Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The video flood

Shockingly, I'm not the only person pondering the impact of video on the internet. Under the provocative headline Does online video threaten the net?, Auntie Beeb, in a somewhat indecisive mood, concludes yes, possibly, well, no probably not.

One interesting point, lurking but not prominent in the piece, is that the projected buildout to video-friendly bandwidth will most likely benefit the larger players and shake out smaller ones who are too busy undercutting each other to accumulate the kind of capital needed to make major upgrades to the backbone and other infrastructure.

All of this assumes that the net will be the way to go for video. It may well be. Cisco is confident that the bandwidth will be there, and Cisco knows a bit about the topic.

On the other hand, I'm not quite ready to say it's a foregone conclusion. Quite possible, sure. Likely, even. But given the inherent efficiency of broadcasting broadcast video, maybe not inevitable. Back on the one hand, though, if internet video works and it doesn't cost too much, why not?

One thing that jumped out at me was the projection that by 2011, 30% of bandwidth would be video and 43% would be peer-to-peer file sharing of video. I'd be interested to know the assumptions behind those figures. To what extent do people use peer-to-peer because the only alternative is to shell out for a DVD or hope the movie you like is available on demand on cable?

I was also intrigued by the BBC's iPlayer service, but I wasn't able to try it since it only works if you can convince their server you're in Britain. An international version is promised. That's got to be about £icensing.

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