Ask anyone where video is headed and they'll tell you it's going digital — eventually. But even the most bullish digital proponent will tell you it will take years before the hundreds of millions of analog TVs and VCRs are truly obsolete. So, what should cable operators do in the meantime? Here's one idea: Deliver both.
Technological advancements and cost reductions in optical dense wavelength division multiplexing technology are causing cable operators to re-examine their fiber optic architectures, and are giving them an opportunity to increase bandwidth while lowering system maintenance costs. A case in point is cable giant Tele-Communications Inc.
ADSL has been around in concept for about 10 years. The idea is simple. Those same copper wire pairs that carry analog voice telephone calls can also be used to carry digital data. The voice signal uses only the frequencies up to about 4 kHz. Copper wires have a larger bandwidth than that. But getting from concept to practice has been difficult.
You've just been told you need to start using the reverse path in your system for digital services. From what you've heard and read, it's going to be a major headache. You're expecting the worst. You're filled with fear, uncertainty and doubt . . . but you shouldn't be. Making the reverse path work correctly has the potential of being a big project in a small system, or a huge project in a big ...
For, as much as the industry would like the world to believe differently, the vast majority of cable plant in existence today isn't ready for two-way service. Equipment manufacturers say that almost all the gear being shipped out today is two-way, but according to our research, less than one mile out of five is currently two-way active.
In a mere 21 months, the world is going to stop. At least that's the impression you get by reading some of the stories about the "Year 2000 bug," that odd affliction that is threatening to affect countless computers and the software that runs them. Already, major consumer magazines are talking about how everything from the U.
College Station, Texas (population: 63,000) is the site where TCA Cable TV Inc., the 16th-largest U.S. cable operator, with systems passing 1.2 million homes, has tested out its options in the cable modem business. TCA is now moving ahead with a refreshingly innovative approach. Many data service deployments by major cable operators have depended on expensive and time-consuming plant clean up, ...
When it comes to interactivity, it seems that the old axiom of "if you wait long enough, everything comes back in style," can now be applied. Just like the bell-bottom jeans that are flopping all over the place again, and the return of the Volkswagen Beetle, interactivity is making its comeback. In 1992, it was just "around the corner," and then it dropped off the scene faster than a powder-blu...
Consider user-friendliness. When you change channels, do you have to take out one card and plug in a different one? That's a loser. How about a TV set with several slots? But maybe the TV set manufacturers won't put more than one slot in a TV set. Then the broadcasters in town will have to agree on a single scrambling system that uses the same card for all broadcasters in town.
In many ways, though, we really haven't changed anything, with one exception. We're now spicing many of our stories with a dash of "business." Why? Because we've recognized what most people in the industry are also coming to understand: that technology and technologists don't reside in a vacuum. Technology doesn't exist for technology's sake alone; there has to be a reason to deploy it, or even...
Cable operators are in the process of upgrading their networks and rolling out two-way data services in a systematic plant-by-plant migration to a completely digital infrastructure. The speed at which cable plants are being upgraded is limited by the amount of investment needed to achieve low upstream noise conditions required by today's cable modems.
Teamwork. What a concept. Supposedly, that's what Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League, high school football, the cheer-leading squad, Army (Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard) boot camp, and even marriage are all about. Yet, practically speaking, the virtues of teamwork have never really been extolled, let alone practiced, in the cable industry to any widespread, sustained degree.
The business side of Internet and high-speed data services is lagging behind the lightning-quick pace of emerging technologies, prompting cable operators to mine deeper and wider for potential new Internet and data customers. The new business of Internet service, and how it fits into a cable operator's business plan, is a 1,000-piece puzzle, with 900 pieces left to assemble.
Cellular phone subsidies The cellular phone that you bought for $29 from Circuit City really costs a lot more than that to manufacture and sell. You pay the total cost for it, but not directly. There's a subsidy involved, although not everyone calls it that. When you sign up for a year's worth of service, the cellular phone company sends a check for $200 to Circuit City.
Remember that TCI made these deals with two goals in mind: to jump-start its foray into digital TV; and to compel the industry at large to do the same thing via an interoperable, standards-based platform. There's little doubt in my mind the former will be achieved; it's the latter I'm not so sure about.