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post #31 of 860 Old 07-24-2005, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Other Comcast service areas are also transitioning to all digital.

They are, but first they must complete the Digital Simulcast, before they can go All Digital. In this area, it will be any day now, I have read on AVS.

Ken, do you have any idea when all (or even any other) Comcast areas will go All Digital (except Ltd. Basic)?
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post #32 of 860 Old 07-24-2005, 10:32 AM
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The SF Bay Area is currently converting everything to 256 QAM and once that is done I imagine they will simulcast the analog channels until such time there is no more. I don't believe we will have a system without some analog until the shutdown date or Comcast deploys DAC boxes for their analog TV only customers.
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post #33 of 860 Old 07-25-2005, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post

The SF Bay Area is currently converting everything to 256 QAM and once that is done I imagine they will simulcast the analog channels until such time there is no more. I don't believe we will have a system without some analog until the shutdown date or Comcast deploys DAC boxes for their analog TV only customers.

Specifically, I have heard that Ltd. Basic (Locals) will be in available in Analog until the shutdown date and then they will provide DACs.

But, I was inquiring about other areas removing Std. service from Analog, like in the CA area mentioned in the article, causing many people to need a Digital STB, rather than no STB.
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post #34 of 860 Old 08-29-2005, 11:21 AM
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Article about the digital tech Comcast rolled out in Calaveras County, CA.

From The Calaveras Enterprise

Comcast digital box draws rave reviews

By Vanessa Turner
Monday, August 29, 2005 10:50 AM CDT

Michael "Gino" Giovacchini of La Contenta was about to cancel his Comcast cable television service until he experienced the company's new digital box.

"I can't believe the clarity I have now," Giovacchini said. "It's like a person with the beginnings of glaucoma having the eyes of a teenager again. I don't need my reading glasses to watch TV."

Nearly complete with installing its new technology in parts of Calaveras County, the early response has been positive for Comcast and many of its customers.

Back in May, Comcast announced the selection of Calaveras as a trial area to launch its new all-digital technology.

So far, expanded basic and digital service customers in San Andreas and parts of Valley Springs have received a new box with the new technology. Mokelumne Hill, Wallace and the rest of Valley Springs are due for installation by the second week of September.

Out of 7,100 Comcast customers in the county, 2,000 are affected. Basic cable customers are not affected.

"We're extremely pleased," Susan Gonzales, a Comcast representative said. "Customers are very happy with the new service, particularly video on demand. Less than five people have opted not to take the new digital box."

Comcast on Demand offers viewers 1,900 hours of programming, 80 percent of which is free. It also features PBS Sprout, a children's network, which allows parents to turn on "Bob the Builder," or "Barney and Friends" at any time of the day.

That's something customers were very excited about during a June preview of the service at the Valley Oaks Shopping Center in Valley Springs.

"It's entertainment on their terms," Gonzales said.

Dating on demand, cooking shows and newly released movies are also available on video on demand.

Other new services are high definition television (HDTV) and digital video recording (DVR), which is available for customers in the trial area for $9.95.

The video on demand also has Giovacchini hooked.

"I haven't spent any money at the video stores in two weeks," he said. "I can watch a movie, put it on hold, fast forward and reverse. That's one of the nice things about the package n I can put it on hold and I can watch tonight at 10 p.m.

"You couldn't take it away."

Once all the new technology is installed, Comcast will conduct customer surveys to rate their satisfaction. The company will then determine the best way to offer its expanded services to other customers in Calaveras. All digital customers in the county that were outside the trial area will get video on demand.

Also, once all the trial areas are up and running, the HDTV service will be turned on, Gonzales said.
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post #35 of 860 Old 01-18-2006, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Good article on the digital transition:

http://www.bigbandnet.com/documents/..._simulcast.pdf

Any other cable systems converting to digital only?
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post #36 of 860 Old 01-29-2006, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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post #37 of 860 Old 02-24-2006, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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From DigitalTelevision.com

Final Thought
Three Long Years: Laws Can Be Changed
By Mark Schubin
Feb 23, 2006, 15:41

Both houses of Congress have approved an analog-TV broadcast-cutoff date of February 18, 2009. As this is being written, TV-unrelated provisions of the legislation have kept it from leaving Capitol Hill, but the date isn't expected to changeat least not yet. A law passed in 1997 called for analog cutoff on December 31, 2006. Laws can be changed.

Even if the new date becomes law, it will not affect television broadcast station equipment purchases or installation. All U.S. TV stations were required to transmit digitally by May 1, 2003; none are yet required to transmit HDTV, 5.1-channel audio or multicasting. Nevertheless, the new date could affect the viability of TV broadcasting.

Estimates of U.S. television households relying exclusively on off-air reception today range roughly from 12% to 22%. Satellite-subscriber growth should continually reduce those figures as should new telephone company-provided TV services. And the so-called tuner mandate will ensure that ever more households have off-air access to digital-TV broadcasts by 2009. So broadcast-TV audience loss at analog cutoff would seem insignificantuntil closer examination.

Consider the mandated digital-reception circuitry in TVs. Since July 1 of last year, 100% of new TVs 36-inch or larger built in or imported to the U.S. were to include it. But a survey of newspaper ads the first week of this year found only 69% of listed models in that size range had digital-reception circuitry. There doesn't seem to be any penalty for manufacturers or importers violating the mandate.

Digital reception, of course, can provide near-perfect pictures and soundsor nothing. Viewers of even digital-reception-equipped TVs currently relying on mediocre analog reception may find they need improved antenna systems when analog-TV signals disappear.

