[Surfside] Don't scoff at the bandwidth of a VW Microbus full of 8-track tapes
Thu, 10 Oct 2002 12:00:56 -0500
The Packaging of Video on Demand
By PETER WAYNER
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.
[ .... ]