There are several things that are happening with TV technology right now that are coming to a head in such a way that we’ll see some major changes in the way we watch TV in the near future. One of these new developments is switched digital video. Switched Digital Video, or SDV, is a new type of technology that allows cable TV operators to make better use of their bandwidth by only providing the programming that viewers are watching at any given time. Right now cable TV operators use more of a “shotgun” approach to transmitting programming. That is, they transmit all of their available channels to every subscriber all at once and then allow the individual TV receivers to filter out programming based on which programming package the viewer has subscribed to and the individual channel that’s displayed on the TV screen. In other words, even though one channel is being watched at any given time, there are still hundreds of channels arriving at the TV receiver box.
Switched Digital Video essentially makes it so that when the viewer selects a certain channel to watch, the receiver requests that the programming on that channel be sent to it from a central server. Once the central server complies, the receiver then puts the contents of that channel on the TV set. Since only one channel is sent to a subscriber at a time, there would be plenty of room for hundreds of channels. In fact, Comcast is predicting that it will be able to offer one hundred and twenty HDTV channels in the near future and four hundred normal digital channels.If this Switched Digital Video Technology sounds a lot like video on demand, that’s probably because it is very similar. In fact, it’s very conducive to offering video on demand services and that’s why Comcast claims that it will be able to offer as many as ten thousand video on demand feeds.
Another thing that’s pushing TV technology forward is the coming transition from the older analog TV signal to digital TV for all over the air TV transmissions. Digital TV provides a clearer picture and sound quality than analog TV is capable of and its use will free up over the air bandwidth for other telecommunications applications. This is causing electronics manufacturers to produce TV sets with built in digital tuners in addition to or instead of analog tuners, as well as special set top boxes that will translate the digital signals that they receive over the air into analog signals that an older TV set can understand.
This elimination of analog TV signals for over the air broadcast is also causing cable TV operators to follow suit. Many cable TV providers are replacing the older analog receiver boxes in their subscribers’ homes with newer digital units. This is especially convenient because these digital receivers will be able to work with the Switched Digital Video technology that’s forthcoming as well. It’s really killing two birds with one stone.
These developments, along with others, are sure to change the way we watch TV in terms of the number of choices we have.