Next year analogue terrestrial TV in the UK is to be shut down. I like to think of this as The Death Of Television and hope that it will occur at midnight, after they have played the National Anthem, the screen has gone dead and the bloke has reminded us to switch off our sets and remove the plug from the socket. We will then have to take up Digital TV if we want to continue to endure the mindless drivel currently delivered by our existing apparatus.
With the Death Of Television, radio “bandwidth” will be freed up and the question arises (to misquote Churchill): To what use will it be put?
The Death Of Radio is not going so smoothly. The BBC goes through phases of telling us that the roll out of Digital Audio Radio (DAB) is almost complete and pretty soon they are going to switch off FM. After the ensuring uproar from various Radio 4 listeners living in peat bogs on Dartmoor the Beeb go a bit quiet for a while but are usually back a few months later claiming it is nearly finished again.
Personally I think DAB may have been an enormous, publicly funded, blunder (EPFB). Yes, we all know that you can shove more rubbish down a DAB transmission than you can down AM or FM but the truth is that no cars have DAB radios and the quality and reliability of FM re-transmitters is appalling.
I am always bemused to hear some, otherwise intelligent, BBC boffin banging on about the superiority of DAB and then suggesting that we use FM re-transmitters to receive it in our cars. They’re TALKING BOLLOCKS. It’s a non starter.
I rant, as is my want, but I have a point. I believe that, “the way forward”, (as our poor corporatised youth have been taught to talk about the future as if we are actually on a well planned journey somewhere rather than merely meandering around aimlessly grasping at straws on a our way to God knows where) is to, not only close down analogue TV, but to close down DAB too. And I wouldn’t stop there. Shut down AM, shut down FM. No more Short Wave Lilliiburlero to the Commonwealth, no more radio controlled toy cars and aeroplanes. Take away the police walky talkies. Let the Ambulance radios fall silent. Abolish VHF at sea. Bluetooth, traffic information, throw the master switch on the lot. Shut it all down.
Has Jones taken leave of his senses you ask? Is Talking Bollocks now advocating complete anarchy? There will be questions in The House.
But wait, there is method in my madness. I suspect that the allocation of radio bandwidth has taken place in a fairly piecemeal way since the origin of radio and we are now in a position where a selection of rival technologies compete for bandwidth.
This sort of thing happens with all technologies. The infrastructure evolves ad hoc during a learning phase and then, once it’s all pretty much understood, it’s time for a redesign taking into account all that has been learned.
Why not discontinue all technologies save one? Why not use a single technology for everything? I am suggesting that some kind of packet radio, such as used by Wifi or GPRS, would be capable of handling TV, Radio, walky-talkies and everything else if it just had enough bandwidth.
If we free up the bandwidth currently used by everything else we can allocate it all to packet radio and have Fast Always On Internet Everywhere. (FAOIE). You want to watch a film? Download via The Internet. You want to watch BBC1? Connect via The Internet. You want to fly your model aeroplane? Set up an Internet connection. Does a hospital need to talk to an Ambulance? Use Skype.
OK, OK, this may not be completely practical. There are probably reasons that Bluetooth uses the frequency it does and I expect that Jodrell Bank will insist on certain dead zones for radio astronomy but you get the idea. Use all the bandwidth for wireless Internet and use the Internet for all communications.
The only limitation would become: is there enough bandwidth for every human and every autonomous device? Good question.
I guess it depends how closely they pack us.