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Keenan's Avatar Keenan 07:18 PM 04-06-2007
Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

"standard" cable service is clear, regardless whether they capitalize or not; you are nitpicking. Later they say, basic cable; that is not capitilized, yet it was clear to you?

Nothing is ever clear to me, in fact, I have a headache right now..

But, to pick another nit,


Initially, Chicago customers with "standard" cable service, including local TV stations plus analog cable -- such as Comedy Central, MTV and ESPN -- will be migrated to the new service.

...indicates to me that those subs with Limited Basic will also be moved over to full digital. That does seem like a change in policy. "Standard" of course being Limited Basic(local TV channels) plus Expanded Basic(analog cable channels).

QZ1's Avatar QZ1 03:53 PM 04-08-2007
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Nothing is ever clear to me, in fact, I have a headache right now..

But, to pick another nit,

"Initially, Chicago customers with "standard" cable service, including local TV stations plus analog cable -- such as Comedy Central, MTV and ESPN -- will be migrated to the new service."

...indicates to me that those subs with Limited Basic will also be moved over to full digital. That does seem like a change in policy. "Standard" of course being Limited Basic(local TV channels) plus Expanded Basic(analog cable channels).

Yes, the article refers to them being switched 'by 2009', one can infer Feb. '09.

Comcast has changed the vague wording about its plans, each article I read where they are quoted.
Last I recall, they were going to keep Ltd. Basic and possibly a few other channels in Analog simulcast until at least Feb. '09, probably longer.

I think they will keep Ltd. Basic only, but I am not sure if they will indeed remove it in Feb. '09.

The author might think they have to remove it by then, eventhough they don't.
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 04:17 PM 04-08-2007
Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

Yes, the article refers to them being switched 'by 2009', one can infer Feb. '09.

Comcast has changed the vague wording about its plans, each article I read where they are quoted.
Last I recall, they were going to keep Ltd. Basic and possibly a few other channels in Analog simulcast until at least Feb. '09, probably longer.

I think they will keep Ltd. Basic only, but I am not sure if they will indeed remove it in Feb. '09.

The author might think they have to remove it by then, eventhough they don't.

That's what I thought as well, but a few posts in the other thread about this seem to indicate they aren't retaining Limited Basic in analog. I subbed to the Chicago Comcast thread to follow it, should be interesting to see it play out.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:23 AM 04-10-2007
Comcast near finish of digital upgrade

By Eric Benderoff
Tribune staff reporter

April 6, 2007

Additional material published April 7, 2007:


A Friday Business section story about Comcast Corp. completing its digital upgrade in Chicago contained incomplete information about the impact of the change on certain analog cable customers. After the digital upgrade, those customers who plug a cable directly into their television and bypass the need for a set-top box can still do so, but they would receive only local broadcast channels. A cable box will be required to receive other cable-only channels. The cable box will be offered free by Comcast for the primary household TV, but boxes for secondary sets require a monthly fee, a Comcast spokesperson said.

Comcast Corp. is in the final stages of a $400 million, four-year upgrade of its digital cable network in the Chicago area, a move that will end the cable company's delivery of analog signals to city customers by July.

After it completes the city work, Comcast will begin suburban upgrades, said Eric Schaefer, vice president of business development. That work should be completed by the end of 2008, he said.

Completion of the upgrade means all Comcast customers that have basic service will need to exchange their analog set-top boxes for digital set-top boxes. The cable company will not charge an additional fee or raise rates for current analog customers, Schaefer said.

"The vast majority of our Chicago customers already have digital service, but for the customers with basic service, they will get a new box," he said.

The rollout to all-digital begins in Chicago next week. Customers in neighborhoods that first undergo the upgrade now are being notified they need a digital box. The boxes can be picked up at a Comcast office or mailed to customers if requested.

Comcast is completing the digital upgrade to coincide with a February 2009 federal deadline that requires all broadcasters to send signals in a digital format.

Ultimately, by removing the larger analog signals from its network, Comcast will free up more space in its cables for the more efficient digital signals. That means it will be able to increase programming choices, Schaefer said.

Comcast will offer two additional high-definition channels in the coming months, he said, increasing the total to 18 HD channels. But, he added, the upgrade creates space for as many as 120 HD channels.

For high-speed Internet customers, the upgrade also should bring faster data speeds. >> Corrections and clarifications


Published April 7, 2007

* A Friday Business section story about Comcast Corp. completing its digital upgrade in Chicago contained incomplete information about the impact of the change on certain analog cable customers. After the digital upgrade, those customers who plug a cable directly into their television and bypass the need for a set-top box can still do so, but they would receive only local broadcast channels. A cable box will be required to receive other cable-only channels. The cable box will be offered free by Comcast for the primary household TV, but boxes for secondary sets require a monthly fee, a Comcast spokesperson said.
biker19's Avatar biker19 08:34 AM 04-10-2007
Comcast is completing the digital upgrade to coincide with a February 2009 federal deadline that requires all broadcasters to send signals in a digital format.

... just as I thought - Comcast will use the OTA 2/09 cut off as the excuse to switch customers when cable cut off has nothing to do with OTA cut off and even this reporter doesn't know it.
scottsol's Avatar scottsol 06:46 PM 04-10-2007
Reporter Benderoff wrote "coincide", not "because of" or "necessitated by" or "required by" so I think he deserves more credit than you are giving him. The Sun-Times reporter, unlike Benderoff, did imply that the changover was mandated by law.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 10:25 AM 04-18-2007
Set-Top Makers Hit CableCARD Homestretch

Motorola, Scientific Atlanta, Pace Micro Technology Gear Up for July 1
By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 4/13/2007 11:30:00 AM

With 11 weeks to go before the Federal Communications Commission's July 1 ban on set-tops with integrated security, Motorola and Scientific Atlanta said they will ramp up production of CableCARD boxes next month.

