The DVD has seen a long and very successful run as the format of choice for movies. It offered convenience, portability and crisper images without the mess and clunkiness of its predecessor, the video cassette. However, according to companies like Netflix, the DVD market has already peaked.

The next step in this movie viewing evolution is web streaming, which represents immediate gratification to consumers who wish to watch anytime, anywhere. Taking in a movie certainly couldn’t get any easier or convenient; and that sounds perfect, right? Not so fast, Mobile Carrier Service Providers (e.g. AT&T) are aware of this trend too and are attempting to charge users for the actual data they consume, which would be a significant amount for an entire movie. [$12/GB, or typically $50/mo for a 5GB cap.  If you use more, there is an automatic charge of an additional $10/GB over your limit.

With these additional charges or cap usage limits being put in place, users may be forced to limit their intake in fear of being charged overages or incurring additional usage fees. This is where the ongoing issue of bandwidth resource restrictions comes to the forefront again. As more movie watchers emerge, they take up more bandwidth from the Mobile Carrier Service Providers. During peak usage hours, this has created numerous user problems, with noticeably slower or inadequate service levels.

Higher Internet Service fees could end up costing companies like Netflix, who are among the largest bandwidth users. While it does seem fair to have users pay for the bandwidth that they consume, Netflix, for instance, may have to alter the way they stream movies to avoid upsetting customers. In Canada, they have already downgraded the quality of streaming movies so users consume less bandwidth and are less likely to incur overages while sacrificing some degree of quality. Alternatives to Carrier networks services are Wi-Fi Connections or wired Internet Service.  Wi-Fi is relatively free, but not always available and Wired Internet costs less than wireless and  runs $ 0.25/GB..

This may only be a stop gap solution as the downgraded video quality may work for awhile, but what about the increasing popularity of using smart phones to watch movies? Data usage caps on smart phones are more easily exceeded and with the rise in the use of these devices to stream movies, users may be looking at more expensive bills. This could cause some consumers to curb their usage patterns, but with little alternative, there may not be a choice unless another solution is offered that requires less bandwidth, but also allows the Netflix’s of the world to sell their movie viewing experience.

With the advent of memory cards designed to store large amounts of data, specifically the technology produced by Mo-DV, movies can be downloaded onto smart phone or wireless devices via the memory card. Of course, this would require a fee, but streaming over the web would not be necessary and there would be no steadily increasing usage fees set down by the Service Providers. The quality of the movie would also remain, which would allow the Netflix services to remain true to form. Taking into account the interests of all parties involved, memory cards are a viable way to proceed for web based movie distribution companies.

Written by Kurt Wilson