I joined this magazine in 1989, and one of the first covers I remember pictured several high-definition TV (HDTV) sets floating dreamily in a utopian blue sky. HD had snared broadband engineers’ attention, but regulatory roadblocks, technical riddles, extravagant equipment costs and the lack of programming meant that real rollouts were years away.

Not long after that cover appeared, I saw an HDTV demo at a trade show, and—wow—that’s when it hit me what all the high-def hubbub was all about. Fast-forward almost a decade and a half later, and hardly a day goes by that a press release announcing another MSO rollout of HDTV doesn’t cross my desk.

Blue Sky to reality hasn’t come easily. And, not all HD problems are solved.

More reasonably priced consumer devices are needed, so cable can offer HD to more than the deep-pocketed. The over-the-air broadcasters continue to wail their old "must-carry" tune, and the consumer electronics industry says there still isn’t enough content.

There’s also competition via the direct broadcast satellite (DBS) ops. Cable has the bandwidth advantage, but if you slow your aggressive HD deployments , EchoStar and DirecTV are poised to pounce.

HD technology remains dynamic, and that’s a big reason I’m looking forward to this month’s National Show in Chicago, which will feature an 8,000-square-foot HDTV Pavilion. Produced by the National Cable Television Association and CableLabs, it will feature the latest in HD sets and programming, and demos of integrated set-tops and point-of-deployment (POD) modules. I’m expecting a few new "wows."

Laura Hamilton
Editorial Director, Broadband
lhamilton@accessintel.com

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