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davehancock's Avatar davehancock 05:27 PM 05-08-2008
Originally Posted by satpro View Post

Fios does not remodulate, because they have fiber to the premises they do a conversion from optical to electrical, this is a thousand times cheaper and simpler to do than what comcast is TALKING about, They have coax to the premise and thus need to demodulate, demux, decode each qam channel, convert it to analog and then modulate each channel onto its own ntsc analog carrier freq. A completely impractical task that has never been done before and never will be done for even $3500. Basically they are proposing to fit an entire row of equipment racks at the headend into this magic little box all for $35 dollars. Good luck with that comcast! If it works satellite wont be far behind. But it won't!

And they said that you could never ...........?

You might want to check THIS out.

satpro's Avatar satpro 07:18 PM 05-08-2008
Originally Posted by davehancock View Post

You might want to check THIS out.

Finally some proof! Thanks.
cypherstream's Avatar cypherstream 08:44 AM 05-09-2008
That site's been up since 2006 I believe. They did update the description for the processor. Notice now they do say it's used in a Residential Gateway Device where the cable enters the home, or just outside the home.

It's simply amazing that they are able to do this task. Because it's so integrated, and they are going to sell like hotcakes to MSO's, BroadLogic may be able to keep the price low enough and still be able to survive as a sucessful company. I know that Comcast did invest quite a large dollar amount in BroadLogic, as did a few other cable operators.

This device would be the 'holy grail' to the MSO, wanting to expand bandwidth in an already tight All Digital Simulcast system.

I wonder though, if the wideband tuner is frequency agile, or due to costs, if they have to locate the ADS channels on specific frequencies with PID's, spec'd out from BroadLogic. If it's addressable, they can easily shut off a subscriber in non-bill pay situations or cancellation in service. Now do they go the unencrypted QAM route, or do they encrypt in Digicipher2 or PowerKEY?

The wideband tuner does support tuning up to 16 6-MHz channels. Even if they do an 80 analog channel reconstruction (2-77,95,96,98,99), a conservative SD QAM at 10:1 providing 3.88mbps per channel to preserve quality, only takes up 8 QAM channels. WOW, that's sweet to go from using 550 MHz of bandwidth down to 48 MHz of bandwidth... even more savings if they stick with 12:1 (3.23 mbps per channel) or VBR 16:1 solutions.
michaelk's Avatar michaelk 09:04 AM 05-12-2008
Originally Posted by cypherstream View Post

... The frequency shifting off of a 1 GHz system however would require a plant upgrade to 1 GHz, and that costs way more than $30-$70 per home passed (not to mention it takes a lot of time). ....

will be interesting to see for sure.

But about my comment about 1ghz- sorry I wasn't clear. My thought was it's a way to NOT rebuild the whole plant to 1 GHZ.

Sorry my knowledge of the numbers involved isn't that good but I'll make some up so you get the gist of what I mean.

You take a 750 system. Dont rebuilt it. Then you take your 50 analog channels and convert them to digital and put those in the bottom few qams- Say first 5 channels. That leaves you say 45 qams from channels 6 to 50 to put new digital content in. When the signal gets to the house- the whole house box shifts channels 6-50 up in the spectrum to the place from 750-1,000mhz. Now channels And you expand channels 1-5 from digital qam into analog on channels 1-50. inside the house it's just like the day before you made the change- first 50 channels are analog. From their to 750 it's all digital. But now you have a pile of brand new stuff from 750-1ghz. Since it's all new content you dont need to give everyone new boxes- just people that order stuff from the new 750-1ghz tier would need to get new 1ghz ready boxes.

I have NO IDEA if that makes sense of not dollar or technology wise. Just trying to brainstrom how they could actually use it.
cypherstream's Avatar cypherstream 12:16 PM 05-12-2008
That's a pretty neat idea for sure. Only a few details that would be problematic.
50 Analog channels takes up 300 MHz of bandwidth. Offsetting a 750 MHz system by 300 MHz takes you to 1050 MHz. Currently all deployed cable set tops only tune to 864 MHz. There are newer models with 1 GHz tuners but it will take a good amount of time and money to swap out all of the other equipment. Also if swapping out cable boxes in droves is the solution, then they might as well go with MPEG4 / H.264 encoding.

But neat theory on getting 750 MHz systems upgraded to 1 GHz or more without upgrading the outside plant.
michaelk's Avatar michaelk 03:31 PM 05-12-2008
there's no need to instantly upgrade all your boxes from 864 to 1ghz. You only need to do people that subscribe to those new services in the 1ghz slice. Just like Dish and Directv didn't swap all their boxes instantly to MPEG4. They offer new channels and tell people they need a new box to get them.

ABout my math and the 50 channels pushing you to 1050mhz- I was just making things up. So instead make it 40 analog channels and you are done.

Or keep it 50 ananlog channels and instead of going 750 to 1000 go from 700 to 1000.

The specific numbers aren't important- just the idea.

I really am not seeing any other way that you get access to the "new room" if you are just going to explode the analog to take it all over.

Maybe it's meant to help get more space from the head end to the nodes? But isn't that all fiber in this day and age?

I'm not really seeing the point.

Why would you spend tens of millions to install these things to recreate analog in a house when one day when that house wants just one single digital box you have to throw out the gateway and give the house all new digital boxes.

I must be missing something.
holl_ands's Avatar holl_ands 09:43 PM 05-12-2008
Next gen cable boxes could use new MPEG4/IPTV function in the "New Spectrum" above 864 MHz....
and could off-load some of the PPV/SDV load from the below 864 MHz assignments....

However, I think it will primarily be used for SMB (Small and Medium Business) applications,
using new DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modems with Quad (and higher) QAM Channel Bonding techniques,
providing very high speed data rates as it quickly chews through the new spectrum...
and the cable companies expand their high paying customer base....
michaelk's Avatar michaelk 08:21 AM 05-14-2008
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

Next gen cable boxes could use new MPEG4/IPTV function in the "New Spectrum" above 864 MHz....
and could off-load some of the PPV/SDV load from the below 864 MHz assignments....

However, I think it will primarily be used for SMB (Small and Medium Business) applications,
using new DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modems with Quad (and higher) QAM Channel Bonding techniques,
providing very high speed data rates as it quickly chews through the new spectrum...
and the cable companies expand their high paying customer base....

good point- they RAPE the small businesses.

I own my own small business.

My office is maybe a mile from my front door. I have comcast high speed internet at both locations.

At home it's 30 bucks plus 2 dollars modem rental.

At my office the list price is over $160 dollars. My partner and I have to keep calling every few months to complain to get a discount to get it in the 60-80 dollar range.
bicker1's Avatar bicker1 06:12 PM 05-14-2008
Many residential customers don't know how good they have it.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:23 AM 05-15-2008
May 14, 2008 13:19

Tru2way(TM) Technology and Interactive Applications to Take Center Stage at The Cable Show '08

Open Specifications and Technology Drive Growth in Interactive Applications and Tru2way Platform
LOUISVILLE, Colo. --(Business Wire)-- May. 14, 2008 Tru2way(TM) technology and interactive TV applications will have broad exposure during the cable industry's premier convention, The Cable Show '08, being held at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from May 18-20. Tru2way technology, which is the retail brand for the OpenCable(TM) hardware and OCAP(TM) (software) technical initiatives, will take center stage at a two-day pre-convention conference for OCAP developers and in more than a dozen demonstrations on the exhibit floor and within the CableNET(R) pavilion.