That applies only to the small percentage of viewers relying exclusively on off-air receptionor does it? A very large percentage of satellite viewers also receive broadcast-TV programming off-air, and even those receiving local broadcasts via satellite might not get all digital stations. DirecTV recently began offering digital broadcasts from the New York market; they offer just four digital stations where 21 are currently on the air.

Then there's cable. Last month, the newspaper for a town on the edge of the Birmingham, AL television market reported on the local cable operator's heroic efforts to get the signals of a nearby Mississippi station so subscribers could watch an Alabama football game carried by a no-longer-receivable Birmingham station that had gone all digital. According to Demopolis CATV owner Lynn Goldman, The digital channels won't reach as far.

Perhaps that was a case of (analog) VHF versus (digital) UHF or of the station's power level not yet being maximized. Aside from cable systems' reception, however, there's another cable-related issue.

The original 2005 analog cutoff legislation included provisions allowing all cable operators to carry both analog and digital versions of digital broadcasts and smaller cable systems (with capacities of 550 MHz or less) to carry just analog versions (though they were to be permitted to carry digital, too). Approved conversions from digital to analog were permitted at any location, from the cable head-end to the customer premises, inclusive. That would seem to include cable-operator-provided set-top boxes.

Those analog conversion and analog carriage provisions were removed from the final bill, still awaiting approval as this is being written. According to at least some cable operators, that means they will not be permitted to offer analog versions of digital broadcasts after the analog cutoff date.

If their interpretation of the legislation is correct and the removed language is taken as a guide, then only owners of digital cable-ready TVs or adapters would be able to watch digital broadcasts via cable. That would probably leave a majority of any broadcaster's audience without access to station programming after analog cutoff.

Of course, that interpretation of the legislation may well prove to be wrong, and some legislators have already promised to fix the problem (if it exists) with a new law. It's also possible that the legislation currently stuck in Congress will not be approved or that, after it becomes law, it will be changed, just as the 1997 law was.

It's possible that digital-TV reception equipment will become so inexpensive and so good over the next three years and that digital cable-readiness will become so widespread that broadcasters will have nothing to fear by 2009. All those things are possible.
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post #38 of 860 Old 02-24-2006, 11:08 AM
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Thanks for that article, it also confirms what I thought was the case about analog stations stations on cable after the cutoff.
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post #39 of 860 Old 02-24-2006, 12:20 PM
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Thanks for that article, it also confirms what I thought was the case about analog stations stations on cable after the cutoff.

Thank Congress. In the same bill that set a Date Certain for analog NTSC to go away, it forced cable companies to retransmit digital OTA as digital (basically prohibiting retransmission of digital as analog). And, as I stated in the subject title, proof has come to town.
Until earlier today, we had a grand total of *one* STB in the entire house, despite six TVs (and one PC) being connected to Comcast cable TV (and the one STB was, in fact, analog, as that single TV is the only non-cable-ready TV in the entire house; the other five TVs, and the PC, are all *analog cable-ready*). So what does Comcast do? They replace Ye Moldie Oldie analog STB with a brand new Motorola DCT-2500 at no charge, and with no warning, either.
This makes it plain that analog cable in the United States has, at most, three years left to live. (The only cable company to ditch analog STBs on even a *regional* basis is Paul Allen-owned Charter; no cable company, other than Comcast, has made plans to do so on a *national* basis prior to that noted ban on analog retransmission of digital OTA by cable companies.)
I have to hand it to Brian Roberts (Comcast's CEO, and the man who indeed said that Comcast would completely ditch analog nationally *three years ago*). He's absolutely, positively, DEAD SERIOUS. (As I stated earlier, there was NO WARNING AT ALL. No mailers. No door hangers. And I don't live in a *test area* in one of Comcast's clusters. (Comcast charges almost the same amount for basic analog or digital STBs; in fact, they charge *less* per month for digital as opposed to analog STBs.))
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post #40 of 860 Old 03-09-2006, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Splicer1 View Post

What VOD is free???

Actually, over half of Comcast's non-pay (non-premium) VOD is free, including quite a lot of HD VOD. Here in PG County alone, I have my choice of *five* different HD VOD movies, all free, until May 26th. (No, I am NOT kidding, so get your jaw off the danged floor!)
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post #41 of 860 Old 03-09-2006, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

From DigitalTelevision.com

Final Thought
Three Long Years: Laws Can Be Changed
By Mark Schubin
Feb 23, 2006, 15:41

Both houses of Congress have approved an analog-TV broadcast-cutoff date of February 18, 2009. As this is being written, TV-unrelated provisions of the legislation have kept it from leaving Capitol Hill, but the date isn't expected to changeat least not yet. A law passed in 1997 called for analog cutoff on December 31, 2006. Laws can be changed.

Even if the new date becomes law, it will not affect television broadcast station equipment purchases or installation. All U.S. TV stations were required to transmit digitally by May 1, 2003; none are yet required to transmit HDTV, 5.1-channel audio or multicasting. Nevertheless, the new date could affect the viability of TV broadcasting.

Estimates of U.S. television households relying exclusively on off-air reception today range roughly from 12% to 22%. Satellite-subscriber growth should continually reduce those figures as should new telephone company-provided TV services. And the so-called tuner mandate will ensure that ever more households have off-air access to digital-TV broadcasts by 2009. So broadcast-TV audience loss at analog cutoff would seem insignificantuntil closer examination.

