uk: Can broadband keep up with Postman Pat on demand?

Three weeks ago, the BBC launched a neat application on its website called the iPlayer. It allows users to download BBC programmes from the last week on to their PC or to click and watch (if you are a Mac owner).In terms of expense, the amount of time it has taken to launch this service is broadly analogous to digging the channel tunnel. But just like anyone thrilled to be swooshing from St Pancras to Gare du Nord in a squeak over two hours, the iPlayer presents a similar thrill for those who hanker after genuine on-demand television. We can all afford to have selective memory syndrome in the face of limitless Cash in the Attic.Since the launch of the iPlayer, viewers have downloaded or watched 250,000 shows a day – or 3.3m in total when the Beeb reported the figures last week. This is a phenomenal achievement. In terms of broadcast television 250,000 is relatively tiny, but as a new service it shows that the appetite to watch programmes as and when the viewer chooses is rampant. But it is also alarming in other respects. If you have experienced frustration with your broadband connection at home since Christmas, or you are in the 40% of homes which don’t yet have access to what are still slow broadband rates, then the iPlayer success is not necessarily great news.

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