"Tru2way will provide a platform for faster and greater innovation," said Dallas Clement, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Product Management for Cox Communications. "At Cox, we are excited about the prospect of bringing our customers an enhanced, convenient experience at a great value."

"We're seeing great response from the application developer community for tru2way(TM) technology and for the overall enhanced TV effort," said Mark Hess, Senior Vice President, Digital Television, Comcast Cable Communications. "The industry's move toward open CableLabs' specifications and technology is generating great volumes of application development," he added.

Tru2way technology is an innovative national software platform that enables cable's interactive services to be delivered to two-way plug and play TVs, set-top boxes and other devices. Tru2way also creates a national footprint for the creators of interactive services to develop products that work on cable systems in nearly every U.S. market. Major cable operators have committed to support the tru2way platform on systems covering more than 90 million U.S. homes by the end of 2008.

A number of application demonstrations based on tru2way technology will be showcased in the CableNET pavilion, including:

-- Softel-USA will show the powerful MediaSphere TX carousel playing both tru2way and ETV interactive applications. Softel-USA will also demonstrate the flexibility and ease-of-use of the system's web-based configuration tools.

-- UniSoft Corporation/Strategy & Technology Ltd (S&T) will show its TSBroadcaster 2.0 for tru2way, to create and broadcast multi-service transport streams containing a number of tru2way and ETV applications. ETV demonstrations will include ad insertion and splicing; ETV and tru2way applications validation; tru2way benchmark testing using Sofia's Benchmark System; and Generation of authenticated tru2way applications using UniSoft's tru2way Security File Generator.

-- Zodiac Interactive will demonstrate a tru2way-based Zidget framework, which utilizes its plug-in architecture to support applications such as local search, weather, traffic, sports scores, and local news without disrupting the TV viewing experience.

In addition, attendees at The Cable Show '08 can experience interactive applications, including EBIF-based applications using CableLabs' enhanced TV specifications, in a number of exhibitors' booths, including:

-- BIAP will demonstrate market-ready EBIF applications including Yellow Pages on TV, eBay on TV, and Personalized Information TV (PiTV) running on BIAP's EBIF User Agent platform. Additional EBIF and tru2way applications from BIAP include: Election Central 2008 and Fantasy Sports Trackers for football and baseball.

-- Cisco Systems will have a number of tru2way applications in its booth, including a demo of Time Warner Cable's digital navigator program guide; a demo of Comcast's new iGuide, and demos of Navic Networks' enhanced programming and advanced advertising.

-- CNN News and program guide which is developed by Ensequence and enables international sports news and a program guide for upcoming CNN programming.

-- Comcast's Chill Games application which is being developed by PixelPlay and will offer casual games.

-- Comcast Media Center will be introducing a national platform for deploying and managing ETV and tru2way applications at the Comcast Booth.

-- Cox Communications' Next Generation User Interface developed by NDS Group, plc.

-- Ensequence will demonstrate tru2way and EBIF interactive TV experiences for WWE and Ford.

-- Harmonic is developing interactive, high-quality video-rich navigation technologies for on-demand and user generated content that dramatically enhance the viewer's experience. Integrated with tru2way, this advanced solution leverages the operator's existing infrastructure and legacy set-top boxes.

-- HSN's successful "Shop by Remote" service is currently deployed in more than 15 million homes. Working with partners Tandberg and Ensequence, HSN is developing EBIF/tru2way versions of the service for forthcoming launches with major distributors. The service enables consumers to purchase on-air products in real time by remote control through an account with HSN.

-- ICTV will demonstrate Social Networking, Web 2.0, personalized mosaics and other applications that combine the strengths of Web functionality and ETV.

-- itaas will showcase tru2way and EBIF applications built to be deployed on both Cisco and Motorola set-top boxes including TAG games on demand TV network, Cisco Web Video on TV and Integra5 TV Caller ID. Portability of content from TV to mobile and broadband featuring MPTV Gateway with content from Travel Channel will also be highlighted.

-- Motorola will demonstrate the advanced media mobility capabilities of its tru2way platform including whole home DVR, caller ID, external hard drive support and Time Warner's music and photo sharing application; a demo of Comcast's next generation guide experience and our PC-based tru2way application development environment will also be shown.

-- Navic Networks has developed tru2way applications for advanced advertising, audience measurement and interactive customer care.

-- Navic also will demonstrate its HyperCast Network which provides cross-operator management and delivery of EBIF-based interactivity.

-- Oberon Media is completing a games service that features games from its portfolio of hundreds of titles that includes licenses from Hasbro, Atari, WPT Enterprises Inc, and the Learning Company. It also integrates Oberon Media's own patented, proprietary JIVE(TM) community platform which enables the creation, integration and management of multi-user and multiplayer cross-platform games as well as the ability to obtain in-depth audience measurement analytics.

-- QVC is developing the QVC Buy Button, which enables consumers to buy on-air products through a remote control using their QVC account.

-- TVWorks provides both tru2way and ETV platforms and is developing a number of applications including advanced advertising, personal media and communications, enhanced navigation, member services / customer care, information apps, etc.

-- The Weather Channel is creating an application for local weather and airport conditions on demand, being developed with Vidiom Systems.

The focus on tru2way technology and interactive television applications at the Cable Show '08 builds on the growing momentum for open specifications that let hardware and software vendors develop innovative capabilities that can be broadly deployed on any cable system or consumer electronics device that supports those specifications. At a recent CableLabs' tru2way interoperability event, 19 companies -- including three application developers who were participating for the first time -- were able to test their latest products within an end-to-end tru2way system.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:32 AM 05-20-2008
Cable Makes Big 'tru2way' Play
MAY 16, 2008

In case the crush of announcements hasn't tipped you off already, the cable industry is set to trot out tru2way in a big way at The Cable Show, which opens its doors this weekend in New Orleans.

While a keynote from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and some new product announcements from the likes of Panasonic made for an attention-grabbing side show in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, tru2way, which promises to create an open retail market for interactive digital boxes and televisions, will take center stage at the all-cable gig. (See CES: Roberts Declares Open Season and Comcast, Panasonic Unveil Portable DVR .)

In addition to a two-day, pre-show tru2way Developers' Conference that starts on Saturday, one won't be able to swing a cat on the show floor proper without hitting a vendor that's touting some sort of tru2way booth demo.

But how rapidly will tru2way, and its promise to open up the floodgates to digital set-top competition, blossom in the U.S. cable market?

According to the latest edition of Light Reading's Cable Industry Insider, there's no reason for Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT - message board) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO - message board), the dominant duo in the cable set-top sector, to fret -- at least not for some time.

That's because the retail market for tru2way boxes and digital TVs will evolve much slower than the traditional cable operator lease market. (See Cable Set-Tops: Big Changes Ahead.)

But there are already signs that set-top competition will be intense in the coming years. In addition to Pace Micro Technology , which has already had some success in the U.S. cable market, tru2way is encouraging more customer equipment (CE) players, large and small, to invest in the cable market, including Panasonic, Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , Digeo Inc. , Samsung Corp. , TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO - message board), and Thomson (NYSE: TMS - message board; Euronext Paris: 18453).

