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How Switched Digital Video Works


Switched Digital Video Market

Companies that design and produce SDV system components include big names like Scientific Atlanta and Motorola. Some companies build all the components an SDV system needs, but others specialize in specific hardware like encryptors or routers. The variety of products allows cable companies to shop around to find the system that best suits customer needs and demands.

Because the technology is relatively new and there's potential that problems in an SDV system could be difficult to diagnose and correct, implementation has been a gradual process. Cable companies like Comcast Corporation, Time Warner, Cox Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corporation are experimenting with SDV equipment by implementing it in select markets [source: Cable Digital News].

These markets include Cablevision's New York metro region, Time Warner Cable's markets in Austin, Texas, and Columbia, S.C., and Comcast's markets in Denver, Colo. and New Jersey, to name a few. These pilot markets include millions of cable customers, but it's still a relatively small percentage of the whole consumer base. There haven't been any major issues with the pilot programs so far. Several cable companies plan to implement SDV systems in more markets beginning in 2008.

Assuming the pilot programs work well, we may see cable companies embracing SDV technology over the next few years. It will also take time for companies to develop strategies to provide customer support and solve problems when they arise in the network. This could include hiring consultants to develop new customer service approaches and training staff members so that they know how to solve technical issues as they arise.

For customers, changes might be subtle at first. Some SDV systems can work with existing set-top box technology, which means customers won't have to upgrade their equipment at home. For them, changes could seem to happen overnight. They might discover they have a faster Internet connection or more channel options. Other systems require new customer equipment, which will require existing customers to switch out their STBs.

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Every time you change the channel in an SDV system, your set-top box engages in a complex digital conversation with the SDV network. Press play to learn more.

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