As cable companies transition to super-fast broadband speeds provided by DOCSIS 3.0, they’re also considering how they can move from providing analog and digital channels via radio frequency the way they do today, and instead transition to an on-demand IPTV model that could offer them more flexibility with their programming options. For consumers, this could mean more channels and even personalized content delivered to their PCs and television, on demand.
Part of DOCSIS 3.0 involves faster downstream Internet speeds, which is what most cable companies are focusing on, says Mike Cookish, a product manager with Motorola. However, DOCSIS 3.0 will play a significant role in the transition to IPTV. Cookish says IPTV is being considered at U.S. cable providers; some multiple services operators (MSOs) in Korea and Japan, meanwhile, have already deployed the technology. “The initial target [for IPTV] is the PC and personalized content, and over time, as IPTV set-top boxes become more available, we’ll see a migration where MSOs simulcast some of the channels,” Cookish says. “But they need to free up the downstream channels first.”
Freeing up the channels means doing things like switching from analog channels to digital channels, because a cable operator can pack more digital channels than analog ones into a single slice of spectrum. This allows a cable operator to provide the same number of channels while freeing up spectrum for IPTV trials. Such programs are underway in the U.S. but the IPTV transition is a little further off. In the meantime, the rollout of DOCSIS 3.0 has helped boost revenue at Motorola and Arris, another cable equipment vendor. Motorola estimates it now has 70 percent of the DOCSIS 3.0 market.