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Broadband networks in the UK could be put under strain as ISPs struggle to cope with the amount of traffic over the festive period.

This is the worry of Edd Dawson, managing director of Broadband.co.uk, ahead of one of the busiest times of the year on Britain's high-speed internet services.

Mr Dawson has picked out gift shoppers and on-demand video watchers as two groups which could cause an upsurge in traffic.

"It's going to be the first mass market Christmas for iPlayer and with the BBC having by far and away the best programming over the Christmas period we would not be surprised to see the ISPs suffer as people catch up on what they have missed," said Mr Dawson.

Continuing: "In these credit crunch times we might also see heavy demand from people searching for the best bargains in the Boxing Day sales."

In the last year more than half (53 per cent) of Brits started to watch TV programmes or clips online, according to a YouGov study.

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