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Cable TV is not dead. Long live cable IPTV

In an effort to enhance the customer experience and extend customer loyalty, cable MSOs are looking at how they can improve the pay-TV services they provide. Ironically, one way of stemming the much-debated cord-cutting phenomenon is to, umm, enable cord-cutting. By that, I mean delivering a cutting-edge experience to tablets, smartphones, or any other mobile device inside or outside the home; not just the screen connected to the STB.

Many argue the best way to do that is with IPTV and some of the latest market figures demonstrate that, while traditional pay-TV services exhibit small growth or are in decline, IPTV revenues are growing substantially. Analysts have recently reported positive news for IPTV in Poland[1], Spain[2] and Sweden[3]. To benefit, though, MSOs must either enhance their QAM services and build a hybrid QAM+IP architecture, or consider a full migration to IPTV. Either way, it requires a major rethink of the network.

But, as cable companies have long known, there’s more to successful IPTV services than just the mobile, multi-screen experience. Content is still king and the user experience has to be married with a compelling video catalog for consumers. While larger MSOs have the power to create, commission or curate their own catalogs, smaller MSOs may need to partner.

These are exactly the kind of opportunities Eidsiva Bredbånd in Norway have been grasping. In order to boost their pay-TV fortunes, they signed an agreement with Altibox to deliver IPTV video services to their customers. That required a significant network upgrade of their HFC infrastructure to boost IP/DOCSIS capacity, creating a full IP network, swapping out more than 120 nodes and converting all analogue fiber to digital in the process. Eidsiva Bredbånd deployed Nokia’s Gainspeed solution, offering a distributed cable access architecture and choosing to configure the access nodes in a remote MACPHY (R-MACPHY) configuration. Read about it here. R-MACPHY brings advantages over other architectures. Moving both DOCSIS signal generation (PHY) and DOCSIS processing (MAC) to the access node creates a simpler IP delivery architecture resulting in better performance over the outside plant. It also frees up space in the headend locations which can allow for hub consolidation and further simplification. At the same time as creating an IPTV-ready infrastructure, Eidsiva Bredbånd was also able to enable multi-Gigabit broadband with DOCSIS 3.1.

So, does Eidsiva Bredbånd still provide cable TV services? Is it still a cable operator? As more and more MSOs turn to IPTV, many are asking themselves the same, somewhat existential question. Even Cable Europe made its case with their recent “rebranding” as GIGAEurope[4]. For Eidsiva Bredbånd, a company that manages FTTH and DSL infrastructure alongside HFC, or other MSOs providing FTTH or even mobile broadband, a different description might be considered.

But for me, cable has a far deeper meaning than just a transmission technology, and certainly more than just a TV provider. Cable represents an old friend, a trusted partner bringing connectivity, experiences and happiness into people’s lives.

Cable TV is far from being dead. Long live cable IPTV.

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Steve Davidson

About Steve Davidson

Within Nokia's European field marketing team Steve is focused on cable and telco evolution, with 30+ years' experience in the general telecoms industry. When he's not focused on bringing innovation to how operators architect their evolving business, he may be found trying to innovate in the kitchen, or even dusting off his acoustic guitars to architect a tune or two.

Tweet me at @stevedavidson15

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