Two Things Online Video Needs

It’s not a new camera. It’s not a new version of an NLE… It’s a mobile data connection that works.

I’m writing this on a train on my way to work, and I am going in and out of mobile network coverage on my phone. Refreshing Twitter is a challenge, watching video online is totally impossible. (I should note that I’m writing this in England, other countries may vary.)

It’s frustrating because there are shows on YouTube that I want to watch and my half-hour journey each way on the train is a perfect time for that – but I can’t connect, and I can’t download them when I’m at home for offline viewing. Likewise I can’t save anything from Netflix to watch later.

So actual access to the network whilst on a train going through the countryside is the first thing, and we have a great opportunity now with the roll-out of 4G (which is plenty fast for HD video) to really cover the country and get away from the cable infrastructure. But along with that, the second thing video needs is the removal of usage limits. I have it relatively good right now, I get 1GB per month of cellular data… But that’s on the good end of the spectrum, and I get fairly close to that even now, with the limited access. If I had constant access, I’d fly through it in days, not weeks!

So here’s my suggestions – rather than just whine about it, a productive thought… Right now here in the UK we have to pay BT something in the region of £15 line rental for a land-line telephone which (personally) I never use but it’s required for internet access. Broadband internet is extremely variable based on speed and data caps. Mobile phones likewise is variable. What would happen if we took away that requirement for a land-line, took away land-line based internet access entirely and paid an extra £25 per month on a 4G mobile phone plan, that removed the download limits and paid for the expansion of the network over the country (and lets face it, the UK isn’t the biggest country, so maybe it’s more realistic here than elsewhere).

With 4G speeds most people wouldn’t need the (slower) standard land-line internet, but those who do need absolute performance would pay for fibre-optic broadband. For home access perhaps you could have a 4G-equipped router that stays in the home and works from the same data-plan as your phone. Your mobile phone plan would be, admittedly expensive, but if you’re saving the money on your home phone and internet, it should be close to the same cost overall.

Is this idea for “video everywhere” just a pipe-dream or could it be a realistic idea for people for the future? For now I suspect we’re a few years away from the level of coverage that 3G has now, and the download limits will tend to be prohibitive… But if a company (Apple, Google, I’m looking at you) decided to make it a reality, that would be a real game-changer for online video.