Brian Santo over at CED has a great article up on the bandwidth implications of the DTV transition. Specifically he outlines why cable hasn’t gone all-digital already (cost of adding in CableCARDs and OCAP technology) and how cable could have had it worse in the recent DTV negotiations if the FCC had mandated triple carriage of certain channels in digital SD, digital HD, and regular old analog.
In the short term (2009-2012), DTV is going to cost cable operators bandwidth because of the dual must-carry rules. Santo estimates cable operators (who aren’t already simulcasting) will have to find, on average, 42 MHz of spectrum to comply with the FCC come February 18th, 2009. Per yesterday’s discussion, an upgrade to a 1 GHz network will buy you that, but only once 1 GHz devices are in place and working on the consumer side. To address the dual-carry challenge operators will more likely turn to switched digital video and channel bonding first.