Cable networks have a long history of delivering broadcast channels to customers and in the past they were the main channel for delivering a wide range of content to households. In recent years their share has been undermined by IPTV technology and internet service providers. In addition, the recent explosion of OTT technology has increased competition in the field of Interactive TV.
According to the research by MRG, the number of Pay-TV subscribers worldwide continues to grow, at a healthy 8% annual rate. The total number of Pay-TV users – onsisting of Cable TV, Satellite TV, and IPTV – today amounts to approximately 800 million subscribers. Interactivity and convergent applications are the main differentiators that can easily be added in IPTV or OTT environments. On the contrary, however, this is not that easily achieved in traditional cable networks. In order to not fall behind regarding market demand for television services, cable operators need to add interactivity alongside the digital signal to the customers.
Even though it is more or less clear which services cable operators should offer on the market in order to regain a competitive advantage, the path to such goal is not an easy one. Cable operators are facing the problem of upgrading their networks with Interactive TV. Interactive TV includes recordings, time-shift TV, VOD content, enhanced EPG, multiscreen features, as well as internet and social TV features. There are different approaches to achieving these functionalities in cable networks. Cable providers can upgrade the DOCSIS data network to deliver enough bandwidth to customers for interactive content or build an FTTx access network. The second approach is to use the DOCSIS data path as a control channel and the DVB-C infrastructure as the content path. In addition, using OTT technology, Interactive TV service can be offered over the open internet. Researchers say that cable remains an inferior mechanism for delivering television. However, there is a solution for cable operators. Cable operators can benefit from having a combination of the DVB-C network extended with the OTT and/or IPTV services. This document describes possible approaches for cable operators to upgrade TV service to the Interactive TV of the future.