In addition, Japan's Funai Electric Co. Ltd. (OTC: FUAIY - message board), which makes gear under the Sylvania and Emerson brands, is expected to introduce a tru2way-powered set-top at this year's show, according to the report: Cable Opens Up: How Tru2way Will Change the Set-Top Market.

But there are still several significant CE companies yet to throw their weight behind tru2way, including Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT - message board; Paris: PHA), JVC Americas Corp. , Pioneer (USA) Inc. , Sharp Electronics Corp. , Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE - message board), and Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502 - message board), which joined the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider DCR+, a competing interactive platform that could hinder the pace of cable's tru2way adoption. (See Brenner Defends OpenCable and Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC.)

The chief complaint of those vendors is that the tru2way license terms give too much control to cable MSOs. Although enthusiasm for DCR+ appears to be waning as more operators and suppliers throw their weight behind tru2way, an FCC mandate for the competing system could cause major headaches for the cable industry.

"The DCR+ plan would require significant changes in cable's infrastructure, including the separable security system endorsed by the FCC, and it could force a marketplace showdown similar to that of Blu-ray versus HD DVD," according to the report.

Regardless of possible DCR+ entanglements, several major cable operators are pushing ahead with tru2way deployments. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC - message board), the leader in the category, has already deployed north of 750,000 tru2way boxes, and could hit the 1 million mark by mid-year. The report, citing sources, says Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is preparing as many as 12 markets for the tru2way conversion.

With all known MSO activity factored in, Light Reading's Cable Industry Insider forecasts there will be roughly 2 million tru2way devices deployed by the end of 2008.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:04 AM 05-28-2008
Two-way battle over; cable wins

After a couple of years playing hard to get, Sony got into bed with the cable industry Tuesday and embraced CableLabs' tru2way standard for interactive-cable-ready devices. That makes at least six major consumer electronics manufacturers who have signed onto the CableLabs standard for two-way plug-and-play (and, more important, the license agreement that so many CE executives deplored), the others being Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Thomson.

This subject is more than a little esoteric, but there's a couple of real-world effects that are easy to identify. One is that Sony's move strikes another blow against the cursed cable converter box and its monthly rental fees. The box's functions should have been built into TV sets years ago, but cable operators and set makers were unable to agree on a standard approach to interactivity that would work on any system across the country. With Sony's acquiescence, tru2way (formerly known as OCAP) is now effectively that standard. The second real-world impact is that Sony's capitulation means there's little chance we'll see a cable-ready digital TV that fully integrates cable networks and services with complementary and competing programming from the Internet. The deals signed with CableLabs consign Internet content and other non-cable services to a program guide separate from the cable guide. The stricture rules out a guide that, for example, mixes on-demand movies from Netflix or Hulu with those from HBO.

Sony had been the strongest advocate for an alternative approach, dubbed DCR Plus, that would have given device manufacturers more control over the look and feel of cable services. The proposal drew derision from cable operators, which said DCR Plus would be obsolete at launch because it couldn't support some of their newest interactive features (e.g., displaying Caller ID information on a TV set when a call comes in over a cable-supplied phone line). The FCC, whose chairman has been Cable Enemy No. 1, gave DCR Plus advocates hope last year when it started considering rules for two-way plug and play. But the commission's did too little, too late to head off tru2way, which picked up support last year from such influential players as Intel and TiVo.

The TiVo deal illustrates the program-guide problem. In an FCC filing unearthed by the Gizmo Lovers Blog, the DVR pioneer reported plans for a tru2way-complaint device with two modes: a `TiVo mode' displaying all non-interactive channels in TiVo's customary user interface, which would allow recording, and a "cable mode that displayed all cable networks and services in the cable operator's interface, minus the recording capability.

When asked why Sony dropped the DCR Plus effort, Sony Electronics General Counsel Michael T. Williams said in an e-mail, "There was simply a meeting of the minds between us and the cable operators and hopes of providing consumers with more choice. The key was an acknowledgment that we didn't know each other's business and we listened to one another." As for the guide issue, Williams wrote, "Sony is planning on providing a program guide separate from the cable guide."

On the plus side, the cable industry appears to be supporting tru2way with actions as well as words. Operators have committed to deploying tru2way in a significant portion of their devices, too, meaning that set manufacturers should be able to avoid a repeat of the problems they experienced with one-way CableCARDs. Manufacturers complained that the first generation of digital-cable-ready TV sets, based on a plug-and-play agreement hammered out almost five and a half years ago, were undermined by cable operators that didn't promote and barely supported CableCARDs. The cable industry retorted that the problem was the manufacturers' inconsistent implementation of the CableCARD specs.

Sony also won the ability to introduce new tru2way devices without the cable industry's prior testing and approval "after an initial period of demonstrated ability" to comply with the tru2way specs, Williams wrote. The promise of new devices is what makes deals like Sony's interesting. Consumer electronics and computer manufacturers innovate at light speed when compared to the pace of change in the cable industry. Just look at Panasonic's initial tru2way devices, announced at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show -- included is a set-top box with more pizazz than anything the cable operators offer.

What remains to be seen is how the tru2way licensing deals affect home entertainment networks. How will manufacturers deal with the requirements cable imposes for interfaces and content protection as they try to make it easy for consumers to move entertainment around their home, from device to device and to and from their cars? The worst-case scenario is that cable's technology and interfaces become the common denominator in home networks. But that concern, which once fueled the drive for DCR Plus, appears to be fading as manufacturers gradually make their peace with tru2way.

May 28, 2008
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:40 AM 05-28-2008
Comcast's AnyRoom feature rolls into New England
By Mike Robuck - May 27, 2008

Comcast announced today that its AnyRoom On Demand service is now available to digital cable subscribers in the company's New England footprint.

With the free service, Comcast's subscribers in New England with Motorola set-top boxes (STBs) are now able to start on-demand content or movies in one room and then view them throughout the household in other rooms that are equipped with digital STBs.

AnyRoom On Demand doesn't require subscribers to make any changes to their service or add equipment in order to use the service.

"We are excited to bring this feature to our digital cable customers throughout New England," said Randy Waddell, SVP of sales and marketing for Comcast's North Central Division. "We are committed to delivering our customers the ultimate TV viewing experience, and the addition of AnyRoom technology is yet another feature that allows them to view their favorite programming, whenever and wherever they want to watch."

Comcast associates customer accounts with its video-on-demand (VOD) backoffice to start an on-demand offering in one room and then finish it in another room.

Comcast previously rolled out the service in New Jersey and said that AnyRoom would be available in other markets this year (story here). Comcast expects to provision the service on Cisco, or Scientific Atlanta, digital STBs later this year.

With AnyRoom, the "saved programs" list is shared among all digital cable boxes within a household registered to the same account, allowing on-demand movies or shows to be ordered in one room and then viewed in another. It also allows customers to watch the same program from two or more different digital boxes simultaneously.

To continue watching, or to restart a program in another room, customers go to the saved programs folder on their on-demand main menu and select the desired program, which will resume where it left off.

Comcast said that all on-demand programs more than 19 minutes in length are included in the AnyRoom feature. Any free, premium channel or paid programs can be watched during the "rental window" of the program on any TV in the home that has a digital cable box.

All program titles that are saved on one digital box will be displayed in the saved programs list on other digital boxes throughout the home.

