Originally Posted by Keenan
A while back I had read that Comcast was looking to go the IPTV route, much like AT&T U-verse, which would enable more efficient use of the available bandwidth. While it's hard to read their minds, and they talk about all sorts of ways to go, I really don't see any expansion of the last mile infrastructure anytime soon. I'm on a 1GHz system but as noted above there are still loads of 750-860MHz systems out there. And I thought they had shelved the SDV idea a few years back.
They may be looking at IPTV, but it's not practical, and it's not going to be practical for a while. X1 might be able to do IPTV, but their older hardware can, even though most of it is H.264 and/or SDV capable. IPTV offers small gains, which would get bigger if it were done with H.264 over DOCSIS 3.1. However, it makes for a tough transition, as they would have to find bandwidth to get IPTV up and running before shutting down QAM, which could be a real challenge, even on the 860mhz, and forget about it on anything less.
Most of their systems are 860mhz, but they have some 750mhz, and some as low as 550mhz. I agree that they aren't going to rebuild 860mhz plants to anything higher (although I recall hearing that much of the equipment in an 860mhz plant is already 1ghz capable), because they're already invested in them to get to 860mhz, and because HFC plants become much harder to maintain over 860mhz, they are going to have to finish the 860mhz rebuild program by getting their 550-750mhz plants up to 860mhz. The plant that I'm on is a "625mhz" plant, but the tech said that they can't keep a QAM stable at 615mhz, so it sounds more like an overdriven 550mhz plant that was built in the late '70s. The highest channels that I've found (admittedly, I haven't looked at all of them) is at 591mhz. Pretty pathetic, considering several other plants in the state have been rebuilt, and they can run stuff right up to 860mhz, and are much more reliable than our "625mhz" plant.
Based on this, when you look at the math, if Comcast is going to offer gigabit internet like they have stated, and compete with DirecTV on HD and UHD channels, the only solution is SDV or IP. I could see them jumping directly to IP for UHD, but HD is going to be on QAM for a long time to come, since their existing boxes don't have DOCSIS 3.1 modems, or in many cases, can't handle IP at all.