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TiVo Goes to Canada, Gets Switched Digital

TiVo Goes to Canada, Gets Switched Digital

TiVo may be the brand that pioneered the DVR industry, but, believe it or not, TiVos aren’t available…well, just anyway. For instance, TiVo only today announced TiVo DVRs will be going on sale in Canada. Although the company did not give specific about dates (just “in time for the holidays”), the company says major retailers like Best Buy, The Brick, London Drug, and Future Shop will be offering the TiVo Series2 DT DVR for $199 CDN, plus subscription fees. Canadian TiVo customers will have access to the full range of TiVo features, including SeasonPass, WishList searches, online scheduling, Multi-Room viewing, and TrickPlay rewind-pause-fast-forward of live television.

Notice what’s missing from that announcement? The high definition-capable TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD set-top boxes: apparently Canadian consumers who want TiVo will have to make due with standard definition. And residents of Quebec will have to wait even longer: TiVo notes TiVO DVRs will not be available in Quebec “immediately,” which we take to mean “not in time for the holidays.” C’est la vie.

In other TiVo news, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) have announced that in the second quarter of 2008, cable operators will introduce an external adapter that will enable CableCard-capable TiVo DVRs to access switched digital cable channels without a set-top box. Although the adapter will work on any compatible Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready Product (UDCP) with USB, for TiVo owners that means the Series 3 HD and TiVo HD DVRs. Switched digital video is a technology designed to distribute video content over networks with limited capacity on an as-needed basis, with the final digital-to-analog conversion actually happening in the user’s home, rather than a cable operator’s node point, conserving bandwidth in the last stretch to the user. This savings is particularly important for cable operators seeking to bundle other services (including Internet and phone service) with cable TV packages, and to rural operators who may not be able to upgrade infrastructure to support multiple high-bandwidth applications.

“We are gratified that the cable industry has agreed to work quickly to develop a solution that will enable existing TiVo CableCard DVRs to directly access switched digital cable channels and ensure the adapter is part of an easy installation process for cable subscribers,” said TiVo CEO Rogers, in a statement. “We look forward to working with the cable industry in other ways to improve consumer access to cable services.”

The NCTA and TiVo have pledged to work together to iron out any technological issues with supported switched digital services.

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Geoff Duncan
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