[Surfside] Don't scoff at the bandwidth of a VW Microbus full of 8-track tapes

Roman Zimmermann roman@waldenweb.com
Thu, 10 Oct 2002 12:00:56 -0500


The Packaging of Video on Demand

It has been a long-cherished dream of the digital age: video on demand. 
That's the term used for the delivery of cinema-quality movies to 
television households, with each consumer choosing what to watch and 
when to watch it.

But the technical challenges have been a deterrent. The main obstacle 
for cable systems has been creating and maintaining a sufficiently large 
database of movies. The problem for Internet systems has been network 
circuits too narrow to carry data files the size of movies, which can be 
four billion to nine billion bytes each.

In the last year, though, a flourishing digital video-on-demand market 
has developed, thanks to the least probable of carriers: the United 
States Postal Service.

Because of cost advantages and, in some cases, even an edge in speed, 
the Postal Service, FedEx and other physical delivery services now seem 
to be the dominant mechanism for bringing data-rich digital content, on 
demand, into the nation's households.

[ ... ]

Assuming that the average disc Netflix sends out contains 8 gigabytes, 
that one company alone may be mailing out about 1,500 trillion bytes, or 
terabytes, each day.

Estimates vary on how much data the Internet carries in North America 
each day. RHK, a research company in San Francisco, says the number 
exceeds 4,000 terabytes, while Professor Odlyzko argues that the 
Internet daily traffic flow is only about 2,000 terabytes -- or only 
about a third more data than the amount Netflix ships.

[ .... ]