With the recent announcement that Time Warner Cable is
planning to deploy BigBand Networks' switched digital video solution in its Los
Angeles, New York City and Dallas
systems, the vendor's SDV solution will be available in around 25 million U.S.
The number of homes where SDV has been or will be deployed
is notable because it illustrates the increasingly important role that SDV plays
as operators add more high-definition capacity to face competitive threats, said
BigBand vice president of marketing John Holobinko.
"I think it shows that the operators have decided it is not
a matter of if they will deploy SDV, but when," Holobinko said. "The markets
where Time Warner Cable has announced additional deployments [Los
Angeles, New York City and Dallas]
are very major areas where they have telco competition.
"The ability of SDV to allow them to very rapidly increase
their capacity and put together different channel lineups and programming
packages provides them with a competitive advantage," he added.
Time Warner Cable is using switched digital to free up
enough bandwidth to offer more than 100 HD channels and launch such services as
HD video-on-demand and DOCSIS 3.0-based products.
Overall, the MSO has
deployed SDV in more than 20 markets, with BigBand providing its products in
most of those systems.
Bandwidth savings vary depending on the channels involved
and a number of other factors, but SDV deployments typically allow operators to
exponentially expand the channel lineup. As many as four HD or SD channels can
be added for every channel they used to offer, Holobinko said.
"We have a program of 100 HD channels in 100 days" Holobinko
said. "We basically tell operators from the time you tell us to start we could
have the entire system converted to HD and have that number of channels up and
running in 100 days or less."
In June, the Federal Communications Commission vacated a
ruling against Time Warner Cable and Cox for deploying SDV and Holobinko expects the regulatory shift to boost interest in switched video.
"I think it will help across the industry with operators that had been a little
more reluctant to take on anything that wasn't clearly blessed," he said.
Beyond the advantages of adding more capacity for HD
programming, Holobinko noted that SDV allows operators to make phased capital
"Unlike bandwidth reclamation or a rebuild to add capacity,
it is not an all-or-nothing approach," he said. "You can add capacity as you
SDV allows operators to better manage their networks for
improved customer satisfaction. Deployments also create an infrastructure that
can eventually be used to deliver such products as advanced advertising.
While Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter and
Cablevision all have systems that have deployed SDV, operators have been
extremely flexible in how they've used SDV and other bandwidth-reclamation
"In some of the Cox systems where they were facing
tough competition, they opted to go to SDV first and in other systems they've
opted to go to 1-Gigahertz plant and deploy SDV later," he said. "So you see
differences even within the same MSOs. I'd say they see these approaches are