One of the big concerns surrounding the TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD has been Switched Digital Video (SDV). SDV is used by cable operators to increase the capacity of their systems. Instead of sending the signal for all channels over the cable at all times, SDV works more like VOD/PPV in that the signal is only transmitted when the specific channel is tuned. (Unlike VOD/PPV, the channel can be tuned by multiple households – if Home A tunes SDV channel 1, and later Home B tunes to the same channel, then Home B’s tuning device will simply tune into the same frequency that was assigned for Home A.) The problem with SDV is that it requires bidirectional communication for the tuning device to signal the head end which channel is being tuned. The issue is that unidirectional CableCARD products are, as the name implies, unidirectional and hence have been unable to access SDV channels at all. As more and more cable systems have been deploying SDV, this has been a growing concern for TiVo users.
There have been several rumors and reports of a solution being in the works. Well, now it is official – the NCTA and TiVo have announced a SDV solution for TiVo. As expected, the solution will be an external USB adapter which will allow any unidirectional CableCARD device with a USB port, and the right firmware, to work with SDV. Both the TiVo Series3 and the TiVo HD will support the adapter, it remains to be seen if any other vendors enable support on their devices.
The new external adapter will attach to TiVo Series 3 HD DVRs and TiVo HD DVRs to ensure the DVRs can directly access all digital channels including switched digital cable channels. The adapter will work on any Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready Product (UDCP) that has a USB connector and necessary firmware. The cable industry is working with TiVo to ensure that installation of CableCARDs and the adapter will be easy and seamless for the consumer.
The adapters will be available in the second quarter of 2008. This is great news for those who have cable operators who are implementing SDV. See the press release for more info.