[LINK] Digital TV US Experience By Dr Jonathon Levy FCC - comments
Wed, 29 Nov 2000 11:26:58 +1100
Ross Johnson wrote Wed Nov 15 2000 - 19:08:10 EST (was: "Free Public
Seminar - Digital Television")
>... Free Public Seminar Digital Television: The US Experience By Dr
>Jonathon Levy ... Federal Communication Commission...29 Nov...
>Australia is about to enter the digital television age on 1 January ...
>the policy is similar to that adopted in the United States ... and
>developments there should have many lessons for Australia...
Greetings from the University of Canberra Council Room, where Dr Levy just
finished his excellent talk. He noted one difference to Australia is that
US broadcasters only have to provide one SDTV video stream. They can use
the rest of their spectrum for HDTV, pay TV or data service, but have to
pay a fee to the government of 5% of revenue.
He pointed out that the USA already has a lot of digital TV, particularly
from satellite pay services, which is forgotten when comparisons are made
with UK digital roll out.
One difference evident is that most US viewers use cable to watch "free to
air" TV, whereas in Australia they are using broadcast.
The US spectrum freed up by digital TV is intended to be auctioned, with
digital channels shuffled into new bands. Various financial and regulatory
approaches are being looked at to encourage analog broadcasters to move,
including a "squatters fee".
My question was:
"Will digital developments overtake the relatively fixed engineering
approach taken by the existing TV industry, in a similar way that the
Internet overtook text and data services of the telcos. The telephone
companies were expecting an orderly transition to digital data services
using standards they set (OSI X.400 e-mail replacing telex for example).
Instead we had a chaos of Internet standards implemented by new companies.
Telocs just carry bits and can't charge different amounts for different
data services as they used to with their mechanical/analog services.
As an example MPEG-4 has started to merge computer graphics and web like
services into video. This can reduce the bandwidth needed for TV type
services far more than convention compression of video as well as create
interactive services. As an example it should be possible to transmit news
type services over a dial-up Internet connection or medium speed
cellular phone services."
Dr Levy coped well with this "why did you murder your wife" question,
saying that the objective was to replicate the analog service and that a
merging of MPEG-2 and IP type services carried by cable might happen some
time in the future but wasn't FCC policy.
Emphasizing it was his personal opinion (not FCC policy), Dr Levy said the
Australian regulatory regime was significantly less flexible than the USA
and protected certain incumbents. A market of comparable size to Sydney
would have three times as many TV stations in the USA.
ps: Australia's approach might turn out as a good one: the unworkable HDTV
policy can be abandoned in a year or so, before significant investment is
made by consumers in receivers and replaced with an Internet type service.
TransACT <http://www.transact.com.au/> might provide the model for this.
* "The "Localness" of Free to Air Television: Implications for Competition
Among Pay TV Services", Dr. Jonathan Levy
"The ability to retransmit free to air television signals makes a satellite
pay TV service a stronger competitor to cable, and satellite retransmission
is less costly as free to air television is less "local", i.e., as the
variation from city to city in the menu of programming available is
smaller. Based on these premises, this paper examines a sample of countries
to assess the "localness" of their television service and the prospects for
competition between cable and satellite pay TV."
* PUBLIC FORUM ON A NEW FCC FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, June 6, 1999
"And Levy and Spiller are two economists now that are doing a lot of
research to show how the different institutional structures of government
affect the performance of the telecommunications sector across the world."
* MPEG-4 Development at the CSIRO / DCS Virtual Environments Laboratory, by
David Walsh, ANU, Nov 22: http://cs.anu.edu.au/people/David.Walsh/mpeg4.html
* Scholarly Communications System Prototype, Tom Worthington, 23 November
Tom Worthington FACS firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
http://www.tomw.net.au PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617
Visiting Fellow, Computer Science, Australian National University
Publications Director & Past President, Australian Computer Society
Web Access Talk, 6 Dec, Perth: http://www.tomw.net.au/2000/bat.html