Cablevision Revs Up iO International

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Cablevision Systems announced the launch of iO International, a group of nine in-language packages featuring channels from around the world in Spanish, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Hindi, among other languages.

“iO International is a unique and valuable extension of our iO digital-cable service, allowing our customers to watch television from around the world in the comfort and convenience of their New York-area homes and businesses,” said Patricia Gottesman, executive vice president of product management and marketing for the Bethpage, N.Y.-based operator.

iO International -- similar to the operator’s phone service, Optimum Voice World Call -- is offered for a flat monthly rate. The cost per package ranges from $4.95-$29.95 per month depending on content, the number of channels and an individual’s subscription service.

BigBand Networks vice president of product marketing Biren Sood said Cablevision's is the largest of the several switched-digital-video deployments the vendor is currently working on in terms of the number of homes passed. The new foreign-language packages are available to all of Cablevision's 2.3 million digital-cable subscribers.

Cablevision is the first BigBand customer that has announced services based on the SDV platform. BigBand disclosed that its other cable customers include Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, as well as telcos including Verizon Communications.

SDV systems deliver channels only when someone requests them, instead of sending every video channel to every subscriber in a network segment. In this way, an operator can offer a greater number of channels using the same amount of bandwidth, with the assumption that not all of the channels will be viewed simultaneously.

"The purpose of the technology is to oversubscribe the spectrum," Sood said.

What's the optimal oversubscription ratio? Sood said it will vary depending on usage patterns. While not commenting on Cablevision's deployment specifically, he estimated that operators can achieve up to a 2-1 oversubscription ratio, or a 50% bandwidth savings, meaning that 10 channels out of 20 being offered would be viewable simultaneously. "You definitely want to understand the usage model so that you can plan accordingly," Sood said.

He added that in addition to niche-oriented programming like that being offered by Cablevision, operators are using SDV to provide additional HDTV channels.

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