In recent news it was announced that one of the largest cable TV companies, Time Warner Cable, is suing to keep satellite TV provider, Directv, from airing an ad that claims that by the end of this year Directv will offer one hundred national HDTV channels. While that claim is probably true, what Time Warner really has a problem with is that the ad states that cable TV isn't capable of providing that many channels. In fact the ad says that this increase in capacity will make it so that Directv can provide three times as many HDTV channels as any cable TV company, and Time Warner objects to the claim as being false.
In the past, it has been true that satellite TV technology has been able to deliver more HDTV channels- and more TV channels in general for that matter- than cable TV. However, there's new technology available that may change that. Specifically, cable TV companies can now use MPEG-4 video compression technology to deliver HDTV programming more effectively using the bandwidth that they already have. And there's a new technology called "switched digital video" that promises to to revolutionize cable TV's ability to provide programming. With "switched digital video" cable TV companies can only send one channel to a set top box at a time. That means that the existing cables will be able to deliver a lot more programming than they can with the current set up where all channels are sent to all set top boxes all at once and the set top boxes decide which to display on the TV screen. When you look at technologies like "switched digital video" and think about how many channels are already being delivered over that same bandwidth right now, you can see how "switched digital video" really could radically expand the number of HDTV channels available to cable TV customers.
Of course, when you look at Directv and what its plan is for offering more channels, you'll see that it's just more of the same. Directv also has to expand its bandwidth in order to meet its goals, but in this case it's just a matter of launching a couple more satellites. Directv claims that despite the recent explosion of a rocket that owned by the company contracted to launch the satellite, it should be able to achieve its goal of one hundred HDTV channels by the end of the year. It's still unclear however whether or not it will be able to offer one hundred and fifty HDTV channels in 2008.
Of course, the fact that Time Warner feels the need to use the courts to block Directv's advertisements seems somewhat petty. This is clearly one of those cases where action would speak louder than words. After all, if in fact Time Warner is capable of providing a number of HDTV channels that's comparable to the number that Directv will be able to offer, the best way to prove Directv wrong would be to go ahead and up the number of HDTV channels that it offers. Until then, it's a safe, and completely valid, assumption that Time Warner can't compete with satellite technology when it comes to the number of HDTV channels that it can provide.
Posted by larry dixon at 15:29:00. Filed under: General