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Ofcom: BBC not accountable for 'web meltdown'

Consumers to contribute towards net upgrade

The BBC should not be forced to pay for upgrading the UK's broadband network to cater for the growing number of video downloads, telecommunication watchdog Ofcom has said.

Recent reports have highlighted that services such as the BBC's iPlayerand Google's YouTube have created increased demand for online video content, which may send the web into meltdown. With this in mind, UK ISPs have been demanding that the BBC should contribute towards the estimated £830m it will cost to provide the extra capacity needed to deliver video online.

However in evidence presented to a joint session of the Commons Culture, Media & Sport and Business & Enterprise committees, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said that forcing the BBC to fund the upgrades was not the best solution.

"It is not necessarily the only way it can happen, and it is not necessarily the way we anticipate it will happen," he said. "I am not convinced that the right answer is to get the BBC to pay for the iPlayer."

Richards instead suggests the cost of upgrading the UK's networks should be shared between network operators and consumers.

Richards also claimed Ofcom did not have the power to force the BBC to contribute towards the upgrade.

"I am very sure that we do not have that power, and I am pretty disinclined to go down that route," he added.

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