Thursday, October 18, 2007

FCC Considering Cable Spectrum Squeeze

The FCC is considering two proposals that will affect the demand on the spectrum available in cable HFC networks in the U.S.

The first will provided some relief for smaller cable systems. The National Cable Television Association (NCTA) has requested that the FCC provide a streamlined process for small systems as well as systems with limited spectrum to get waivers from the dual carriage requirement when the U.S. goes digital in February 2009. The dual carriage requirement requires that cable companies provide all must carry channels in both analog and digital formats. This may be difficult for systems with limited spectrum.

On the other hand the FCC is considering must carry rules that will require cable companies to carry the full digital multiplex again after the U.S. goes digital in February 2009. The over the air channels are using their spectrum to provide multiple digital channels (called a multiplex). The FCC is encouraging over the air broadcasters to create these multiplexes and believes that carriage over cable systems will be necessary for these new digital channels to have access to the market since most people get their TV from cable systems.

Both of these issues show that the U.S. cable companies have significant pressures on the spectrum in their HFC networks. As I have discussed elsewhere, they have a number of ways to relieve this pressure, but it is going to be a continuing problem for them.

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