One would probably be more successful gambling in Las Vegas than in gambling on the future timeline for digital content distribution models. Of course, it would be hard to lose if taking a broad stroke and saying that Internet delivery is the future. But even that is risky, as it overlooks the efficiencies, particularly in the US and UK, for cable and satellite. In both countries, widely available very high speed Internet is still a dream.
It is the inefficiencies of low speed Internet, and the bottlenecks that occur in large public networks, that technologies such as torrent-based distribution address. In a region where very high speed Internet is widely available, bit-torrents are less useful. But for the US and the UK, torrent-based distribution, coupled with reasonably high-speed Internet, opens up some interesting possibilities. One of these possibilities is the distribution of digital cinema.
This subject comes up as the content industry seeks to pursue business and technology models for personal content viewing. While the smartphone somewhat fits in this role, it is the iPad that is the poster child for the next wave of content distribution and business models. This was emphasized in a recent AlwaysOn/ETC-sponsored event in Los Angeles, where the future of content delivery was discussed. But no matter how sexy the device, the key element in new content distribution models will be ubiquitous wireless delivery.
In wireless delivery models, it is the Kindle, and not the iPhone or iPad, that demonstrates how desirable ubiquitous access is to consumers. The Kindle is the perfect “housewife” technology. Because it comes with a lifetime data subscription to a cellular wireless data service, one can purchase and download books from anywhere in the US, without a need to figure out how to connect to the local wifi network.
The promise of the personal content industry is the reason that wireless technologies such as WiMax and LTE are being introduced. Early implementations offer wireless download speeds in the 5Mb/s range. Newer implementations will likely achieve around 15Mb/s. Add a torrent to the network, and the effective download speed can multiply by around 2-3 times. This is close to satellite download speed, minus the satellite.
Deluxe Digital Cinema announced this month its joint venture with EchoStar, owner of the Dish satellite network, one of two major satellite distribution networks to the home in the US. It has the makings of a smart relationship. Deluxe provides the customers, and EchoStar provides the network infrastructure. It’s particularly smart for Deluxe, who doesn’t have to gamble on the long term success of satellite delivery. Just as EchoStar seeks to fill unused bandwidth during quiet periods, someday, providers of WiMax or LTE networks will be seeking similar users to fill quiet periods. No doubt Deluxe and Technicolor will be ready to talk.