News From Telecom World

Internet will no longer free- Research Firm

Posted on: December 23, 2008

As demand for online content grows, so does the need for more bandwidth, giving rise to debate over who will pay for that bandwidth. And the answer could be to restrict “free” access to services like the BBC’s iPlayer that allows users to stream BBC TV content over the Internet, according to keynote speakers at an industry event in London on Tuesday.

“One thing keeps me awake at night. In the immortal words of Jerry McGuire ‘show me the money!’,” said Sally Davis, CEO of BT Wholesale, speaking at the opening session of this year’s Carriers World trade show.

30 minutes of TV content accessed over the Internet consumes the same amount of bandwidth as around 78,000 emails, Davis said, adding that earlier this year a single episode of U.K. TV show The Office notched up more than 2.5 million downloads via the BBC iPlayer.

Today there are a number of unsustainable business models out there, and these need to change, Davis insisted.

As it stands, the content owners are keen to get their content to consumers, and consumers are equally keen to receive it. But in the middle, the ISPs are saying “I can’t keep increasing the bandwidth for no more money,” Davis said, a situation that will ultimately lead to ISPs adopting traffic shaping measures and the like to keep control of bandwidth usage on their networks.

“We’re going to have some very grumpy people,” namely the content owners and end-users, said Davis.

As such, “we have to find new ways around it… Content distribution models will play a role in that,” Davis said. “We will see those business models emerge,” but more work needs to be done, she cautioned.

Ultimately, companies like BSkyB may decide to stop paying to have their content distributed through other broadcasters’ channels, because they will see that “we’re getting viewership over someone else’s bandwidth,” that is, over the Internet, agreed Darragh Stokes, managing partner of Hardiman Telecommunications.

Users believe “the Internet is free. It should be unregulated,” he added, going on to speculate that the logical way forward would be to make TV over the Internet a paid service.

“It could be a pay-per-download [model],” said Davis. “Maybe there will be an HDTV channel,” that users would be willing to pay extra for, and “there could be a download channel… there could be an advertising-paid channel,” she suggested.

“In the next three years… we will see some different models emerge,” said Davis, a prediction that was greeted with some scepticism from others in the auditorium.

There won’t be just one model, “there will be room for many models,” agreed Kathryn Morrissey, EVP at AT&T Wholesale.

“Somebody at some point is going to have to pay for [this network usage],” she said.

“[But] I’m not sure it’s going to be sorted in three years,” Morrissey warned.

Total Telecom

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