Consider the mandated digital-reception circuitry in TVs. Since July 1 of last year, 100% of new TVs 36-inch or larger built in or imported to the U.S. were to include it. But a survey of newspaper ads the first week of this year found only 69% of listed models in that size range had digital-reception circuitry. There doesn't seem to be any penalty for manufacturers or importers violating the mandate.

Digital reception, of course, can provide near-perfect pictures and soundsor nothing. Viewers of even digital-reception-equipped TVs currently relying on mediocre analog reception may find they need improved antenna systems when analog-TV signals disappear.

That applies only to the small percentage of viewers relying exclusively on off-air receptionor does it? A very large percentage of satellite viewers also receive broadcast-TV programming off-air, and even those receiving local broadcasts via satellite might not get all digital stations. DirecTV recently began offering digital broadcasts from the New York market; they offer just four digital stations where 21 are currently on the air.

Then there's cable. Last month, the newspaper for a town on the edge of the Birmingham, AL television market reported on the local cable operator's heroic efforts to get the signals of a nearby Mississippi station so subscribers could watch an Alabama football game carried by a no-longer-receivable Birmingham station that had gone all digital. According to Demopolis CATV owner Lynn Goldman, The digital channels won't reach as far.

Perhaps that was a case of (analog) VHF versus (digital) UHF or of the station's power level not yet being maximized. Aside from cable systems' reception, however, there's another cable-related issue.

The original 2005 analog cutoff legislation included provisions allowing all cable operators to carry both analog and digital versions of digital broadcasts and smaller cable systems (with capacities of 550 MHz or less) to carry just analog versions (though they were to be permitted to carry digital, too). Approved conversions from digital to analog were permitted at any location, from the cable head-end to the customer premises, inclusive. That would seem to include cable-operator-provided set-top boxes.

Those analog conversion and analog carriage provisions were removed from the final bill, still awaiting approval as this is being written. According to at least some cable operators, that means they will not be permitted to offer analog versions of digital broadcasts after the analog cutoff date.

If their interpretation of the legislation is correct and the removed language is taken as a guide, then only owners of digital cable-ready TVs or adapters would be able to watch digital broadcasts via cable. That would probably leave a majority of any broadcaster's audience without access to station programming after analog cutoff.

Of course, that interpretation of the legislation may well prove to be wrong, and some legislators have already promised to fix the problem (if it exists) with a new law. It's also possible that the legislation currently stuck in Congress will not be approved or that, after it becomes law, it will be changed, just as the 1997 law was.

It's possible that digital-TV reception equipment will become so inexpensive and so good over the next three years and that digital cable-readiness will become so widespread that broadcasters will have nothing to fear by 2009. All those things are possible.

The skinny of the current law (according to both the NCTA and the NAB) is that the conversion *must* take place at the STB, if it can't take place within the TV. So STBs such as Motorola's DCT-711 (for all-digital systems) and DCT-2500 (the latest model of the basic DCT-2xxx cable/VOD box) would be permissible. (Either is connectible to analog TVs via RF.) Digital-to-analog conversion *at the headend* would be banned. (Seriously, how many cable providers of any size do this with anything other than satellite signals?) So, at least for cable customers, this is largely a non-issue.
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post #42 of 860 Old 04-26-2006, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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From an article in Cableworld:

http://www.cableworld.com/cgi/cw/sho...anydevices.htm

April 17, 2006

Many Devices, No Boundaries, One Provider


Comcast CTO David Fellows talks about how cable will integrate data, voice and video within the home and on the road.

When will you finally go completely digital? Will it happen in the next five years?

Fellows: I'm going to give you three answers to that because I'm famous for saying that all-digital is not no analog. That means that with digital simulcast, every channel in our system is available in a digital format. It's just that about 80 of them are also available in analog formats. So already, all of this IP innovation is possible in the systems where we are simulcast. The fact that we've got analog there means we clog up or waste some bandwidth, but we do that to be friendly to analog TV sets. The second answer for all-digital is that we'll probably take off everything about the same time the must-carrys go off the air--so in the 2009-ish time frame. But even there, we will leave a set of analog channels on--I'm just guessing for another five years or so. That's so basic-only subscribers or third or fourth TVs in the home can tune a set of 20 or 30 channels. I think that's in place for another decade. And I think for another five years, 60 or so [analog] channels are in place.

What's the benefit of eventually going all-digital? Will it enable more services or just free up bandwidth on the system?

Fellows: Well, the answer is yes to both of those. Every time I take back one analog channel, I can either put three high-definition channels or 12 standard channels. With switched broadcast, I can at least double the number of channels I could put into those slots. Or it's another 100 or so high-speed data subscribers or another 200 telephone calls. So if I take back 10 channels, I could launch 60 high-definition channels using switched high-definition broadcast. Or I could go from an 8 megabit per second bit rate to a 16 or 20 megabit per second high-speed data bit rate. So the answer is a little bit of all of those. Our high-speed data will continue to get faster--especially if high-definition channels continue to multiply. And also the number of things that are available truly on demand--roughly 5,000 hours of 6,000 things we have out there today--will double up into the 10,000-hour range.

The possibilities seem endless. But does Comcast have a sense of which services consumers really want and how those tastes will evolve in the next five years?

