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A Gazillion HD Channels


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.

6 Responses

  1. The next month should be interesting in terms of CableCards. I would be happy with just M-Cards. Keep me from having to buy two OCURs.

  2. […] Comcast promises 800 HD Channels – Are there even 800 SD channels? […]

  3. The CC 2.0 discussion has been dragging on for years now. Personally I don’t have much hope that an agreement will be worked out in the near future. The cable industry and the CE industry seem to be at polar opposites – OCAP vs. an open API. Basically the difference between the cable MSOs controlling the UI, via OCAP applications, vs. CE vendors developing their own UI and calling the MSO’s content as a service. (I’d prefer the latter.)

    I suspect there will be a decoupled solution to address SDV, and perhaps VOD, independent of the full CC 2.0 spec. TiVo’s CEO, Tom Rogers, recently indicated such a solution is being worked on during his testimony before Congress.

  4. […] A Gazillion HD Channels: Connected Home 2 Go […]

  5. Given that the vast majority of cable card installations are in TVs, which presumably can’t be flash upgraded, have low-end CPUs, and little available memory, it seems unlikely that most cable cards will continue to function after the SDV switch.

    Even for Vista Multimedia PCs and Tivo Series 3’s with cable cards in them (which barely function at the moment) I’m less optimistic than you. The CC 2.0 specs are going nowhere, and OCAP is years away from standardization.


  6. […] clear that HDTV is exploding both in terms of content and consumer adoption. The latest stats I’ve heard are that Pricewaterhouse-Cooper predicts 60% […]

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