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BT trialling network to deliver online video

* BT, other ISPs working on video delivery network

* Aiming to improve quality of service

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Britain's BT Group BT.L is working with rival Internet service providers to produce an open online video delivery network to improve the experience of watching and listening to programmes on the Web.

Online video has proved hugely popular in Britain in recent years, both through short clips from the likes of YouTube GOOG.O and Apple's AAPL.O iTunes and full TV catch up services such as the BBC's iPlayer.

But Internet providers have warned that the demand is placing a lot of pressure on the core networks which support the Internet.

Many media groups already use content delivery networks, such as Akamai AKAM.O and Limelight LLNW.O but BT said in most cases these services only reach the edge of the ISP network, with the final stage delivered 'over the top' with no guarantees on the quality of the service.

In comparison, the BT Wholesale unit is working on a similar platform which will use the ISP network to reach all the way to viewers and therefore guarantee a good service.

“Already we are seeing a meteoric growth of video services like YouTube, iTunes and iPlayer, with a 30 minute TV programme requiring the same bandwidth as 78,000 average emails,” BT said.

“Content providers are looking for a way to ensure that people get a consistently good quality service when they download material -- whenever they choose to consume it -- otherwise they won’t keep watching.”

Under BT’s plan, viewers could have uninterrupted access to content, even at peak times, and it could also allow the ISPs to recoup some of the cost of providing online video from the media groups which have produced it.

A spokesman said BT was working with its BT Retail arm and two other ISPs which he declined to name. It said it was also in talks with numerous other parties, which is likely to include media groups.

Leading Internet providers in Britain include Virgin Media VMED.O, Carphone Warehouse CPW.L, BSkyB BSY.L and some mobile operators such as Orange FTE.PA.

“BT Wholesale’s plan ... will open up new market opportunities for both content providers and ISPs and enable ISPs to maintain their end user relationships, by addressing the bandwidth issues that will put a strain on any network,” the company said.

“The cost efficiency of content delivery has to improve.” (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

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