Time-Warner subsidiary American Television and Communications (ATC) announced it would double the bandwidth of its Queens, New York, cable franchise to 1 gigahertz (about 150 channels) by greatly increasing the use of fiber in the system. More important, ATC plans the new system to be two-way interactive and it works with pay-per-view, HDTV, voice and data, and personal communications networks (PCNs) , a new, more local cellular phone technology. Advances in fiber and video compression eventually could increase channel capacity to the "thousands."
The announcement is a direct challenge to competitors, such as DBS services SkyPix and Sky Cable, which had touted their ability to deliver more channels than cable's average of 35-80 in the case of SkyPix and more than 100 for Sky Cable. It also serves notice to telcos that at least some cable systems are serious in their intent to move into traditional telco businesses, such as voice and data transmission.
The system uses fiber-to-the-feeder architecture developed by ATC, running fiber directly from the headend to neighborhood trunk lines that feed coaxial lines of one mile or less. A new "fiber node" combines incoming signals from three fibers into a single 1 gHz signal for the local coaxial network. A new amplifier boosts signals in the coaxial net and enables the use of return channels, for 2-way interac-tive services.