Writer’s note: This is a sidebar to the post, ‘Hostages Of Xfinity‘.
Cable Versus Satellite Versus Radio?
When I write of a lack of competition in the cable industry, I do observe there are alternatives to cable, but they are not necessarily good ones. Since public service commissions generally approve which company can operate the local infrastructure, calling an alternative to cable by the moniker, competition, is a misnomer, in my opinion.
If you could lay your own infrastructure from scratch, though, to challenge Comcast, would you? Probably not. The cost would be immense, but I really want to take on Comcast, so how would I do it? Brainstorming, I came with a radical idea I believe has merit.
How Radio Needs To Avenge By Adoption
When I worked in news radio, my colleagues and I found ourselves at the mercy of a new entity in the world of 24/7 news: cable. CNN Headline News starting kicking every market’s ass. By the 1990’s all-news stations in Miami started going off the air. First it was WNWS; later it was WINZ. Now, now even WIOD is a shadow of its former self. Very large markets still have a strong news radio presence, where news stations still have a real news cycle, not just a lavish system of sounders and stingers surrounding short updates that dapple the drivel of conservative talk show hosts.
The Fifth Estate is not what it used to be. Once, it was broadcasting and cable; now, it can be, theoretically, broadcast digital cable. After all, there are struggling stations across the United States, and their antennae farms are like expensive bluetooth transmitters operating on a different wavelength, literally.
Wait. Is that an oxymoronic metaphor?
Why not use these transmitters to “broadcast” digital television and internet? Use a special receiver to capture the broadcast signal at the home or office.
For the long term, set up transmitters in every city that operate on a special frequency set other than A.M. radio, so that the signal is more reliable and less line-of-sight. Then use repeaters on the tops of existing cell towers to amplify the signal in the last mile, essentially transmitting the “new cable” to the receiver box, which is a replacement for the cable box. The cost of building the box goes down, for being on a small set of special frequencies, and the distribution becomes more technically responsive.
Set up duplexing on that signal, and the video receiver box (VRB) can double as an receiver for the internet service provider (RISP). A digital internet signal can be sent and received on a sideband of the digital television signal, with the repeater merging cell network data and the digital television data, which includes all the old standby cable stations we know and love, including CNN. When the user sends a data packet out, it is handled by the repeater, which amplifies it and routes the signal to the 4G LTE network, or whatever new thing carries cell data.
Of course, research and development would take time, but the solution seems a viable one for a long-term and viable competitive challenge to what I call a government-sponsored monopoly.