The emergence of the Internet ready or “smart” TV marks the graduation of the Internet to a full featured, multiple service telecommunications service. It also marks the beginning of the end of siloed, single purpose video programming providers such as cable TV and satellite. Now that HD video content of all varieties is available via the Internet, the medium is the message in the words of mass communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and the medium is the Internet.
The Internet or “smart” TV also marks the end of the “broadband” Internet era, where the Internet was mostly used for viewing web pages and email — and later Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). It’s notable that TV manufacturers aren’t marketing the latest sets as “broadband” TVs. That reinforces a point I made in December 2010 when I declared distinguishing “broadband” from dialup “narrowband” was growing increasingly irrelevant since dialup was becoming technologically obsolete. Consumers either have functional Internet infrastructure connected to their premises, or they don’t. And if that infrastructure can’t deliver HD video while simultaneously allowing them to browse the web, download email and make a voice call, they’re effectively disconnected from the Internet.