For MCTV, IPTV Can Wait

Cable op will continue to deliver QAM-based video services on legacy hybrid fiber/coax plant

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MCTV, the Massillon, Ohio-based cable operator, is pushing ahead with an ambitious plan to connect its entire network with a fiber-to-the-premises overlay that, over the next two to three years, will be used to deliver speedy broadband services. However, MCTV will keep things relatively old school with the technology that will continue to underpin its baseline pay TV service — at least for now.

MCTV, company officials explained, will continue to deliver quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM)-based video services on its legacy hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant as it starts to consider a migration to IPTV much further down the road. The operator, however, has been installing an IPTV platform in some smaller greenfield deployments.

“At this point, we are proceeding along a path that says the [HFC] system is working great for delivering television, so let’s keeping using it,” Robert Gessner, MCTV’s president, said, noting that the operator is already undertaking the process of converting its set-top boxes to support MPEG-4 video, representing a migration step toward IPTV.

Though IPTV is being treated as an R&D project in greenfields, “eventually we believe that video is an app-based delivery that’s all-IP, and maybe all unicast in the long run,” Gessner said, noting that he’s keen on platforms with new interfaces, one that welcomes the notion of the consumer brining their own box to the video party.

“We’re betting on the 10-year plan, rather than the three-to five-year plan,” he added.