Fellows: The evolution of customers' tastes and desires...I think we've got a pretty good handle on. We just issued a press release on a study we did on children and video-on-demand programming. In a sense, it's things that we didn't think about--like peer-to-peer protocols--that have the most profound change on our systems. But even there, we know about peer-to-peer and how that will evolve from the music world into the video world. Our voice people have done studies on portals. And our GuideWorks division does focus groups all the time. In fact, they've got a built-in focus room--with the one-way mirrors and cameras and everything--built into their facility out in Radner, Pa. And we run people through there every day studying how they interact with our cable system. Evolutionary--I think we have a very good handle on. Occasionally, something comes out of left field that no one thought about, [like] when they unleashed this IP technology, and that's when my job gets interesting, and you've got to react and study this new thing.

Do next-generation architectures help you innovate more quickly?

Fellows: That's the promise of an all-IP system. When you're using all open protocols, you sort of harness an entire world's worth of innovators because they speak your IP language. When they innovate, the innovations can be used on your system. For example, the new Google Earth map on your computer. That's authored in a new language that's a combination of Java and XML--and if your set-top boxes speak that language, then the application automatically runs. And again, this OCAP middleware that we're trying to get in our set-top boxes happens to speak Java as a programming language. So the reason to go IP is to harness this innovation and then, with that, comes the speed to market. You aren't trying to say, "Well, that's a cool idea. Let me author that in Scientific-Atlanta language or Motorola language or yet another language." Everyone is speaking the same language.

With such ambitious plans, will Comcast need to spend more or less proportionately to meet these challenges?

Fellows: The spending levels will be about the same whether we're spending it on boxes in the home or software in the network or getting bigger pipes. Those go through phases. But with any one thing that you look at, the spending is big at the start and goes down over time. Now Comcast got in trouble, frankly, by saying, "For the current services that we launch, the budget's going to go from 4 and a half billion to 3 and a half billion to 2 and half billion to 1 and a half billion because the upgrades have been done and the fiber has been laid." But then we said, "Oh, by the way. We're now going to launch telephony. Here's some new spending, so the budget's going to remain flat." Wall Street said, "Wait a minute. You said the budget's going down." And we said, "No. For stuff that we're already doing, the budget is going down. We're doing some new things." And Wall Street said, "Ah, you lied to us." And we said, "OK, our budget's going to stay flat." And they said, "Well how can you introduce new things if you're budget stays flat?" Well, that's because the old spending's going down and that leaves room for new spending. So I think that our pipes are laid. Your front lawn has already been dug up, and our fiber is in the ground. As we go to all-digital--as we take back those analog channels--it's a virtual tripling of the capacity. Two-thirds of our bandwidth is now tied up in analog. Over time, we will take that capacity back and launch new high-definition, launch new switched services, launch new on-demand services, launch higher speed or video telephony on top of telephony. But again we've got money and bandwidth in the bank, and I feel pretty good about our ability to compete and to innovate and to react to customer demands.
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post #43 of 860 Old 04-26-2006, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

From an article in Cableworld:

http://www.cableworld.com/cgi/cw/sho...anydevices.htm

April 17, 2006

Many Devices, No Boundaries, One Provider


Comcast CTO David Fellows talks about how cable will integrate data, voice and video within the home and on the road.

When will you finally go completely digital? Will it happen in the next five years?

Fellows: I'm going to give you three answers to that because I'm famous for saying that all-digital is not no analog. That means that with digital simulcast, every channel in our system is available in a digital format. It's just that about 80 of them are also available in analog formats. So already, all of this IP innovation is possible in the systems where we are simulcast. The fact that we've got analog there means we clog up or waste some bandwidth, but we do that to be friendly to analog TV sets. The second answer for all-digital is that we'll probably take off everything about the same time the must-carrys go off the air--so in the 2009-ish time frame. But even there, we will leave a set of analog channels on--I'm just guessing for another five years or so. That's so basic-only subscribers or third or fourth TVs in the home can tune a set of 20 or 30 channels. I think that's in place for another decade. And I think for another five years, 60 or so [analog] channels are in place.

According to his math, he must think this is the Spring of '04.
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post #44 of 860 Old 04-26-2006, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Engineers can't do math without a calculator!
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post #45 of 860 Old 04-27-2006, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
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April 17, 2006

COMCAST PRESIDENT SEES MAJOR CHANGES FOR VIDEO, DATA, COMMERCIAL SERVICES

Comcast Cable president Steve Burke boldly predicts that eventually everything will be on demand.

What will your business look like five years out?

Steve Burke: Our video business is going to be a little bit bigger. Our high-speed data business is going to be a lot bigger. Our telephone business is going to be quite a bit bigger. And we're going to be a much more significant player in commercial and in wireless.

What's on the wireless menu?

SB: Wireless is going to be a big part of our future. The most exciting concept related to wireless is integrating it with our other products, so you create something completely new and different for the consumer. Streaming video is going to be a very big part of our business five years from now--on the television, on the computer, on your wireless phone.

Sounds like a lot of work on the licensing front with programmers.
"We're in the seventh or eighth inning in terms of fully building out what the VOD platform can do, and once that happens, it's going to make our video product clearly superior to everyone else's," says Comcast's Steve Burke.

SB: Yes. The job of head of programming is going to change more over the next five years than it has changed in the last 20.

How will you defend against competitors?

SB: We will take advantage of our platform and what the platform can do to differentiate it. And we will look for ways to create products that are converged products--things that you can only do when you get all three products [video, voice and data] from a cable company.

Comcast has bet much of its future on VOD.

SB: We're in the seventh or eighth inning in terms of fully building out what the VOD platform can do, and once that happens, it's going to make our video product clearly superior to everyone else's.

Do we ever get to a point in which literally everything is on demand?

SB: I think eventually you do. Eventually you get everything you want whenever you want it.

Of all these new services, which one is going to be the big revenue driver?

