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Hold that flight, I’ve got Skype!

I remember it well: That crowded airport, the hustle, the bustle, the constant announcements broken occasionally by the sound of frantic footsteps from those dashing to make their flight. The beguiling smile of the check-in ladies, their eyes seemingly following my gaze with knowing congeniality. And then, out of the blue, a gunshot and screams, panic everywhere and then another shot and the eerie silence of fear becomes almost deafening in its resonance. A man appears, just a black silhouette at first, but I know who he is, we all do. With every step he takes we feel a growing sense of relief and I find myself mopping my brow as John McClane steps forward to save the day. “Wow” I say to myself “I bloody love Die Hard 2”.

Don’t look down

Why am I telling you this? Well, there’s about ten minutes to go and I’m watching the movie, while I wait to conduct an interview with a guy from DC. It strikes me that, unlike the characters on the screen, I don’t have the stress of airport travel. I’m at home, watching Bruce strut his stuff and waiting for my interviewee to connect. I’m wearing a shirt and tie but little does he know that, from the waist down I’m completely naked, except, that is, for my furry socks!

It’s thanks to technologies like Skype that I enjoy the luxury of conducting an interview via my smartphone, which is by far the most popular method of connecting to the Internet according to the government-approved industry body Ofcom. If you have a Wi-Fi or the ever-so elusive (for some) 4G connection, then you can pretty much have access to anything at anytime, anywhere.

The smartphone entertainment portal

More so, our content has become pocket-sized and we carry it with us to access as and when we choose. Nowadays, with such pervasive connectivity, we are in fact, permanently ‘tethered’ to the wider digital community. Like many, I watch all my favorite TV shows using a variety of on-demand services and my smartphone has become the only entertainment portal I need.

I am also able to record an interview with someone in the US or largely anywhere for that matter at a moment’s notice. With Skype we have all become broadcasters to some extent, since we can simply reach for our smartphones to record and share events as they happen. Mainstream broadcasters have also been quick to react with their respective on-demand services, seemingly wholeheartedly embracing the shift in content delivery. Likewise, with Skype available everywhere, no longer do journalists have to spend vast amounts of money or time on travel.

The Internet as a public utility

With Skype TX providing broadcasters with true broadcast quality content through the Internet, the need for reporters and journalists to travel to interviews is negated, as is the necessity to bring interviewees to the studios; something that has created significant savings for the industry. Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Tom Wheeler argued that the Internet should be regarded as a public utility, hence a 400-page document now offers new rules for the US industry.

The Internet is increasingly something we can rely on, no matter where we are. We expect it to be there when we need it; like turning on a tap, or flicking a light switch. We want the world to come to us instead of us having to travel to it. And, as I open my movie app to watch the end of Die Hard 2, my interview done and my broadcaster happy with the results via Skype, it hits me that we now live in a world where the likes of John McClane wouldn’t have had to travel to the airport that stormy Christmas Eve since, given the weather warnings at the start of the movie, he could, like me, have stayed in bed and used Skype to spread his seasonal cheer instead. But then again, where would all those terrified passengers be without their hero?

Until next time…

This is my first feature for Skype in Media and, in future columns, I will be dispelling rumors, gossip and hype that surround the broadcast industry. I’m so passionate about how technology is perceived by the everyday consumer and am often defensive when I witness the industry flood the market with jargon and hyperbole. I want to provide you with a realistic perspective of what’s what.

So, for now, this is where (honestly) a fully dressed Dr G signs off.

About Dean Anthony Gratton

Dr Dean Anthony Gratton is a bestselling author and columnist, and has worked extensively within the wireless communications R&D industry. His wireless research work has been patented. You can contact Dean via his website, and follow him on Twitter (@grattonboy) to enjoy his risqué humor, witty shenanigans, social media and technology-related tweets. You can also read more about his work at deangratton.com.

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