Some British ISPs have said that the BBC’s new iPlayer service (which allows you to download programmes from the last seven days and watch them on your computer) would place a big strain on their networks and they would have to consider limiting the bandwidth for the service. This and other video on demand systems would push up ISPs’ costs, which means prices for consumers would have to rise. The BBC article below does a good job of summarizing the details (nicely balanced considering…) You can rush to judgement and say that ISPs should invest the money to support this level of use, but others point out that the financial health of ISPs (in Europe at least) is not that great (see Jupiter Research.)
The idea of ISPs determining what content can be viewed, when and by whom is covered by the “network neutrality” debate. The Web 2.0 conference held a conversation between two heavyweights in the field. It’s an intelligent discussion but the claws still come out, giving a good insight into the issues and depth of feeling involved.