Editor’s blog: BBC gets an unfair kicking

Well, well, well – what a surprise. ‘The success of the BBC’s iPlayer is putting the internet under severe strain and threatening to bring the network to a halt, internet services providers are complaining,’ according to today’s Times. The Beeb says it believes iPlayer to be accounting for between 3 to 5 per cent of all web traffic in the UK; viewers are now watching more than 1 million BBC programmes online each week. Morons among the viewing public even ensured that the first episode of the Apprentice was watched more than 100,000 times on a computer. I’ve had a go on iPlayer and jolly good it is, too. Worth every penny of my licence fee.

Chief among the ISP whingers is Tiscali, which is accusing the BBC of underplaying the problem, and demanding that Auntie makes a contribution towards the 831m cost (where did they get that figure from?) needed to upgrade the network. (Tiscali, by the way, came last in a recent Sunday Times test of broadband speeds – it was only just better than Talk Talk, which is pretty damning.)

The rotten truth is that the savage price war in which the ISPs have been engaged over the last few years means margins are currently painfully slim, so they’re loath to spend any precious cash developing the network and improving their service. The result is a lot of very unhappy customers out there and service speeds that give the Japanese and Koreans a good belly laugh.

And it’s not just clunky, slow connections that bug us. The quality of UK ISP customer service is appalling. I recently moved three hundred yards down the road; schlepping the furniture and all our belongings was a piece of cake compared to moving the broadband account. If our ISP and BT had spent a little less time slagging each other off and a little more time concentrating on getting my service working again, I’d have been very grateful. I’m dreading moving back in July when the builders finally bugger off. I probably won’t be able to get online until Christmas.