Over a million British homes would be unable to get BBC Three if the proposed plans to move the channel online happened today.
According to analysts Point Topic, not enough homes currently have good enough broadband connections to support BBC iPlayer streams.
BBC iPlayer requires an internet connection providing at least 2Mbps of sustained bandwidth for standard definition streams to work.
While Point Topic’s latest figures claim that 91 per cent of the UK can access download speeds of at least 4Mbps, those in the 9 per cent would miss out on BBC Three shows like EDL Girls: Don’t Call Me Racist going online only.
Chief executive of Point Topic Oliver Johnson said: “Consider the plan to take BBC3 off air, for example. We reckon about 1.2 million homes would not be able to get those programmes online if that happened today.”
Last week the BBC revealed plans to move much of BBC Three’s programming to the iPlayer. The idea behind the move is that it will better suit a young adult demographic that primarily watches content online.
At the same time, shifting the bulk of BBC Three’s content to the web will clear the airwaves for the BBC One +1 timeshift channel and extend CBBC’s coverage by an hour a night.
While 1.2 million UK homes might not be able to stream iPlayer in its current state, at the launch event for the new-look iPlayer, BBC spokespeople revealed that BBC Three programmes could be moved to BBC One and BBC Two and developments in streaming technology could see people on slower connections benefit.
Currently, the BBC plans to move BBC Three off the airwaves in autumn 2015. By then, many of the regional BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects will have made progress, pushing improved broadband connections out to more homes.
BDUK aims to have 95 per cent of the UK able to access superfast broadband delivering at least 24Mbps by 2017. Those in the five per cent will be able to get speeds of at least 2Mbps, just enough bandwidth to access BBC iPlayer, albeit only in SD.
Before the BBC can move BBC Three to the iPlayer, it will need the approval of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC. The Trust could veto the move until all BDUK projects are finished and 4G coverage is available to the majority of the population.
EE should have completed its 4G rollout, covering 98 per cent of the UK’s population, by the end of 2014. O2, Three and Vodafone plan to have matched this by the end of 2015.