Cisco's CRS-3 router made a bit of a splash when it was announced on March 9, but the power of this new device hasn't yet sunk in. Consider: The CRS-3, a network routing system, is able to stream every film ever made, from Hollywood to Bombay, in under four minutes. That's right — the whole universe of films digested in less time than it takes to boil an egg. That may sound like good news for consumers, but it could be the business equivalent of an earthquake for the likes of Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.
I'm not sure that the comparison of streaming the entire Hollywood movie collection in less than 4 minutes is completely accurate; I'd like to know how many movies they're estimating, how big each DVD image is (4.7GB vs. 9.4GB, for instance), and what Layer 1/2 technologies they're talking about (is this ethernet over fiber?). If you're just talking about passing the data across the 322 Tb/sec backplane, then it might be possible; but if you're talking about carrying all that data across multiple hops, each connected by, say, a 10 Gbps ethernet-over-fiber link, it's just not doable. The 10 Gbps link would definitely be a bottleneck.
I also have my doubts as to the likelihood of a piece of networking equipment meaning the end of the world for any sector of business. Sure, as internet connections get faster more people will start downloading/streaming their content; so, unless the people running the MPAA and RIAA are complete morons (which I'm not ruling out), all they have to do is change their business model to incorporate downloads. That's not exactly an overnight change, but it's entirely possible.
But routers are not the only cause of bottlenecks, and Cisco is not alone in working to maximize the Internet's full potential. Google is also concerned about the speed limitations imposed by wires that run to the home. Last month, Google, best known for its search engine, announced plans to test ultra-high-speed broadband networks that would deliver Internet content to residential subscribers at speeds of 1 gigabit per second — 100 times as fast as the top speed available today. This would allow consumers to complete a PC download of a Hollywood blockbuster like Avatar in about 72 seconds.
I don't understand the phrase, "100 times as fast as the top speed available today." That would seem to indicate that a 10Mb/sec connection is the fastest available today. I'm currently on a 15 Mb/sec connection as I write this, and my ISP offers at least 20 Mb/sec.
Downloading a movie at full-speed on a 1 Gbps connection, over 72 seconds, results in 8,640 MB of data. That's almost a full double-layer DVD. We'll assume 120 MB/sec (bytes) over the 1 Gbps link, which is right about the theoretically maximum without figuring in the overhead and framing (for brevity); times 72 seconds = 8,640MB.
The ability to download albums and films in a matter of seconds is a harbinger of deep trouble for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which would prefer to turn the clock back, way back.
Consider that the MPAA, whose members include Disney and Universal, attacked the VCR in congressional hearings in the 1980s with a Darth Vader–like zeal, predicting box-office receipts would collapse if consumers were allowed to freely share and copy VHS tapes of Hollywood movies. A decade later, the MPAA fought to block the DVD revolution, mainly because digital media could be copied and distributed even more easily than videocassettes.
"Fair Use" has held up in court many times that as a consumer we are allowed to make 1 archival copy in case our normal store-bought copy gets scratched/lost/stolen. It's also been proven in several instances where customers are more likely to pay, and pay more, for DRM-free movies and music and more likely to pirate any "restricted" content. If I pay for a CD, I damn well expect to be able to listen to it at home in my stereo, in my car's CD player, and to be able to rip the tracks to my iPod. If I'm not allowed to do those things, there's no point in me buying the music...it's not like any new music has come out in the last 10 - 15 years worth raising a stink about, anyway. The more difficult it is for someone like me to rip their store-bought copy of an album onto their iPod, the more likely they are to go out and pirate a "cracked" copy that will let them transfer it with relative ease.
To quote the Borg: "Resistance is futile."
The hard fact is that the latest developments at Cisco, Google and elsewhere may do more than kill the DVD and CD and further upset entertainment-business models that have changed little since the Mesozoic Era. With superfast streaming and downloading, indie filmmakers will soon be able to effectively distribute feature films online and promote them using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
This is probably the best part of the article. The idea of taking the RIAA out of the picture just makes me smile. The sooner they're gone, the sooner we can stop being spoon-fed this pop-formula Nickelback type shit. If independents can start their own online market and promote/sell their music without the need for a label, then music might actually be worth saving. As it stands, I say let the music industry dry up and never press or sell a single CD again. Sure, we'd be losing some of the greats, but there is so much crap out there that those rare gems make up a tiny fraction of 1% of the albums out there. Now if music is readily available from the independents, there might actually be some music not only worth listening to, but worth buying. I know there are bands out there much better than Nickelback, but they haven't been "discovered" or "signed" -- that's why they're still playing the local dive bar. But if they could market themselves, this might drastically change the landscape of the music industry, and for the better.