Comcast HD Quality Reduction: Details, Screenshots - Page 34 - AVS Forum
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post #991 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Machael View Post



I have read this post from start to finish and have found it an excellent source of information. But the anger needs to be directed at the right people if you want to achieve change. I have worked in the technical side of the cable industry for 19 years, and am sadly aware of all the problems presented here. I am also angry that if I want to fully enjoy my new HDTV, I have to subscribe to the competition for the time being until new technologies are deployed, such as switched digital. This will come, but it's not going to happen overnight.

For the transition period, the cablecos are forced to manage their bandwidth as intelligently as possible, but there are issues with that.

With all due respect to the poster, the statement above portrays the FCC as some Knight in Shining Armor to ride in and demand that the cable companies fix this problem with limited bandwidth. This is frustrating to me because the FCC is the very entity which has made it so difficult for the cablecos to compete. Their self righteous and archaic regulations on CATV providers prevent the changes necessary for a cableco to reclaim "wasted" bandwidth.

The people you are crying out to for help are the very reason why these compression problems exist to begin with.

So if you want to complain to the FCC, you really should complain about their own unfair regulations placed upon cable companies that greatly limit their abilities to provide the HD service you desire. The very fact that satellite companies and phone companies aren't held to the same standards is what handicaps the cablecos.

I'm sorry if this came off harsh, but I needed to vent.

I hardly think the FCC is doing a good job - the whole reason we don't have more competition is because they have allowed the massive consolidation that has reduced consumer choices, but on this point you are just plain wrong!

The FCC is OK with having cable systems go all digital. That would include locals and PEG channels, and be the solution to the bandwidth problem for cable. They are not making the MSO's keep analog around. Now, they do say that if a cable company is sending analog on some channels, then all the locals have be carried around as analog too, in addition to digital. But if the MSO wants to go all digital, they they do not have to carry locals in analog.

In any case, the bulk of the spectrum on the cable plant that is analog isn't local programming and PEG anyway - it's expanded basic! How can you say that the FCC is making them keep expanded basic around in analog?

VZ and others have committed to go all digital on their systems, and got waivers from the FCC to use non cablecard cheap STB's. That option was given to Comcast as well. Since Comcast did not commit to go all digital, they didn't get the waiver. This is just another example to show that it is Comcast that is demanding to keep analog around, not the FCC.

If you have proof that is is not the case, please come forward with it. VZ and Comcast made different decisions, but because of their business judgment, not because of the regs.
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post #992 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 11:27 AM
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I am not an A/V expert, but I just want to add my "general consumer" voice to the many here and say that BSG was really bad in HD last night (Bay Area). This can't be right, wish we could do something to make them increase the quality...
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post #993 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Pascal08 View Post

I am not an A/V expert, but I just want to add my "general consumer" voice to the many here and say that BSG was really bad in HD last night (Bay Area). This can't be right, wish we could do something to make them increase the quality...

Follow the FCC link on the previous page and file an official complaint for false advertising. They claim and market now that the give you Sci_fi channel in HD, but what you get is really medium def, and bad medium def at that - macroblocking and such is worse than what you see on the SD version.

If they are going to market that they carry these channels, they need to make sure consumers know they are getting crap instead of real HD.
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post #994 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Follow the FCC link on the previous page and file an official complaint for false advertising.

Bingo! Comcast can do whatever the heck they want to the signal, but, IMO, they can't call what they are delivering, 'HD'. Especially troubling, is that some people have signed service contracts with Comcast, and the quality has since changed.
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post #995 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 11:53 AM
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I didn't see BSG, but I did watch a bit of LOCUSTS: THE 8TH PLAGUE on Sci-Fi HD this morning. Picture was ok, but as soon as there was motion - forget it. Jerky to say the least!

-Dave
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post #996 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

Bingo! Comcast can do whatever the heck they want to the signal, but, IMO, they can't call what they are delivering, 'HD'. Especially troubling, is that some people have signed service contracts with Comcast, and the quality has since changed.

But they've never qualified in detail(hard numbers) what "HD" is so there's really no recourse for the customer but to dump the service, or continue to complain loudly. "HD" can mean what ever the marketer wants it to mean, heck, I've even seen "HD-radio".
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post #997 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 12:02 PM
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Played "In the Name of the King" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" standard DVDs on my XA2 and the pq looks a lot better than HD broadcasts. That's how degraded the pq is with Comcast. Location Portland, OR. Submitted my complaint to FCC yesterday.

After having witnessed the mugging of a snail by a fellow snail, the investigating officer asked the DMP-BD30 what happened to which the BD player replied "I don't remember...it happened so fast."
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post #998 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 12:18 PM
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I just sent email to Brian Roberts; for whatever it's worth. It didnt get bounced back. So, it's a valid email address. Anyway, my letter is attached.

Edit: I might have some spelling and grammatical errors... but I think it gets the point across.

Can your HTPC Media Center / DVR Do this??

