New technology will allow access to switched digital video
Last modified on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 14:18
CableCard-based boxes such as the ever popular Series 3 TiVo will now have access to a new technology called “switched digital video.” The new CableCards will allow what is called “Unidirectional Digital Ready” transmission. This means that instead of the CableCard only acting as a dumb interface, the new card will be able to talk back to the cable company.
Where the magic comes in is that with the new switch, digital technology works more like video on demand services that cable companies have had for some time in that it is able to select only the channel that it needs from the distribution hub. With the older technology, all channels were sent all of the time, requiring much more bandwidth which limits the amount of channels that are able to be carried. With new channels and higher bandwidth high definition channels being added, the elimination of current unwatched channels frees up more bandwidth; this allows for additional channels or services, depending on the configuration.
Existing CableCard users that own unidirectional devices will be able to take advantage of the switched digital services by using a USB adapter that will connect to existing equipment through a USB port. It is not yet known if cable companies will pass the cost of these switched digital USB adaptors on to the consumer or not.
Switched digital video will play an important role in the analog to digital switchover that is looming in 2009, and the news does protect users that have purchased devices such as the Series 3 TiVo, and the fact that it can be supported on the TiVo platform is a big win for TiVo. Of course, it is up to the cable companies to roll out the switched video series and offer the USB adapters to consumers.