Net neutrality has become a hot issue in the U.K. this week now that UK internet service providers have banded together to demand money from BBC, otherwise the providers would use traffic shaping to throttle down BBC's upcoming free iPlayer online TV service:
Tiscali appears to be leading the charge, though ISPs like BT and Carphone Warehouse are also said to be involved. Tiscali UK CEO Mary Turner told the Financial Times, "The Internet was not set up with a view to distributing video. We have been improving our capacity, but the bandwidth we have is not infinite. If the iPlayer really takes off, consumers accessing the Internet will get very slow service and call their ISPs to complain."
The answer, from the ISP perspective, is to start throttling bandwidth used to download content to the iPlayer "catch-up" service. UK users will soon be able to download complete BBC shows for up to a week after they first air; other broadcasters like Channel 4 already offer similar services. Because the BBC's offering is expected to be so popular, ISPs are now concerned that iPlayer traffic will degrade the experience for all users of their networks.
But traffic shaping could be avoided should the BBC agree to pay the ISPs cash to help cover the cost of upgrading their networks. Negotiations on the issue are continuing.