Competition Over HDTV Technology Heats Up

There are a variety of technological factors that are causing the competition between all of the different TV service providers to heat up. The major technological innovation that most of these companies are using to try to attract new subscribers is HDTV. HDTV provides a TV picture that’s a lot like a big screen movie picture, both in shape and level of detail in the picture. It also features a high quality sound format in the form of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that uses six total speaker to surround the audience with sound that goes along with what’s happening on the HDTV screen. This combination has drummed up a lot of interest among viewers when it comes to getting this high quality entertainment in their own homes, and all of the major TV service providers are banking on this excitement to boost their subscriber rankings.It should go without saying that, at least theoretically, the TV service provider that can offer the most HDTV channels will be the one to attract that most subscribers. Brining HDTV channels online is easier said than done though. At first, there just weren’t that many HDTV channels available to offer. More recently however, there have been plenty of HDTV channels available, but not every TV service provider has the bandwidth required to transmit as many as they’d like.The bandwidth limitations have been of particular concern to cable TV companies because they simply don’t have as much available bandwidth as the satellite TV companies. This makes it much more difficult for them to offer as many channels as satellite TV companies can. There is a new technology that’s rapidly being implemented by cable companies that could save them from losing the HDTV game though. This technology is called Switched Digital Video and it overcomes the bandwidth limitations by allowing a cable TV provider to transmit only the channel that a subscriber is watching to that subscriber, thereby freeing up its existing bandwidth to offer more channels. This means that a cable TV company can theoretically offer as many HDTV channels as it wants. It also means that cable TV companies will be well prepared to offer even more data intensive TV formats- like 3D HDTV and Ultra HDTV- as they become available.The satellite TV industry has been in a better position to begin with when it comes to offering more HDTV channels, and despite the threat of cable TV companies with their Switched Digital Video technology (which doesn’t work with satellite transmissions incidentally), satellite TV companies can still compete in the realm of HDTV. The approach of satellite TV companies is more of the brute force nature where they increase the amount of bandwidth available to them so that they can devote it to transmitting more HDTV channels. This simply involves launching more satellites.The high level of competition has lead to some strange moves from the companies that are fighting for more subscribers. For example, a cable TV company has repeatedly sued a satellite TV company for claiming to be able to provide more HDTV channels than cable TV can offer. But the cable company claims that with Switched Digital Video it can offer more channels. The cable TV company seems more interested in arguing the point in court than it is in actually implementing the technology that will provide those channels.Like everything else where TV is involved, the results of this competition will be determined by technology, economics, and ultimately human nature.