Should CableCARD Be Abandoned?


Key technological innovation in the cable industry should not be stifled by political worries over a small group of CableCard users. CableCARD 1.0 should be abandoned for the dead end it is in favor of major technical advances that cable can offer soon.

Fundamentally the difference between VOD and SDV is that SDV allows more than one receiver to watch the same broadcast or program stream. At the limit, everyone on a local node would be watching their own HD VOD stream. Some households will not be watching anything, others 1, 2 or more things at once. VOD capacity usage can be improved about 50% by using VBR and multiplexing technologies according to Imagine Communications.

Taking 50 out of 70 analog channels, for example, offline could provide enough bandwidth for HD VOD to around 150 subscribers per node.

Companies like Tandberg, which claims its VOD equipment services 15 million subscribers and is being bought by Ericsson, are making highly scalable systems and using techniques like Imagine Communications’.

Cablevsion believes it can double the number of channels offered in an SDV system, using the assumption that not all channels are watched simultaneously within a given node. At the limit, a limitless number of channels could be offered in an all VOD setup.

Eliminating dependancy on broadcast mpeg2 allows more bandwidth efficiency when re-encoding mpeg2 into mpeg4.

One can see that much of the needed equipment to provide an entirely VOD oriented delivery system via cable is on the horizon. It also looks like the existing “wire” can handle the data rates.

Cable cos are accelerating their plans to implement DOCSIS 3.0, which will provide 160 mbps service at residential rates.

At the point where analog video is removed from the cable network, you can go back to the concept of bits are bits. Whether the network is carrying bits that are video, telephone, radio, text, graphics does not matter technologically. What will be affected over time will be how much the cable company gets paid to carry the bits and how much the cable company pays others to provide the bits. Cable’s costs for programming goes to zero when someone is watching VOD from another source.

Indeed, Comcast later this year will offer a trial of a “converged services” system of voice, video and data over an IP connection based on DOCSIS 3.0, which has support for IP multicasting and IPv6.

Cable is offering to build an advanced platform and should not be hindered at this stage by smaller considerations.


Imagine Communications

Current QAM devices can process a total of 38 Megabits of data per second, Tayer said. If all television programs are encoded at a constant bit rate, each signal requires 3.75 Mbps of processing each second, meaning operators can push about 10 channels through a quadrature amplitude modulation device at one time. By using variable bit-rate encoding, operators can process 15 to 17 channels in each device, Tayer said. “This has never been used for VOD,” Tayer said. “It’s all been done at constant bit rate.”As VOD usage climbs, he said, “the bandwidth problem multiples. With VOD, every stream is unique. It uses a lot of bandwidth. Digital broadcast has been able to take advantage of variable bit rate technology,” and Tayer believes cable operators can do the same for VOD.

Imagine PR:

cable industry’s first SDV solution enabling Variable Bit Rate and statistical multiplexing (VBR/StatMux)


Cablecos Accelerate DOCSIS 3.0 in Move to Gain ‘High Ground’

Comcast senior vice president of new media development, Steve Craddock:  But rather than wait for 2009 or 2010 until full DOCSIS 3.0 equipment is available, Craddock and his crew at Comcast are pushing the vendor community to submit their gear for 3.0 certification now in hopes of having full- and pre-DOCSIS 3.0 gear available in the 2008-09 timeframe. Comcast put together a DOCSIS 3.0 acceleration team, including folks from the business and engineering sides of its organization. That team is working with vendors one on one to try and get them to accelerate their equipment development and certification schedules, he said, which Comcast is hoping to bump up 12 to 15 months from the original CableLabs DOCSIS 3.0 timeline. Comcast wants to bump up the schedule because it needs to scale. So rather than do that with nodes splits, which are expensive, it would rather do it via an early moveto DOCSIS 3.0, said Craddock.  Peter Percosan, director of broadband strategy for TI : Real DOCSIS 3.0 products should be ramping in January 2008. Craddock said DOCSIS 3.0 can be used to blanket the United States for a couple billion dollars. Verizon is spending 10-times that and will cover only about 14 percent of the country.I think we can use DOCSIS 3.0 offensively … grabbing the high ground early,” he continued.“We may do all fiber, we don’t know, but we don’t need to do it any time soon,” said Craddock, adding the only exception might be greenfields in which communities are asking for all fiber.

Texas Instruments Introduces Industry’s First DOCSIS(R) 3.0-Based Solution, Enabling Quick Market Deployment for Cable Operators


“TI anticipates that by 2009 cable operators will stop deploying earlier generations of DOCSIS specification-based products and only offer their subscribers DOCSIS 3.0 technology, as it offers them additional opportunities for revenue with new features and services while providing their subscribers a better technology,”

DOCSIS 3.0 specification based product to the market, featuring download speeds of 160 Mbps in the low-cost residential configuration and 320 Mbps in business services configuration

“DOCSIS 3.0 will be extremely important to our industry in the coming years as our high-speed broadband customers’ appetite for advanced performance and features continues to grow,” said Comcast Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner. “We appreciate TI’s ongoing commitment to the industry, enabling their customers to deliver on the promise of DOCSIS 3.0 this year with compelling new products.” For cable operators, migrating to a DOCSIS 3.0 network will not require a complete network rebuild. Delivering the benefits of a DOCSIS 3.0 network will only require upgrades to the cable modem termination system (CMTS) and customer premise equipment (CPE),

TI’s Puma 5 cable modem chip pounces on Docsis 3.0 transition

“Many MSOs realize that PON architectures like Verizon’s FiOS represent a real threat, but Docsis 3.0 is not just a defensive play against FiOS,” Percosan said. “Bonding four channels downstream into a service group allows complex mixes of services. And the really smart MSOs are mixing their Docsis 3.0 plans with switched digital video plans. The only limitation to that is that the video guys at an MSO don’t always plan in concert with the high-speed-data guys.”

Cable Operator’s Tests of DOCSIS 3.0 Equipment Will Include Video

In one of its DOCSIS 3.0 trials, the operator will provide voice, video and data over a single, high-bandwidth IP connection, according to a presentation by Mark Francisco, director of engineering/home services for Comcast New Media Development, at CableLabs’ winter technology conference in March.

This converged-services trial, in a system that serves 50,000 homes passed, will include an IP-video headend and DOCSIS 3.0 set-top boxes built to the operator’s Residential Network Gateway requirements, Francisco said, according to an industry consultant who was in attendance.

The test bed will also include other network-connected devices, such as Sling Media’s Slingbox…

The latest DOCSIS version also supports IPv6 and IP multicasting improvements for services such as IPTV. 

LSI DX-1710 HD transcoder product line allows seamless distribution of MPEG-2, H.264, and VC-1 content over IPTV and broadband networks



2 Responses to “Should CableCARD Be Abandoned?”

  1. Chris Muir Says:

    So you don’t care if TiVo can exist in this new cable world?

    The Cable Card fiasco is _all_ about the greed of the cable companies. They were given a mandate from the feds intended to force them into a level playing field with third party companies, such as TiVo. They never really wanted this. They wanted control of the whole system, and to get box rental fees in perpetuity.

    The solution the cable companies came up with with was Cable Card. The fact that they are trying to do an end-run around their own solution with SDV is despicable.

  2. HDTiVo Says:

    I am saying that things have changed. There is a major technology platform on the horizon that should not be thwarted in favor of these one way devices. The focus should be on a new generation of interactive two way devices to take advantage of what cable can provide. Regulators ought to bang heads together to get the two way standards in place so technology companies can bring out innovative products.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: