TV should switch to internet, peers suggestFollow @mediaukdiscuss
According to a report in The Guardian, a Parliamentary committee says the airwaves are better suited to mobile, and their use for TV could be considered “wasteful”. It says the date for a second switchover could be some years away, but recommends that the government, regulators and the industry start planning now.
Something James Cridland will no doubt have an opinion on – let battle commence!
I wonder how many of those peers have actually tried to use internet television, or even listening to radio over the internet. Most of them would probably be shocked to discover that the amount of buffering that can go on, because of ISP’s placing speed restrictions on lines. Such an idea is ridiculously impractical at this time, and may not be practical for another 10 years.
Add to that Ian that not everyone wants or can afford unlimited download packages. Furthermore, there would need to be regulation on things such as subtitling and audio descripiton which are not in place on internet feeds at the moment. And then there is the problem of people who do not have the Internet at all, of which there are still a sunstantioal proportion of the population.
I think putting television solely on the internet is a grand idea.
Nobody would be able to watch it, since the internet infrastructure in the UK can’t cope with that much traffic; it would bankrupt the broadcasters in bandwidth costs; and it would give the entire control of news and information in this country to those that run our internet connections.
Let’s let the Peers have their fun, then quietly ignore them.
I am assuming they mean sometime in the future not at the present state the infrastructure is in. You would need to reduce the amount of load it has on the network and/or increase the bandwidth of the entire network and remove any bottlenecks as well.
Multicast is the only way this could plausibly happen and even then only with massive investment. And with future technologies, even greater investment. Super Hi-Vision (which is, in large part, the technical foundation of the UHDTV spec) is a huge amount of data – around 0.5Gbps per channel. Even HD TV streams are nontrivial in size, and without multicast it would overwhelm the UK infrastructure. Even moving all radio listening to the UK internet would effectively stop the internet working.
Multicast fixes many problems but doesn’t fix the underlying capacity issues. And since nobody’s figured out how to make money from multicast yet, it’s not gonna happen any time soon.
The lords report has some good stuff – open access fibre hubs in communities is the way to go, and BT’s PON approach to FTTP is indeed bad for competition as it’s effectively un-unbundleable, but broadcast over the air is here to stay. Even if you can multicast every SD/HD channel in the UK down to every exchange in the UK, and can get 3-5 channels down an average UK connection, that’s great for now – in 10, 20 years time we’re going to be doing SHV/UHDTV broadcasts over the air. In bitrate terms those are much, much higher bitrate than HD – and we’ll be back in the same situation again because the UK infrastructure still won’t be sufficient. SHV test broadcasts have already happened over the air and work fine.
I’m going to go against the grain a bit here and say, as someone who hasn’t had a traditional TV for years, that actually – for home viewing at least – the peers may have a point.
On-demand is clearly a big part of TV’s future; whilst we’ve all had iPlayer and the like for a few years now, the launch of YouView is a new milestone. Catch-up is determinedly moving off the PC onto more TV connected, or TV-like devices. iPlayer’s auto-rewind service is another milestone – the ultimate transition is to a world where the idea of “simultaneous viewing” is diminished to the realm of live events. Other programmes are more “released” than “broadcast”. In this world, suddenly the economics of devoting huge chunks of spectrum to hundreds of linear channels starts to seem flimsy. Why bother when most people start watching when it suits them, not spot on the “release” time?
But yes, there’s the live events. Not only the inherently live events, but a TV industry keen on creating their own “event TV”. Can this keep broadcast alive alone though? At what point does the economics tip in the favour of delivery over fibre to the home? Surely that point will eventually arrive? And SHV/UHDTV – is there really that much viewer demand?
Which leaves us with mobile. Do the airwaves have enough capacity for us all to watch TV streams at will on mobile devices wherever we are? I’d say probably not. But I can see mobile devices getting loaded up with your favourite shows at home so you can watch them on the bus or train much more reliably than a live stream would ever be anyway. Yes there’s some forward planning involved, but not much if the software’s good, and it’s not such a leap from packing a few DVDs is it?
Maybe there is a clear gap for broadcast technology to provide some things; mobile-optimised coverage of live sporting events is an obvious one. Timely, localised low-bandwidth data like weather or travel information is another. But broadcast needs to be part of the internet experience, and integrated with internet devices, not something that sets itself apart. If it doesn’t find a place in the internet ecosystem, I do think broadcast TV and radio’s days are numbered.
Noticed on http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/5391-ofcom-approves-everything-everywhere-s-use-of-1800-mhz-band-for-4g.html
800Mhz is to be auctioned but if more Freeview TV channels could go IP then 700Mhz could also be auctioned for 4G, so there is a commercial factor to this!