BBC plans ISP net neutrality warning system for iPlayer

The BBC is working on software to alert users if their ISP degrades the quality of iPlayer, the corporation's future media and technology chief, Erik Huggers, said on Wednesday.Speaking at the FT World Telecoms Conference, Huggers said the software would use a traffic-light-style red, amber and green system to tell users if their service providers are "behaving appropriately", according to a report in the Financial Times.

The BBC is working on software to alert users if their ISP degrades the quality of iPlayer, the corporation's future media and technology chief, Erik Huggers, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the FT World Telecoms Conference, Huggers said the software would use a traffic-light-style red, amber and green system to tell users if their service providers are "behaving appropriately", according to a report in the Financial Times.

Huggers is also quoted as saying the BBC is "highly unlikely" to meet any ISP's demands for payment in order to prioritise iPlayer traffic over that of rival services. This is the type of 'new business model' that ISPs such as TalkTalk and BT have said they would like to try, although TalkTalk told ZDNet UK in September that it was worried it might lose customers if content providers refuse to pay up.

Earlier at the same conference, communications minister Ed Vaizey caused a storm by saying the government would not legislate to protect the issue of net neutrality. His comments brought the issue to the fore, with widespread fears expressed about a 'two-speed internet'. On Thursday, Labour MP Tom Watson filed an early day motion in Parliament to say the abandonment of net neutrality could "stifle online innovation".

Vaizey and Ofcom have said they expect transparency — ISPs being upfront about what they prioritise and what they throttle — to suffice in keeping the net 'open'. However, the BBC's software plans indicate that the corporation does not trust service providers to provide this information to their users in a clear way.

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