Downloading your entertainment... the wave of the future?

Lately it seems like everytime you turn around somebody is talking about the day when all entertainment is downloaded. You see it in a lot of Dope threads, people always saying that video on demand is coming soon. Video game executives also believe it’s only a matter of time until games aren’t purchased in stores but downloaded. Then of course there’s the music industry and the Cult of iTunes.

And people are also always saying about how much broadband penetration has been growing in recent years.

But I just can’t picture this being a viable method to get movies, music and games to the people anytime soon.

My digital cable has a movie trailers on demand channel. It’s very nice but takes a very long time to play the trailer. I can’t imagine how long a TV show or full length movie would be.

Then you have the game executives. Full length current-gen games measure out between 3 and 7 GB. Next-gen game sizes will do doubt grow with Sony’s plan to use 50 GB Blu-Ray discs. With all the broadband in the world that’s still a long download time. The 1,000,000 worldwide Xbox Live users are already having trouble with ~ 1 GB demos.

And then there’s the question of where all this broadband access will come from. A lot of people have broadband, but when you switch everyone to it, what’s going to happen to that network?

So I don’t see Entertainment Downloads as an option for a long time, but what about you?

i’m far from an expert on this topic, so take it with a grain of salt…unless it makes sense to you.

the internet connections in this country (the us) are going to be changed too. internet 2 is coming soon, after that is anyone’s guess. internet 2 is supposed to be amazingly fast, so i hear. fiberoptics are also possible.

everything will be downloaded in one form or another. technology will march forward and make the things that seem like a giant annoyance now into things of reality. soon, we’ll wonder how life ever got by without it.

what’s a “long time”? 10 years? 5? hell, in the past 10 years, technology has taken big steps in that time.

For me, it’s the wave of the present. There only two shows on TV that I watch. The Office, which is on at the same time as a friend of mine’s radio show and The Sopranos, which I can’t even see without getting a box and the premium channel package.

It’s just much more conveinent to get my computer to download these shows so I can watch them when I have a chance. Do I feel any guilt in doing this? Nope. So I’m a bad person, sue me.

I, in fact, can envision a time when you get to download whatever it is you wish to be entertained by. In a few select cities, this is already happening.

To understand how, we first all have to let go of the client/server model that we might be used to, whereby you choose what you want and have it downloaded to the hard drive in your computer.

The new way of doing things is called . . . uh, I don’t actually know the term for this new model. Basically, it involves a super-high-speed connection not to the Internet, but rather to your phone company’s local central office, or CO. The high-speed connection is over a fiber-optic line.

Here’s what’s different about this new model: The content itself actually resides on servers at the CO, not on your computer or set-top-box (STB). When you change a channel, your STB actually sends the command all the way back to the CO, which then changes the channel itself, sending you the new channel.

So instead of having to send all 100 channels to you all the time, the way cable has to, you only are using one channel’s worth of bandwidth. Even so, we’re talking about 25Mbps throughput speed, which swamps your typical cable/DSL line, which tops out at around 6Mbps.

You might think that having to send just a simple “Change the channel” command over a mile all the way back to the CO would significantly increase the amount of time to execute that command, but apparently it happens even faster than if you were using a traditional STB.

This same pipe that you get your TV on, you’ll be getting your phone service and broadband service on. Companies couldn’t afford to do this if all they would get is your cable TV money; they need your phone and internet money, too.

One vendor rolling this out is Verizon, with their FiOS product. It uses FTTP, “fiber to the premises”, which means . . . well, it means that Verizon will string fiber between your house and the CO. Needless to say, this approach promises to be VERY expensive. However, by doing this, Verizon can offer you phone, broadband, and cable, all bundled together.

An alternate approach will be A T & T’s Project Lightspeed, which is an FTTN implementation. FTTN stands for “fiber to the node”, which is a little 3’ by 5’ box that connects to every house in the neighborhood. The final step between the node and your house will still be by copper wire. This approach will mean slower speeds but will be much less expensive. (A T & T hasn’t yet started rolling this out; when they do it will probably be called U-Verse).

So basically, you won’t really be “downloading” the way we currently understand the word. It’s more like the CO will be forwarding to you whichever content you request.

Aw man, you stole my opening line. But for a different answer.

What do you think TiVo is, or video on demand?

Downloading your entertainment has arrived.

Internet2 is the name of a group of colleges and networking professionals. It is not a network or a new kind of Internet connection.

They work on developing high speed Internet connections and have a nice little network set up between themselves, but that’s not going to spill over into the public for… (wait for it)… a long time.

TiVo and VOD work for the small populations they have now, but if you scaled up to include everybody I can’t imagine it would work too well. Again, I think it’s a bandwidth problem. And fiber (especially in Airblair’s example) is pricey.

Maybe I’ll try to order up a single episode of something over my VOD and see how well it works.

I was going to say it’s the wave of five years ago.

But now with the creation of bittorrent and more widespread broadband service it’s become so much easier. TV shows can now be downloaded in a matter of a couple of hours, CDs in less than half an hour. P2P had flaws that no longer exist with torrents. Spyware being number one.

Are bittorrents used in any legal means of On Demand download services?

I hope it doesn’t become the wave of the anything. Then I’d have to pay for it. It needs to stay on the d-low until I finish my Archive Of Everything.

