Why do some ISP's have bandwidth quotas?

That's scary enough. However, consider something like TiVo. Our dual-
tuner DirecTiVo spends a fair amount of its time recording.

Now, first, some explanation.

We're not a huge TV household. The DirecTiVo is a first generation, ~30
hour unit. It's set up to record about 50 different things on season pass,
many of which are not currently available. It's also got an extensive
number of thumbs rated (and therefore often automatically recorded as a
suggestion) items. I'm guessing that a minimum of 90% of what is recorded
is either deleted or rolls off the end without being watched, yet there
are various shows (possibly just one) on the unit from last year yet.

All things considered, this harms no one and nothing, since the TiVo is
not using any measurable resource to do the recordings that would not
otherwise have been used.

A DVR on a traditional cable network is non-problematic, as is a DVR on
any of the "next gen" broadcast/multicast style networks that could be
deployed as a drop-in replacement for legacy cable.

More interesting are some of the new cable "video on demand" services,
which could create a fair amount of challenge for cable service
providers. However, even there, the challenge is limited to the service
provider's network, and it is unlikely that the load created cannot be
addressed. Multiple customer DVR's requesting content for speculative
download purposes (i.e. for TiVo-style "favorites" support) could be
broadcast or multicast the material at a predetermined time, essentially
minimizing the load caused by speculative downloading. True in-real-time
VOD would be limited to users actually in front of the glass.

All of this, however, represents content within the cable provider's
network. From the "TiVo user" perspective above, even if a vast majority
of the content is being discarded, it shouldn't really be a major problem.

Now, for something (seemingly) completely different.

Thirty years ago, TV was dominated by the big broadcast networks. Shows
were expensive to produce, equipment was expensive, and the networks tried
to aim at large interest groups. Shows such as "Star Trek" had a lot of
difficulty succeeding, for many reasons, but thrived in syndication.

With the advent of cable networks, we saw the launch of channels such as
"SciFi", which was originally pegged as a place where "Star Treks" and
other sci-fi movies would find a second life. However, if you look at
what has /actually/ happened, many networks have actually started
originating their own high-quality, much more narrowly targetted shows.
We've seen "Battlestar Galactica" and "Flash Gordon" appear on SciFi,
for example. Part of this is that it is less difficult and complex to
produce shows, with the advances in technology that we've seen. I
picked SciFi mainly because there's a lot of bleedover from legacy
broadcast TV to provide some compare/contrast - but more general
examples, such as HBO produced shows, exist as well.

A big question, then, is will we continue to see this sort of effect?
Can we expect TV to continue to evolve towards more highly targetted
segments? I believe that the answer is "yes," and along with that may
come a move towards a certain amount of more amateur content. Something
more like "video podcasting" than short YouTube videos. And it'll get
better (or worse, depending on POV) as time goes on. Technology improves.
Today's cell phones, for example, can take short movies.

The sheer amount of video data that could/can be/is published out on the
Internet is staggering, but it's currently somewhat hard to find and to
get onto a TiVo automatically. I guess I'm not betting on that situation
lasting forever.

At some point, this *is* going to be a problem for network operators.
It should be obvious that this could be network meltdown.

Solving these problems is an interesting problem. Trying to get people
to "save on bandwidth" is going to be difficult in an environment where
equipment is just "doing its thing" and users don't really have that
much of a grasp on how much bandwidth they use anyways.

... JG