November 3, 2016 —
Pushed along by each younger generation, communication and entertainment move from one source to another. Letters were followed by faxes, then email, then texting and tweeting, and then image and video messaging. Sheet music was followed by records, then compact discs, and then downloads. Vaudeville and night clubs were followed by radio and movies, then television, then digital video disks (DVDs), and then streaming.
Do your children watch video on a television? Chances are, they don’t. They watch video on mobile devices. Watching video on portable DVD players is long out of style. Downloading or streaming. That’s it.
Last month, I opened my laptop computer to show some vacation photos, and my nephew mostly was interested in how old the computer was (it’s old, as computers go). In turn, he showed me photos on his iPhone 7. It has an app that, when activated, captures a short video segment along with the still photo. It converts the short video into an animated GIF, ready for attaching to a text message.
5G cellular technology will be designed to carry enormous amounts of video. Video consumes high amounts of bandwidth. 5G networks will be designed to carry billions of low-bandwidth connections to communicate with devices. Vendors of all kinds are preparing to offer products and services to help mobile network operators cope with the problems that 5G technology will bring.
Entertainment providers are getting ready to offer mobile services, whether directly as mobile network operators or indirectly as mobile virtual network operators. Mobile network operators are getting ready to become entertainment providers. It soon may be difficult to tell them apart, because there won’t be a boundary between them.
For example, in a transaction supposed to close by the end of 2017, AT&T intends to acquire Time Warner, which offers programming from HBO to NBA basketball and the Cartoon Network. AT&T agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion, subject to regulatory approval.
In a way, and perhaps on a grander scale, AT&T is positioning itself to replicate the old broadcasting formula that had networks owning program content and distribution. It could be television 2.0, with the addition of the huge new factor of wireless communication with devices — thanks to 5G.