SA delivered test units to operators and expects to ramp up production in early May, with units arriving at customers in mid-May. We feel we have some runway here, director of product strategy and management Dave Clark said. We have a margin that lets people finish some of their processes and testing before the changeover.

At Motorola, commercial shipments of the first CableCARD boxes started this month. John Burke, senior vice president and general manager of digital-video solutions in the company's Connected Home Solutions unit, said those initially are in small quantities with several-thousand units shipping this week. Full production runs will ramp up in the latter part of May and into June, he added.

We stand in pretty good shape -- we've made a lot of progress, he said. Our U.S.-based customers have begun transitioning their orders [to CableCARD models].

However, to some operators, getting CableCARD boxes as late as June is cutting it close. Maybe it's just-in-time delivery, but there's not a whole lot of margin for error, Sunflower Broadband general manager Patrick Knorr said. You have FCC fines hanging over operators' heads.

Lawrence, Kan.-based Sunflower, which has 32,000 subscribers, filed a waiver with the FCC last year to use Motorola's DCT700. The agency has not yet ruled on that request -- or on more than two dozen others -- but in January, it nixed Comcast's waiver request for three low-end set-tops, including the DCT700.

The FCC ban will require most cable operators after July 1 to deploy only digital-cable boxes with separate security mechanisms, which, for now, means the removable CableCARD devices. Motorola and SA are developing software-downloadable versions of their conditional-access systems, and Cable Television Laboratories is promoting a vendor-independent specification to do the same thing, but these technologies won't be available until at least 2008.

Motorola's first CableCARD units out of the chute support HD and digital-video-recording functions. Burke said the strategy was to take the most complex products and put those at the front end of the development process. We wanted to clear the harder hurdles first.

In addition, Burke said, Motorola started with the high-end models because the industry was hoping that the FCC would grant waivers for low-end set-tops. But now, It appears that there isn't going to be an opportunity for a waiver on the lower-end boxes, he added.

Motorola will produce a CableCARD-enabled version of the DCT700, its standard-definition box with no DVR features, called the DCH100.

Burke noted, though, that Motorola will continue to manufacture and sell the DCT700 set-tops and other units with embedded security for customers outside of the United States after July 1. And Clark said SA will continue to supply boxes with embedded security for non-U.S. customers or those that have been granted FCC waivers.

Pace Micro Technology, meanwhile, is currently testing three CableCARD-enabled boxes at various customer sites. The secondary set-top supplier will support CableCARD devices from both Motorola and SA, vice president of sales and marketing Tim O'Loughlin said.

Most of my customers aren't looking to place early CableCARD orders, he added. They seem to want to purchase a handful, and then to wait and ramp up after the July 1 deadline. No one is moving early to CableCARD.
slowbiscuit 03:34 PM 04-18-2007
The real question is, will you be able to buy these STBs instead of rent them? After all, with CableCARD it should be possible.
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 04:11 PM 04-18-2007
I'm not sure you'd want to, the current Moto 6412 runs some $3XX without CC slots at huge lot amounts(non-returned 6412 fee is $475 in the SF bay area). With CC slots I would guess they would be another $100 for about $400-500.

The TiVo S3 can be had for $600, maybe less very soon.

The cable DVR will have two-way comm though, PPV, etc.
slowbiscuit 08:02 PM 04-18-2007
Yeah I guess I was mostly talking about the cheapo DCT700's just so you could get digital on all the old TV's. Renting these little STBs for $5-6 a month is a ripoff - hopefully if the MSO's are getting them for around $75 the consumer could get it for less than $100 and it would pay for itself in less than 2 years.
chitchatjf's Avatar chitchatjf 08:10 PM 04-18-2007
I had heard that those boxes were going for $40 in Canada.
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 01:32 AM 04-19-2007
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

Yeah I guess I was mostly talking about the cheapo DCT700's just so you could get digital on all the old TV's. Renting these little STBs for $5-6 a month is a ripoff - hopefully if the MSO's are getting them for around $75 the consumer could get it for less than $100 and it would pay for itself in less than 2 years.

Good point, in fact I think that is part of the initiative to mandating CC STBs, that third party equipment would be available for purchase by consumers since the encryption is being offloaded to the CC itself and not integrated in the box.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:01 AM 04-19-2007
This Spectrum Overlay technology is really fascinating since in theory it can give the cable operators as much bandwidth as FIOS at a fraction of the cost.

Cable seeks tech solutions to expand bandwidth

By Yinka AdegokeTue Apr 17, 2:58 PM ET

U.S. cable television service providers are looking to new technologies to help upgrade their networks, hoping to avoid expensive capital outlays that could spook investors.

As demand grows for bandwidth-hungry services like high-definition television and faster Internet access, the pressure on service providers has helped boost the fortunes of cable technology companies that offer a cheaper solution to building bandwidth without having to lay new cable.

One such supplier is BigBand Networks Inc., which offers a technology called switched digital video, used by operators to gain more bandwidth by only delivering channels to homes when a viewer tunes in to them.

Shares of BigBand, which went public last month, soared more than 30 percent on their Nasdaq debut. Clients include Comcast, Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., which has a 2.9 percent stake in BigBand.

Another company that has piqued investor interest is Vyyo Inc., whose shares have risen more than 60 percent in the past month. Vyyo attracted an additional $35 million in funding from Goldman Sachs in late March.

