Advanced Television

BT and Google talk Content Connect?

December 9, 2009

BT is said to be in talks with Google about an online tie-up that would deliver big improvements in the quality of Internet video programming. BT is working on a deal to make Google’s You Tube and other video content available on a new digital delivery network, which BT’s wholesale arm is creating for ISPs.

BT Wholesale is working with two other ISPs – understood to be Orange and Virgin Media – as well as the BBC, Channel 4 and Five, on a network called Content Connect. The idea is to store popular video content on this network, rather than relying on the Internet, which is becoming increasingly congested for video.

It would also enable the ISPs to try to recoup some of the cost of providing online video as they struggle to keep up with capacity demands. The service is being tested by several thousand British broadband users, who are receiving uninterrupted access to content such as the iPlayer and 4oD, even at peak times when many other users suffer poor quality or slow downloads.

At the moment media companies often pay the likes of Silverlight or Akami to optimise storage the most popular content as close as possible to the relevant consumers, but this doesn't guarantee delivery in a contented and, often, throttled world.

Now the idea is the media companies would pay the ISPs to have their content on their dedicated network and get a guaranteed service even at peak times. But it is a controversial concept as it gives the ISPs with the opportunity to exclude or throttle content from media companies that are not in the scheme. As such, it presents a challenge to the ‘neutrality’ of the internet.

BT Wholesale claims some media companies are already paying for more reliable access, while some ISPs will soon be faced with the question of whether they continue to spend money on their networks when many of the main beneficiaries – web-based services – give them no return.

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