Of all the facts and figures in this article on the rise of streaming and the death of discs, one is scarier than all the others. No, I’m not referring to all those stats – though they’re admittedly frightening – that track in gory detail the catastrophic decline of one of Britain’s most respected retailers, HMV. The decline of the CD and of the DVD is frightening, and important to understand. But still, that’s not the bit that really scares me.
What scares me is the information contained in the last two paragraphs: the part about Korea (that’s South Korea, the one with the technology and the modernity, not the one with the bonkers ideology and the head-of-state that’s been dead 17 years.)
South Korea has the best, fastest broadband provision in the world.
But KT (Korea Telecom) recently announced it was to restrict access to the internet for Samsung Smart TVs, due to the huge and unsustainable demands such products have put on the country’s data networks.
Can the web take our hunger for streaming?
So, let me get this right. We have all been embracing a vision of the future in which content (whether movies, music, TV programmes, games or even books and magazines) is accessed via the internet, dispensing with the need for a physical object, and for a physical shop.
Look at that drop in HMV’s share price if you want proof of that. But what this news implies is that as soon as enough of us a) buy Smart products, and b) start using them, our beloved internet will break as easily as a cheap MP3 player.
UK broadband is still squirming uncertainly into the 21st century. Average speed here is 5.1Mbps, while the Korean average is 16.7Mbps. If trends continue as they are, we may end up finding ourselves with an internet that can’t satisfy our hunger for content.