Time is now for more services, new technologies

Mon, 01/14/2008 - 7:00am
Mike Robuck

While last year’s “QAM Before the Storm” event set the table in terms of what technologies and services the cable industry needed to focus on, Paul Kagan said at this year’s event that it was time to dig in.

“Everything is ready, the solutions work, the subscribers want them and the competition is growing so the time is now,” said Kagan, the host of the “QAM Before the Storm” conference, following the opening keynote by Motorola’s David Brown. “Last year we weren’t ready, but now is the time.”

The conference, which preceded the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies, drew a bull’s eye on the bandwidth issues that cable is facing.

“Bandwidth expansion is the most important story for all of the players,” Kagan said.

Brown, Motorola’s director of strategic marketing, video access, said the following services or technologies would consume bandwidth: targeted advertising, content on-demand, more content and content mobility. HD is the most significant bandwidth-consumer in the near term.

Brown said the lines between VOD, switched digital video, broadcast and Start Over would begin to blur, but all of them need more bandwidth. While some in the cable industry point to unicast services as a way to free up bandwidth, Brown didn’t think it would be the “endgame” because most consumers still watch the same programming, such as the Super Bowl, which would make unicast signals to each home unnecessary.

Brown also gave an example of how cable operators can plan ahead, using 2011 as a target date, and said fine-tuning services groups and adding more tuners in each home were key.

For the near term, cable operators need to look at the capital costs associated with deploying advanced services, but the technologies are ready for deployment now. Cable needs to start deploying SDV and other technologies in order to compete against Verizon and the satellite providers. The key question, Brown said, is how much content do consumers want?

According to Kagan, consumers want as many content options as cable can serve up.

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