SB: It's hard to imagine anything in terms of revenue growth being a greater opportunity than telephony. But in second place, I would list Internet content, commercial and ad sales.

Interesting that you said "Internet content" instead of just Internet access.

SB: A lot of consumer attention and eyeballs have moved to the Internet, and there still is a lot of money to be made with great Internet content. Since we have so many connections into people's homes, there ought to be a way for us to be in the pole position.

Comcast by the Numbers

HOMES PASSED: 41,600,000
BASIC VIDEO CUSTOMERS: 21,449,000
DIGITAL CUSTOMERS: 9,789,000
HSI CUSTOMERS: 8,520,000
TELEPHONY CUSTOMERS: 1,321,000
AVERAGE REVENUE PER USER: $84.12/MO.
(NUMBERS AS OF JAN. 1, 2006)

http://www.cableworld.com/cgi/cw/sho...willthrive.htm
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post #46 of 860 Old 04-28-2006, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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From the Q1 Earnings Conference
The full transcript can be found at:

http://mediastockblog.com/article/9665

Comcast Corporation Q1 2006 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (CMCSA)

Related Stocks: CMCSA

Comcast Corporation (CMCSA)
Q1 2006 Earnings Conference Call
April 27, 2006, 8:30 a.m. EST

Steve Burke

I think it is great that there are multiple technical approaches to bandwidth management, all of which lead to ways that you can be more efficient with what we've already built. There is substantial bandwidth reclamation opportunity. So for those people who are constantly worried are we headed into some sort of rebuild cycle or something like that, something like switch video comes along as well as digital simulcast as well as better compression, it is all good news. They are all compatible with each other; we will be trialing a bunch.

We've chosen, I think we're very comfortable, to lead with the digital simulcast, our enhanced basic customers then get the On Demand platform. A lot of what is happening in On Demand is a form of switched video. Others call it IP TV. There's a lot of buzzwords going along, they're not all the same.

The key for us to the consumer, who I don't think cares how we do it, is to make sure that we have the most offerings in high def, the most On Demand, and a great and reliable experience. And I think we will be using some of all the techniques, all of which look very promising.
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post #47 of 860 Old 04-29-2006, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

From the Q1 Earnings Conference
The full transcript can be found at:

http://mediastockblog.com/article/9665

Comcast Corporation Q1 2006 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (CMCSA)

Related Stocks: CMCSA

Comcast Corporation (CMCSA)
Q1 2006 Earnings Conference Call
April 27, 2006, 8:30 a.m. EST

Steve Burke

I think it is great that there are multiple technical approaches to bandwidth management, all of which lead to ways that you can be more efficient with what we've already built. There is substantial bandwidth reclamation opportunity. So for those people who are constantly worried are we headed into some sort of rebuild cycle or something like that, something like switch video comes along as well as digital simulcast as well as better compression, it is all good news. They are all compatible with each other; we will be trialing a bunch.

We've chosen, I think we're very comfortable, to lead with the digital simulcast, our enhanced basic customers then get the On Demand platform. A lot of what is happening in On Demand is a form of switched video. Others call it IP TV. There's a lot of buzzwords going along, they're not all the same.

The key for us to the consumer, who I don't think cares how we do it, is to make sure that we have the most offerings in high def, the most On Demand, and a great and reliable experience. And I think we will be using some of all the techniques, all of which look very promising.

Well, they certainly don't have "the most offerings in high def". Comcast's local HD advantage is now going away. They are missing the HDNETs and ESPN2HD. No Voom (AKAIK only Dish has them), no NGHD (I'm not sure if any major provider has it yet). Nice to see that the boss is aware about our desires for more HD though. Watch what happens the next few years as FiOS makes inroads. FiOS even has WealthTVHD (but no INHDs).

Rich N.
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post #48 of 860 Old 04-30-2006, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Good FAQ on ADS - All Digital Simulcast or Analog-Digital Simulcast

http://www.dslreports.com/speak/print/default;15922767
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Comcast Seeks Set-Top Waiver from FCC
By Matt Stump 4/27/2006 5:24:00 PM

Comcast Corp. asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to continue deploying low-cost digital set-tops after the July 1, 2007, deadline that calls for all new boxes to have separate conditional-access security, such as CableCARD software.

The waiver request, the MSO said, will allow it to offer more subscribers family and ethnic programming tiers. It would also provide a low-cost way for consumers with analog-TV sets to continue receiving cable service after all TV stations begin broadcasting in digital in February 2009.

Comcast said it was seeking waivers on three set-tops: Motorola Inc.'s DCT-700, Scientific Atlanta Inc.'s Explorer 940 and Pace Micro Technology plc's Chicago series.

Under FCC rules, all set-tops deployed after July 1, 2007, must have removable conditional-access features, which the commission hopes will foster a more competitive set-top market and widen choices consumers have for purchasing digital-cable-ready TVs at retail stores.

But when the agency adopted those rules, it said it would consider waiver requests for low-end boxes, Comcast said, adding that such low-end boxes will make it easier and more cost-effective for consumers to buy family or ethnic programming tiers, receive digital-quality pictures, widen parental-control features and increase access to video-on-demand.

Comcast said it has purchased 1 million DCT-700 set-tops and plans to buy another 1 million-1.5 million this year. The operator also plans to buy SA Explorer 940s and Chicago set-tops when they are available.

