Journal: News & Comment

Friday, June 25, 2004
# 11:57:00 PM:

The end of blindness

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Bob Cringely:

A [phone company[ voice circuit is 64 kilobits-per-second and a T1 (now DS1) trunk line is 24 voice circuits. [...]

After decades of legal monopoly and long lunch hours, the telephone companies suddenly have plenty of competition—enough so that most of the profit has been driven out of the phone business. So their answer is to scrap the network they spent $100 billion building and start over. Not a good idea [because a phone company] network actually has six times the total capacity of a comparable packet network. [...]

Look at the optic nerve that connects the retina of your eye to the visual cortex of your brain. The optic nerve is composed of approximately one million stringy cells called ganglia that fire in parallel over a distance of two to three centimeters with the actual visual signal travelling at about 4,400 feet-per-second. Taking into account recovery time between signals, the optic nerve has a total bandwidth of approximately 100 kbps.

That's all the bandwidth we have available to appreciate HDTV and IMAX [so] sending DVD-quality video down a 64 kbps line shouldn't be impossible at all.

Sometimes I can't tell whether Cringely is a genius or full of crap, but he's probably right that scrapping a $100 billion investment isn't a wise move.


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