On another list I’ve been discussing the nefarious Bell plan to kill the Internet by hoarding digital bandwidth.
Bruce Kushnick’s e-book, “The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal,” is fascinating in this regard.
But what if the Bells aren’t solely to blame?
The thought occurred to me when Kushnick began talking about “The TV Barrier.” The TV Barrier is the speed at which the real-time exchange of HDTV video becomes possible over the Internet.
Right now we could breach this barrier. Other countries – Korea, China, Japan – already have. We don’t really need fiber. We can do it with copper, we can do it with wireless. Stop wasting copper bandwidth on voice and your DSL line could deliver it. Give us enough unlicensed frequencies and your WiFi set-up could deliver it. Stop hoarding local bandwidth for cable competition that will never happen and it would be easy.
But here’s the problem. If bits are just bits (and they are just bits) then how do we get continuing revenue for our movies and TV shows? Cable does this by dividing bandwidth into “channels” and charging both sides of the transaction for everything that goes through, whether you watch it or not. Everyone gets paid. The channels get their monthly fees even if you leave the TV off.
This doesn’t happen when bits are bits.
Even the iPod “compromise” doesn’t answer this business model problem. OK, we’ll pay for songs we value. But what about songs we don’t value? What about TV shows we don’t value? Where is the payment for that?
Fact is, it costs just as much to make a bad TV show or a bad movie as it does a good one. Hollywood is limited in its ability to produce by what it can expect to get out of its many flops, plus the profits it can get from its few hits.
It costs more money to produce good video than it does good text, and the percentage of hits is just as low. It’s this continuing revenue stream for failure that “Tellywood” wants to protect, and in this their interests are aligned perfectly with the Bells which are hoarding broadband bits, and the cable operators who are doing the same.
The only way these industries will allow the Internet to burst through the TV Barrier is by solving this business model problem. And they’re perfectly willing to take the U.S. economy down with them while they wait.
On the $200BillionScandal blog I’ve been editing for Bruce Kushnick and others, Firstmile.Us CEO Susan Estrada today ticked off a list of the industries we’re losing because of this business model impasse. Healthcare. Education. The Internet itself.
We need solutions, and we need them now.