SCTE Cable-Tec Expo: Time Warner cable NYC using SDV to handle 150 HD channels

Paul Conway won't try to dissuade you if you want to use Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) in New York City as a poster child for how to get the most from switched digital video (SDV). In fact, the MSO's regional vice president of engineering will probably encourage you to think that way.

"If you haven't launched switched digital video, it works," said Conway, presenting a case study for successful SDV deployments at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans. "It is a good technology; I highly recommend it."

The recommendation comes after TWC, which, Conway admits, was "kind of late to the game in launching switched digital" worked out the kinks and launched service, including a mammoth 150 HD channels in what is probably the densest cable market in the United States: Manhattan.

"There are lots of set-tops in Manhattan," Conway said.

There are also lots of obstacles to be overcome before a system can get to the point where it can deliver 150 channels of bandwidth-rich content and, listening to Conway, he apparently faced and overcame all of them with the help of vendors BigBand Networks (Nasdaq: BBND) and Arris (Nasdaq: ARRS). While Time Warner Cable did a trial launch in Pleasant Valley, N.Y., a noticeably smaller system, the real challenge was preparing and then launching the service in Manhattan with "very, very large" hub sites that are "very dense (with) lots of equipment," he said.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle, other than keeping vendors on schedule with equipment, was making sure everything worked before rolling it out. This meant testing 2,000 service groups in Manhattan.

"This was a lot of work but it's the only way to know for sure that this thing is going to happen," he said.

The other challenge is ongoing: keeping a close watch on viewing habits to make certain that the right channels are on the switch where they can be accessed more infrequently than the more popular broadcast channels, he said.

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