Fraunhofer Institute for
Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Scenario for the digial conversion of the German cable-TV network
However, most German cable systems today are still one-way systems mainly used to broadcast analogue television programmes. Although there are digital bouquets available from German pay-TV provider „Premiere“ as well as from public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, the percentage of households actually using digital cable is still below ten percent. Also, the share of broadband Internet households using cable modems to access the Internet is as low as one percent. Even worse is the situation when it comes to voice over IP offers or interactive TV services over the cable-TV network. Compared to other countries, the German cable-TV network is significantly lagging behind as an infrastructure for the Information Society.
It seems that German cable TV operators have got to go a long way to upgrade their networks, to convert programmes and to offer services for the digital age. In the meantime, competing technical infrastructures like DSL, over-the-air digital broadcasting (DVB-T, DVB-S), and other wireless broadband technologies like WLAN or UMTS are getting more attention and are experiencing increasing demand. Especially the overwhelming success of DSL and digital satellite television have put cable operators under strong pressure.
In this project, which was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economics, a scenario for the digitisation of the German cable-TV network was created. Project partner was the Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research at the University of Hamburg. In workshops with stakeholders of the cable and media industry, the necessary steps for the digital conversion were defined. It was agreed that the digital conversion is not a goal which can be achieved by operators on their own. It requires a specific co-ordination effort from operators, private and public broadcasters, manufacturers of digital equipment, service providers, public authorities and customers on several levels.
In the project, the key milestones for the digital conversion of the German cable TV networks were defined and described in detail. The main conflicts were lined out and a possible way out of the gridlock situation was suggested. The scenario for the digital conversion of the German cable-TV networks consists of the following milestones:
- The set-top-box: Zapping, embedded CA or Common-Interface?
- The question of general encryption: Building a pay-platform vs. building a free-TV and service world.
- The network upgrade: TV-centered vs. Internet-oriented.
- Co-operation between operators: Marketing partnerships vs. resale models.
- New contents, new service providers: more of the same or the dawning of a new digital variety?
- Duration of the simulcast: Forced swith-off or endless simulcast?
Finished Project (2004 - 2005)
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, Berlin
Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research at the University of Hamburg
Beckert, B; Schulz, W; Zoche, P.; Dreier, H. (2005): Die Zukunft des deutschen Kabelfernsehnetzes. Sechs Schritte zur Digitalisierung. Heidelberg: Physica.