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Can HDTV be Streamed over Fiber Optics Networks?

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 6/28/2011

We look at the new trend of Fiber Optics internet - can it really stream HD video the way you would be led to believe? Inside, you'll find our answer.

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    Future Fiber

    HDTV has been the latest leap that the industry has taken towards getting high-definition entertainment into the hands of everyone that has a compatible TV. However, the future may hold much more than HDMI cables and surround sound. The future looks to be completely wireless.

    TVs currently do not have the capability to connect to anything other than devices that are forcibly plugged into them. But imagine, if you will, a TV that would be able to be unboxed, powered in, and connected to the internet. This idea of HD video over the internet is something that is currently a hot issue for designers of future hardware for set-top boxes.

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    Internet-Enabled

    HD video over the internet will require much faster speeds than we currently are able to maintain wirelessly. This requires two main upgrades, one to the wireless technology (from Wireless G to WiMax in the near future) and one to the networking infrastructure we currently run.

    The infrastructure seems to be the main sticking point in terms of streaming content, because Ethernet cables are more than capable of streaming 1080p content in a local network – even wirelessly if the adapter and computer are sophisticated enough. However, the problem is that the service provider tends to cap DSL speeds at about 600-700 Kbps in more remote areas. In order to roll out a program worldwide, that speed would need to go up to about 2-3 Mbps. At those speeds, wireless streaming of the content would be quasi-instant.

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    What The Present Holds

    Currently, Microsoft is looking to already plant the first footprint into uncharted territory with their announcement of streaming 1080p for the Xbox 360 using Netflix as the service provider. This idea really is industry-shattering because it would lead the way to dethroning Blu-Ray as the leader in High-Definition entertainment and cement that as the internet’s domain.

    So, is HDTV possible over fiber optic networks and the most advanced WiMAX networks? Perhaps one day, but as of today, they’re both still unproven technologies. Fiber Optics are being used more and more, but still haven’t hit the mainstream as acceptable alternatives for DSL and Cable, and until they do, it’ll be hard to take streaming HDTV over fiber optics seriously.

    Until then, my advice to you is to transfer your HD shows and movies onto your PC and stream them over your wireless network, using a server program. This will not only be easier, but you’ll also get better image quality and reduce lag on the video viewing. For live TV, you can use a TV tuner on your PC to achieve the same thing a TV would, but still manage to use it as a DVR.