I went to a trivia event at my daughters request last night. It was a blast but while we were there they asked a question what year was the Xbox released. (the answer is 2001). Actually what they asked is when did the original Halo release (November 15 of 2001 it was the big launch tittle).
It got me thinking about the genesis of gaming systems that we’ve had in the house. We started out a long time ago with the Sega Dreamcast. That was an interesting system, the games were amazing but in the end the hardware was pretty bad.
We moved to Nintendo (in particular I think we moved around the time of the N64). I would say at the time it was mostly because we had an N64 plug in the back of the van and the kids could play video games in the car.
This isn’t a history lesson. The original N64 and before that the Dreamcast were limited systems. No storage to speak of lot’s of games but in the end they were limited. The Xbox and the PlayStation 2 changed that quite a bit. The gaming system is no longer just a gaming system. It is an interactive media hub.
Everyone is vying to control the living room. Or the family room. They want their box featured prominently in the room as the go-to entertainment device. What they didn’t count on was the fact that the DVR in the end changed everything. I don’t view or use entertainment the way I did just a few years ago. I watch things when I want to watch things. Sometimes it’s the morning of the weekend. Sometimes its on a sick day. But it is very seldom on the actual day the show aired according to the network.
So the consoles started adding features like Netflix and Hulu to increase their span. The Xbox One has a live play feature that makes football viewing even better for fantasy team owners. All of this information streaming into my house.
We can currently run 3 Xboxes and two dish receivers in our house before we start getting a crunchy network. When we bought this house we didn’t realize that the previous owner had wired the house for cat-5 so in the end I was able to pull two of the Xboxes onto the wired network reducing the wi-fi churn.
The total bandwidth consumed by the myriad of devices now present is roughly 70% of the capacity I have available on a Friday and Saturday night. The rest of the time I have capacity to burn but now the weekends are getting tight.
It may be time for the concept of bursting to move from cloud computing to home networking. Give me more capacity two or three days a week when I need it. Cap it with a max amount I am willing to spend so I can manage my budget but at the same time if I need bandwidth urgently make it available. Move a smarter router into the home so that people can interact with the router more effectivly. For example allow me to siphon off the Netflix traffic to wired only connections and cut the bandwidth for that activity to no more than 50% of my total available bandwidth.
Net neutrality is important. As more and more data is available more and more people will need to get to it. We should evaluate the capability as much from a let’s provide equal opportunity to the information as anything. It isn’t just that the information that is free. The manner in which you can get to get (access) can be every bit as important. As we move further and further into the world of mobile device being the primary connector we run the risk of creating a problem. We could end up with the same problem people had 150 years ago with railroads. Only a few could afford to build them. When they did they became the railroad barons (sometimes called the robber barons). We will end up with bandwidth barons that control he access to everything and that would be wrong. We will see this manifest in the creation of checkpoints and barbed wire gates as we try to access the information of the Internet. Yes the information is free. But getting to it via a route blocked by barbed wire makes for well a reality that is less free.
A rallying cry “don’t allow barbed wire on the access routes to the cloud!”