Archive for Cable

CableLabs Completes Full Duplex DOCSIS Specification… Here’s Why It May Not Matter

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2018 by itnerd

I came across this press release from CableLabs which is behind the DOCSIS standard that is used by most if not all cable companies that deliver Internet access to consumers. In that press release CableLabs announces that they’ve completed the Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 specification which will allow speeds of up to 10Gbps both upstream and downstream for those of us who get their Internet from a cable company.

So that’s a good thing right? Well, not so fast.

Any sort of deployment may be up to five years away. And it will likely require that cable companies upgrade equipment, and in turn force you to upgrade the cable hardware that your cable company provides you. But here’s the key point. Companies that deliver fiber to the home are way ahead of any cable company. Take Bell for example who have been aggressively rolling out their Fibe gigabit offering which at present is 1Gbps downstream and 940 Mbps upstream. And they are promising to punt that up to 4 Gbps both ways in the near future and 40 Gbps both ways within five years. This is why I’ve been saying for a while that Bell has the upper hand when it comes to Internet access in Canada. Any other telco who is doing what Bell is doing is in a similar position. Which leaves any cable operator on the back foot as a result.

Thus this announcement is interesting. But I think it’s too little too late for cable companies who are clearly behind the eight ball and there’s no scenario where they will come out on top in this situation.


Hey IT Nerd: Are The CRTC Hearings Into À La Carte Cable Packages A Good Thing?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 8, 2014 by itnerd

I got a couple of e-mails today that are asking about the CRTC’s “Let’s Talk TV” hearings which started today. Specifically that among other proposals, rules protecting specific channels or broadcasters could be thrown out in favor of new regulations that allow Canadians to get TV programming how they want it, when they want it. In other words, you get to pick the channels you want.  The question that both e-mails asked is if these hearings are a good thing? Let’s look at why these hearings are being held first before I answer this question.

Now some would argue that this is long overdue. For example, I pay almost $80 a month for cable and I only watch a handful of the channels that I have access to. I could downgrade to a cheaper package, but I would lose access to the channels that I actually do watch. Thus I am basically forced to pay $80 a month. So for me, an option that allows me to choose the channels that I want would save me some money. At least that’s the theory.

The flip side to that is that specialty TV channels that are unique and draw low numbers may cease to exist as their revenue stream may get cut off. You see, these channels get some revenue from being part of a bundle. That can be the difference between keeping them alive and having them cease to exist. Plus, to make up the shortfall, they may simply raise prices to cover the difference in lost revenue. In the end, you may not save any money.

Another thing to consider, if the CRTC and the cable companies do nothing, the “cut the cord” trend will simply gain momentum and this could get very ugly in a hurry. That’s because Netflix and services like it are unbundled. You pay a flat rate per month and watch just the stuff you want. There’s also the over the air trend where people who are able to pull in HD channels for free.

So, are these hearings a good thing? Yes. There needs to be a robust discussion and at the end of it a real plan has to be put forward as the status quo cannot be allowed to continue as it is in nobody’s best interest.

Canadians Seem To Be Cutting The Cord With Cable Companies

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 14, 2013 by itnerd

The worst nightmare for cable companies in Canada might be coming true. A report by Boon Dog [Warning: PDF] says that for three straight quarters, the major cable companies host subscribers:

Canada’s publicly traded television service providers1 (cable, satellite, and telephone companies) lost an estimated 19,624 TV subscribers combined in the second quarter of 2013 (February/March to May/June 2013), according to new research from Ottawa-based research and consulting firm Boon Dog Professional Services Inc. 

While Q2 is traditionally a slow quarter for TV service subscriber growth, the latest subscriber results signal an acceleration of so-called “cord-cutting” in the Canadian traditional TV service market. The Q2 2013 loss in subscribers followed a loss of an estimated 5,394 TV subscribers in Q1 2013 (November/December 2012 to February/March 2013) and a decrease of an estimated 8,175 in Q4 2012 (August/September to November/December 2012). 

Now that adds up to a drop in a bucket, but consider this:

“Interestingly, the ‘cord-cutting’ situation in Canada mirrors what is happening south of the border,” says Mario Mota, Boon Dog Partner and principal author of the Canadian Digital TV Market Monitor research series. “U.S. analyst Craig Moffett of Moffett Research noted in a research note last week that the U.S. TV service market has now declined for three consecutive quarters. While the decline in subscribers in Canada is small relative to the size of the total TV market, it is statistically significant because we too now have three straight quarters of data for the Canadian market that confirms that cord-cutting is a reality.” 

So if you’re Rogers, Bell, Videotron, Shaw, or Cogeco, you may want to get concerned about this. Otherwise you might get caught out like your U.S. brethren by the cord cutting trend that is coming to a TV near you.