"Cable is going to have to invest in some way in all of these different technologies until they make the leap to full fiber," says Cameron Cooke, an analyst at Janco Partners. "I'm thinking about ten years from now you'll start to see cable operators taking cable into the home."

A typical cable system usually operates at 750 to 860 MHz with around 80 channels in analog video, or twice that with digital, as well as video-on-demand, digital phone and high speed Internet.

Analysts say this is adequate for today, but competition is intensifying as rival telephone companies Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. invest billions of dollars in laying new fiber optic networks to offer better and faster services.

Satellite TV providers DirecTV Group Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. are also aggressively rolling out high-definition TV channels.

"We believe cable will need to manufacture incremental bandwidth over the medium to long term in order to remain competitive," Spencer Wang, an analyst at Bear Stearns, wrote in a research note last week.

"In the short term, the greatest concern is high definition TV, given growing HD TV set penetration and DirecTV's plans to offer over 100 national HD feeds by the end of this year," said Wang.

These competitive forces, coupled with cable's plan to start selling more services to small and medium-sized companies, mean the need for extra bandwidth is imperative.

But investors who had witnessed cable's last spending spree are easily unnerved by the prospect of another major investment. The cable industry collectively spent around $100 billion laying upgraded cable systems during the 1990s, collecting a mountain of debt that they are still paying off.

Reflecting these jitters, when the largest U.S. operator Comcast Corp. forecast higher-than-expected 2007 capital spending in February, it overshadowed record profits and sent the stock down more than 3 percent.

Therefore, the focus this time round is on affordable solutions that are as much about keeping costs down as they are about improving technology.

According to analyst Michael Arden at ABI Research, switched digital deployment could cost an operator as little as $5 to $10 per household, compared to $1,000 if new cable has to be laid.

Vyyo Chief Executive Wayne Davis says his company's technology, called spectrum overlay, helps operators increase the raw bandwidth of their networks by as much as 3 GHz. It could on average cost around $125 per household.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 10:42 AM 04-21-2007
April 2, 2007
Cox picks Vyyo for 3 GHz network passives
By CT Staff Report

On Monday, Cox Communications announced it had selected Vyyo to be its supplier of 3GHz taps and passive network elements.

Cox, the fourth largest cable system operator in the United States, will use 3GHz elements from Vyyo within its coaxial network as part of its newbuild architecture and for business services in its existing network. Vyyo has received initial orders for 3GHz passives from multiple Cox systems.

The inclusion of 3GHz passives enables cable system operators to meet current and future bandwidth needs while not impacting current legacy 1GHz networks, and the ability to leverage Vyyo Spectrum Overlay active products in the future to achieve ultrabandwidth of up to approximately 3GHz for fiber-like broadcast or targeted service delivery to residences and businesses.

The use of 3GHz passive elements in Cox's network mirrors the forward-thinking approach the cable industry took when it deployed 1GHz taps and passives well before they were required, said Wayne Davis, CEO of Vyyo. Further, it will help ensure Cox's ability to add bandwidth capability as required to maintain its leadership position.

It's been a busy timeframe for Vyyo. Last week the company announced it had received a$35 million financing commitment from Goldman Sachs & Co. Also in March, Vyyo announced that former Charter CTO Davis was coming on board as CEO while former Time Warner Cable and OpenTV executive Jim Chiddix was named vice chairman.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 10:48 AM 04-27-2007

Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds

APRIL 26, 2007

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) systems serving parts of Denver and New Jersey are the sites the MSO has selected for "early stage trials" of switched digital video (SDV), a technique that promises to boost the efficiency of valuable cable bandwidth.

Comcast Corp. COO and Comcast Cable President Steve Burke mentioned those markets Thursday morning during the MSO's first quarter earnings call with reporters and analysts. (See Data, Voice Growth Drive Comcast in Q1 .)

Speaking in January at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Conference on Emerging Technologies, Comcast Vice President of Product Platform Engineering Rick Rioboli disclosed that the MSO was testing SDV in two markets, but did not mention them by name. (See MSOs Switch Digital Gears.)

"We're doing very early stage trials in a couple of markets, Denver and New Jersey, and when I say very early, I'm talking in the lab and with employees," Burke said Thursday, responding to a question from an analyst. "We're committed to switched digital playing a role in our capacity enhancements, but I think it's too early to declare victory or say that the trials are doing well or poorly."

Under the SDV scenario, several networks are moved from the traditional broadcast lineup to a "switched" tier. A switched network remains dormant on the cable system until a subscriber selects it for viewing. Once selected, a stream of that network is sent to the service group. Other customers in that service group can jump onto the same active stream. The concept frees up spectrum because the cable operator would not necessarily have to broadcast every channel on the linear lineup.

In guidance issued in February, Comcast said it had earmarked about $150 million for its 2007 SDV plans. At the time, MSO Executive Vice President and co-CFO John Alchin said the capital set aside for SDV was perhaps enough to cover 30 percent of Comcast's footprint.

As for vendor support for the Comcast SDV trials, BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND - message board) is among the leading candidates. In announcing that its SDV tech passed more than 5 million homes, BigBand said earlier this month that two top five MSOs in the U.S. had deployed its platform commercially, and another in the top five had "selected" it. (See Mulling a Milestone .)

Although Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC - message board) is the only "announced" deployment partner of BigBand's, Time Warner Cable Inc. is believed to be the second.

Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:09 AM 04-30-2007
Cable Commits to OCAP in 2008
Announcement by CableLabs' Green Comes After Cable Executives' Trip to Japan, South Korea
By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 4/25/2007 12:55:00 PM

The cable industry pledged to three key consumer-electronics partners to have OpenCable Application Platform widely deployed in their systems by the fourth quarter of 2008, roughly two years later than operators originally expected.

