Now, its Internet-II
Dr Rana Jawad Asghar
Do you know that if you have a nice computer with an Internet connection, you could watch and listen more than 500 live radio and TV stations on the Internet? These radio and TV stations are transmitting all the news, entertainment programmes and sports coverage through the Internet. In North America, to watch a cricket game on the normal TV is quite a rare opportunity but you could watch anywhere the highlights of the game on your own computer. A week ago when I was in Pakistan, I watched BBC TV on the Internet. It was different from the BBC TV we watch on the satellite dish. We, in the region, watch BBC World which is meant for the international market but through my computer, I was watching BBC which is for mainland Britain.
It is not that only the big companies are entering this field. Internet is still open to creative minds with little investments. So, alongside with major national and multinational corporations, there are a lot of individuals who are maintaining their radio stations on the Internet. There are a few Urdu and Hindi channels too.
Just imagine the number of TV and radio channels your computer could offer you. In its infancy, it is offering more than 500 channels but with more advanced technology, there will be an unlimited choice for you. In my opinion, in the future, computer is going to be a major piece of entertainment even bigger than TV. Or may be not as now the focus is to make TV which can be used to surf Internet and send email messages. These types of TVs are being marketed here in the USA and Europe with modest prices. So it may be your own home TV but with an Internet access instead of a satellite dish at the top of your house.
But still, there are some glitches. You still watch it on a small screen. The picture is not very smooth and the sound is not always in a continuos order. These are the problems of heavy Internet use. But then, there are ways to outmaneouvre it by using Internet when everyone else is sleeping.
The best time to use Internet is in the early morning from 4 am to 9 am. This is the time when the real computer users of Pakistan are tired and are sleeping over their computer keyboards after a whole night of Internet surfing. I have used my old '486' for quite fast Internet surfing during these hours. Never try to surf Internet during the peak hours -- 9 pm to 2 am. Internet is too slow in Pakistan during these hours. Downloading a file or a software is a nightmare. These Internet radio/TV stations use 'Real Time audio/video' programmes to transmit. It means that you don't need to download a file to view the video or radio sound waves to listen them. They are being continuously transmitted to your computer.
Heavy traffic on the Internet may result in loss of some segments of these transmission and that is the reason why we see discontinuous sounds or videos. There are different speeds of different Internet providers. The 'Paknet' of PTC is still considered to be the fastest, provided you could be logged into it which is a nightmare during peak hours. The 'Brain' computer server 'Zaknet' is the fastest system where data transmission is done by a small satellite dish on your roof instead of phone lines. So it is no doubt fast and I have seen the performance of TV and radio stations of the Internet through it and it is quite impressive. But the price factor is a big NO. As this system is developed for business organisations, it is very expensive for individual users. May be with the more competition, the rates will drop in the same way when it happened when email and Internet were first introduced in Pakistan.
Now in the end, let me give you a latest news. The USA is building a second Internet which would be exclusively used by the high research-oriented Universities, Pentagon and the State Department. The rate of transfer of files there, is going to be hundred times faster than of the existing Internet because its use will not be open to everyone and secondly, the latest 'Fibre-Optic' technology will be used for it. Millions of dollars are being spent to make this system operational within the shortest possible time.
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