Ever since affordable satellite TV was first introduced over a decade ago, conventional wisdom has held that cable TV is an inferior technology and that it was only a matter of time before it went completely extinct. Now a handful of cable TV companies are challenging that wisdom by developing services that cable TV technology can provide much more cheaply and effectively than satellite technology.
One of these technologies is video on demand. While just about all of the major TV service providers- both satellite and cable- have some kind of video on demand service, which is most often in the form of a pay per view service, cable TV technology can provide video on demand much more easily than satellite technology can. That's because communication can take place in both directions over a cable much more easily than it can over a satellite link. Basically, with satellite TV's video on demand services, the video that can be accessed on a moments notice is stored on a hard disk in the satellite receiver and is periodically replaced with new content that's transmitted over the satellite signal in the background. In the case of pay per view services once the viewer orders the movie he or she wants to watch, the receiver is sent a code that unlocks that specific movie making it available for the viewer to watch. This is a much more limited and clumsy system than what cable TV has begun to use. With cable TV video on demand services, the video is all stored on central server computers. When a viewer requests a specific video from a list of the available videos, that request is sent to the server computer that then accessed the video and streams it across the cable connection to the viewer's TV screen. This system allows a cable TV provider to make a much wider variety of videos available to viewers than satellite technology can because the server computers can store a lot more video than an individual receiver can.
Another type of technology that cable TV companies can do a much better job of providing is high speed Internet. While High Speed Internetaccess is possible using satellite technology, it really isn't that great. It's relatively slow, extremely expensive, and has a noticeable lag time built into it because of the distance of the satellites from the Earth's surface. That lag time makes satellite technology inappropriate for VoIP applications and online gaming because both require immediate responses. Cable technology on the other hand provides a much faster, more responsive, and cheaper way to connect to the Internet. The fact that this high speed access to the Internet is bundled with cable TV service can often be enough to prompt customers to go with cable TV instead of satellite TV.
Cable TV has also struggled with bandwidth constraints that keep it from offering as many channels as satellite TV. While some cable TV providers have come a long way towards catching up with Satellite TV Providers, they still fall somewhat short and will probably fall behind with the greater demand for HDTV in the future. There is a solution to the bandwidth predicament though and that's a new technology called Switched Digital Video. SDV as this technology is called is somewhat like video on demand, but instead it's more like getting a specific channel on demand. I allows only one channel to be sent to a receiver at one time, thereby freeing up bandwidth and allowing the cable TV provider to offer many more channels than it could before. That alone would be instrumental to making it competitive with satellite TV providers.
Posted by larry dixon at 11:26:33. Filed under: General