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As Sky blocks access to torrents – we ask “what next?”

Once upon a time, music and movies were given away free of charge on TV and radio. The only ‘payment’ you had to make, was to wait for the TV or radio station to decide that it wanted to play the track/movie you wanted. Then along came Napster & Co and the rest is history. Those criminals who want to access torrents will no longer be allowed to do so by Sky. KitGuru does a (legal) search for more info.

A ruling handed down by the courts means that access to torrents is being cut off. So far, only the major ISPs are being targeted it seems – starting with Virgin but now Sky has also agreed to ‘no more downloads’.

With other companies set to follow suit in the coming months, this will no doubt cause a major headache for the ISP’s marketing teams.

If customers are not trying to download 1GB films from torrent sites, if all they want to do is access email and Facebook, then you can do that on a 3G connection on a phone (which is around 200Kbps in many cases) so no one needs more than a 512kb connection, right?

Virgin’s ‘Mother****** of all broadband’ advertising seemed squarely aimed at those who needed 50Mbps in order to get large files faster. If you’re a serious business user, then you’re not using a Virgin home service, so any argument about “Ah yes, but some companies might need it” will disappear.

In a dark room with ‘no cameras allowed’, we asked an expert “How much bandwidth do you need in order to watch high quality TV etc?” and were told that “Lesser channels on Sky can get away with half a meg, but important, popular channels need 1 to 2 megabits per second”.


We pushed on and asked about Sky’s famous HD offerings. “No more than 4Mbps” we were told. So, on that basis, you could get all the access you need from a 10Mbps connection.

The first part of the broadband revolution was the move from 56Kbps fax modem cards to speeds measure in the ‘sub 1Mbps' range.

We're now in the second phase of the revolution, where ‘serious networks have been invested in' and ISPs have ‘more bandwidth than oceans have waves'. This 2nd phase has been driven by enthusiasts – by people who knew that Doom9 was not a game as much as the place you go to for CODECs and the like.

The 3rd phase of broadband will bring scary data rates, but how do you market that bandwidth without people needing >1GB files?

"Hi, is that Sky? Great. Listen, we want all of these titles (and more) available now - but without paying extra. Thanks. Sorry? What? You can't possibly do that? Oh. OK. Then can you shove your 50Mbps connection - I only need 10Mbps, thanks."

KitGuru says: It's a serious headache for the marketing folk at Sky and elsewhere – and one that needs to be solved soon. If the ISPs get it wrong, then they will have the ‘network to end all networks', but no requirement for all those data packets (think ‘Sony, standing there with a warehouse full of Blu-Ray content that no one wants to buy, because it's overpriced and slow to market'). Gigabit to the door will be with us very soon – and labs across the world are already considering “What challenges will we face when scaling up from 1Gbps to 56Gbps to 400Gbps'. Data transfer rates in the gigabit range is serious stuff. So where's the instant/affordable content coming from ?

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