By investigating price and capacity trends over the past century, Eli Noam shows that it is possible to predict the type, style, and genres of media content of a future ultra-broadband infrastructure, which allows a richer, more bit-intensive content.
The nature of content is critical for the economic viability of an ultra-broadband infrastructure. This paper asks what types of media content we will have when we achieve widespread fiber optic networks. In the past, an expansion of transmission capacity led to a 'widening' of the TV medium. But the impact of ultrabroadband will be a 'deepening' of the content to a richer, more bit-intensive content. The paper investigates, for 25 media, the price and capacity trends over the past century. It creates a model which shows the relationship of media prices per second over time, and the declining transmission cost per second and per GB. We find that the price people have been willing to pay for media entertainment per time unit has been fairly steady over a century, adjusted for inflation, at about 4.4 cents per minute. The price of distribution of content has been dropping at a compound rate of 8%. This enables us to identify the trend of bits per second delivered - the 'richness' - of the media over time. It grows at about 8% per annum. Projecting this rate permits us to predict the type, style, and genres of media content of the near future. It also enables us to determine the time when media will become visually richer than 3-D real life in terms of sensory experience.