A few people reported yesterday about Comcast’s claim that the operator will offer 400 HD channels by the end of this year and will double that number to 800 in 2008. Ben Drawbaugh over at Engadget HD did the math and came up with 11 Gbps of throughput needed for broadcasting that many high-def channels. Of course when many of those channels are narrowcast (via video-on-demand or switched digital video), which is what Comcast actually plans, that throughput number will go down significantly. Nonetheless, you can begin to see why boosting bandwidth capacity is such a critical issue for cable and telecom operators.
One other thing Ben mentioned in his post is that switched digital video will render many CableCARD devices obsolete. (Without two-way communication, SDV won’t work) I’m guessing that won’t happen. As much as cable operators aren’t thrilled to be dealing with CableCARDs, they also don’t want to lock people out of using their lucrative services. Right now we’re waiting on the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to conclude negotiations around getting two-way communication certified on retail cable devices. I’ll be very curious to see how that process moves along as SDV and VOD continue to grow in popularity.
Side note: More to come on two-way CableCARD communications tomorrow over on Engadget HD.