The End of TV as We Know It Sit back on the sofa and get ready for packetized, on-demand, digital broadcasts. By Frank Rose Wired Magazine Issue 12.12 December 2004 We live in the age of the digital packet. Documents, images, music, phone calls - all get chopped up, propelled through networks, and reassembled at the other end according to Internet protocol. So why not TV? That's the question cable giants like Comcast and Time Warner and Baby Bells like SBC and Verizon have been asking. The concept has profound implications for television and the Internet. TV over Internet protocol - IPTV - will transform couch-cruising into an on-demand experience. For the Internet, it will mean broadband at speeds 10, 100, or even 1,000 times faster than today's DSL or cable. Online games would be startlingly realistic; the idea of channels would seem hopelessly archaic. Why not indeed? So far, the answer has been inertia. But competition is a powerful stimulus. For years, DirecTV and EchoStar have been adding subscribers far faster than cable, so cable companies want something satellite can't match. At the same time, voice over IP is enabling cable operators to poach phone customers from telcos. Combine VoIP, truly high-speed broadband, and totally on-demand TV - and you've got such a compelling proposition that the Bell companies figure the only way to survive is to do likewise. IPTV is not to be confused with television over the Internet. On the public Net, packets get delayed or lost entirely - that's why Web video is so jerky and lo-res. But private networks like Comcast's are engineered, obviously, for reliable video delivery - which means IPTV will look at least as good as TV coming from digital cable or satellite. It will be accompanied by another, equally critical change. Instead of broadcasting every channel continuously, service providers plan to transmit them only to subscribers who request them. In effect, every channel will be streamed on demand. This will free up huge amounts of bandwidth for hi-def TV and high-speed broadband. Add IP and you get interactive services like caller ID on your TV. And the system will be able to track viewing habits as effectively as Amazon tracks its customers, so ads will be targeted with scary precision. Put it all together and you've got television that's as intensely personalized as 20th-century broadcasting was generic. ... http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.12/start.html?pg=7 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.