Internet Movie Rentals – Part 1

December 20th, 2008

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.

  • Suraj Yadav

    I dont buy your argument of not using the internet to watch movies or other leisure purposes. you were right on stating that we don’t need to conserve the internet bandwidth as its not going to run out but then going to certain extent to compare the current internet scenario with the old time is neither justifiable nor reasonable. Internet is not only just for researching papers or doing banking transaction. its the same way saying people should use phone only to make emergency calls or making important calls only rather than talking to others for leisure and forwarding sms. Internet is a service and companies are providing those services because there is demand for that. there is a business model to encourage the customers to use these services. if you are talking about environmental cost for consumption of more electricity or installing more infrastructure to support these heavy usage of bandwidth then I think it is more environment friendly for people to use internet to download movies rather than taking their car out and burning car and wear and tear of machinery to rent the movies and even then what about the cost to manufacture the disk or cost and environmental impact of opening a brick and mortar shop. Bandwidth is intangible and does not add much excess cost to existing cost but your suggestion is all tangible cost and has more impact on environment and resources than what it will be on consuming more bandwidth. Going by your analogy, you are recommending people to read paper newspaper rather than electronic papers online.