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HD Communications Summit: Cable bides its time

Judging from comments made at the HD Communications Summit in New York City this week, the cable industry doesn’t feel rushed to hop onto the HD bandwagon, but is preparing the ground work to go fast if pushed by phone company broadband offerings.

Moderating the “HD Digital Phone Cable” panel,  DOCSYS Report editor Dave Burstein  seemed determined to provoke panel participants into making definitive statements on HD voice over cable, but Time Warner VP Mike Jablon was forthright as to the arrival of HD service: “When the business case is there.”  Jablon noted that Time Warner and the cable industry was taking steps to deploy HD, but there was no financial incentive to jump onto the bandwagon.

Burstein opined/wished that Time Warner might offer a free HD voice phone to Manhattan subscribers in order to keep them away from a “technically superior” Verizon FiOS offering and that putting 400,000 HD phones on line would have a major impact on HD voice adoption in North America.  Other panelists noted that the integration of the DECT CAT-iq standard with G.722 into cable CPE equipment provided a way for service providers to deliver a seamless end-to-end HD experience. Cablelabs VP Eric Rosenfeld noted that the specs were out and his organization was waiting for vendors to build products for certification.

Jabron believes that HD voice will be slow in coming, but when it does arrive, adoption will happen quickly.  However, until a business case (i.e. “Show me the money”) appears, cable companies will continue to quietly prepare and keep an eye on what Verizon FiOS and other fiber-based telcos are offering.  With telcos showing no urgency or impetus to deploy HD Voice, there’s no rush for MSOs to roll out such services.

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