Saturday, December 01, 2007
Cable TV has developed a reputation for being inferior to satellite TV. One could argue that this reputation was deserved at one point, but since then the cable TV industry has undergone a major transformation that has brought it to the point where it's arguably superior to satellite TV. Comcast is one example of a cable TV company that has brought cable TV up to twenty first century standards.
The biggest change that Comcast made when it revamped its cable TV service was to convert its transmission format from the older, less efficient analog format to Digital TV. Digital TV alone gives Comcast an edge in a number of different ways. The most obvious edge that Comcast gets from digital TV is the clearer picture. This clearer picture has to do with the fact that a certain amount of interference crops up anytime that video is transmitted more than a few feet- even when its transmitted over underground cables. That interference can then be cleaned out of a digital signal by the digital receiver so that the resulting picture is as clean as the source recording. Though it's less obvious, digital TV also delivers superior quality sound as well.
The real advantage that the adoption of digital TV gave to Comcast was the ability to compress video so that more channels could be transmitted over the same cables. This allowed Comcast to increase the number of channels that it could offer over three times. Now the biggest programming plan from Comcast offers very close to three hundred channels. A new technology that this company is in the process of implementing- a technology call Switched Digital Video- will allow Comcast to make even better use of its existing bandwidth. Switched Digital Video will allow Comcast to send just the channel that a viewer is watching to any given viewer at any given time. That's a lot more efficient than sending all of the available channels to each and every viewer all the time and letting the individual receivers sort out what actually gets displayed on the screen. This technology will remove all practical limits on the number of channels that a cable TV company can offer.
Switched Digital Video has shown up just in time because of the surge of interest in HDTV programming and the rampant competition among TV service providers to deliver the most High Def channels to their subscribers. Under the older transmission method- the "shotgun approach"- HDTV channels were extremely difficult to deliver because of the fact that they are up to ten times more data intensive than normal TV and video can only be compressed so much. The bandwidth required to transmit the number of HDTV channels that viewers will soon demand would have crippled a cable system of the past, but thanks to Comcast's implementation of Switched Digital Video technology, the bandwidth requirements of HDTV will be irrelevant. This makes Comcast a good choice for this king of TV now and in the years to come.
All of this makes the cable TV industry in general, and Comcast specifically, worth a good deal of consideration.