic. Because the ISPs customers (that’s you) might one day use that particular website and this would ‘incur costs’ on the ISP. It’s ridiculous. Mr Gunter (of Tiscali) shows his ignorance:

Mr Gunter is leading the call for the BBC to help pay for the [Tiscali’s] rising costs.

“The question is about whether we invest in extra capacity or go to the consumer and ask them to pay a BBC tax,” he said.

Mr Gunter, Tiscali

Firstly, anyone who own’s a TV already pays a BBC tax. It’s called the TV licence, and it’s wrong in all the same ways that Mr Gunter’s proposal is wrong. Just because I own a TV doesn’t mean I’m going to watch BBC programmes, so why am I required to pay the BBC because I own a TV? In the same way, just because there’s an iPlayer on the internet doesn’t mean I’m going to use it, so why should the BBC be paying an ISP because I might?

Secondly, the sheer arrogance of his position is mind boggling. Mr Gunter, your customers are using your product, and using more of it than before. What they use it for doesn’t matter, you’ve told them you can supply your product at a certain price, and if you can’t that’s your problem, stemming from your own incompetence. Imagine you’re a petroleum company instead of an internet service provider. Your position is like going to the car manufacturers and demanding they pay you money because their products (cars) are so popular with other people that you’re having to drill for more oil to sell to your own customers. Mr Gunter, that doesn’t fly. Your customers choose what they use. Your customers should pay for it. You as an ISP should not be setting false expectations for your customers. When you say ‘always on, unlimited broadband’, we expect that means just what it says. And if it doesn’t, then re-think how you sell your product. With your current proposal to the BBC, you’re trying to get paid twice for the same thing by two different people.

Sadly the problem of limited bandwidth in the UK is real, and it needs fixing quickly if Britain isn’t to fall behind yet further in our online capacity when compared with Europe and Asia. The one and only solution I can see that will be practical (because as much as everyone would like the UK to go pure Fibre, its not going to for decades because of the cost) is they will start charging customers by the Mb again. Like how they used to charge by the minute.


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  1. Matt Wilcox posted 16 days, 10hrs, 49mins after the entry and said:

    Lovely piece by Ars Technica:


    "The basic problem - one that companies like Comcast here in the US have publicly admitted to - is that ISPs continue to sell access that they can't actually provide."

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