Beyond Bandwidth Management: Business Benefits Of Switched Digital Video In Cable (2006)

By Lorenzo Bombelli, Scientific Atlanta, A Cisco Company

Fueled by the advent of an open IP-based architecture that has catalyzed the development of reliable, cost-effective, and scalable solutions, Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology promises to fundamentally change how digital video is delivered over cable networks, enabling MSOs to offer consumers a wider variety of programming while effectively managing HFC network bandwidth. Although bandwidth management is the primary driver for SDV in cable, from a business perspective SDV offers MSOs a number of additional benefits that reach beyond its pivotal role as a bandwidth management tool. Unlike its telco cousin, the cable version of SDV is designed to operate over existing HFC infrastructure and to enable delivery of switched video services on the existing installed base of some 40 million MPEG set-tops that cannot decode a DOCSIS or IP stream, giving MSOs significant scale advantage in the introduction of new video services. Key switching features, like the ability to share QAM bandwidth between multiple services on a per-stream basis on a single QAM carrier give MSOs the same granularity and flexibility of service delivery to existing MPEG set-top boxes as any competitive service. In contrast to traditional storage-based video on demand (VOD) technology, SDV is transparent to consumers. By preserving the consumer experience, SDV immediately helps MSOs give consumers more of what they want when they want it without changing the way they get it. Because SDV fundamentally changes the model for bandwidth consumption from a linear model based on the program offering to one based on program viewership, SDV helps MSOs offer an extensive lineup of niche content ranging from local and other premium sports packages to ethnic programming, thus leveraging the “long tail” phenomenon to improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and generate new revenue streams from premium tiers. A powerful byproduct of SDV systems is that they generate detailed viewership data that give MSOs unprecedented and direct visibility to consumer viewing behaviors, while maintaining the privacy of individual customers. This data can be used to improve program offerings, maximize the return on investment for each program offered, and drive growth in ad revenue by targeting ads more granularly. Ultimately, switched digital video networks can be configured for switched unicast, enabling MSOs to deliver an individual copy of broadcast content to each consumer complete with highly targeted advertising and to offer features that enhance the viewing experience such as faster channel changes. Finally, the new IP-based SDV architecture offers MSOs the opportunity to extend the reach of switched digital services to address the explosion of IP-based devices that are capturing an increasing share of video consumption.

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