Cable Television Laboratories CEO Dick Green said executives from the top U.S. MSOs met with LG Electronics, Panasonic and Samsung Electronics -- the three CE makers that have developed OCAP-enabled TV sets -- in a trip to Asia last week.

The OCAP specification, licensed by CableLabs, provides a standard way for set-tops, TVs and other devices to access interactive cable services like video-on-demand.

The upshot of last week's meetings was a mutual commitment on both sides to be sure we have [OCAP] available to consumers in the next 18 months, Green said, adding, Some MSOs are a little ahead of that, some are coming along.

Cable executives who flew to Japan and South Korea on the trip included Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Cox Communications president Pat Esser.

Last year was supposed to be the year OCAP took off: At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2006, cable companies announced a commitment to roll out OCAP middleware in headends serving millions of subscribers by the end of the year.

But for now, OCAP is still largely in the testing phase. Comcast, for example, is initiating market trials with OCAP this year. Similarly, Samsung and Cox said in January that they would accelerate their OCAP development work for HDTV sets in the operator's Gainesville, Fla., division.

Time Warner, meanwhile, said digital-cable services in its New York City systems went live on Samsung's OCAP-compliant HD set-tops in January, and the operator plans to expand OCAP rollouts to other cities this year, including Milwaukee.

Green said the meetings with LG, Panasonic and Samsung demonstrated that OCAP is alive and well and all of the partners are working on assorted demonstrations.

Other CE companies, however, have balked at working with cable on OCAP.

The Consumer Electronics Association last November accused cable companies of creating a stalemate in getting two-way, cable-ready devices to market.

The trade group, in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, said it wants to be able to produce CE devices that support basic interactive cable services rather than absorbing all of the cost and uncertainty associated with OCAP. The CEA's letter was signed by executives from Sony Electronics, Hitachi, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and other association members.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:30 AM 05-02-2007
Comcast Preps Docsis 3.0 Trials
MAY 01, 2007

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is looking to begin Docsis 3.0 trials this year, with deployments possibly following in 2008, according to Tony Werner, the MSO's executive vice president and chief technology officer.

Werner discussed those plans and other elements of Comcast's technology strategy Tuesday during the MSO's analyst and investor day.

Werner did not say where Comcast would trial or deploy the new platform, but did note that those decisions would be based on certain business requirements, and pointed out that 3.0 can be targeted to specific portions the market.

He didn't say as much, but it's expected that Comcast and other MSOs, will apply 3.0 first in markets where telcos, especially Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ - message board), have deployed fiber-to-the-home networks.

Docsis 3.0 is an emerging CableLabs specification that will use channel bonding to produce broadband speeds greater than 100 Mbit/s. It's also designed to support IPv6, IP multicast, and other advanced IP features.

The faster speed isn't the only benefit of Docsis 3.0. According to Werner, 100-Mbit/s cable modem service tiers will provide similar cable modem termination system (CMTS) economics to today's 6-Mbit/s tiers.

Werner spent the bulk of his time Tuesday discussing cable capacity requirements for future services and the "levers" Comcast can pull to ensure it has plenty of bandwidth to throw at them. Some levers he cited included node splits, digital optimization, and switched digital video (SDV).

Node splits, he said, can be used to "surgically" add capacity to service areas, a move usually driven by downstream applications such as high-speed Internet and video-on-demand (VOD).

This year, about 65 percent of Comcast's node splits are of the cheapest "logical" variety, which cost about $3.35 per home passed and enable a tripling of capacity. About 25 percent are "modular" splits ($8 per home passed), and only 10 percent are "physical" node splits, which, at about $26 per home passed, are the most expensive of the lot.

Comcast is also exploring the bandwidth efficiencies afforded by variable bit rate VOD, a technology being championed by companies like Imagine Communications . (See Imagine Connects With SeaChange .)

Another lever in Comcast's arsenal is SDV, a technology the MSO will first test in parts of Denver and New Jersey. (See Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds .)

Citing Comcast's own research, Werner said that, out of the 200 least-popular cable channels, a maximum of 40 are being watched at any given time. If those viewing patterns hold up, Comcast "can start stacking additional channels almost to infinity" without increasing capacity, Werner said.

By applying "conservative assumptions," Werner estimated that Comcast could free up 78 MHz of spectrum using a mix of SDV, analog-to-digital migration, reclaiming bandwidth from legacy apps, and advanced compression (MPEG-4).

Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:32 AM 06-05-2007
Although this articled deals with Time-Warner, Comcast has stated they plan on employing the same technology.

Time Warner Boasts of Virtually Unlimited' HDTV Capacity
Cable Operator to Launched Switched-Digital-Video Technology in One-Half of Systems By Year-End

By Steve Donohue -- Multi[/size]channel News, 6/4/2007 10:41:00 PM

Boasting that it will be able to boost channel capacity to carry more HD networks, Time Warner Cable plans to deploy switched-digital-video technology on one-half of its systems nationwide by the end of 2007, chief financial officer Landel Hobbs said Tuesday.

Hobbs acknowledged that Time Warner's direct-broadcast satellite rivals such as DirecTV have done an effective job of marketing HDTV offerings. Shame on us because we haven't really done a good job of marketing [HDTV], Hobbs said at a Deutche Bank Securities conference in New York Monday.

