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HDTV WHY???



On the one hand...

On more than one occassion, I've taken a non-video friend into a broadcast
or post facility, where for the first time they've viewed a clean 601 NTSC
picture and said. "oh, is that HDTV?!".  This argues that the sweet spot for
broadcasters is to retain their present plant, but deliver it to the home
relatively intact.  The consumer keeps their TV, but adds a really cheap box
to decode the digital, like DSS works.  I tend to agree that if given the
choice of one HDTV signal, or many clean, less-compressed NTSC signals,
financial reality will compel broadcasters toward the latter option.

On the other hand...

This past weekend on CSPAN-2, George Gilder (Economist/Technologist) gave an
interesting talk on the future of bandwidth.  Basically, there have been
several past examples of technologies that have experienced exponential
drops in cost over time, and thus have had great consequences on the economy
and daily life.  The short list includes railroad transportation/heavy
distribution, electric power, computing.  Given that computing has followed
Moore's law (doubling in capability [per dollar] every 18 mos.) for over 30
years, and given that computers now underlie all (now-digital)
communications systems, he predicts that over the next 10-20 years
communications' bandwidth per dollar will drop at three times the
Moore's-Law rate.  The end of per-unit billing will soon be upon us; all
connections will be at a "flat rate", dropping fast over time.  One example:
a new web-based secondary market for selling one's excess international
corporate communications bandwidth is trading this commodity at an average
of 7% of the British Telecom's wholesale rate sheet.  Another: a number of
satellite based systems will be on-line starting next year, offering up
stiff competition to existing telcos and regulatory rate structures.

Given the cheap access to, and high availability of, this shared-spectrum
bandwidth, Gilder suggested that today's broadcast towers are analogous to
19th century smokestacks spewing gunk into the air--or spectrum in this
case.  Such common-spectrum congestion is inherently inefficient and
expensive vs. other channels.  In a decade, the broadcasters won't be
worrying about competing with 500 cable channels, they'll be worrying about
10,000's of full-bandwidth video "web broadcasters" or the equivalent.  So,
those with the best ability to provide quality content will predominate.
Bad news for broadcasters, but great news for post houses, seems to me.  I
expect such bandwidth will result in some videophile-related sites that
deliver hi-def content, but mostly a great deal of standard resolution stuff
geared to special narrow-interests (as is the case of web content today).
Stuff like the Drag-Queen-Model-Railroader Channel.

-Jim



----------------------------------------------------------------------
Real-time and high-performance hardware and software design since 1981
Jim Lindelien                           (Email to: jiml at timelogic.com)     
Time Logic, Inc., 880 Northwood, Suite 1, Incline Village, NV 89451
Phone 702-833-0200 x11 Fax 702-833-1222  Web http://www.timelogic.com

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