Cringely Predicts The End Of Broadcast TV Within A Decade

In a new essay Friday, technology pundit Robert Cringely remembers the day he got his first home fax machine in 1986, arguing that broadcast television is like a fax machine — in that “they are both obsolete.”

Then he offers a quick history of television, cable TV, and the rise of Netflix, concluding “I’ll be surprised if broadcast TV in the U.S. survives another decade” — also predicting the end of cable TV packages:

5G wireless networking, as I’ve written here before, has pretty much nothing to do with mobile phones. It has to do with replacing every other kind of data network with 5G wireless. No more land lines, no more cable systems, no more wires. Going all-wireless almost completely eliminates customer-facing labor. No more guy with a tool belt to keep you waiting for service. No more truck rolls. There will be 5G and there will be content, that’s all.

Content can mean a phone call or a movie, a game, or anything else that involves electrons in motion. And given that we’ll all have voracious and completely different demands for high-resolution content, 5G will suck-up all available bandwidth and then some. Legacy broadcast license holders like broadcast TV and radio stations will sell their airspace to 5G carriers and retire to Florida. They’ll get offers they can’t refuse….

Cable TV packages will fall apart with every network fighting for itself in an a la carte programming world.

“There’s nothing sacrosanct about a broadcast network paradigm that we’ve been riding for a century,” he concludes. “This too shall pass.”

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