But he added that SDV technology -- which allows Time Warner and other cable providers to deliver channels to subscribers based on demand, rather than broadcasting hundreds of channels simultaneously -- will give Time Warner virtually unlimited HD capacity.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 03:36 PM 06-06-2007
Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test
JUNE 04, 2007

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has picked a handful of suppliers -- including C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL - message board), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT - message board), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT - message board), and Scientific Atlanta -- to participate in the MSO's early technical trials of switched digital video (SDV), Cable Digital News has learned.

During a quarterly earnings call last month with reporters and analysts, Comcast COO and Comcast Cable President Steve Burke identified Denver and N.J. as the sites for "early stage" tests of SDV, but they did not go into vendor selection. (See Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds.)

SDV, which promises to increase the efficiency of cable operator bandwidth by switching some channels individually -- rather than broadcasting in bulk -- is a technique already being championed in the U.S. by MSOs such as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC - message board) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC - message board). (See MSOs Switch Digital Gears.)

According to sources familiar with the trials, Comcast is piloting SA's switched video technology in Cherry Hill, N.J.

In the Mile High City, meanwhile, Comcast is said to be gearing up for something more akin to a multi-vendor trial. Both trials will start with "friendlies" -- likely to be Comcast employees.

In Denver, it's said that the technical trials will be executed on two different portions of the cable network. One piece will use a session resource manager from C-COR, and the other will leverage one from Motorola, which solidified its position in the SDV sector last fall after picking up Vertasent LLC, a closely held startup based in Colmar, Pa. (See Motorola Buys Vertasent.) Both portions of the Denver trial will employ encoders and new edge QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) technology from Harmonic. A source familiar with the trial added that the Denver trial will use Motorola video servers obtained by Motorola last summer when it purchased of D-RAM specialist Broadbus Technologies. (See Motorola Scoops Up Broadbus.)

Comcast did not comment about the MSO's SDV vendor selection in Denver or N.J.

Still, the outcome of those trials could determine which suppliers will have the inside track at Comcast and could shape how the larger SDV sector shakes out longer-term. Today, BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND - message board) and Scientific Atlanta/Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO - message board) appear to be at the forefront in both categories, though they will certainly be pressured by competitors such as C-COR, Motorola, and Tandberg Television , which introduced an "open" SDV platform last month in Las Vegas at The Cable Show.

BigBand is notably absent in the Comcast trial so far, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has missed an opportunity to participate, as Comcast says it's open to looking at other technology. (See Tandberg Intros SDV.)

In April, BigBand said its SDV technology had passed more than 5 million homes, and it extended that figure to 6 million at last month's cable conference. Although Cablevision is BigBand's only announced SDV deployment, Time Warner Cable is a firm second, and there is belief that Cox Communications Inc. has also selected BigBand as an SDV partner. (See Mulling a Milestone.)

Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR - message board) is said to be in the process of selecting SDV vendor partners, and it could kick off switched broadcast trials by the fourth quarter of 2007.

But how much revenue is up for grabs as cable operators make vendor selections and begin to deploy SDV technology in earnest? Some view SDV as a significant, long-term broadband efficiency play, while others believe it will offer operators some incremental aid as they tee up other bandwidth enhancement or expansion strategies.

In late February, company Co-Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer John Alchin said Comcast had set aside $150 million for its 2007 SDV efforts.

Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. estimates SDV systems could cost operators $5 to $20 per home passed, with the consensus value at about $15 per home. "Over several years, the initiative could be worth over $1 billion from multiple MSOs," Morgan Keegan analyst Simon Leopold said in a research note issued just ahead of last month's cable confab.

Despite that some vendors are further ahead than others in both product development and deployments, he suggests it's too early to start assuming which suppliers will end up winning the SDV sweepstakes.

"In a nascent market, what does market share mean?" Leopold asks. "I'm not quite sure it's meaningful until Comcast gets into a full ramp."

Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 10:36 AM 06-16-2007
Comcast backs start-up to ramp up Web speeds

By Yinka AdegokeFri Jun 15, 12:29 PM ET

The investment arm of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq:CMCSA - news), the U.S. No. 1 cable operator, said on Friday it will back a Silicon Valley start-up that develops chips to enable super-fast Internet access and more high-definition channels.

Comcast Interactive Capital said it will join U.S. No. 6 cable operator Advance/Newhouse in a $17 million second-round of funding for BroadLogic Network Technologies. Comcast did not say how much it was investing.

BroadLogic already counts Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX - news), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO - news) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC - news) among its earlier corporate investors.

The company makes two main types of chip-sets, the TeraPIX video processor and Wideband Receiver, which recover bandwidth for cable operators and enhance their platforms, according to Comcast.

The chips are now sold mainly within cable modems but there are plans to use them more actively across the cable infrastructure, said Comcast Interactive Capital Managing Director Louis Toth.

"Those two chips can significantly increase the bandwidth on cable plants," said Toth.

Cable operators are racing to ramp up capacity to offer subscribers faster Internet speeds and more high-definition channels as stronger competition looms from satellite television and telephone providers that are building or expanding their own advanced video services.

In May, Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts demonstrated Internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second at The Cable Show. Most major U.S. cable operators today typically offer customers speeds around 5 megabits per second.

Cable companies are limited by the existing capacity of their already-laid cables, partly filled by bandwidth-hungry analog channels.

Most cable operators have been buying or investing in technologies to boost capacity, but they are keen not to make major capital expenditure commitments to avoid unnerving investors.

Comcast has backed other companies who develop technology to help improve network capacity, including a stake in RGB Networks. It had invested in Broadbus Technologies, which was sold to Motorola Inc. (NYSE:MOT - news) in September of 2006.

"We're seeing this need for more services in the future and we're laying the groundwork by investing in companies like BroadLogic," said Toth.

