Internet Movie Rentals – Part 1

I believe that Internet bandwidth is precious. It need not be conserved as it is not likely to “run out”, but nonetheless used sensibly. It is very liberating to be always connected with no per-minute charges and seemingly unlimited data transfer allowances. It is icing on the cake to have a theoretical 10Mbps or faster connection with burst download speeds of 1MBps.

I did not grow up with all-you-can-eat Internet. I started using the Internet at the age of 25. I initially had UNIX shell account dial-up access, followed by dial-up TCP/IP access the following year. These were charged by the minute for both the phone call to dial in and Internet connection charges. One has to govern oneself in such situations.

It then naturally seems wasteful to me to use the Internet for downloading movies, or worse, renting movies and TV shows for one-time viewing. If you remember (or know) what telex is and how much it used to cost, you will appreciate the value of sending e-mail (and instant messages) at no cost per message, and thereby realize how precious bandwidth is given that legitimate e-mail takes up no appreciable bandwidth. Given the current state of the Internet, I have grown comfortable with using it for VoIP and video netcasts.

Using Internet bandwidth for renting movies routinely and as one’s primary source for TV shows still seems abusive to me. It is much more bandwidth-friendly to rent the same movie at a similar price from the video store on disc, and get better quality especially with Blu-ray disc. If you don’t have a video store nearby or don’t like getting out in the cold (except to the mailbox), renting by postal mail is much cheaper, usually $2.00 each inclusive of postage both ways on a $20.00 per month plan as you can average 10 movies per month. Buying physical copies of movies similarly gets you better quality and a backup disc, so you won’t need to buy that expensive NAS for storing all those downloaded movies. You could also inadvertently exceed your bandwidth limit and end up paying a lot more.