Cablevision, Verizon Promise Lots of HD

In the mounting war of who can provide the most HD, Cablevision says it'll be rolling out capacity for up to 500 channels of high-def programming by the end of the year. Not to be outdone, Verizon is poised to offer it on-demand through its FIOS network. Verizon, however, actually has the capacity to deliver on its claims. The advanced fiber network offers a peak of 14400Gbps of bandwidth compared to just 4Gbps for coaxial cable, the kind that Cablevision is employing on the last mile. There's also a lack of HD programming that will be available to cable and satellite operators as broadcasters continue to drag their feet on switching away from old analog signals.

This isn't the only major payoff Verizon is seeing from sinking tons of money into next-generation infrastructure. The company also plans to drop fat sacks full of cash money on upgraded EVDO gear to provide the fastest wireless speeds possible, a move Sprint has already started. The new network that Verizon is building is going to make markets they serve competitive with offerings in Korea and Japan while crushing competitors that refuse to pony up to play the next-gen network game. (Hey AT&T? I'm talking about you.)

Of course, this brings up a disturbing picture. While Verizon is competing better than anyone else and delivering the kinds of products we were supposed to have had by last year, the pricing commands a hefty premium with the top-grade FIOS service running a whopping $180/mo while failing to deliver symmetrical speeds. With the massive consolidation in the telecommunications sector and the increasing cost of mounting competitive challenges, we might end up getting right back to where we were 25 years ago with the Bell monopoly. New competitors like OEN are offering speeds and prices about comparable with what Verizon offers (though largely in different markets), so I'm not optimistic that new entrants are going to bring prices in check.

(See full articles here, here, here, here and here.)

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