Cablevision Switches With BigBand
LR Cable News Analysis Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading 1/24/2007
Cablevision and BigBand unveiled the deployment earlier today, making the MSO the latest big cable operator to make the move to switched digital. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Cox Communications Inc. have also begun introducing switched digital commercially in some of their cable systems across the country.
The Cablevision rollout, which covers more than 4 million homes passed in New York City and its immediate suburbs, also marks the first time that a major U.S. cable operator has announced a switched digital deployment in any market with a particular tech vendor. While Time Warner has tested switched broadcast with BigBand in at least two markets and plans to roll out the technology commercially, the MSO has not said who it's working with now.
"This announcement proves the technology has been deployed," says Biren Sood, VP of product marketing and business development for BigBand. "This is a completed deployment."
BigBand officials claim they are now working with several of the nation's top 10 MSOs to roll out switched digital, a bandwidth-saving technology that enables cable operators to conserve their precious digital spectrum for dozens of more channels and other services. But Cablevision is the first cable customer to acknowledge that it's using BigBand's switched broadcast solution, which consists of the vendor's management server, Broadband Multimedia-Service Router, and Broadband Multimedia-Service Edge equipment and software.
Similarly, Scientific Atlanta and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) executives say they are aiding a number of large MSOs with switched digital deployments. But neither tech giant has been able to announce any sizeable cable customer wins just yet.
Cablevision officials say they will use the recovered digital spectrum to deliver nine new, international, "in-language" packages of channels across their service area, encompassing dozens of new channels. The new premium offerings include packages of Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Japanese, Polish, and Portuguese channels for prices ranging for anywhere from $4.95 to $24.95 per month.
The move by Cablevision comes as the MSO faces stiff competition in the New York area from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which has been rolling out its new FiOS TV service there. Although Cablevision officials insist that FiOS hasn't hurt them much yet, they have been busily boosting broadband speeds to the highest in the cable industry and aggressively rolling out VOIP service.
BigBand officials, who have been championing switched broadcast technology for several years, hope to announce more MSO deployments later this year. The latest version of their switched digital technology is the fourth generation since they first unveiled it.
Competitors, however, play down the significance of the Cablevision announcement. They argue that BigBand will have trouble signing up more cable operators because its proprietary technology doesn't offer as much bandwidth efficiency and cost savings as their offerings, which enable cable operators to use new universal edge QAMs to carry voice, video, and data services simultaneously.
The Cablevision move also comes just one day after cable operators and equipment suppliers, alarmed by an explosion in bandwidth use by cable subscribers over the last couple of years, stressed the need to deploy switched broadcast technology. In a seminar sponsored by PK Worldmedia Inc. in Houston Tuesday, cable engineers portrayed switched digital as probably the most promising way to keep their networks from being overwhelmed by soaring subscriber bandwidth consumption. (See Cable Confronts Bandwidth Crunch.)
— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News