"Then we're having them talk to some of the equipment vendors to come up with a new generation of products to improve the capacity of the network," he added.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 11:32 AM 06-19-2007
Jun 19, 2007 08:01

BigBand Networks to Demonstrate Advanced Video Services, Unveil New Deployment Milestones at Cable-Tec Expo

Universal Edge QAM, CTO Roundtable to Highlight Company's Demonstrations and Presentations at SCTE Conference
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. --(Business Wire)-- Jun. 19, 2007 BigBand Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBND) today announced that it will demonstrate a series of key technologies and present in several technical sessions at SCTE's Cable-Tec EXPO 2007. The company will also provide updates on its groundbreaking commercial deployments of switched digital video and Modular CMTS (M-CMTS). BigBand will be located in Booth 2164 at the conference, which takes place Wednesday, June 20-Friday, June 22, at the Orlando Convention Center.

BigBand experts will present during multiple conference programs, including a lead panel in the Expo's opening session and two subsequent technical sessions. Presentation details, including date and time information, are included below:

-- BigBand chief technology officer and co-founder Ran Oz will join executives from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Suddenlink to exchange views on the future of cable technology during the CTO panel, scheduled to take place during the opening general session Wednesday, June 20th, from 10:15-11:45 a.m.

-- Howard Abramson, BigBand's director of advanced engineering and development, will provide a roadmap for the evolution to IPTV over DOCSIS(R) 3.0 and M-CMTS in his presentation for the panel entitled, "DOCSIS 3.0 Technologies & Services." The panel is scheduled for Thursday, June 21st at 9:30 a.m., and again at 11:00 a.m.

-- Ron Wolfe, BigBand's senior product marketing manager, will walk through lessons learned from switched digital video deployments during the session, "Installing and Monitoring Switched Digital Video." The panel is scheduled for Thursday, June 21st at 11:00 a.m. and again on Friday, June 22nd at 1:30 p.m.

BigBand's technology demonstrations at Cable-Tec EXPO will include:

-- Universal Edge QAM. As part of this demonstration, BigBand's Edge QAM platform shares capacity among on-demand and video-over-DOCSIS services and improves the utilization of QAM assets. The Edge QAM plays a pivotal role in a range of advanced video and data services, including VOD, switched digital video and Modular CMTS.

-- Switched Digital Video Ecosystem. BigBand pioneered switched digital video and is the commercial deployment leader, with approximately 6.5 million households passed. BigBand's open solution is also interoperable with a wide array of set-top boxes, electronic programming guides and middleware. This demonstration illustrates the range of components that interoperate with BigBand's switched digital video solution.

-- HDTV over DOCSIS(R). This demonstration illustrates how cable operators can leverage three key attributes of BigBand's M-CMTS architecture to cost-effectively deliver HDTV over cable modems. The first attribute is BigBand's ability to deliver downstream channels at one fourth the cost of current integrated CMTS channels via M-CMTS technology. The second attribute is BigBand's unique ability to support new DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding modems and existing DOCSIS modems simultaneously on the same downstream channels. This duality allows operators to continue to leverage their existing installed cable modem base to achieve data rates in the 20-30 megabits-per-second (Mbps) range, and simultaneously leverage channel bonding modems to offer data services of 100 Mbps or greater. The third attribute -- bandwidth-sharing of Edge QAMs between the CMTS and video services -- can drive down the delivery costs for higher bandwidth services.

-- Switched Video Analysis. Switched video analysis highlights the ability of BigBand's switched digital video solution to gather metrics that allow service providers to make informed decisions about programming expansion and network utilization, as well as determine when and where to roll out new programming and advertising to improve viewer satisfaction and engagement.

-- Addressable Advertising. This demonstration illustrates how advertisers can effectively target, execute and measure successful campaigns with advertising that more closely matches the interests of viewers.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:32 AM 06-25-2007
In an article on HBO-HD switching to MPEG-4 ....

For its part, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has been cooking up a new series of Residential Network Gateway (RNG) set-tops that can decode both MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 signals. Comcast expects to test some of those products in the second half of this year, with commercial rollouts beginning in early 2008, said John Schanz, Comcast Cable's executive vice president of national engineering and technical operations.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 02:07 PM 07-01-2007
Switched Digital Ripens Reality, Cases and Vendors
By Jonathan Tombes

By any of several measures, switched digital video is hot. The list of vendors playing in the SDV arena is growing, with some products in their second or third generation. The body of peer-reviewed literature is expanding. Debates are live, and increasingly urgent. And the industry's two largest MSOs are planning to invest in this category, heavily. The shift from trial to deployment has begun.

Two papers delivered at the NCTA Cable Show and four prepared for SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo focus upon switched. Moreover, because SDV cuts across several other categories and is assumed as part of the industry's strategic roadmap, the topic now frequently shows up elsewhere - for instance, in papers covering bandwidth management and advanced advertising.

As SDV matures, there remain open questions. Exactly how many additional QAM devices are required to achieve the access network nirvana of one stream per tuner? What role can variable bit rate (VBR) encoding play within this architecture? How do you track and monitor the exponentially increasing number of streams? (The topic of one of this year's Cable-Tec Expo papers.) And to borrow from the question that BigBand Networks Chief Cable Architect Doug Jones raised in these pages in May, what will it take to turn open protocols into open systems? Related to that last question is the possible standardization of separate digital video interfaces used, respectively, by Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

For the rest of this article please go to:
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:18 AM 07-09-2007

On June 29, 2007 the FCC released a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Third FNPRM) soliciting comment on proposed standards to ensure bi-directional compatibility of cable television systems and consumer electronics equipment.

