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Net TV to consign Net Neutrality debate to dustbin of history. Why?

Easy. ISPs can charge more, says BBC boss

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Who pays for all that Internet video winging our way? Answer: we all will, through higher broadband charges, according to the BBC's Mark Thompson.

Speaking at the Royal Television Society's International conference today, the BBC Director General acknowledged that working out who pays for this "revolution" is problematic. You can see why: UK ISP costs rose 200 per cent in the first month of the BBC iPlayer's launch

But he said internet-connected TV will enable ISPs to charge more for fast broadband services. This will underpin the business case for broadband providers to invest in infrastructure.

The BBC has banged on this drum for some time. In 2008, BBC iPlayer boss Anthony Rose mooted a future where ISPs could charge more for tiered streaming services.

In his argument today, Thompson puts the content cart before the ISP horse - for free of charge bandwidth-grabbing content is growing at a lick and hard-pressed ISPs are struggling to keep up.

For years, they have complained about the cost of video to their broadband customers.

They say content providers such as the BBC and Google get a free ride on the back of their infrastructure - and that heavy users are getting a subsidised ride on the back of other customers.

This in a nutshell summarises the often bad-tempered debate over net neutrality - and a solution is getting more urgent with the explosion of media players, such as the BBC's iPlayer, the upcoming ISP and broadcaster- backed YouView player, and, in the States, Hulu.

This is why many ISPs want to "shape traffic" or impose download caps or find some way of making the Googles and the BBCs pay up somehow. We see this as a straightforward business dispute, but many net neutrality campaigners think there is a consumer rights and even human rights dimension.

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