Web Video Choking Internet Pipelines

TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost are now available on the internet. Every day, a new service pops up that promises to deliver video on the web. TiVo has signed a deal with Brightcove that will allow TiVo subscribers to receive television-like programs delivered over the Internet.

Sony, Adobe and Apple are incorporating serious HD video editing capabilities in their software (Vegas, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro). The video industry is struggling to choose the next DVD storage format.

But is the internet ready to take so much strain ? The answer from the major Internet service providers, the telephone and cable companies, is "no." Small clips are fine, but TV-quality and especially high-definition programming could make the Internet choke.

If people start watching streaming video like they watch TV - for hours at a time - that puts a strain on the Internet that it wasn't designed for, ISPs say, and beefing up the Internet's capacity to prevent that will be expensive.

"The plain truth is that today's access and backbone networks simply do not have the capacity to deliver all that customers expect," according to Tom Tauke of Verizon.

With more and more video surging across the Internet not just to computers but also televisions and handheld devices, something that could relieve the congestion or improve the quality would be a huge breakthrough.