Currently, Comcast has more than 10,000 titles available for on-demand viewing each month, with 90 percent of those titles available for free. Last month, Comcast announced that it had surpassed seven billion on-demand views since VOD was launched in 2003.

Next year, Comcast plans to offer more than 6,000 movies per month in its VOD tier, with more than 3,000 in high-definition (HD).
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 04:31 PM 06-21-2008
All-digital cable move may spark viewer ire
By David Lieberman, USA TODAY
Cable subscribers who own a cable-ready analog TV which means most customers have it easy.

They simply attach a line from the wall into the back of the set, and it's ready to go. On cable's most popular service, that means access to about 80 channels including those that define the medium, such as CNN, ESPN and USA Network.

They better enjoy it while they can.

Cable companies are eager to sweep away analog channels to make room for digital high-definition and interactive services. And Comcast (CMCSA), the No. 1 operator with 38% of cable's 65 million video customers, is about to lead that charge with the industry's most ambitious and potentially riskiest effort yet to change the way cable subscribers watch TV.

The reason is simple: Analog sucks up too much bandwidth, and that makes it hard to deliver the often lucrative services that customers are starting to want.

"We need the (analog) real estate for all kinds of advanced services, whether it's HDTV, higher-speed (Internet) service or more ethnic channels," says Derek Harrar, Comcast Cable's general manager of video services. "We will redeploy the bandwidth for applications that are going to improve the experience for different segments of our consumer base. That's really what it's all about."

But that may create headaches for millions of people who like things the way they are.

Comcast says it will drop its popular analog expanded basic service by year's end in about 20% of its markets. Other systems will follow through 2010. Analog customers affected by the change will have a choice:

Those who want to continue watching the channels they currently receive must connect each affected TV to a device that converts digital signals into the analog ones that the set requires.

Those who'd rather stick with their existing set-up will only be able to get a low-price, bare-bones package consisting largely of local broadcast stations.

There's a lot riding on how Comcast decides to mix deals and directives designed to drive customers to go digital.

Subscribers may rebel if they're baffled by Comcast's changes, if they feel pressured to pay higher monthly fees, or if the company-supplied digital converters create hassles for example, by making it maddeningly slow to change channels.

"There's a reason (analog customers) are still analog," says Bruce Leichtman, president of industry analysis firm Leichtman Research. "They just don't want more" channels and services.

But if consumers like, or merely accept, Comcast's offer and the cost to the company isn't too high then other operators likely will follow close behind.

"We'll all pay attention to see how it works," says James Kelso, who oversees video engineering for Cox Communications. "We have to take turns blazing the trail and learning from each other. An awful lot of people are thinking about this."

Some are acting, as well.

Long Island, N.Y.-based Cablevision (CVC) recently yanked A&E, Animal Planet, E, Sci-Fi, TLC and the Travel Channel from the analog-only service, reducing it to about 60 channels without a reduction in price.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable (TWC) is eliminating analog in areas of New York and Los Angeles where subscribers already need a box to watch TV; it's swapping analog boxes for digital at no charge to customers.

With HDTVs flying off the shelves, cable operators will "all end up in the same place in a couple of years," says Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett.

Smooth sailing unlikely

The road to get there may be bumpy, though. Some 43% of cable customers depend entirely on analog service. Other subscribers pay an extra $10 or so a month for a digital box and package of services that include extra channels, an electronic program guide and video on demand (VOD).

But even digital customers frequently have TVs in the kitchen, attic or kids' rooms that use analog service.

"About 65% of the televisions we serve are still connected to our network without a set-top box," says Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president for technology policy and product management. "Taking all of the analog services away would be pretty disruptive to the customer base."

Analog cable will serve 126 million TV sets in 2009, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) estimated last year in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

That's why some executives say analog is an asset, not an albatross. "One of cable's big advantages is, look, you plug this little wire from the wall into your television and, whammo, you have 80 channels," Kelso says. "No set-top required, and no nonsense. That is a really useful thing."

There's also a danger that consumers will be puzzled when cable operators push digital at the same time the USA prepares for the Feb. 17 national transition from analog to digital broadcasting. After that date, people will need a special digital converter to watch over-the-air television on an analog TV.

The cable industry assures customers in TV ads that their analog sets will "work just fine" with cable after Feb. 17.

"When you talk about an operator going all digital at the same time the government is doing this digital transition, the opportunity for confusion gets pretty high," Kelso says.

Some cable customers have already started to complain to the FCC. In response, it issued a "Consumer Advisory" in April, noting that when operators replace analog channels with digital, it's "a business decision made by the cable companies and is not required by the federal government."

That may be cold comfort to subscribers forced to make a change. Many customers complained last year when Comcast slashed analog channel offerings in Chicago and Calaveras County, Calif.

"I would recommend that they talk to people more," says Chicago Department of Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes. "Comcast informed us as regulators, and the cable commission, about what was happening. But an informed consumer is the best consumer we can have."

Harrar says that Comcast customers won't be baffled when the local system dumps analog expanded basic service. "We're going to hold their hand and help them get through what's happening across the world, which is that everything is going digital."

Maybe not everything but certainly enough to make a compelling business case to change. Just 70 analog channels take up about half the electronic space on a typical cable system's lines. That puts many cable systems at a competitive disadvantage.

The five largest operators carry an average of 25 HD channels, says The Bridge Data Group. That pales next to satellite: DirecTV (DTV) has 95, while Dish Network (DISH) has 64. Verizon's (VZ) fiber-optic FiOS service offers 21 but promises to have about 150 by year's end.

"The whole industry is trying to figure out how to get orders of magnitude increases in HD," says Shawn Strickland, FiOS' vice president for video solutions. "By this holiday season, there's going to be a stark contrast between who has an HD leadership position and who's not making progress."

Cable systems have several technological fixes to clear room for HD but the fastest and easiest is to dump analog channels. Operators can fit 12 standard-definition digital channels, or two to three HD ones, in the space it takes to offer one analog channel.

Harrar says Comcast likely will provide free digital service for at least one TV in each home that subscribes to analog. Comcast would love to have customers take a box that also can provide VOD.

But the campaign may only succeed if consumers who don't have the space or desire for a box accept a brand new device: an inexpensive, digital-to-analog adapter that can fit inconspicuously behind the TV.

"For all intents and purposes, it replicates analog service," Harrar says. "There is no (electronic program) guide, there's no video on demand. But you do get all of the channels that are available to you in digital. And because it's inexpensive for us, we'll make it inexpensive for our customers."

The danger is that this seemingly simple device could create annoying new complications. For example, people who want the adapter hidden behind the TV would have to snake a wire to the front to receive remote control signals fired from across the room. That could confound people with complex connections to a VCR, DVR or other device.

Most consumers also would have to use a remote that comes with the adapter, or reprogram a different one, to adjust the volume as well as change channels.

What's more, "Digital channel changes take up to a second, or sometimes even more," says Imran Shah, managing partner of IBB Consulting, which works with several cable companies. "From a customer perspective, the (fast) channel change experience they're used to on analog will go away."

Comcast says that will be fixed before it orders the adapters. It hasn't ordered them yet, and won't say which manufacturers are on its short list.

Still, the company's largest equipment supplier says that it's on the case.

"We're in the prototype phase, but (eliminating the delay) is a requirement for the product," says Rob Folk, the product manager at Motorola.

