Skip to main content

Cox Gears Up HD Boost With Switched Digital Video

To shoot more high-definition programming to subscribers, Cox Communications has begun rolling out switched digital video systems from BigBand Networks in its Northern Virginia market and expects to deploy the technology in two other systems later this year.

The technology should help Cox reach the HDTV goals set by president Pat Esser, who wants the multisystem operator to be able to offer at least 50 HD channels across all systems by the end of 2007 and then double that to 100 by the end of 2009. 

Cox vice president of video engineering James Kelso said in a statement that the BigBand system will let the cable company “dramatically expand programming -- particularly high-definition channels.”

“We’re pleased with our tests of the BigBand SDV solution, particularly with the ease with which we’ve been able to integrate it with other components,” Kelso continued. “We’re eager to begin leveraging this technology for the benefit of our customers by delivering even more programming choices.”

In Northern Virginia, where Cox has about 240,000 subscribers, the SDV system will go live systemwide in about 30 days, according to Kelso. Later this year, Cox plans to roll out the system in its Phoenix and Orange County, Calif., systems.

Cox did not disclose any particular HD channels it expects to offer using SDV. But in general, adding more high-definition programming has been a competitive imperative for all cable operators as DirecTV continues the march toward a 100-channel HD lineup by year-end.

Switched digital video works by delivering channels over a cable network only when a subscriber requests them. That allows operators to deliver more channels in the same amount of bandwidth, on the assumption that not all the channels will be viewed simultaneously.

Cox will use BigBand’s SDV system with both Motorola and Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes--a proof point that BigBand isn’t tied to any particular environment, according to Biren Sood, the company’s VP and general manager of cable video products for North America.

“There’s been some discussion about who’s open and who’s not,” Sood said. “We think this demonstrates the openness of our solution.”

Cox is the third major cable operator to publicly acknowledge using BigBand’s SDV. Cablevision Systems earlier this year completed deploying the system across its entire footprint, and Time Warner Cable has targeted switched digital video for more than half its divisions this year, after first launching commercially in its Austin market last year.

Comcast, meanwhile, is in the midst of testing out various SDV systems in trials in Denver and New Jersey. Last month it picked a universal edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) platform from Arris designed to deliver either SDV, video-on-demand or high-speed data services over the same infrastructure.