The future is on-demand... but it's going to cost you

15 June 2009

Communications and telecom regulators Ofcom have been busy worrying their calculators and the various dark books of spells that accompany such positions, in a bid to predict the future. Specifically, the future of how we can haz juicy online, on-demand entertainment squeezed down the internet pipes and into our homes. And guess what? It's going you cost you.

In the report Converged Communications in Tomorrow's World, Ofcom suggests two scenarios are equally possible with regard to how we consume online entertainment:

In the first, users download most content to a home server and then distribute it around the home. Content is side-loaded onto mobile devices via wireless in-home connectivity. Most video consumption is in the home on large screens. In the second scenario the mobile device becomes the entertainment server. Content is loaded directly onto the mobile via a range of networks and video consumption takes place when mobile or in a range of locations.

According to the report, the broadband network could pretty much cope with the first scenario, since the data is downloaded before it is viewed, meaning it can be transferred at a far slower rate and allow for variations in delivery speed. Unsurprisingly, accessing and consuming rich media in real time through mobile data poses a problem, and service providers wouldn't cope as demand increases and would likely need access to more communications spectrum for providing data services.

So what about services such as on-demand entertainment in the home through the likes of iPlayer and the forthcoming Hulu? According to Ofcom, the existing networks would require upgrading as traffic demands increased. This would mean an increase in the amount we pay for our broadband packages, which Ofcom suggests would be between £1 and £3 per month. Ofcom think that sort of price would be acceptable to most customers if it would guarantee on-demand service, and we tend to agree. The question is, would the service providers really charge so little when given the opportunity to sell a "new" superslick service?



  • Steve
    I wouldn't begrudge paying perhaps an extra fiver a month for faster broadband, as I currently live in the sticks and get 1.7Mb's, although I am aware this is much better than some, a friend of mine has just purchased a new build in an up-market area and gets 0.5Mb!! In reality the ISP's would never charge whats been quoted above, they would use it as an additional service.
  • dvdj
    I live in the centre of Manchester and struggle to get 4meg! Usually around 3.5meg. Our current broadband network is terrible.
  • Francis R.
    I am supposed to be on 50Meg and I only receive 49Meg! How disgraceful, I am so Pissed off that I cannot get my music 0.2 seconds faster than I could if I were able to download at full speed, how dare they!
  • Shlonhg
    Rossi you massive dong!
  • Antony W.
    I'm absolutely against upping the monthly cost. They must implement micropayments, so I just pay for what I consume. And the 2Mbps promised has to be leggaly binding, all the time, no downgading...
  • Mike
    The trouble is the internet is evolving and this countries system isn't. Only the other day I read about BT moaning about youtube and iplayer using too much bandwidth and wanting to charge them for delivering content! Physical media is slowly being replaced with downloads (DSi and new PSP for starters). We must have one of the worst broadband networks for a developed country, mostly because BT won't replace the aging copper wire with fibre optic.
  • Bet S.
    I used to work for a big mobile phone company (don't judge me, I saw the light) and picked up a mobile modem. Whilst never being high speed I currently enjoy speeds of over 7kbps. That's right- it takes over 4 minutes to load googles homepage. Well, if i can connect. The network is over 100 percent oversubscribed. My point? No provider cares about the users as long as they can take our money.

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