Rule-directed route

It's important to get this right: Cable operators can eliminate analog channels once they can afford to put a consumer-friendly digital adapter on virtually every analog set.

The FCC ruled late last year that cable systems must carry analog versions of most local TV stations unless all subscribers including those with analog sets can still watch them from digital transmissions.

Cable operators have several reasons to consider an all-digital system the promised land, aside from making room for HD.

It's relatively easy to encrypt digital signals, which would stop lots of people from stealing cable service. In addition, operators could end the cost and frustration of having to send a technician out every time someone wants to start, or stop, getting cable service.

"No truck would ever roll, because it would be an all-electronic connect and disconnect," Kelso says. "That has an incredible operating expense benefit to a cable company. We definitely have an interest in that."

Cable systems also have to be all digital before they can be redesigned to provide virtually unlimited programming choices.

The first challenge, though, is to persuade people who are satisfied with the status quo to open themselves to change. And Comcast says it's confident that it can make the sale.

"We have worked since 2003 to train people to interact with their TVs in ways that they never thought that they would," he says. "When you say, 'What is the future of television?' it almost has to be that you can look through tons of choices and be able to hit play, pause, fast-forward and rewind on your schedule. We're trying to help customers get into the future in a way that's going to offer them great value and great choice."
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:56 AM 06-26-2008
Comcast Picks DTA Partners
Source: MSO Plans To Order 6 Million Digital-to-Analog Converters In 2008
By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 6/26/2008 6:30:00 AM

PhiladelphiaComcast has selected three vendors to supply digital-to-analog convertersMotorola, Pace Micro Technology and Thomsonand will order up to 6 million of the devices in 2008, according to an industry executive familiar with the MSO's plans.

The operator wants to distribute the DTAs to analog video subscribers, to unlock 250 Megahertz or more spectrum by retiring dozens of analog channels.

Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke in April told Wall Street analysts the company expects to cut over 20% of its footprint to all-digital operation in 2008, using DTAs.

Motorola DTA prototypeNext year, Comcast expects to order another 12 million DTAs as it widens the analog-reclamation project, the executive familiar with the MSO's plans said.

The move indicates that Comcast is primarily looking to use DTAs to boost system capacity in the near term to provide more room for high-definition channels and wideband Internet service, rather than other techniques such as switched digital video.

Pace, while it has not commented on its work with Comcast on DTAs, announced on May 29 that it signed "a significant new contract for the U.S. cable market" for a low-cost digital-to-analog converter product that "will enable the transition to all-digital networks and will be delivered over the next three years."

Comcast declined to comment. A source close to the MSO, however, cautioned that those initial figures are somewhat higher than the actual number of DTAs the operator will likely purchase.

Digital-to-analog converters are sub-$50 devices, cheaper than the least-expensive digital cable set-tops on the market, designed to provide basic access to linear TV channels. The DTAs don't provide advanced digital cable features, such as access to video-on-demand or digital video recording.

Comcast has developed a preliminary list of markets that are candidates to cut over to all-digital but has not yet made decisions about which markets will be the first to deploy the DTAs, according to the Comcast source.

In the spring of 2007, Comcast eliminated about 38 analog channels in Chicago, issuing Motorola DCT700 set-tops to analog video subscribers.

Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner, speaking on a panel Wednesday here at the SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo, said each system that completes the all-digital conversion will reclaim 250-300 MHz of spectrum.

Burke, on an earlier SCTE panel, said Comcast will begin its DTA rollout and analog reclamation initiative in earnest this fall.

He added, We call it all-digital' but we'll keep the analog B1 channels, referring to the most basic group of local broadcast and public, educational and government channels.

The reason Comcast is eager to eliminate analog channels is to clear more capacity for high-def and channels for DOCSIS channel bonding, Burke said.

Right now even though we say we have 1,000 high-def options on-demand, the fact that DirecTV can say, We have 100 HD channels and no one else does' -- that's not a place we want to stay in, Burke said.
cypherstream's Avatar cypherstream 06:01 PM 06-26-2008
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

Right now even though we say we have 1,000 high-def options on-demand, the fact that DirecTV can say, We have 100 HD channels and no one else does' -- that's not a place we want to stay in, Burke said.

Bout time he woke up and smelled the coffee!

I like the design of the DTA. Rounded edges, small, vented well and simple minimalist design.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 08:07 AM 07-05-2008
Inside Comcast's Downingtown
By Leslie Ellis

Downingtown, Pa. About an hour from the gleaming 58-story Comcast Center in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, there's a far-less-spectacular warehouse building owned by the same company in this suburban borough.

The nondescript building stretches out over an area larger than a football field and houses a labyrinth of laboratories, test rooms and troubleshooting areas designed to serve as Comcast's new integration epicenter. Despite its plain outside appearance, it represents nothing less than the future of the largest cable operator in the United States and, by extension, the entire cable industry.

As the tech world becomes more splintered, it's become increasingly difficult for the vast array of equipment needed to run a cable operation to talk with each other. Downingtown represents something akin to a 21st century Rosetta Stone through which Comcast can untangle software knots, allowing seamless communication between all of its disparate equipment. It is the last place new Comcast products and services go before they go into subscribing homes. It's the final dragnet to catch and purge software bugs.

We have [additional] product-engineering labs that develop and integrate and work out bugs, said Comcast senior vice president of testing and operations Charlotte Field. When [those products] get to Downingtown, we put them on this end-to-end network, to see how they work on our total network our converged network.

Its official name is the Comcast end-to-end test and integration center, but most people call it by its location. Downingtown. It's an exact replica of the company's national network, with links to companion labs in Denver, Bishop's Gate, N.J., and Moorestown, N.J. All of the largest cable operators have similar operations in some form or another.

'BEES IN THE DARK' The lab, which began its first tests last fall, helps the cable giant avoid massive technical glitches. So, for example, engineers here can test if a software update for a set-top box actually fixes the problem instead of corrupting an earlier software release.

Currently, the lab is clearing the bugs out of three applications: Caller ID on TV, which interrupts a program on TV to show the ID and number of incoming calls; helping consumers switch to the HD version of an SD video stream, and Tru2way TVs and set-top boxes, which will allow interactive ads and are to be available to consumers this fall. Several other tests are also underway, Comcast executives said.

Ultimately, the lab will be the final stop for potentially dozens of services and applications riding on Comcast's video, broadband data and voice plant.

It's all about testing to make sure anything new can be provisioned and billed for, and to make sure we have the right tools to understand what kind of problems can arise, Field said.

Comcast wouldn't say how much it spent to build the Downingtown dragnet, but the price tag is estimated to be more, and perhaps substantially more, than $25 million, according to one person familiar with the costs.

More than anything, cable's need for such facilities reflects how critical software has become for the information technology systems needed to support new services. Finding problems in a world of software, as one cable technologist likes to quip, is like getting stung by bees in the dark: You know they're there, but you can't see them.

The old rule of thumb about how cable's capital spending is 80% hardware and 20% software is starting to invert. That's largely because cable technology was once primarily physically tangible: an amplifier, a roll of coaxial cable, an F-fitting for the end of a piece of cable.

Those physical artifacts are still around, but the far more complicated part is software. The set-top box, now designed to be the new Tru2way devices coming to retail later this year, goes away. Implementing it is a complicated twist of firmware, software stacks, operating systems, middleware, and applications. And it's all invisible.

