ATSC 8-VSB to Become Dominant Technology for Broadband Multimedia

ATSC 8-VSB (vestigial side band), a method for converting digital data for transmission over coaxial cable chosen by the FCC as a standard for digital TV, will become the dominant technology for digital broadband multimedia by 2003, according to a report by Cahners In-Stat Group.

According to the report “ATSC Digital Tuners: 8-VSB Tunes in the World,” more than 50 million US households will be able to pick up an 8-VSB signal from a local digital terrestrial broadcast station.

The growth of 8-VSB tuners will outpace that of digital cable in 2002, according to Cahners In-Stat Group, and will surpass shipments of direct broadcast satellite (DBS) by 2003.

“Many industry watchers believe that the ATSC 8-VSB digital television standard is on the verge of collapsing,” said Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst at Cahners. “They’re wrong because they haven’t looked far enough. 8-VSB will be a viable technology for digital TV and its growth will be strong.”

According to Cahners’ report, industry reports of the demise of 8-VSB are premature. The standard will become a dominant technology for digital broadband multimedia services thanks to breakthroughs by semiconductor companies such as Philips, Motorola, Microtune, and Oren.

During the early stages, 8-VSB Tuners for PCs will be the market driver, with retail prices falling below $300 during 2000, providing a low-cost entry point for consumers. The overall market for 8-VSB tuner/demodulators in the US will be slow to start, but will quickly pick up, with shipments topping 11 million units during 2002. Beyond 2002, the satellite broadcasting market will drive 8-VSB because it gives EchoStar and DirecTV a “selling item” in their on-going battle to win over cable TV subscribers.

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