Comcast Media Center and Motorola are teaming up to offer smaller cable systems a consolidated digital platform which allows for the deployment of advanced services including HDTV, DVR, VOD, and tru2way applications. The new platform will allow smaller cable operators with as little as a “330 MHz system [to] expand its service offering to customers by converting some of its analog channels to digital, utilizing programming on the HITS platform, and then using that reclaimed bandwidth to offer hundreds of additional linear HDTV and SD channels and a library of VOD programming with over 2,000 titles also available through the HITS platform.” It’s somewhat analogous to what Avail Media and IP Prime provide small telcos for IPTV.
This development could have implications on the competitive landscape. Smaller and rural cable companies have had a more difficult time upgrading their older plant to provide competitive triple play offerings than their larger MSO brethren. Small telcos have seized on that, and are launching IPTV powered triple play platforms to win over customers wanting a more robust video experience. In theory, this new Comcast/Motorola platform will allow smaller cable companies, who normally couldn’t afford to upgrade their plant, to now get in the two way digital, triple play game. If it gains traction, and quickly, the competitive landscape in smaller markets across the U.S. may begin to look very different.