Net TV and the Bandwidth Question

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In a recent blog post, former telecom exec and wizened future-thinker Tom Evslin asks a lot of questions and poses some interesting answers about Internet video and bandwidth. One of the most compelling questions is about the “where,” as in where is more bandwidth really needed to deliver a better Internet TV experience; Tom’s surprising answer is that it may not necessarily be in that last-mile link to your home, but instead a little farther up the line, in the networks being built to deliver IP-based content.

Evslin’s ponderings combine the common sense of a remote-clutching couch potato with the knowledge of an industry insider to pop some popular myths — like, that fiber to the house is necessary to get all the video goodies of the future, including high-def. Ain’t so, says Tom, since the combo of IP and individual viewing habits probably mean less bandwidth, not more, is needed to your doorstep to get the content you really want. (He does note that we will all probably need more bandwidth out of the house soon, to send all the new videos we will be creating for the Internet content pool.)

A bit further back into the cloud, however, is where things get “interesting,” as Evslin says, since the viewing habits of a town, for example, are likely to be varied, random and not synchronous — facets that will indeed call for lots more capacity somewhere in the network’s middle, probably especially so if all the folks who asked for Joost invites from us start uploading as well as downloading. Anyway, it’s a more intelligent thread than telecom TV ads seem to be able to deliver. And one to follow forward.

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