My internet connection is ADSL2+, which is around 20Megabit downloads. Unfortunately, pretty much nowhere is anything available to get at that kind of speed, so it’s a bit wasted, but Video On Demand et al will need to utilise that (at least) to work efficiently. It’s only a couple of years away from being standard speeds, so expect it soon.

bah…crap. i heard a few years ago about how there was this internet connection that sent a 4 gigabyte file from LA to NYC in seconds. i just attributed that to “internet2”

like i said…grain of salt.

The speed of light is pretty fast. Sending the signal a mile is far less a concern than the routers/servers executing the command change, which themselves are pretty fast. I can play a video game with a guy across the continent without any noticible lag - the delay between you and your phone/cable/whatever company shouldn’t be noticible.

It may very well have been Internet 2. I2, as Justin_Bailey said, is not a new technology in any real sense (there may be some innovations being tested out along the line, but that’s pretty much irrelevant), but it is ridiculously fast because universities simply have huge amounts of bandwidth at their disposal and nobody else is using I2. My coworker (supposedly) has a friend at an I2 university, and this person supposedly downloads things at rates that are simply retarded (and we work at a company where we pull 3MB, yes with the big B, per second off of Usenet).

And I agree that widespread downloadable content is the wave of the future (with somewhat less widespread downloads being the wave of the present). Slingboxes have shown that Internet infrastructure is fast enough for video on demand, and broadband is only getting more widespread and faster, and audio/video files are only getting smaller and with higher quality to boot. Yep, exciting times, exciting times.

I’ve been checking out the FIOS info on Verizon’s web site, and the pricing looks pretty good compared to DSL internet and cable TV. Installation is free (with one year agreement) and $34.95 a month for 5 MBps down / 2 MBps up, $44.95 a month for 15 MBps down / 2 MBps up, $179.95 a month for 30 MBps down / 15 MBps up (for business I guess, at that price). FIOS TV is $34.95 for the basic package, which has nearly 180 digital channels including local, digital music channels and high def channels. There are additional movie, international and sports packages that can be added. So far only a few areas have the FIOS internet, and fewer have the TV available. Unfortunately, my area isn’t one of them, but my aunt’s is. I’m going to have to start working on her and see if I can talk her into getting it. :slight_smile:

I posted a link in another thread to this article on PRNewswire that says that there are now nearly 100 million home broadband users in the US, and that number is an increase of 28% in just the last year. I’d guess that in another five years or so the number of people still using dial-up for their internet is going to be fairly small.

America Online and Warner Bros. just started on Wednesday an ‘online network’ they call in2tv that has available free episodes of a whole bunch of old shows such as Babylon 5, Chico and the Man, F Troop, Kung Fu, La Femme Nikita, Lois and Clark, Pinky and the Brain, Spenser for Hire, The Fugitive, V, Welcome Back Kotter, Wonder Woman and many others. They say they’ll continue to add more over time as well.

I downloaded a high quality episde of Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and it was great. The 45 minutes of video were about 480 MB, and it looked great on my computer monitor. I don’t really know how it compares to a DVD, or HDTV on a television. It took about four hours to download though. The download speed varied a lot, the highest I noticed was over 500KBPS, the lowest got below 70 KBPS. I assumed that’s because they had just opened the site with a lot of promotion and they were getting hammered with users. So Justin may be justified in his concerns about bandwidth, at least for a while. The giant file pushed the limits a bit on my computer too (it’s a 5+ year old Pentium 4 with 256mb or RAM).

I’ve had DSL for a few years and love it, but I don’t know much about the details of downloading movies/shows. I’ve watched clips, downloaded sound files etc. But the Brisco County episode is by far the biggest file I’ve downloaded. Is watching on the computer the only option? Is there a way to watch it on a TV (it’d have to be a digital TV I assume)? How big are the files/good is the quality on the shows that you can buy from Apple Itunes?

I probably won’t be switching to downloading my TV shows in the near term (the next year or two), but when I buy my next computer it’s going to be a big consideration, and I’m going to be keeping an eye on on-demand cable, fiber optics and downloadable TV. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s going to become the preferred medium.

Plenty of video cards now have TV out as an option. My own ATI Radeon has S-Video out which I run to my regular old analog Sony TV that I use to watch DVDs and downloaded videos.

Speaking of Brisco County, about 3 years I downloaded the entire series over a period of about a week from Usenet. They were obviously VHS dupes, but they were better than nothing. I’m eagerly looking forward to the upcoming DVD set.

That should be “about 3 years ago…”

Don’t mean to bump my own thread, but I found this at CNN Money this morning:

Maybe I’m looking at it incorrectly, but it sounds like they’re saying that in seven years, 40% of the country will have faster than DSL, and the other 60% will have to settle for only getting DSL internet speed. Gee I’ll feel really bad for the people who have to poke along at only DSL speed. :slight_smile:

There are at least two levels of DSL, 768 KBps and 3MBps. I’ve been happy with the “slower” version for the last few years, but I can see it’d be too slow for downloading high quality video. The faster DSL should be good enough though, shouldn’t it?

Sure downloads will replace broadcast TV, in exactly the same way movies replaced theater, and TV replaced movies and radio.