So let us continue the story and get a little more complex. The Internet! It all started with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who allowed people like me to gain access to servers that held WWW pages and allowed us to transfer files around including Email. Small ISPs grew up and Internet mania took off. (ISPs increased from about 1,400 in early 1996 to 3,000 at the beginning of 1997. By mid-1997 there were an estimated 4,000 ISPs in the United States and Canada). Many of them were small operations that served consumers and small businesses in local markets by leasing and reselling the Internet services of larger ISPs. To stay in business smaller ISPs merged with the telephone companies to provide customers with a single source for a range of telecommunications services. ISP’s had wonderful Acronyms like AOL, MSN and some weird names, particularly Wanadoo; who was familiar to me in France where I connected via a 128Kbytes dial-up modem and watched in horror as each month I was presented with huge phone bills because I was paying for time connected on-line (metered). Wanadoo became Orange which became France Telecom. In fact consolidation in that market saw huge Telecoms Operators become the dominant player in national markets. There is of course BT in the UK, Deutsche Telecom, Belgacom, Telekom Austria, and so on and so forth. Broadband speeds increased, Flat-rate charges came in and then we saw them make a move to deliver TV over the wire. IPTV arrived and hey guess what? More choice of TV but more Digital TV fragmentation!
So Internet happened, it continues to develop. We already know that just physically connecting technology to the Internet is itself a challenge which is leading to “wireless”, connected home, gateways, home networking, DLNA, MOCA and even more ways to distribute signals. See what I mean about the technology wars! Incompatibility in equipment, data pipe speeds, power of chipsets, memory constraints in the STBs etc. graphics inability et al caused headaches. Today it is blurring. The TV Industry has a long history of unsuccessful attempts to match Broadcast and the World Wide Web functionality on the Television. It is simply two world’s colliding with inappropriate device functionality. A TV will never be a PC but a PC can be a TV! Television programmes over the Internet are a viable route and as highlighted earlier we have seen the Telco’s take advantage of this. So further to the fragmentation story that has added DRM into the IPTV world and HTML based presentation engine.