Time Warner Cable will be deploying switched digital video from BigBand Networks in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas in order to free up bandwidth for more services and programming options, including high-definition.
While Comcast has been relying on digital terminal adapters to reclaim bandwidth during its digital conversion, Time Warner Cable has been a big proponent of switched digital video. Time Warner Cable first deployed BigBand’s SDV technology in Austin, Texas, in 2004, and since then the operator has launched it in numerous other markets.
“We have launched SDV in over 20 markets to date and know firsthand that if we want to deploy new programming options for our customers, SDV is the fastest, most cost-effective method for our existing network,” said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable’s executive vice president of technology policy and product management. “With the bandwidth that has been reclaimed, Time Warner Cable is able to offer over 100 high-definition channels to our customers and can launch such services as DOCSIS 3.0 and HD video-on-demand. We can do these things with the confidence that the BigBand solution is giving us the reliability and high level of performance we have come to expect.”
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 use this reclaimed bandwidth for more high-definition channels or other services.
In June, the Federal Communications Commission vacated fines by its Enforcement Bureau against Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications over the two companies’ use of switched digital video.
Time Warner Cable didn’t say whether the FCC’s decision had anything to do with its latest SDV deployments.
“It certainly is not for us to say what motivates our customers, but I would say that TWC has believed strongly in SDV and its ability to delivery greater amounts of programming,” wrote John Holobinko, vice president of marketing at BigBand, in an e-mail to CED. “TWC has always been very forward-thinking when it comes to deploying leading-edge services and technologies. Clearly, the industry as a whole is moving toward unicast, and many believe that SDV is the straightest path to get there. We applaud the FCC's decision, which recognized that SDV increases the amount and quality of programming for consumers today, but we believe Time Warner had made its decision independently as our other customers have.”
Last year, the FCC started looking into Time Warner Cable and Cox’s use of SDV because some of their subscribers were not able to access channels that had been moved into switched digital groups. In order to receive SDV channels, customers need a two-way-enabled device that knows the SDV protocols, but some DVRs were unable to access the switched channels.
While the FCC fines may have temporarily slowed SDV deployments, Comcast said in last months’ second quarter earnings call that it would start exploring the use of switched digital video in its Motorola systems.
BigBand said its SDV platform has been deployed, or is being deployed, by seven of the top-10 service providers in North America.
“Time Warner Cable has been a trusted strategic partner since the first deployment of SDV. They immediately saw that bandwidth expansion was just the first of many benefits that it can bring to a network,” said BigBand President and CEO Amir Bassan-Eskenazi.