Those low-cost set-tops cost less than $100. To make such boxes compliant with the new FCC rules would require CableCARD-technology integration that would add $50 in costs to each set-top -- costs that would be borne by subscribers, Comcast said.

http://www.multichannel.com/article/...=Breaking+News
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From the Q1 Earnings Conference
Comcast Corporation CEO Steve Burke

I think it is great that there are multiple technical approaches to bandwidth management, all of which lead to ways that you can be more efficient with what we've already built.... something like switch video comes along as well as digital simulcast as well as better compression, it is all good news. They are all compatible with each other; we will be trialing a bunch.

...we're very comfortable, to lead with the digital simulcast, our enhanced basic customers then get the On Demand platform. A lot of what is happening in On Demand is a form of switched video. Others call it IP TV. There's a lot of buzzwords going along, they're not all the same.

Curious use of the 'buzzwords' IMO. On Demand, AIUI, is a a form of switched video only is the sense subscribers 'switch' in a headend/hub hard-drive stored program when making a selection. Switched video selects 'live' programs, not something stored on a hard drive. IP TV, or IPTV (Internet Protocol) uses switched packets to deliver video data, one of three switched broadcasting/video methods. So-called digital simulcasting, or duplicating analog bands with digital versions, seems to have various techniques, but logically requires more overall bandwidth for the digital channel versions if the analog is retained. -- John
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post #51 of 860 Old 05-18-2006, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.tvtechnology.com/features...le_touts.shtml

Cable Touts Diverse Offerings

Cross-platform, digital switching emerge as key factors at NCTA confab

by Gary Arlen

ATLANTA

Befitting the resurgence of digital convergence, last month's National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual convention served up a Southern smorgasbord of video/data/voice "triple play" developments and cross-platform program distribution. Motorola's "Follow-Me" and Cisco/Scientific-Atlanta's "Connected Life" motifs accelerated expectations that viewers will soon be transporting content around the house and on the road.

Four sessions on videogames plus an expanded gaming exhibition pavilion underscored the belief that games are converging into the broadband entertainment mix. In addition, several more networks--including Scripps Networks and A&E--launched high-definition channels at the convention.

PROTECTING TURF

The "network PVR" got plenty of attention, thanks to a Cablevision Systems' announcement that it will soon introduce the service. Switched digital video and the role of home network gateways were under scrutiny at several sessions. And as always, the parade of hopeful new program networks marched along--although many now seem resigned to reside solely on the digital "on demand" platforms that cable operators are building.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made a fly-by appearance, primarily to meet with cable executives and tour the exhibit area. At a news conference (his only public presentation) following his floor walk, Martin focused on the topic that seemed to spur his one-day cable show visit: indecency. He advocated "additional tiering options" as being valuable for families, and acknowledged that "putting more control in hands of the consumers is always better than having government control."

Martin singled out the emergence of Internet protocol video as a process that will generate "greater competition," an allusion to the nascent telephone company video ventures.

Attendance of 15,500 at the convention--down about nine percent from last year's 17,000--reflected industry consolidation plus the timing during spring break, which distracted some potential attendees for family matters.

The changing architecture of the cable TV industry was apparent throughout the show, but rarely as strongly as during an early morning, standing-room only session featuring the CTOs of four cable giants: Comcast, Time-Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Roger Cable Communications.

Time Warner Cable Chief Technology Officer Mike LaJoie focused on the move toward digital switching, which he says can trigger "50 percent savings" in operating costs. "It happens pretty easily," he continued, noting that the switching for broadcast digital is "not that hard."

"Switching is the ultimate answer," LaJoie said, as he forecast that it would be almost universal within less than 10 years. "The notion of channelized video is going to go away over time. Most people will be looking for particular kinds of programming, and that programming might come from a downlink from a broadcaster."

Chris Bowick, senior vice president of engineering for Cox added his voice to the chorus of voices extolling the value of digital video switching, which he called cable's "next big priority." He said that Cox will roll out switched digital transmission this year in two markets, which have not yet been named.

GUSHING ABOUT HD

As cable operators wrangle with how to supply set-top DVRs and/or networked DVR service, the chief geeks agreed that the recording capability is widely embraced. Comcast Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer David Fellows said that, where it is offered, 35 percent of set-top boxes installed include HD and DVR functions.

Regarding Time Warner Cable's HD lineup, Lajoie said "as more good HD programs become available, we're going to put [them] on. There's nothing in our way to offer more HD programming other than the normal incremental investment."

At the CTO panel, and throughout most of the NCTA sessions, cable executives used every opportunity to bash telephone company efforts to establish video services.

"The reason Verizon talks about fiber is that's all they have to talk about," LaJoie said. "The reason DBS talk about HD is that's all they have."

As the self-appreciation grew, the technologists further praised their existing and upgraded hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) networks. They agreed that the facilities can do almost anything that telcos promise to offer via all-fiber IPTV facilities.

Mark Coblitz, senior vice president of strategic planning for Comcast promised that his company will "eventually extend the IP base that we already have." He said Comcast can deliver a "multicast" service which would deliver all programs constantly, making signals available--but not to all subscribers all the time.

HARDWARE & SERVICES

Meanwhile, the NCTA's exhibit halls filled with technology providers, with many focused on the special needs of bandwidth management (such as BigBand Networks), security (such as NDS and its Secure Video Processing subsidiary) and billing.

Cisco's acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta allowed the two companies to cross-demonstrate their capabilities--many of them built around what Cisco CEO John Chambers, in his appearance on a keynote panel, called the "connected home." The package also showcased devices and data/video convergence from home networking giant Linksys, which Cisco acquired several years earlier.

