I recently heard Peter Barrett, the CTO and General Manager of Engineering at Microsoft TV Division. He was an excellent presenter. Peter demonstrated how IP TV might have handled the Live 8 concert. Looked like Tivo on steroids with multiple picture-in-picture and lots of hyperlinks.
Peter said that 2005 would be the last year we would worry about having enough bandwidth for video. He presented a chart showing the required and available bandwidth over time. The available bandwidth line passed the level required of TV, then HDTV, then shot towards the sky. It looked to me like there will be a 10X to 15X surplus of bandwidth in a few years time.
Standard Definition TV needs around 4Mbs per channel and HDTV requires around 20Mbs. See here for a good recent article by Marc Bernstein from Nortel's broadband networks group. His analysis is that the existing network backbone could support a 100 channel SDTV offering. However, while 1000 channels of HDTV is possible with existing technology, it would require a backbone upgrade for bandwidth and retrofitting of equipment capable of IP multicast. Bring on the next telecom boom!
Notwithstanding the the technical, market and economic barriers, sooner or later we are going to have a hell of a lot of bandwidth.
So what are we going to do with it? After we use our office applications, telephony, data storage and home automation over the net, we are still going to have buckets of bandwidth. Teleportation seems a distant hope.
Bottom Line: Try to think of ways to use that bandwidth! Go to ANZA conferences, they have good speakers.