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Cable TV Dirty Little Capacity Secret Exposed

Escalating demand for bandwidth-hungry services such as HDTV and online gaming is gradually leading to a critical lack of growth capacity within cable television operator's networks.

Several solutions are available and, according to a new market study from ABI Research, collectively they will account for some $80 billion worldwide in investment over the next five years.

"Cable TV operators trying to satisfy the increasing bandwidth demands of HDTV customers feel very much like the thrifty grocer who tried to cram ten pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag," says vice president and research director Stan Schatt.

"The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a dirty little industry secret that no one likes to talk about."

Some of the solutions noted in the ABI study -- such as rate shaping and expanding spectrum beyond 750 MHz -- have already been undertaken by some cable operators, particularly in the United States.

However, a number of other solutions will come into play during the 2007-2012 forecast period, including spectrum upgrades coupled with node-splitting, switched digital video, PON overlay, MPEG-4 compression, and home gateway CPE bandwidth management solutions.

All these involve tradeoffs and balancing of cost versus benefit, and some are more applicable in certain circumstances than others.

The best real-world solutions for particular cable operators may be determined using several cost models developed for the research -- an ROI model, a Cost-Benefit model, and a Relative Cost model.

The ABI Research study entitled "Assessing CATV Bandwidth-Expansion Solutions" applies these models to the various ways of expanding the spectrum and bandwidth on video networks. It forms part of two ABI Research subscription services -- Broadband Networks and Multi-Channel Video.

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