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Here’s another reason for Ofcom to convince telcos to build high-speed open networks – the very future of the BBC’s online provision. The broadcaster’s future media and technology director Ashley Highfield has weighed in to the next-generation networks debate, saying, “without faster networks, the BBC would struggle to develop more complex interactive services in the future” (via FT.com). Faster speeds would certainly quicken transfer of programmes via iPlayer, the mainstay of which is an application to which shows must be downloaded, although a web version offers instant starts through streaming. Highfield on the digital divide: “I don’t want a two-tier Britain where urban wealthy people can access high-quality internet content at 50Mbps per second and there is a rural, disenfranchised poor.”
The whole issue of next-gen networks, of course, is shrouded in rivalry, with Ofcom half-heartedly taking up the Broadband Stakeholder Group’s campaign to prod telcos on the issue, but telcos so far refusing to open future networks to rivals without some assurances they’ll get payback on build-out costs.
Meanwhile, the BBC has some interesting new blue-sky ideas for making itself relevant across the sites younger folk are frequenting; Highfield: “Wouldn’t it be great if a BBC radio station was the soundtrack to your shopping on eBay? Or if we were able to give you exactly the music you liked based on following your behaviour?”