One foot on the brake and one on the gas
Net neutrality is just starting to become a mainstream issue, now that Hulu, Boxee and other video sites are offering entertainment of mainstream interest. So it’s instructive to observe what’s going on in the UK between broadband provider (and telco) BT and the BBC’s iPlayer service, which makes TV programs available online to UK viewers for seven days after broadcast.
Recently, BT’s home bandwidth division decided to end what it has called a “free ride” and has cut its costs by throttling download speeds [registration required] from 8 megabits per second to less than 1 megabit per second between 5 p.m. and midnight. It has suggested the BBC share costs if it wants the speed restored.
The BBC is involved in another digital media controversy as well. As it is now, anyone with a television has to pay £142.50 ($236) a year, a license fee that goes to help finance program creation and other BBC operating costs. (Those who are legally blind and those with only a black & white set pay less.)
But there is a growing number of students and others who don’t have a TV and therefore don’t have a license, yet who are watching programs using iPlayer on their computer. The BBC wants to eliminate what in a coincidental turn of phrase it has referred to as a “free ride”.
(Title lyric from Sammy Hagar.)