Strike debate in L.A. Times

by Paul William Tenny

Feature writer Craig Mazin has been debating Matt Edelman in the L.A. Times this week, which will continue I suppose until Friday. I don't know who Edelman is other than he's the guy who was pegged to defend big media's indefensible positions. I think Craig did a decent job in yesterday's publication with what he knows but he wasn't able to address a specific point that perhaps I better can.

Edelman said as a great number of technologically inept people have been saying in the past year that high-definition was going to overtake the Internet and replace other medium, and that it's the future we'd best get ready for. Sorry, but that just isn't going to happen in the next 10 years.

Technology is advancing at a staggering rate. High-definition video soon will be more efficiently delivered via broadband than any other distribution platform.

A quick primer for those that don't understand: when you increase the resolution of a video (its display size) you also must increase the bitrate. The bitrate is the rate at which video is sampled and stored, so the lower the rate is, the worse the video looks. You can see the effect of really low bitrates by watching practically any video on YouTube.

That's important also because your broadband connection is going to limit you badly in this area. The higher the resolution, the higher the bitrate has to be, the more data has to be transfered from the server to your computer per second. The simple truth is, there aren't any Internet connections outside of Verizon's limited fiber-optic service that can handle true HD.

Beyond that, there isn't any true HD available on the Internet right now at all. We're not talking limited quantity - it doesn't exist, and won't for a very long time because nobody has an Internet connection that can support it. We're talking about a wholesale upgrade of the last-mile Internet infrastructure here. Frankly, it'll be a decade or more before we see those kinds of speeds on a majority of homes.

In stark contrast, digital cable and satellite are far better positioned to deliver high-definition than the Internet is. In just a few years, every channel will be high-definition over satellite and for most people that'll be fine. Those that want to see content at their leisure over the Internet aren't going to crow for HD, and of the many reasons why, the fact that you can't watch true HD on 99% of the computer monitors sold today is not an insignificant factor in all of this.

Not only can the Internet's last-mile not support that kind of load, people can't watch it either.

Standard-definition video is the best the Internet will deliver for a very long time.
in Labor, Streaming Video


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