Motorola, which had already aggregated wired and wireless technologies, demonstrated seamless handoffs among devices, using a new cable modem which recognizes the presence of a mobile phone. The set-up allows users to transition from a mobile connection to their wired line when they enter their homes. Motorola, which expanded its all-digital cable STB line-up, introduced a standard-definition, dual tuner DVR (DCT3080) and a slim STB with built-in Follow Med capabilities (DCC100).

Cablevision's plan to develop a networked DVR generated extensive buzz but left many questioning the industry's ability to scale similar projects. Arroyo Video Solutions will support the initial trial; its "Vault" server will be used to store up to 2,500 hours of content and stream up to 3,000 simultaneous programs. Some suppliers have questioned whether this approach will work if many viewers store and playback the same show from the same headend at different times.
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post #52 of 860 Old 05-26-2006, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Stations Oppose HDTV Downconversion

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/26/2006 11:46:00 AM

Affiliates of the Big Four networks don't want cable systems to be allowed to convert their HDTV signals to standard definition signals.

A Senate bill rewriting communications law would allow cable systems, through 2014, to convert digital signals to analog for their analog customers and HDTV to DTV for their digital subs.

In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) Friday, the stations called for changes to the bill.

Stations are fine with the first part of that equation because, they say, it "protects against the disenfranchisement of viewers whith analog receivers."

Downconverting HD to DTV is, by contrast, consumer unfriendly, they argue, becuase "it condones viewer disenfranchisement from HDTV services."

Allowing cable to "degrade" HDTV, they argue, would disenfranchise viewers who have bought HDTV sets to be able to watch the Super Bowl, Nascar or other programs in high-def.

Besides, they say, cable would have the incentive to favor its own HDTV programming, which it could supply without degradation while converting the services of the networks or stations.

The affiliate groups want the chairman to either drop both conversion provisions and deal with the issue in a bill next session, or drop the HDTV conversion provision only.

They said their focus on conversion should not indicate they don't have other issues with the bill. They do, including its permitting unlicensed wireless devices to operate in broadcast spectrum and "broad" exceptions to the broadcast flag content protection technology that the bill would also approve.
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post #53 of 860 Old 05-26-2006, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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The following is part a an e-mail I received from the CTO of Comcast:

I am a bit confused by your statement to CableWorld:

"I'm going to give you three answers to that because I'm famous for saying that all-digital is not no analog. That means that with digital simulcast, every channel in our system is available in a digital format.

It's just that about 80 of them are also available in analog formats. So already, all of this IP innovation is possible in the systems where we are simulcast. The fact that we've got analog there means we clog up or waste some bandwidth, but we do that to be friendly to analog TV sets.

The second answer for all-digital is that we'll probably take off everything about the same time the must-carrys go off the air--so in the 2009-ish time frame. But even there, we will leave a set of analog channels on--I'm just guessing for another five years or so. That's so basic-only subscribers or third or fourth TVs in the home can tune a set of 20 or 30 channels. I think that's in place for another decade. And I think for another five years, 60 or so [analog] channels are in place."

Does the new digital transition legislation require cable companies not to transmit analog signals after the 2009 date (but allow you to provide a box to convert the digital signal to analog)?
The legislation will require us to carry the digital signals but is silent on the analog signals. Of course, with all digital signals you either need a set-top (and you get all our services) or a digital TV with a CableCARD (and you can tune encrypted channels, but you don't get two-way services such as video on demand).

In the above statement
you appear to say Comcast will remove all analog by 2009 but in the following sentence it appears you are saying a contradictory statement and five years from now brings us to 2011.

I agree it is confusing - so it must have been a misquote
I suspect that we will keep 20 to 40 analog channels on after 2009 -the objective will be to keep enough analog channels on so that the TV in the kitchen (where you watch the news) still is okay on analog. This would save us about 20 million set-tops, so it might be worth "wasting" some bandwidth on analog.
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post #54 of 860 Old 05-26-2006, 05:17 PM
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In the article, he says a Basic tier with 20-30 channels will be in place for about a decade, which is 2016.
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post #55 of 860 Old 05-26-2006, 05:58 PM
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That's a lot of bandwidth being wasted, 120-180Mhz, especially on 550Mhz systems which are already bandwidth strapped and which Comcast has stated they're not going to upgrade to higher capacity.
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post #56 of 860 Old 05-26-2006, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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If Comcast goes to say 20 to 30 analog channels from 75 that allows over 100 HD additional channels. If they used switched technology with mpeg-4 (or better) for half of this reclaimed spectrum they could have over several hundred HD channels. However they saying goes "when I see it I will believe it".
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post #57 of 860 Old 05-27-2006, 11:10 AM
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There was another article about Comcast, which I read here, that said it would 20-40 analog channels until at least 2011. So, who knows what it will really be.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=680934

As a side note, I love how they throw out years with out specific quarters, at least. I mean if they are throwing out 2011, there must be a time in that year that is significant, maybe not.
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post #58 of 860 Old 05-27-2006, 03:51 PM
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I've heard less analog channels, and sooner, but that was from more technical sources, as opposed to C-level executives.

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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post #59 of 860 Old 05-28-2006, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6337395.html

Britt, Roberts: Not Quite All-Digital Yet
By Mike Farrell 5/23/2006 6:37:00 PM

The CEOs of the two top cable operators reiterated their commitments to technological innovation and to recapturing bandwidth through digitizing their networks at an industry conference Tuesday, but both stopped short of stating that their plants would go all-digital anytime soon.

Speaking at Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s Financial Analyst Conference in New York Tuesday, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said that while his company is moving forward on digital-simulcast and switched-video initiatives, the rollout will be predicated on customer needs.

