Video services

Comcast Getting Ready to Uncork SDV

With its aggressive Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA)-based analog reclamation in full swing, evidence is mounting that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is now preparing to deploy switched digital video (SDV) in a big way. (See TiVo, Cable Re-Spark SDV Debate , Is SDV Poised for a Comeback?, and Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

The latest proof of that can be found in the MSO's comments to the FCC regarding the agency's further notice of proposed rulemaking on the current CableCARD regime.

In that filing, Comcast calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "maintain its policy of promoting the deployment of switched digital video," noting that it intends to start deploying SDV "later this year in a limited number of systems, and more broadly in 2011-2012." (See TWC, FCC Settle Switching Spat and FCC Reverses SDV Ruling.)

Comcast added that it believes SDV, a technique that conserves bandwidth by delivering some channels only when a customer in a given service group requests them for viewing, will enable it to launch "at least 50 additional channels, bringing the total number of HD channels in these systems to over 150."

As SDV frees up more capacity, Comcast thinks it will also be able to introduce a number of additional niche interest and ethnic channels.

In the filing, Comcast didn't identify where it will go with SDV initially, but the MSO has previously installed SDV technology for some test purposes in Cherry Hill, N.J.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; and Denver. [Ed. note: We've asked Comcast to clarify if those SDV test markets are still active or if they are now considered commercial deployments.] (See Comcast Expands SDV Test Pool and Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds.)

Regardless, it would mark a significant shift in Comcast's bandwidth management plan and possibly create the technical underpinnings to help the MSO deploy managed IPTV services and unleash more targeted advertising. (See Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV.)

And it could also prove a boon for Comcast's initial SDV system tech partners -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), and Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) -- and possibly open the door for SDV pioneer BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), which could use some help on the growth front. (See BigBand Cuts Staff as Orders Dry Up .)

If Comcast does indeed move aggressively with SDV, it would join a handful of other major MSOs that have already blazed that path, including Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , and Charter Communications Inc.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:31:50 PM
re: Comcast Getting Ready to Uncork SDV

Comcast confirmed that the previous SDV trials are no longer active, and that it's preparing for commerical launches... markets and timing?  They're not sharing that yet, but we'll do some poking around JB.


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