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Cable companies continue to struggle with limited bandwidth

Ben Drawbaugh

Every time we look around we are asking ourselves; where are all the new HD channels? We see new channels announced, but they still don't seem to be offered to us by our cable company and considering the price we pay per month; we want to know why. The hard truth is the simple fact that there isn't enough bandwidth. There would be plenty of bandwidth for HD if there weren't all those analog channels taking up so much space. Until there are more HDTV subscribers than analog subscribers the analog stations are going to continue to get the valuable bandwidth.

In the meantime providers are looking for ways to make the most out of the limited bandwidth they have. Currently they are deploying a technology called switched digital, which will allow them to only use the bandwidth of the programming that is actually being watch, rather than everything that can be watch, such is the case with the older method; digital simulcast.

On a non-technical front they are fighting to limit their programming, to what they believe their customers want. Cable companies are forced to carry certain programming in certain situations, such as public access or what is known as "Must Carry", which gives a broadcaster the right to force a cable company to carry their signal. Unfortunately this doesn't work the other way and cable companies cannot force broadcasters to allow them to carry their signal. With digital broadcasting, broadcasters have the ability to broadcast multiples SD feeds rather than just one HD channel and for obvious reasons the broadcasters want to be able to force the cable companies to carry this signal. Many broadcasters argue that it should be all the same to the cable companies, but the cable companies are going to do whatever they can to reduce the bandwidth requirements of a channel, even if it means to reduce the pictures quality or in this case strip away part of the stream. Currently digital must carry doesn't exist, but the battle rages on and now the FCC is proposing a mandate that would include it, but require the broadcasters to do more public service with their extra channels, either way bad news for HD fans.

Read - Digital Cable News
Read - Digital Must Carry

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