The triple play? Old hat. The quad play? On the way. But what about "three screen service?" In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold assures us he didn’t invent the term "three screen service," but that it will be come ubiquitous in the not too distant future.  According to a recent In-Stat report by Kaufhold, the worldwide cable TV industry "is in a race to provision a three-screen service that starts with HDTV sets, maps over to broadband-connected PCs, and follows subscribers around during the day on cell phones or other portable devices." "It will start happening soon," Kaufhold said of three-screen services. "A lot of executives at places like Comcast and TV executives want to get news and programming on TVs, PCs and mobile devices. We’ll start hearing about it in a lot of places." As a result of the drive to three-screen delivery, In-Stat is predicting strong, continued growth in cable TV infrastructure equipment with sales rising from about $925.4 million this year to more than $2.1 billion in 2010, which is news that must warm the cockles of vendors’ hearts. Cable operators will spend their cash building out super headends and upgrading local headends to provide the economies of scale that will be needed to provide the three-screen services over a larger geographical reach, according to the report. Recent research by In-Stat outlined the following: • High definition TV services and video-on-demand are expanding, driving plant upgrades for improved Gigabit Ethernet video switches, switched digital video (SDV), more QAM channels, and widening deployments of 1 GHz final mile equipment.

• Modular cable modem termination systems (M-CMTSs) and wideband cable modems are being brought into play to upgrade high-speed data services to compete against telephone companies’ ADSL, VDSL, and fiber-to-the-home. (In case you missed CT Reports‘ recent roundup of M-CMTS vendors, click here.)

• Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Advance/Newhouse have a joint venture with Sprint Nextel that will begin offering cable-branded cellular phone services later this year in the United States. Later on, fixed-mobile convergence will add innovative video services and wireless extensions to the cable TV infrastructure and disrupt the cell phone market. "High definition is becoming the next big battleground between cable and satellite," Kaufhold said. "When you push high definition over the cable plant, you need to manage bandwidth more efficiently, so M-CMTS units and switched digital video become a lot more important. Last year, cable operators were saying, ‘this is cool stuff we can do, but only if we have to,’ but now with satellite pushing high definition, cable has to respond by getting more high definition content." – Mike Robuck

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