HD, Cable’s Achilles Heel?

Updated: So now everyone is talking about Cable’s Hi Def problem!

“The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a ‘dirty little industry secret’ that no one talks about,” Stan Schatt, VP and research director for ABI Research told Ars Technica.

[qi:032] Actually, it is not such a dirty secret and is common knowledge. When Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast espoused a future where 160 megabits per second would be common place, we had asked the question: how will cable find four spare channels to pump data and find a way to cram HD signals?

In fact, HD is one of the big advantage satellite broadcasters have right now and are doing their best to lure away competitors from cable systems.

The best thing cable companies can do for now is hope that more and more folks switch to their digital systems, and opt for digital set top boxes. That should give them breathing room. And when those “digital subscriber” numbers start to flag, then it is a crisis situation.

Update: The cable guys’ are betting on switched digital which can add anywhere between 10-to-20 MHz channels. The analog cutover can add about 70 channels, Dave Burstein tells us. All this is going to cost money, but as Dave points out, they can hold their own against AT&T. About Verizon, who knows. David Isenberg explains in the comments section about the big switched digital move.