The BBC's high-profile iPlayer service could be crippled by UK ISPs unless the Beeb contributes to the cost of delivering high bandwidth files across the internet.

According to The Independent, BT, Tiscali and Carphone Warehouse are among the ISPs concerned that the video download tool will put a huge strain on the web if the BBC hits its target for user numbers. The iPlayer Beta was downloaded 120,000 times during the first week of its availability, and the BBC’s target of 500,000 users within the first six months is a major source of concern among the ISP industry.

"The potential for iPlayer to suck up capacity is a concern and we need a better dialogue with the BBC about that," a Tiscali spokesperson told The Independent.

Ultimately, ISPs could cut the available bandwidth to iPlayer services, and limit the number of people who can use the service at any time using 'traffic shaping'.

The iPlayer is a major part of the BBC's attempts to use the web to help free licence payers from the confines of the traditional television schedule. A large proportion of BBC content is being made available for free download, with programmes expiring seven days after they're watched.

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