People in the cable and telephone industries talk a lot about “the last mile problem”. This term refers to the fact that between their central and local offices they have massive bandwidth, yet that bandwidth-spewing fire hose narrows down to a tiny soda straw in the last mile (or couple miles) between the nearest local office and most homes. To fix this problem they are spending billions of dollars to dig up streets and lay high capacity fiber optic cable over that ‘last mile’. That’s a lot more than Happy Meal money but the payoff is big. Really big. All that extra bandwidth will result in more channels and services to sell to us, the viewers. The silver lining to this silver cloud is that the digital video we watch will also be less compressed and more of it will be in high definition. This is a very good thing, particularly for those of us in certain technological backwaters where the infrastructure is so antiquated that standard definition channels are over-compressed to the point where any decent morse code operator hopped up with an IV drip of Red Bull could keep up with the data rate.
However, that’s not the problem I want to talk to you about. Why? Well because that problem is already being solved by a large herd of fiber-laying backhoes. It’s a beautiful thing. Just like grazing mastodons used to turn prehistoric vegetation into, um, post-mastodon “by-product”; these bit-bearing backhoes eat up your monthly subscriber fees and turn them into fiber by-product that they leave behind. And they’re even nice enough to dig a hole for the fiber and cover it back up as neatly as a cat with OCD. Trust me, mastodons didn’t do that last part. Ok, I’ll admit it’s not absolutely perfect. This fleet of backhoes does manage to annoy the living, um, by-product out of motorists and they move with a slothfulness that can make the public works department look downright efficient by comparison but bottom line, they’re going to deliver 100x the bits per buck to your doorstep in short order.
Ok, then what am I rambling on about? Well, there is the OTHER problem. The one for which there currently is no solution, however I may just have a way that we, the readers of PVC, can help solve it. You see, on that glorious day when all those billions of bits are shining their way right up the backside of every TV, we still won’t have solved the image quality problem for a lot of viewers. The reason is what I call “the last ten feet problem”. I’m talking here about the ten feet between the front of the TV and most couches. Tune in tomorrow(ish) when I’ll wax all poetic about this strange phenomenon and explain how you and I are, in fact, uniquely equipped to solve it.