In the Communications Act of 1996, Congress sought to provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase competitive navigation devices (set-top boxes) from sources other than their Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs). The FCC, in 1998, adopted rules which required cable operators to make available by July 1, 2000 a security element separate from the basic navigation device (also referred to as the "host device"). Cable operators were allowed to continue providing equipment with integrated security until January 1, 2005, so long as modular security components, known as point-of-deployment modules ("PODs" or "CableCARDs"), were also made available for use with host devices obtained through retail outlets.

In April 2003, in response to a request from cable operators, the FCC extended the effective date of the integration ban until July 1, 2006. Then, in 2005, the Commission extended that deadline again to July 1, 2007. (On June 29, 2007 the FCC denied NCTA's request for a further extension of this deadline - that order is here:

In September 2003, the FCC adopted an interface standard in the so-called Plug and Play Order, which adopted an agreement between the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) that specified technical standards for a one-way system. (See TV TechCheck from September 15, 2003). Products based on this agreement can receive and decode encrypted digital cable signals but have no upstream or bi-directional capabilities and thus do not support services such as Electronic Program Guides (EPGs), Video On Demand (VOD), Pay-per-View (PPV) or other interactive features.

The FCC states in the Third FNPRM that consumers have not shown significant interest in one-way services. They further stated that while the cable and consumer electronics industries have attempted to negotiate an agreement on how to achieve bi-directional compatibility, the industries have made little progress and it does not appear that an agreement is imminent.

The Third FNPRM seeks comment on two proposals for bi-directional cable compatibility, one from the cable industry and one from the consumer electronics industry.

In November 2005, NCTA proposed a two-way solution based on the use of OCAP which is a middleware software layer based on Java that allows developers to create applications and programs that would run on any OCAP-enabled device. (For background on OCAP, see TV TechChecks from December 16, 2002 and September 22, 2003). The NCTA proposal recommends that the Commission adopt a regulatory regime that includes:

(1) Technical requirements for cable systems;

(2) "Limited but necessary" content protection requirements for navigation devices;

(3) Testing and certification/verification procedures to prevent harm to the cable network and services; and

(4) Consumer education mandates.

NCTA's proposal is here:

On November 7, 2006, CEA, along with twelve consumer electronics and information technology companies, proposed a two-way plug and play solution that asks the FCC to do the following:

(1) Adopt an enhanced CableCARD approach for basic interactive services, based largely on existing standards;

(2) Provide oversight with respect to OCAP development, or allow consumer electronics companies and information technology companies to participate fully in the OCAP development process;

(3) Direct CableLabs to approve all output technologies that the Digital Living Network Alliance ("DLNA") approves, and require cable providers to provide digital set-top boxes that are fully compatible with DLNA networks;

(4) Adopt testing requirements for two-way devices that are similar to the existing testing requirements for one-way devices (i.e., initial device testing and certification with subsequent self-certification), and require that the cable industry provide consumer electronics manufacturers any new OCAP applications for testing at least sixty days before widespread deployment; and

(5) Permit consumer electronics devices to use a cable path for software upgrades equal to the path that cable operators use for their software upgrades.

CEA's proposal can be found here:

The FCC seeks comments on both proposals. The Third FNPRM asks for comment on the impact that the proposals would have on consumers, content providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, large and small cable operators, other MPVDs, and on the transition to digital television. In addition the Commission wants to know if either of these proposals offer a reasonable and quickly implementable approach, and what specific rule changes would be necessary. The FCC also seeks comment on any other proposals or rule changes that should be considered in order to permit the development of two-way digital cable-ready devices.

Finally, the Third FNPRM asks whether any rules adopted in this proceeding should apply to non-cable MVPDs and whether there are technological solutions that are network agnostic and deployable across all MVPD platforms (e.g., cable, Direct Broadcast Satellite ("DBS"), Internet Protocol ("IP") or hybrid Quadrature Amplitude Modulation/IP ("QAM/IP")).

The Third FNPRM is available on the FCC Web page at:
holl_ands's Avatar holl_ands 01:15 PM 07-09-2007
NCTA comments say they're firmly against CEA's non-OCAP for
low-cost STB (not DVR?) "Proposal":
They've already invested Mega-Bucks in a Next Gen Cable Architecture that
is rolling out this year and next....some of which can be "blamed" on the FCC....

If the (American) cable companies don't want to accommodate the
(mostly Japanese) equipment manufacturers, we all can see where this ship will
eventually run the mean time they'll waste time bouncing comments
and half-baked "Proposals" back and forth.....delay, delay, delay....

By then OCAP and probably also DCAS will (finally) become real facts on the ground....

Who knows, maybe a truly "low-cost" OCAP SD-STB will appear (probably with DCAS)
and make all of this an interesting footnote to history.....

Although FCC is seeing general comments re CableCARDs,
the OTHER part in the Introduction is truly EARTHSHAKING.
FCC is also seeking comments whether they should consider

Reread the underlying congressional authorization: it's to make it possible
for users to BUY their own HDTV/DVR/STB to plug into "MVPDs"--
which, by definition, includes Cable, DBS and wireline.

BTW: CEA Proposal stipulated mandatory interface via whatever the DLNA
(Digital Living Network Alliance) approves (e.g. wireless, coax, BPL).
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 11:05 AM 08-21-2007
Cable Faces Bandwidth Crisis

Aug 20, 2007 11:02 AM

In light of escalating demand for high-definition television and other bandwidth-hungry services, cable television operators may run out of capacity on their networks, a new report predicts.