And that's the reason for Downingtown to be the secret decoder ring that brings software problems into the visible domain.

SOFTENING THE NETWORK? As recently as two years ago, if you asked a cable CTO what was the hardest challenge faced by a system, the phrase hardening the network was high on the list. Hardening the network meant getting serious about best practices on craftsmanship from splicing individual strands of fiber together, to crimping on F-connectors. It meant developing consistency around tests and measurements, to make sure the right signal levels existed for the best possible pictures, fastest data speeds, and best sound quality. Much of it was driven by the addition of voice services, which necessarily must support 911 emergency calls.

To harden the network was to develop policies for spare equipment and redundancy, so that if a link went down on the west end of town, a mechanism was there to quickly open up another lane to subscribing households. It meant paying closer attention to telemetry, which also goes by network monitoring. (For years, network monitoring was among the first things to get sliced during budgeting negotiations. No longer.)

These plant-hardening techniques became more critical as the cable industry, once comprised of literally hundreds of separate operators going back 60 years, has consolidated into a handful of giants. The way Continental Cable did things was different than the way TeleCable did things, which was similar to the way Cox Communications did things, but different than how Adelphia Communications or Tele-Communications Inc. did them.

Reality, in cable technology, is this: Every system is at least a little different than the next. From amplifier spacing to bandwidth maximums to optical layouts to headend components to conditional access and encryption, it's entirely plausible that no one cable system is exactly like another.

Even the 500-home node necessarily doesn't serve precisely 125 homes to the north, south, east and west of its location because neighborhoods and towns just didn't evolve that way. One side of town grows faster than the other, or uses more on-demand services than the other.

Because these software and applications differences matter so much, that's why today's cable technologists are now talking about softening the network.

At the recent SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, Comcast executive vice president of national engineering and technical operations John Schanz used the term on an early morning breakfast panel. A few hours later, his colleague, chief technical officer Tony Werner, echoed the idea in a different panel discussion.

Software has always been an important part of the business but it becomes much more relevant now, in terms of testing, uniformity on requirements, openness, Schanz said at the breakfast. The network is softening as part of the evolution toward merging multiple products and experiences onto a single network.

Comcast is not alone in the pursuit of an end-to-end integration lab. Time Warner Cable operates one, in Charlotte, N.C. In Atlanta, Cox links its interoperability tests with a gating system suppliers must get through each gate before advancing to the next. Not all of the gates are technical. The earlier Cox gates determine whether a product should even be on its plant, by way of business models and product viability.

CABLE ANATOMY 101 The physical anatomy of a cable system goes something like this: A national fiber optic network links into regional fiber rings, which encircle cities and towns. The rings connect to headends and headends to distribution hubs. Hubs connect over fiber to nodes, nodes connect over coaxial cable to homes.

The nervous system of a contemporary cable system, traditionally called the back office or billing system, is what's different now. Nowadays, it's called IT (information technology) and it comprises all the software necessary to sell various services to each individual customer: Say a customer wants caller ID on the video service, and needs and 8 Megabyte package for her data service. All that requires provisioning of a customer's devices and services, requiring linking into the systems that can send the bill at the end of the month.

In some ways, Downingtown pales in comparison to its companion lab in Denver, nestled near the Rockies with an array of 10-meter dishes on the outside, and its extensive video and production orientation inside. Comcast absorbed the facility as part of its purchase of TCI.

As the former Headend in the Sky, or HITS facility, the Comcast Media Center remains the breeding ground and physical launching pad for new video products like its recently announced Axis program, to assist software developers wanting to write applications that will run on Comcast's Tru2way platforms. The CMC will continue to provide mission-critical uplink services of broadcast and on-demand video, and will pave the company's way toward advanced video compression, like MPEG-4.

But Downingtown is as different from the Comcast Media Center as suburban Philadelphia is from Denver. The Downingtown center is more about the general, industrial shift to software and applications that run on a converged network meaning not within the traditional and isolated silos of voice gear, video gear and data gear. (Staffers have already shortened how they talk about the multiplatform, silo-busting approach: cross-plat.)

Inside, the end-to-end Downingtown lab is a combination of office space, used as applications labs, and a 15,000 square foot data center. The application labs are used by 50 Comcast employees, now, as well as any technology suppliers wanting to make sure their gear will work on Comcast's converged plant.

We built it so that vendors can come in to do early interoperability testing, to isolate problems they may not see in their test facilities but would in ours, said Field.

Rack upon racks of gear line the vast building, like some futuristic department store. There's a training room, and a legacy testing lab, important so that new applications don't crash devices that are already installed in people's homes. There's also a troubleshooting area, to fix problems as they occur but preferably before they occur.

Disaster recovery protocols are studied here so that redundant routes can be instantly activated to move information and communications traffic. Likewise, automatic testing lets an operator test multiple devices with multiple applications without having a person sitting there loading each application. Essentially, more testing, faster. Comcast engineers can also test unattended, which means they can do this testing from somewhere other than where the equipment is.

For power, Downingtown features substantial generator backup. Battery backup, too enough for 15 minutes of clean, uninterrupted power. That translates into a room full of stacked, car-battery-sized batteries.

Where the racks run out, expansion space exists an adjacent and unfinished room on one end of the building with nearly 20,000 feet of unused space for now.

Said Schanz: What we're doing right now is preparing the infrastructure. The beginnings of the software ecosystem are coming together. It's a journey, but we're definitely on it.
cypherstream's Avatar cypherstream 01:17 PM 07-05-2008
Great find PaulGo. The Downingtown center is about an hour away from me. I've been seeing numerous job postings for software and testing in Downingtown, and this article clarifies why.

I'd love to get in there as a new technology tester, but I'm not sure with these gas prices if it's worth an hour or more (with traffic) daily commute. Right now I drive 30 minutes to Pottstown. Sure I could move, but the woman works in Reading, so one of us would suffer the commute (and she has an SUV).

Anyway back on topic, Go to and select careers. Create a Brassring search agent for jobs in PA and you'll see there are a number of openings. I don't know what the payscale is, but I get paid rather well doing IT System Administration and help desk, so not sure if it's worth changing jobs. Although the thrill of seeing and working with new technology first hand would be great.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:46 AM 07-06-2008
The Comcast payscale is competitive and the benifits are very good (free cable, internet and reduced price phone service) along with a very good health and dental plan. See what they offer, since if your really will enjoy the job it could be worthwhile. Arelitive of mine works for Comcast.

Just remember like any other large company you can have political decisions which can drive you up the wall! However in an R&D development is probably is minimized.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 12:06 PM 07-08-2008
Thomson Confirms Comcast's Digital-to-Analog Adapter Order
Vendor To Supply Sub-$40 Device For MSO's Analog-Reclamation Projects
By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 7/7/2008 9:37:00 AM

Thomson announced Monday that it has entered into a purchase agreement with Comcast for an unspecified number of digital-to-analog adapters, low-cost devices that the MSO is looking to use to free up large amounts of spectrum.

Thomson did not disclose the value of the deal.

Multichannel News last month reported that Comcast has ordered as many as 6 million DTAs for delivery this year from Thomson, Motorola and Pace Micro Technology.

