Report Outlines the Winners in the Switch to Digital Television

Bringing digital television to your home is not going to be cheap. And it's not only consumers who are going to have to pony up. Broadcasters and their distribution partners, whether cable or satellite, will be investing heavily in new digital technology that will require major upgrades to existing networks. But if someone's got to pay, then someone else will certainly benefit.

According to a report released last week, DTV will be a major driver for fiber-rich local network architectures, and that will boost the bottom line of the leading telecom equipment vendors. The report is titled The New Television 2: Digital Television, HDTV, and the Future of Digital Video Networks, and is from market research firm Communications Industry Researchers, Inc. (CIR).

The report states that high-definition television (HDTV) is still very much a speculative technology, but the success of standard-definition digital television is assured because the transition from analog to digital television will be mandated in many countries, led by the US. While much attention has been given to the fact that this will mean an entirely new generation of televisions and set-top boxes, CIR believes DTV will also require a complete refurbishing of the cable-television industry's infrastructure with hybrid fiber/coax networks.

CIR also predicts that the advent of DTV will spur the telephone companies to try their hand once more at becoming television distribution businesses. This will mean that the telcos will speed up their deployment of digital access technologies, such as ADSL and fiber-to-the-curb. As a result, equipment vendors specializing in such areas may experience a boom market in the next five years.

"DTV brings television into the mainstream of electronic communications," says Lawrence Gasman, president of CIR. "Because television has always been analog, it has had to be carried on separate specialized networks. Now with DTV, it is just more bits on the information highway."

The report notes that with television becoming part of the digital mainstream, the fiberization of access networks can be expected to grow rapidly, and points out the degree to which even DSL technologies are dependent on fiber.