The use, content availability, quality of viewings and configurations of television are changing thoroughly enabled by technological changes underway. Some of these technologies are already developed but not yet in use, and other technological advances are underway at stunningly impressive rates of change. The amount of consumer spending and content provider spending that will be sponsored hereby is of very major importance for all nations. There are any numbers of ways to invest.
Digital broadcast and digital reception of television has arrived in technological terms, but has been deferred for practical and political considerations. The Government mandate for digital broadcast has been postponed several times because broadcasters do not wish to begin before viewers have digital sets, while providers of digital sets do not wish to manufacture these before households can receive television through digital broadcast. A break through of this chicken-and-egg stymie that has held up the mandates for digital broadcast is as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow. Television today uses so much channel capacity (bandwidth) to transmit that becoming digital has great benefits of both social and infrastructure efficiency dimensions.
Vast amounts of bandwidth are to be released thereby.
Digital broadcasting requires complex encoders to compress transmission of television, and decoders to rebuild images at receiving ends. Digitalization allows such manipulations, in turn enabling a great variety of upgrades. Resolution will be greater. Definition and color will be better. Software to make this happen is ready, and there is more on the way.
Among prospective changes will be new configurations of displays. It is not clear yet just what form the more commonly used displays will eventually become. Bulky cathode ray tubes that now take so much space will be streamlined further, but it is not possible to do so sufficiently. Liquid crystal displays, also commonly in use, will be improved further, but never to the point of being as good as new technologies promise. Expect greater use of light emitting diodes, especially those using new organic materials. Such devices have not reached product stage as yet, except in very small devices, but there is sufficient evidence that enhanced designs are on their way. Some will be in small, densely packed, semi-conductor chips to be amplified through lenses and projections. In some designs, larger screens might be built square by square,
like squares of tile ceramics in bathrooms.
Perhaps most important of all, the television set will be used interactively. Cable companies have been planning on this for years and they are launching such services now across a very broad front. Television sets and home computers grow ever more similar, and much of what one says about the TV set can also be said about PCs. Both will be able to receive much of the same content, by and large, and both will beinteractive. The greater use will, we believe, go to cable and direct broadcast television.
Cable companies are more accustomed to supplying content than are communications carriers. The DSL line and direct television broadcast will make inroads into the use that cable might claim, now or potentially. Nevertheless, cable has the upper hand because of established abilities to secure content and abilities to sell and serve customers in anentrepreneurial, effective way. Viewers, through interactive devices, will determine whatthey wish to see. What a fundamental difference this is from the present, when viewers canselect only what a few broadcasters are providing. Content providers will broadly prosper. Advertisers will have a great new means of being interactive with prospective customersas well as a marvelous new tool to deal with interested persons.