Comcast has said it expects to eliminate most analog TV channels in about 20% of its footprint by the end of 2008, providing DTAs to basic cable subscribers who don't have any interest in standard digital package.

Thomson is pleased to enter the U.S. cable video market and expand our relationship with Comcast by becoming a supplier of DTA adapters, Frederic Kurkjian, Thomson's Systems Division vice president of video premises systems, said in a statement. The experience on this project will be invaluable for us as the world prepares to follow suit and migrate from analog to digital.

Paris-based Thomson showed its DTA adapter at the NCTA's Cable Show in New Orleans in May.

Thomson said the DCI 1011, scheduled for mass production in September, will cost less than $40 and can replicate an existing analog lineup.

The DCI 1011, like other digital-to-analog converters, doesn't include support for conditional access or any other advanced digital cable services, like video-on-demand or interactive program guides. The DCI 1011 does have an infrared port for remote-control operation, and uses the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) 65 standard to transmit channel call letters from the headend.

Thomson already supplies Comcast with embedded multimedia terminal adapters, which provide voice and data services in a single customer-premises device.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 12:09 PM 07-08-2008
Analyst: Comcast Ready to Spend Big On HD
The Collins Stewart analyst says the cable operator is being hurt by Video on Demand.

By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (July 7, 2008) -- Comcast is preparing to invest heavily in expanding its High-Definition TV lineup, says an influential industry analyst.

That's according to an article in Multichannel News.

Thomas Eagan, a senior media analyst with Collins Stewart, an investment banking group, says Comcast has concluded that it needs to add more high-def channels.

The cable operator now carries around 40 HD channels in most markets (fewer in some), but that's less than half than what HD channel leader DIRECTV offers.

Comcast has tried to downplay the disadvantage by promoting its high-def Video on Demand service. But Eagan says that's not enough to keep subscribers happy.

"I think HD channels are more important than HD choices, Eagan told Multichannel News. I think people want HD channels, not just HD On Demand.

Eagen forecasts that Comcast will switch its systems to all-digital, eliminating analog channels which would increase its high-def capacity. However, the analyst says the switchover will be costly.

Whether they use digital to analog converters or digital set-top boxes maybe they will use a combination of both I think it's going to result in a big 2009 (capital expenditure) number, he said.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 07:14 PM 07-08-2008
Comcast Expands SDV Test Pool
JULY 02, 2008

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is putting switched digital video (SDV) to the test in at least two more markets -- Minneapolis and St. Paul -- Cable Digital News has learned.

According to people familiar with the trials, the MSO is giving Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT - message board)'s SDV system a go in St. Paul and using Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO - message board)'s platform in Minneapolis.

Comcast has already tapped Cisco for its SDV test in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Motorola for a trial in the Denver area. (See Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test and Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds.)

As for other SDV-related vendor activity, the MSO has already selected edge QAMs from Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS - message board) and Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT - message board). Comcast has also added BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND - message board) to its list of approved SDV suppliers, but has not picked a market for vetting that vendor's technology. (See Comcast Taps Arris for Edge QAM Initiative and Who Makes What: Switched Digital Video .)

Asked about SDV trials in Minnesota, Comcast wouldn't comment. (Considering the Twin Cities are also the site of the operator's first commercial deployment of Docsis 3.0, we'll have to assume engineers there don't have much time to spare these days). But a spokeswoman noted that the MSO plans to expand beyond the first two SDV test beds, where the trials have been "going well."

Industry sources say Comcast wants to make sure SDV performs well before making any significant leaps forward with the technology, which is designed to use existing bandwidth more efficiently by multicasting channels in "switched" tiers only when customers in a given service group select them for viewing. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC - message board) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC - message board) are among MSOs that have deployed SDV the most broadly. Just last week, Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RG - message board; Toronto: RCI) of Canada announced it would launch Cisco's switching technology in Ontario. (See Rogers Turning on SDV .)

It also appears that Comcast, despite the addition of two SDV test locations, has scaled back some of its original plans for the technology -- unless it's waiting to ramp things up in the third and fourth quarters. In February, execs said the operator had budget set aside to introduce SDV in about 15 percent of its service area by the end of 2008. (See Is SDV Fading?)

Since then, however, Comcast has given much more attention to an analog reclamation project that will be fueled in part by the deployment of millions of inexpensive, one-way Digital Terminal Adapters (DTAs). (See Comcast Confirms Digital Dongle Project and DTAs on Parade .)

Speaking at last week's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, Comcast Corp. COO Steve Burke noted that the MSO's all-digital strategy will get "started in earnest this fall." When asked to weigh the bandwidth management options on the table, Burke said Comcast will "lean more heavily toward analog reclamation."

Comcast plans to deploy its "all-digital" strategy in about 20 percent of its footprint this year. But the term is a bit of a misnomer, because in those markets, Comcast will continue to offer about 30 channels from its B1 basic programming tier in analog form. The move, however, will allow the operator to get back about 40 analog channels and apply that capacity toward Docsis 3.0, video-on-demand (VOD), and high-definition television services.
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 09:22 AM 07-26-2008
Tru2way Love
By Brian Santo, Michael Robuck and Traci Patterson - July 01, 2008

Via demos, sessions and new product announcements,
The Cable Show showered affection on tru2way

Some critics consider television a vast wasteland, but with the advent of tru2way and the sophisticated interactive applications tru2way is making possible - finally becoming available and on display at the recent Cable Show - TV might yet become what it always had the potential to be: something to really love.

The NCTA Cable Show in New Orleans highlighted several trends and technologies, including interactive advertising, business services, and PacketCable Multimedia, but it was tru2way that set the theme for the show the way '70s cover bands set the beat on Bourbon Street.

CableLabs, NCTA and Vidiom Systems sponsored a day-and-a-half tru2way conference before the show officially started, and there were at least 20 vendors with announcements related to tru2way, including some that drew a bead on lighter-weight applications based on ETV and EBIF that are precursors to tru2way deployments.

At the preceding conference, Panasonic Corporation of North America Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Paul Liao said of tru2way, It is a great technology. It's the simplest way for us to test, evolve and develop applications.

Balance of article at:
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 03:31 PM 09-16-2008
The Comcast DTA Dance
SEPTEMBER 12, 2008

The Bauminator recently reported on Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s plans to deploy digital terminal adapters (DTAs) without video content protection, though the devices include the option of turning on a “lite” content protection system from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT - message board) later. (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional .)

As noted:

According to people familiar with the project, the Broadcom Corp. chipsets that will grace these DTAs will be capable of activating content protection via a firmware download. Those chips, at least for this phase of the project, are being hardwired or "burned in" with Motorola Inc.’s "privacy mode." -- a content protection system that's already used with video-on-demand fare.

While Motorola’s “privacy mode” is used to protect individual VOD streams, it is not in the same league as full conditional access (CA) systems (including Motorola’s MediaCipher) that are aimed at securing paid digital video content that is broadcast continually. In other words, if a hacker succeeds in cracking the protection for a VOD stream, they get one movie. If they crack the CA protecting a cable operator’s entire digital programming lineup, they get free access to everything else.

So, Comcast is going to use [ed. note: well, the operator said it has the option to use] VOD-class protection for broadcast digital content? One can’t help but wonder: What on earth are they thinking?

