Edge QAMs have been getting a fair bit of industry attention recently, not least of all because of the recent Kagan conference, “QAM Before the Storm”. (Still my favorite name for an event ever…) Some at the Kagan conference were predicting the near-term end of edge QAM devices given the coming shift from RF technology to IP transport over fiber. However, when I queried folks within Motorola, the general consensus was that this prediction is a bit over-the-top. One person agreed that QAM modulators will move to fiber nodes over time, but that we have at least one more cycle for headend-based modulators before that happens.
Another executive went even further suggesting that the transition could take longer than most people expect. “The consensus in the late 1970s was that broadcast television was dead. It’s now 2008, and last I knew, 20% of people still get their TV over-the-air.”
Meanwhile, in the short term, use of QAM devices will only increase as we move to more on-demand content, switched digital video and, in a few years, a switched unicast model. (See above) I’ve talked about switched unicast before, and the potential benefits of the model are high enough to warrant further investments in edge QAMs near term. Specifically there is huge revenue potential from targeted advertising once switched unicast is in place.