Will downloading DVD quality films replace rental?
With the rise of postal DVD services like lovefilm.com and others, one wonders how high street rental shops are doing. Japan is going one step further and one broadband provider (KDDI) is offering its customers the option to download a DVD image for ¥500 (£2.15), which can then be burnt to a DVD-R for viewing on DVD compatible devices. Read more on the service at www.tech.co.uk, and for an English version of the KDDI website use this link.
A full standard DVD is around 8GB in size since lots of films now using double layer DVD discs. This can take a long time to download and a guide for times for a full 8GB dual layer DVD can be seen here:
- 56K dialup, more than 14 days
- 0.5Mbps broadband, 36 hours
- 2Mbps broadband, 9 hours
- 5Mbps broadband, 3 hour 36 minutes
- 10Mbps broadband, 1 hour 50 minutes
- 20Mbps broadband, 56 minutes
- 50Mbps broadband, 24 minutes
- 100Mbps broadband, 12 minutes
Of course in the real world while it is fairly easy to run a 0.5Mbps connection flat out for some hours, contention between other users on a network becomes more noticeable as the bottleneck that was the last mile of connectivity is removed. This means people with faster connections are likely to see the speeds move up and down a lot over the course of a large download. An aspect not visibly present in Japanese services are download limits, which if a service like this was to run in the UK would very often prove to be insufficient.
One big problem for any commercial service looking to offer large downloads is the ability for providers to grow their networks to cope with the loads without large increases in price. Since KDDI is only offering this service to its own broadband customers, it is likely these costs are factored into the download price, which while looking cheap to us in the UK is actually double the cost for renting a movie for a week in Japan.
KDDI already provides a fibre based service carrying a symmetric 100Mbps broadband service as well as telephone and digital TV. The promotional price is ¥5040 (£22) with the 30 channel TV service costing an additional £10 a month.
The price of the KDDI service which is cheaper than ADSL shows that the fibre based services are having to compete on price, the suggestion being that speed is not the largest deciding factor when choosing a service. This raises the big question of who would dare to speculate on a large commercial roll-out of fibre to the home services like this in the UK, if the market is too price sensitive.