Guest Blog Post: First Or Second Screen?

By Sam Melton

When Ray Bradbury wrote the dystopian science-fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, he wrote to warn the world of a future where human beings are no longer interested in knowing and learning things, but instead are glued to the superficial entertainment beamed into their homes via their giant screen televisions, and are openly hostile towards intellectuals. While a few years ago it seemed like Bradbury may have had a magic looking glass into the future, televisions have quickly been supplanted by the much smaller screens of touch-screen phones and tablets, relegating television to second-favorite-screen status in the United States.

According to recent statistics compiled by mobile advertising giant InMobi, Americans use the mobile web to view content 27% of the time they are also viewing entertainment. Compare that to just 22% of the time Americans spend watching TV today. InMobi also reports that consumers are influenced substantially more by mobile advertising than by TV-based advertising. This statistic in particular makes the choice natural for television stations to offer many of their lineups as on-demand, advertisement-supplemented content on the internet. Smart phones and tablets are spreading across the world faster than any other technology has spread, including television and radio. In essence, the affordability and access that smart phones and tablets provide are only hindered by the consumer’s ability to access the internet and mobile data networks.

Accommodating the Second Screen

Due to the spread of high-speed internet, the average household’s data usage has more than doubled in the last year alone, from 23 gigabytes worth of data per month in 2011 to 52 gigabytes per month in 2012. This rapid increase has been attributed to the rise in streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but it also has significant input from the likes of YouTube, Skype, and torrent services.

The massive, rapid increase in data usage has led to major insufficiencies in the United States’ current internet infrastructure. Telecommunication companies are rushing to upgrade their antiquated phone networks with ultra-high-speed fiber optics networks. One of the most established fiber optics networks in the United States, Verizon’s FiOS Network boasts an average download speed of 29.4 Mbps, compared to the 17.2 Mbps average of current Cox Communications’ high-speed internet and the 15.7 Mbps rate of Time Warner Cable.

The rate at which fiber optics technology is advancing in the U.S., however, is miniscule compared to its international counterparts. The European Union and Japan are currently testing networks that boast connection speeds of over 100 Gbps, which is the equivalent of 100,000 Mbps. While the U.S. makes slow and steady strides toward accommodating the increasing prominence of the mobile first screen takeover, major developments matching those of the United States’ international cohorts will be necessary to outpace the modern day data explosion.


Sam Melton is a business professional and freelance blogger. He specializes in technology and business, with a special interest in sports.

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