The stated logic behind the decision is that by installing DTAs without CA, Comcast can avoid the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's draconian separable set-top security rules. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.) Then, if and when a new FCC commissioner arrives with a new White House administration in 2009, Comcast can take a shot at getting a waiver that will allow the company to turn on Motorola’s minimalist protection software.

So, while Comcast waits and hopes for change at the FCC, it will only be able to send digital video signals to DTAs “in the clear.” That would mean the MSO could use DTAs only for the reception of programming that is currently sent in the clear -- retransmitted broadcast TV and a handful of limited basic cable networks, like C-SPAN and QVC. Even if Comcast gets a waiver to turn on “privacy mode,” it is unlikely that basic cable networks with valuable content -- like CNN, Discovery, Fox Sports, or MTV -- would trust the technology to protect their digital assets, let alone premium channels like HBO or Showtime.

Balance of article at:
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 03:33 PM 09-16-2008
Comcast Doctoring Digital in Detroit
SEPTEMBER 09, 2008

Detroit will be the second Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) market to get the digital treatment.

Comcast Cable president Steve Burke revealed the Motor City as such today during his talk today at the Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Media and Entertainment Conference in Marina Del Ray, Calif.

A Comcast spokeswoman confirmed that the MSO has an all-digital trial underway in Battle Creek and Adrian, Mich., which are both in the Detroit region. The move to digital could pave the way for Detroit to get its hands on Docsis 3.0 later. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era .)

Burke didn't provide much technical detail, but it's likely that Comcast will repeat what it did in Chicago last year -- by going mostly digital and reclaiming gobs of analog spectrum but leaving its "B1" programming tier (roughly 20 to 25 channels) in analog. (See Going 'Mostly' Digital .)

Comcast has plans in place to enlist a similar strategy in 20 percent of its markets, with the majority set to occur in the back half of the year. Comcast will fuel that plan using different forms of all-digital set-tops as well as simple, one-way digital terminal adapters (DTAs). (See Comcast Confirms Digital Dongle Project, Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional , Broadcom Adapts Chipset for DTAs, Comcast Gives Thomson Nod for DTAs , and Pace Pix .)

Industry sources have indicated that Comcast could begin to roll out DTAs as early as this month, but the spokeswoman said the MSO has yet to pull the trigger on any deployments.

Burke did address some of the longer-term plans Comcast has in store for the DTA. Of Comcast's 24 million video subs, about 15 million are already taking digital services. Another 4.5 million are taking Comcast's analog-only/expanded basic tier; Comcast expects to give them two or three set-top boxes each, with the majority of those devices being DTAs.

Comcast will also provide DTAs to digital subscribers, to ensure that their extra analog sets can display any channels from the expanded basic tier that might be migrated to digital.

Burke said it will take roughly 25 million DTAs for Comcast to complete its digital migration over the next 12 to 18 months, confirming that unit prices will be $30 to $35.

With spectrum freed up, "you can get as much HD as you want," Burke said, noting that Comcast will also use the room to beef up ethnic programming tiers that will compete with offerings from Dish Network Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV - message board).

Separately, Burke didn't speculate on Comcast's chances of reeling in new subscribers as the nation's full-power broadcasters cut over to digital on Feb. 17. (See DTV Transition Could Catalyze Cable.) What Comcast does know is that of the 50 million homes its network passes, 6 million to 8 million still rely on over-the-air broadcast signals.

Comcast is mulling some marketing options for this group: Send out the message that their TV viewing lives won't change if they sign up for cable; offer a super-cheap broadcast-only tier; or offer a baseline video service for free if those customers agree to sign up for high-speed Internet and digital phone service.
QZ1's Avatar QZ1 06:16 PM 09-19-2008
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

[So, while Comcast waits and hopes for change at the FCC, it will only be able to send digital video signals to DTAs in the clear. That would mean the MSO could use DTAs only for the reception of programming that is currently sent in the clear -- retransmitted broadcast TV and a handful of limited basic cable networks, like C-SPAN and QVC. Even if Comcast gets a waiver to turn on privacy mode, it is unlikely that basic cable networks with valuable content -- like CNN, Discovery, Fox Sports, or MTV -- would trust the technology to protect their digital assets, let alone premium channels like HBO or Showtime.

Balance of article at:

This doesn't make sense, as they aren't even discontinuing Analog Ltd. Basic, so following their logic, there would be no need for a DTA (for Digital Ltd. Basic).

Obviously, the DTA is to allow for reception of Digital Expd. Basic. They are effectively ruling out the networks allowing for that tier to be sent it out in the clear, with use of premises filters, because they don't even mention it.

They mention a better option, and rule that out, by saying, even with an FCC waiver, the networks wouldn't allow Motorola's less effective protection mode to be used for their precious digital signals.

Why not? There is hardly any difference between an Analog and a Digital SD signal, compared to HD Digital. If they can send Analog in the clear, they would probably be allowed to send Digital SD in the clear or with less effect protection than usual. What do you think?
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 11:56 AM 09-21-2008
In about two years (or sooner in some areas) Comcast will probably eliminate all analog channels. They will probably offer low cost converters (without any copy protection) for about 40 core channels, Comcast will send these as clear QAM so all existing sets with a digital QAM tuner can receive them. This will make the people who hate boxes happy and provide a low cost transition to an all digital signal. Of course this is pure speculation but it does make sense and allows use of all the millions of sets sold with clear QAM tuners. I think all broadcasters will allow this since their digital signal can be received OTA. Also some cable only outlets will allow this so they can reach a larger audience.
slowbiscuit 06:42 PM 09-21-2008
I hope you're right but knowing Comcast, I'd expect that they would maintain the encryption on digital exp. basic to extract max revenue from the customer. That's what's happening now before the DTA's arrive.

We'll see.
QZ1's Avatar QZ1 11:36 AM 09-22-2008
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

In about two years (or sooner in some areas) Comcast will probably eliminate all analog channels.

I disagree. For Analog, they have said Ltd. Basic will be around for a while. Expd. Basic is being phased out, as we know it has just started recently.


They will probably offer low cost converters (without any copy protection) for about 40 core channels, Comcast will send these as clear QAM so all existing sets with a digital QAM tuner can receive them. This will make the people who hate boxes happy and provide a low cost transition to an all digital signal.

That is what I thought. That is why the article in the previous seems incorrect to me.


Of course this is pure speculation but it does make sense and allows use of all the millions of sets sold with clear QAM tuners. I think all broadcasters will allow this since their digital signal can be received OTA.

Of course.


Also some cable only outlets will allow this so they can reach a larger audience.

Well, many better, if they want to put Expd. Basic in Digital.
QZ1's Avatar QZ1 11:45 AM 09-22-2008
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

I hope you're right but knowing Comcast, I'd expect that they would maintain the encryption on digital exp. basic to extract max revenue from the customer. That's what's happening now before the DTA's arrive.

We'll see.

As I understand it, DTAs have latent encryption, that can't be used now, not unless and until they get an FCC waiver.

They have not been encrypting Expd. Basic to get more revenue, they have to stop Ltd. Basic customers with Digital QAM TVs from getting it. The other option would have been to filter it out and maintain those filters, which is a time consuming and costly process. Add that to the maintanence of Analog Expd. Basic filters already in place.

At least, when they drop Analog Expd. Basic, they can replace those filters with the ones for Digital Expd. Basic, it will be $ and time, but it will be progress for bandwith reclamation.
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