1. Google TV: more traffic on the pipe no matter how you look at it

    CEN Feature (Jun 17 2010)

    1. Google TV: more traffic on the pipe no matter how you look at it

      The arguments over whether Google TV will change the way people watch TV or destroy the existing cable/satellite programming formula or bring more viable content to the Internet are all interesting and fun—for somebody else.


      In this space I concern myself with the pipe, that dreaded bit of broadband that no one wants to be if it means being dumb but, like the arteries in a body is essential to sustaining a good life. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts at Cable Show 2010 in Los Angeles, whined a bit that people don’t recognize cable’s contribution to broadband. Without cable, Roberts said, there would be no Google.


      With cable there’s a Google and with Google there’s a Google TV and with Google TV there’s an embolism floating around the broadband arteries that someone, somewhere—hopefully not the FCC—has to address before it clogs those arteries and causes a fatal failure.


      On the surface Google TV promises to transform television by putting Internet content on the big screen. Terrific. All for it. Show me more amateur junk on TV and maybe the TV professionals will dig their heads out of the moneybags and actually begin to produce something other than reality and game shows. One can only hope that Google TV, true reality TV, leads TV in that direction.


      Another direction into which it’s certainly going to lead is bandwidth consumption. Right now there’s a dedicated group of generally tech-savvy, leading edge and frankly cheapskates who watch television on their computers. But when you put that television on a computer on a television the audience is bound to grow. If you make it easy enough—and there’s been nothing said about the Google TV model being easy, just convenient—you pile IP content onto limited broadband pipes and raise public expectations that what they can’t do on computers (maintain a steady stream) they’ll be able to do on television just as they do with, say, The Home Shopping Network. When—not if—it fails, it will be the pipe providers, the cable and telco operators who get hammered by the complaints and the government investigations, not Google.


      Like it or not, Google TV has made another case for a new version of IP transport that can more efficiently and effectively carry huge chunks of content to consumer homes. Unless failure is an option—and it could be, the way the broadband world feels about Google—this would seem to be a good time to start installing the pieces that will result in controlled IP flow via Carrier Ethernet.


      Of course the whole thing could be moot. Google TV could fail to get the content it needs to be an effective business model; cable and telco providers could fail to provide a viable and reliable means of transport; and the FCC could sit in its den in Washington, D.C. and play canasta.


      What do you think those odds might be?

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