Is this the end of TV or just the beginning?

When RTE finishes its DAB conversion, and when our terrestrial TV channels become free-to-air satellite, all the old analog UHF frequencies will be up for grabs. So what's going to happen to them?

Yes, of course it'll be usual the brown envelopes for Bertie's boys and all that carry on, that goes without saying. And maybe there's be another Eircom-style share debacle, yadda yadda. But what will the technological outcome be?

Very likely, someone like Google will turn the whole of Ireland into a giant Wi-Fi hotspot with wireless internet access everywhere in the Four Green Fields. This scenario is rapidly shaping up in the USA already.

Just as Eircom dragged its heels on broadband to stall the VoIP revolution, the mobile networks will go into hyperdrive to hang onto the most lucrative market in Europe. It took a vote in the European Parliament to get them to cop on with their extortionate roaming charges.

Just imagine you can stroll about with your Skype mobile phone, surfing, laptop-ing, radioing, TVing, and all for a single monthly access charge. Your car radio will pick up 10,000 channels from all over the world, and can play your complete music collection from home.

Your mobile will be on a conference call to six different friends all day, with people occasionally speaking, as if you were all sitting in the same room and someone puts down their newspaper for a moment to comment.

To interrupt this World of Tomorrow daydream, we must recognise that the new global fascist Big Brother element may soon creep in; as to some extent, it already has. The possibility of one non-governmental corporation knowing everything about you, with the power to excommunicate you from modern life, I think that should be enough to give us pause (paws?) before we give up the old rabbit ears.

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