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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 31, 2008 7:10 AM

Mark Cuban's Take on Future of Digital Media

I've been a long-time fan of Mark Cuban's writings on his site Blog Maverick, where he muses about basketball, business, and the future of digital media. Most recently I read this post that recounted his speech to the FCC on the future of media, and as always he has some provocative things to say.

While I know his viewpoints extend much more broadly than what's found herein, the five-minute time constraints forced him to boil things down to three primary points:

- A key component of digital media moving forward will be 3D experiences. He cited his experience showing a live 3D broadcast of a Dallas Mavericks game at a movie theater this past season. He used this as an example both of how networked experiences don't just exist inside the house, and of why we need more robust networks to support the delivery of really rich media experiences like this.

- His second major point was his perception of the potential value of application-specific networks. It's a fascinating thought that has opened my eyes to the possibility that legacy copper and wireless networks may still hold value even in a full fiber world. I've long thought the rightful place of broadband over power lines wasn't as the competitive broadband technology it's been touted as but instead I see it playing the complementary role of helping network devices without having to string new wires everywhere. And I'm beginning to see how we might one day have fiber everywhere but still have a role for copper networks. While I'm still not sure we need other networks once we have fiber because of its limited capacity, I can't deny that we should be looking at ways in which we can continue to squeeze value out of legacy infrastructure.

- His final main point is that there's great value to be found in application-specific protocols like multicast. I've written about multicast before, and Cuban makes an important point that I've argued for for a while but still hasn't seemed to take hold across the industry:

"At some point in time, someone will realize that the holy grail of distribution of digital media over the internet will come from partnering with the many ISPs to enable multicasting and its related protocols, and to peer them as an unwired network. It wont be cheap, fast or easy, but it would be a game changer."

So the key to a more robust tomorrow isn't simply a bigger Internet with fatter, dumb pipes; it's about finding opportunities for network operators and applications developers to work together to treat the different demands of different traffic differently in order to enable a better user experience.

Cuban is sometimes criticized for his punditry, and I don't always see eye-to-eye with him on every issue (like when he decreed that the Internet is dead and boring), but in this instance I think he's much more right than wrong, and I hope the FCC Commissioners were listening closely as the truth he describes is one that if we ignore we may miss out on some of the biggest opportunities to improve the quality and usefulness of all digital media.

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