TWC starts testing Cisco’s switched video adapters
Time Warner Cable said yesterday that it has started testing Cisco’s switched video adapters in its Austin, Texas, division. The tuning adapters let CableCard subscribers access digital cable channels that are being delivered via switched digital video (SDV).
With switched digital video, cable operators are able to send just the digital signals that are being watched in a service group or node, instead of the entire lineup of channels. Cable operators can use this reclaimed bandwidth for more HD channels or other services.
In order to receive SDV channels, customers need a two-way-enabled device that knows the SDV protocols, but some DVRs, such as TiVo models, are unable to access the switched channels.
The Cisco adapters were designed to work on any unidirectional digital-cable-ready (UDCP) product that has a USCB connector and the necessary firmware.
Once the Austin test is finished, Time Warner Cable said it will start making the free adapters available in the other markets where it has launched SDV. Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable operator, said it would notify CableCard-equipped customers when the adapters will be available in their respective areas.
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission levied fines against Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications because some of their subscribers were not able to access channels that had been moved to SDV groups.
While CableLabs is working with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), TiVo and other consumer electronics manufacturers on an adapter that would process the SDV channels (story here), the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau fined Time Warner Cable $40,000 for two complaints in its Hawaii division. Cox was fined $20,000 for one complaint in Virginia.
The FCC’s order said that customers who use cable-ready televisions or digital video recorders in place of cable company-provided set-top boxes were blocked from viewing certain channels after the companies moved those channels into SDV groups in order to reclaim bandwidth.
The FCC has ordered Time Warner Cable and Cox to provide customers with refunds for the channels they didn’t receive.
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