[vorbis-dev] vorbis.com

Steve Underwood steveu at coppice.org
Sun Dec 31 18:26:34 PST 2000

Marshall Eubanks wrote:

> Well, a typical audio compression for "CD quality" is 9 to 1 or 12 to 1.
> Since bandwidth prices are dropping by a factor of 2 every 18 months or
> so, it will be 5 years or more until you could send uncompressed PCM for the
> same price as today's compressed audio.

This sounds a plausible argument for the way the future might go, but look at
history. By the early 90's a fibre network spanned the planet. IDD calls became
as clear as local ones, although they were still pricey. Since then the trend has
been to very low bit rate, very poor quality, VoIP for IDD. Sure I can sit here
in Hong Kong, dial to my mother in England, and talk for about US$1 per hour, but
the quality isn't great. This same period has seen the fastest ever drop in
bandwidth costs, the fastest ever deployment of new bandwidth, and yet the
greatest ever push to extreme compression.

So, what does history tell me? You can't assume bandwidth will be available for
any particular purposes, when you cannot predict what people will want to do with
the available bandwidth. Most of the Internet's bandwidth is currently being used
for things people didn't think much about just a few years ago. Given a choice
between high quality and lowest cost, cost almost always wins. And, of course,
porn is the key market driver for any new audio-visual technology!

I expect an ever greater emphasis on compression of all types. 3G cellular might
be one possible major driver, though that remains to be seem.


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