Schweber admits he didn't understand the user end of the system, and here he shows he doesn't understand the server end either.
1. Aereo isn't addressing a non-problem; it's certainly a problem for some people that they can't receive their hometown TV broadcasts while traveling or after moving.
2. It isn't particularly complicated, unless a network of TV receivers is "complicated."
3. It doesn't necessarily consume any wireless data capacity at all! Aereo's own infrastructure certainly doesn't use any. End users may have wireless Internet connections or use Wi-Fi access points at home, but Aereo doesn't influence that significantly.
4. Aereo doesn't have transmitters at the receive end. In spite of what Schweber says, the Wall Street Journal article doesn't say anything about transmitters, so apparently Schweber has a reading comprehension problem.
5. Aereo's infrastructure doesn't scale linearly with the number of customers. Like any other multi-subscriber system, Aereo benefits from statistical multiplexing. Only some fraction of their subscribers are using the system at any given moment, and as Aereo's customer base expands, that fraction actually declines because its later customers are likely to be less avid users of the system.
The WSJ article has some problems of its own. Six watts per user is about fifty cents per month of electricity, which is a very small part of the $8/month of Aereo's per-user revenue. If that power figure is actually only for logged-in, active users, then Aereo is paying much less than fifty cents per month per subscriber.
The WSJ story flings around this $2 million per year figure as if it means something, but Aereo's annual revenue for 350,000 subscribers would be $33.6 million. Clearly power is the least of their worries.
I also don't understand why Aereo would be talking about going off-grid and using fuel cells. That would dramatically increase the company's power costs. No kind of power is as cheap as utility power.
So anyway, I think Schweber wasted a bunch of time with this post. Not his own, I suppose, assuming he gets paid for it, but that of his readers.
Good point, on apartment complex antenna systems. Although they don't charge a subscription fee for that. Plus, in many apartment complexes in the US, the management allowed a cable company to grab that coax plant and force everyone to subscribe to cable. Or to take their chances with rabbit ear antennas (not very reliable in concrete apartment buildings, unless your apartment happens to be oriented correctly).
Unlike the UK and some other European countries, in the US, terrestrial TV is not used by a majority. Supposedly, only from 15 to 20 percent of households rely on terrestrail TV. I'm one of those, however terrestrial is supplemented by Internet TV, which is how I watch most of my non-news programs (PC dedicated to TV and radio use).
"But I don't understand the need for an antenna per user: one antenna ought to be sufficent for all users (each antenna is receiving an identical signal)."
No technical need *at all*. The need is purely legalistic in nature. In fact, I doubt very much that these individual antennas are truly operating as individual antennas, as far as the RF signal is concerned. My bet is, they are operating like an antenna array.
Aereo needs to convince the courts that it is not like any other MVPD (say cable or satellite). It needs to say, each customer has a direct link to their own antenna. Therefore, I'm not like a cable system. All I'm doing is instalkling the customer's own antenna in a good location for signal reception, then using ther Internet, instead of a dedicated coax, from my premises to the customer premises."
And the demand for TV over the Internet is from those who want to watch TV on tablets and smartphones, primarily. Even if not at home.
Every Aero customer DOES require an antenna. The reason is simple. If Aereo, or any other company, duplicates or broadcasts the signal, they are retransmitting the signal and would be subject to retrans rules (paying the broadcaster). However, if a single antenna pickups a single signal and converts that signal, without broadcasting it, they are not doing "retrans."
So yes, it is a goofy technology solution to a regulation. As to power consumption, it is far less power for Aereo to consume 6w per user than for each user to run a separate receiver and DVR. There is serious power efficiency at scale for network receivers and DVRs versus discrete receivers. As to bandwidth within the home, I don't see where it would be a problem. It's noise in WiFi. Obviously though it does consume some broadband (or wireless) bandwidth, but that's the users choice after all.
I can't see this taking off in the UK - terrestrial TV coverage is 99.something percent. If it's less than that in the US, I guess that explains the need. But I don't understand the need for an antenna per user: one antenna ought to be sufficent for all users (each antenna is receiving an identical signal).
"For basic broadcast, a single transmitter can serve a limitless number of users within a given range, and there's no need for additional hardware and power at the source."
But in traditional broadcast, the power consumption at the source is extremely large, independent of whether a million viewers or just a handful of viewers are watching a particular show, so the power per viewer varies widely. At least with Aereo's model, the power per viewer is a known quantity that is subject to future optimization as lower power technology solutions come to market.
In the aggregate, having both delivery mechanisms running simultaneously is very inefficient from a power perspective. Ignoring the legal & business issues between these separate companies, from a power perspective, the most efficient solution would be for the broadcasters to do exactly what Aereo is doing, with the added twist that some shows that have fewer viewers would only be offered in the internet streaming format, rather than from the high power broadcast transmitter. In simple terms, optimize the power consumption per viewer. For popular shows, the optimization will favor high power broadcast, but for others it will favor streaming to individual viewers.
While OTA broadcasts seem ubiquitous, the reality is that even in areas you would think would be saturated, many people simply can't receive them. Aereo is in New York City, and the problem there is that unless you are able to place or otherwise get access to a rooftop antenna, you can't receive OTA broadcasts.
In my small southwestern city, there are two broadcast locations, and they're on opposite ends of the city. With rabbit-ears or one of those simple amplified indoor antennas I get a signal from only one of the locations. I could put an antenna on the roof, but that would still require a rotor.
Something like Aereo would (hopefully) cover both locations and let me watch all of the available local channels. This of course assumes that they don't recompress the video before sending it to the customers.
I agree with you--with a flip of the switch, so to speak, the OTA networks could wipe out the need for a service like Aereo. It's just that they have to come around to changing their business model, which has worked for 60+ years.
But change will come, I am pretty sure; the only uncertainty is the time frame for when the networks start streaming their content over the web along with actual OTA broadcast.