BT’s John Petter on the future of technology & exploring the past
Posted by John Petter
BT Retail consumer managing director
April 11th 2012 at 10:13
John Petter is the managing director of BT Retail’s consumer division and is responsible for broadband, phones, BT Vision TV and other BT products and services in customers’ homes. In his second blog for BT Life, John talks about ever-increasing broadband speeds, family research and sand sculptures…
To Infinity and beyond…
I still remember BBC’s Tomorrow’s World in the early 80s. It was on once a week, a magazine programme about future technology for everyday life. There was no BT Vision then so unless you were lucky enough to have a video recorder (you had to be really lucky to have one then, they cost an arm and a leg) you had to make sure you were in to see it. This was no hardship actually as I think it was on a Thursday, Top of the Pops night!
One bit I remember was the Tomorrow’s World team writing off the potential for videophones; a copper wire was shown and the nation heard how it was impossible to get moving pictures down that little space. Years later they demonstrated a fax machine. The team attempted to get a signature from one part of London to another, the prototype fax machine didn’t work on the night but we got the point, the multimedia world had arrived, albeit in a small way!
Since then the amount of data that we have been able to fit down that little wire has increased hundreds of times. But the obsession with videophones disappeared as the internet arrived when we realised that there was more we could do than look into each other’s eyes. And as we have wanted to do even more, bandwidth has been increasing to let us do it.
Obviously there is still frustration with lower speeds for some as we try to make broadband reach as many homes and businesses as possible across the nation. However, the arrival of fibre-optics and BT Infinity has brought a whole new level of entertainment, business opportunities and the ability to exchange huge amounts of information between ourselves.
Many people are gaming, watching TV, sending videos, downloading pictures and all sorts of other things, all through one line – simultaneously. And not giving it a second thought. Meanwhile I’m ‘twin-screening’, watching bits of Tomorrow’s World on YouTube through my iPhone whilst watching Top of the Pops through my TV on iPlayer!
Sun, sea and sand sculpture
One of the things I’ve got interested in lately is my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ photographs. There are some fantastic shots, like the one above. It was taken in Anglesey on a family holiday in the early 1909. My grandmother is the small child standing up. The lion really intrigued me; I always thought of sand sculpture as relatively modern activity but apparently not. Mind you, we wouldn’t dress like that for the beach now; they must have been getting the sand out of those tweeds for weeks afterwards!
I’m scanning the photos to keep every single detail, and then I send them to various aunts, uncles and cousins to get more insight into them. Yes, you’ve guessed it! BT Infinity has been an absolute Godsend for large files like these, they go off in seconds and my relatives are thrilled to see them and discuss who’s who, what they were doing, and where, in each photo.
Research like this would have been so difficult even just a few years ago; if we hadn’t made the advances in broadband that we have, I think I would have had to have waited until I’d retired in order to get the time to do this.
Incidentally, if anyone from Anglesey is reading this, I’d be intrigued to know if it’s possible to identify where exactly this was taken. A long shot maybe but you never know, it would be another huge step forward in my research!
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