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‘Skype TV’ to blitz bandwidth

Potential users urged to check usage limits

If your ISP has a strict monthly limit on bandwidth usage, you could be forced to turn off the planned peer-to-peer TV streaming service from the founders of the Skype internet telephone service.

The beta video stream service, known as The Venice Project, is a bandwidth blockbuster, consuming an average 320MB of downloaded and 105MB of uploaded traffic for an hour's worth of TV viewing. The service aims to distribute TV and other video content over the web instead of conventional terrestrial, satellite or cable channels.

The 105MB per hour upload rate is almost equivalent to 256Kbps (kilobits per second) and in documentation provided to beta testers, The Venice Project team warns that the service "will exhaust a 1GB cap in 10 hours".

A typical video stream in TV quality consumes about 70GB per hour, a spokeswoman for The Venice Project confirmed. To lower users' bandwidth requirements, The Venice Project is testing a new compressing technique but nevertheless points out that users will need to ensure that they have an upper limit on their monthly internet usage, according to the spokeswoman.

Many ISPs (Internet service providers) offer broadband connections with no time limitations but provide usage guidelines that seek to control users who regularly exceed agreed monthly data transmission volumes.

Because the service runs on a P2P (peer-to-peer) network, users both host and send TV programmes to other users in the automated system, adding to their usage.

The Venice Project is almost certain to worry the numerous network operators already concerned about their broadband pipes becoming plugged with a range of new video download services. A proliferation of these services could add fuel to the nation's already overheated debate on network neutrality.

The project is the brainchild of Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the founders of the Kazaa P-to-P music exchange and Skype Voip (voice over internet protocol) service.

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