He added that the plan is to offer switched video -- which would free up a huge portion of Time Warner Cable's network for new services -- where it is needed over the next three years. But he said that because of the prevalence of analog-television sets in customer homes, it would not be prudent to force all customers to have digital set-top boxes anytime soon.

Britt said the beauty of cable's hybrid-fiber coaxial network architecture is that it allows for both analog and digital signals to be transmitted and received. With just a handful of the 30 million television sets in Time Warner Cable households capable of accepting all-digital signals, he said the incentive to convert to an all-digital network isn't there yet.

They're not going to all of a sudden become digital, Britt said of those analog sets. That in itself is a very long time frame.

Britt was enthusiastic about the prospects for switched video. While he would not commit to how much that initiative would cost -- Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. cable analyst Ray Katz estimated about $20-$30 per basic subscriber -- Britt said that in Columbia, S.C., the cable operator rolled out switched digital, digital simulcast and Start Over for about $16 per home passed. Start Over allows subscribers to jump to the beginning of any show they turn to, in progress, from 60 networks.

Britt also touted the importance of commercial phone services, reiterating that the market for phone service to small and midsized businesses dwarfs the residential market.

I think what we all are concluding is that we need to get into this business more heavily because it does look like a huge market, Britt said.

Comcast Corp. chairman and CEO Brian Roberts also backed off on an all-digital initiative at the nation's largest cable operator, adding that digital simulcast -- currently available in about 80% of Comcast's markets -- may be the more prudent way to go.

Asked if Comcast would ever get rid of the analog tier altogether or if in the future, the cable operator would always have some form of an analog tier, Roberts said that internally, company executives have debated that 20-40 analog channels would remain until at least 2011.

It would be better if we don't have to make the hard decisions like that, Roberts said. Let the consumer drive it. If we have to make a big bet and we get it wrong ouch.
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post #60 of 860 Old 06-02-2006, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Top Cable Chiefs Talk Tech Plans

In another CableLabs-related development last month, the heads of Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable spelled out their somewhat divergent visions for recapturing analog bandwidth through the digitization of their company's cable systems.

Making separate appearances at the CableLabs annual briefing for financial analysts in New York, Comcast Chairman & CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner Cable Chairman & CEO Glenn Britt both stressed the importance of introducing two-way digital TV sets and set-top boxes equipped with OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) middleware this year. But they differed over the need to roll out switched digital video quickly to boost cable bandwidth.

Appearing before analysts first, Britt said Time Warner intends to roll out switched digital video service in all of its cable systems within three years. He contended that this strategy will give North America's second largest MSO enough bandwidth to launch more high-definition TV (HDTV) channels to compete against DirecTV and EchoStar.

"We're going to carry all the high-def channels we can get our hands on," Britt said. "We'll be fully competitive with satellite."

So far, Time Warner has introduced switched digital in at least three markets, including Austin, TX and Columbia, S.C. Plans call for adding another four to six markets later this year. But Britt wouldn't say which markets would come next.

"We're putting in where we need it most," he said. In Columbia, he noted, Time Warner spent $10 million, or $16 per home passed, to roll out switched digital, digital simulcasting and its new "Start Over" time-shifting service at the same time.

Unlike Time Warner, Roberts said Comcast sees digital simulcasting as the best way to boost system capacity for such new digital video services as HDTV, even though it burns up more bandwidth in the short run. He noted that the continent's largest MSO has already launched digital simulcasting in 80% of its markets.

"We didn't think switched digital was here now ready for us," Roberts said. "So, while we were developing switched digital, we went to digital simulcasts" to reclaim analog spectrum for HD services.

While they don't see eye-to-eye on switched digital, Roberts and Britt agreed that the cable industry must finally move ahead with its oft-delayed rollout of OpenCable TV sets and set-top boxes. The two MSO heads termed OCAP implementation critical to rolling out new cable services and applications across the U.S. faster and more efficiently.

In fact, Britt likened OCAP's import to that of Microsoft's Windows operating system. Like Windows, he said, OCAP is a standardized software layer that will enable developers to write programs just once to run the same application on every cable system.

"It should open up this network to all [sorts of] different things," he said. He said Time Warner remains "on schedule" to introduce OCAP in five markets by year's end.

Roberts concurred that OCAP's pending launch is key to the industry's success. He argued that MSOs need "an open architecture" to create "a national footprint" and "open up innovation" in the equipment business. With Comcast aiming to introduce OCAP in four markets by year's end, he predicted that the industry will see "serious OCAP rollouts certainly within two years," if not one.

"We've been talking about this for too long and we don't have it in place," he said. "That is going to change."

Despite this progress, Britt and Roberts also agreed that the cable industry probably won't upgrade to all-digital networks for at least several more years. With just a "handful" of the 30 million TV sets in Time Warner households able to receive all-digital signals, Britt argued, it wouldn't make sense to force customers to take all-digital set-tops right now.

"If we could wave a magic wand and instantly make everything digital, obviously that's a great technical solution," he said. But, he noted, that's not going to happen.

Roberts confided that Comcast officials have held internal debates over whether 20 channels or 40 channels will remain on the analog tier until at least 2011. He indicated that the MSO will likely keep some level of analog service for customers who won't switch to digital.

"It would be better if we don't have to make hard decisions like that," he said. "It would be better to let consumers decide. If we have to make a big bet and we get it wrong, ouch!"


http://www.cabledatacomnews.com/jun06/jun06-3.html
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