Several fixes are available to the cable operators and, according to the study by ABI Research in New York City, those solutions will collectively account for about $80 billion worldwide in new investment over the next five years.

The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a dirty little industry secret' that no one talks about, said Stan Schatt, vice president and research director at ABI Research.

Some of the solutions cited in the study including rate shaping and expanding spectrum beyond 750MHz have already been undertaken by some cable operators, mostly in the United States. Other solutions expected to come into play between now and 2012, include spectrum upgrades coupled with node-splitting, switched digital video, PON overlay, MPEG-4 compression and home gateway bandwidth management solutions.

Each technology involves tradeoffs and balancing of cost versus benefit, and some are more applicable in certain circumstances than others, the study noted.

Ars Technica reported that cable providers now need close to 750MHz of spectrum to deliver services: about 676MHz for downstream applications like analog cable, digital cable, HD programming, video-on-demand, Internet data, and VoIP service. Upstream spectrum needs are much smaller, totaling about 54MHz.

That's not enough for future growth, however. Uploading bandwidth is going to have to increase, Schatt told Ars Technica. And the cable providers are going to get killed on bandwidth as HD programming becomes more commonplace.

IPTV is the future, Schatt argued. Digital switching is key, he said. Ultimately, the cable companies will have to move to IPTV. They'll be brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

If cable providers are unwilling or unable to address the bandwidth crunch, their customers will begin to move to Verizon and AT&T, he suggested.
qz3fwd's Avatar qz3fwd 12:53 PM 08-21-2007
What-Comcast in my are has plent of UNUSED QAM spots where they could add a TON of additional HD channels. Just another excuse to move to a new technology and circumvent Congresses wishes.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:09 AM 08-22-2007
In some areas this may be true, but Comcast uses channel allocations for other purposes such as On Demand, Docsis (cable modem and other interactive services), plus within the next year they will be adding many more HD channels. With conventional QAM256 you can get about 12 regular channels in the space of one analog channels or about two HD channels. To stay competitive with Fios they need more bandwidth or other methods to add channels.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:14 AM 10-04-2007
Comcast Ready to Reclaim Bandwidth
OCTOBER 03, 2007

DENVER -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) can reclaim roughly 240 MHz of spectrum, equivalent to about 40 channels, by using switched digital video, a new compression scheme, and other bandwidth-boosting techniques, its CTO said here today.

Comcast senior vice president and chief technology officer Tony Werner discussed those options at The Cable Center , site of the 2007 Women in Cable Telecommunications Rocky Mountain and Communications Technology Professionals (CTP) "Tech It Out" conference. [Ed. note: He's one of the latter, we assume.]

Werner says Comcast has started testing the "improved" compression scheme and plans to roll it "across the board" sometime next year. He did not dive into the technical specifics of the compression plan nor note any specific vendor partners, but he said it will improve bandwidth efficiency by 50 percent without affecting video quality.

Just as important, it will work with the MSO's massive base of MPEG-2 set-tops, Werner said. At the end of the second quarter, Comcast had 14 million digital video subs, all served by MPEG-2-based set-tops.

Comcast is also working on an "open" Residential Network Gateway (RNG) project that will include two set-top models -- the RNG 200 and the RNG 1000 -- that will also support MPEG-4. (See Intel Goes Inside Cable... Again.)

A more efficient video bit rate will come in handy as Comcast looks to make room for more broadcast high-definition video, video-on-demand, and spare 6 MHz channels for Docsis 3.0, a next-gen CableLabs spec that will push shared speeds beyond 100 Mbit/s. Werner reiterated that Comcast is trialing Docsis 3.0 "as we speak." (See Comcast Preps Docsis 3.0 Trials.)

Comcast has already placed purchase orders for 3.0 gear and expects to introduce it to a "substantive portion of our footprint" in 2008, he said.

In addition to faster speeds, Werner also talked up Docsis 3.0's support of IPv6, noting that Comcast will need a deeper pool of addresses to keep pace with the deployment of set-tops with IP capabilities. Another IP address magnet is an emerging market of "early adopter entertainment" users, who might have 30 or more devices hooked to the Internet at any given time. The IPv4 address pool will be exhausted by 2009 or 2010, Werner predicted.

Comcast, he said, has about 10 million IP-enabled devices hanging off its networks today. Werner expects that number to double next year, and triple in 2009.

Back to the bandwidth issue, Comcast, Werner pointed out, is also testing SDV, another bandwidth-saving technique that only delivers broadcast channels in a "switched" tier when customers in a given service group select them. Comcast has already identified Denver and Cherry Hill, N.J., as its early tech trial markets. (See Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds, Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test, and Comcast Taps Arris for Edge QAM Initiative .)

Werner, citing some system data, said Comcast can reclaim about 16 MHz (four channels) using SDV.

In addition to better compression, SDV, and analog reclamation, Werner said Comcast has three or four other bandwidth-boosting "mechanisms" at its disposal. He did not name it, but outright bandwidth expansion -- beyond 750 MHz or 860 MHz, in some cases -- could be one of the tools under consideration. Vendors such as Scientific Atlanta , Aurora Networks Inc. , and C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL - message board) are pushing 1 GHz systems. Vyyo Inc. (Nasdaq: VYYO - message board), meanwhile, is hawking a 3 GHz overlay that expands both downstream and upstream spectrum.

In August, Vyyo revealed that Comcast and Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR - message board) have been conducting tests on the vendor's UltraBand platform. (See Vyyo Gets Foot in Door at Comcast, Charter .)
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 09:49 AM 10-04-2007
I wonder what compression scheme they're talking about.
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