SageTV:
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+ OTA ATSC + DVB-S2 + Blu-ray/HD-DVD serving 5 clients.
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post #999 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Quote:


Originally Posted by QZ1
Bingo! Comcast can do whatever the heck they want to the signal, but, IMO, they can't call what they are delivering, 'HD'. Especially troubling, is that some people have signed service contracts with Comcast, and the quality has since changed.

But they've never qualified in detail(hard numbers) what "HD" is so there's really no recourse for the customer but to dump the service, or continue to complain loudly. "HD" can mean what ever the marketer wants it to mean, heck, I've even seen "HD-radio".

You are almost correct. There is an accepted "standard" for HD that (only) says it needs to have at least 720 scan lines. So today, 720p or 1080i is HD, 480p is not. BUT there is nothing to say how many artifacts there are, what the bitrate must be, or even what the minimum horizontal resolution is.

HD Radio is a legitimate, FCC approved technology for adding digital audio signals to either AM or FM transmissions. It is like digital TV in that it can be used for very high quality broadcasts, multiple low quality channels, or a mixture of both.

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post #1000 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BIG ED View Post

The reason the FCC will listen is because the airways are public domain.

You are wrong on a couple of points here:
  1. Cable doesn't use "airwaves" - it is CABLE, and as long as that cable does not leak radiation (there are FCC technical specs relating to that), the FCC has limited authority over what is there*.
  2. Even if cable did use "airways", that does not place it in the "public domain". There are certain frequencies allocated to "broadcast", and those are indeed in the public domain. But there are other frequencies allocated to private use (think "cell phone" for example), that you can end up in jail if you intercept those transmissions without obtaining permission.
*We need to keep in mind that the FCC is chartered to do what the lawmakers tell it to do. No more, no less. At one point, the FCC had absolutely NOTHING to do with cable (other than make sure that the cable signals didn't radiate) UNTIL congress passed an act, charging the FCC to do certain things. But even that act has given the FCC limited authority over many things - such as the "cable channels" like HBO, CNN,etc.).

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post #1001 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by davehancock View Post

You are almost correct. There is an accepted "standard" for HD that (only) says it needs to have at least 720 scan lines. So today, 720p or 1080i is HD, 480p is not. BUT there is nothing to say how many artifacts there are, what the bitrate must be, or even what the minimum horizontal resolution is.

HD Radio is a legitimate, FCC approved technology for adding digital audio signals to either AM or FM transmissions. It is like digital TV in that it can be used for very high quality broadcasts, multiple low quality channels, or a mixture of both.

Yes, but my point is it carries the moniker "HD" which is purely marketing. That "standard" for HD video you mention, while it's certainly the accepted "standard" as we know it, is also basically nothing but marketing, there is no industry(or government) body that defines and enforces what HD is as far as I know. I'll bet that to most of the general public, "HD" simply means the screen is 16x9, and you can bet that video providers definitely play on that lack of knowledge.

Bottom line, as long as Comcast doesn't advertise any specific resolution and/or bitrates they're pretty much free to call whatever crap they put on the screen HD. That's where DirecTV got into trouble, they advertised specific resolutions, didn't deliver, and got sued for it.

I've seen websites advertise HD video for their streaming video content, if that's okay, then it's certainly okay for Comcast to call whatever they send HD as well.
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post #1002 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davehancock View Post

You are wrong on a couple of points here:
  1. Cable doesn't use "airwaves" - it is CABLE, and as long as that cable does not leak radiation (there are FCC technical specs relating to that), the FCC has limited authority over what is there*.
  2. Even if cable did use "airways", that does not place it in the "public domain". There are certain frequencies allocated to "broadcast", and those are indeed in the public domain. But there are other frequencies allocated to private use (think "cell phone" for example), that you can end up in jail if you intercept those transmissions without obtaining permission.
*We need to keep in mind that the FCC is chartered to do what the lawmakers tell it to do. No more, no less. At one point, the FCC had absolutely NOTHING to do with cable (other than make sure that the cable signals didn't radiate) UNTIL congress passed an act, charging the FCC to do certain things. But even that act has given the FCC limited authority over many things - such as the "cable channels" like HBO, CNN,etc.).

Exactly, and the FCC has very limited, if any at all, control over how a company markets it's products.
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post #1003 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Exactly, and the FCC has very limited, if any at all, control over how a company markets it's products.

Which is pretty much what I posted on the previous page, just with more words:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

While complaining to the FCC keeps the wheel squeaking, they really aren't able to do anything about it. It's out of the scope of their responsibilities.

You really need to complain to the BBB or Consumer Protection Agency. This a delivery of the product sold issue, not a misusage of the airwaves. As long as Comcast's signal does not interfere with other signals, the video levels conform to TV standards and their own channels do not violate standards and practices, they can compress the crap out of the video all they want and the FCC has no say in it.

The key here is to approach it has a product that fails to live up to its description.

BTW: write a letter to the above organizations, not an e-mail. It stands out more and isn't as easy to delete without reading it. A letter requires someone to actually open it and takes up physical space that is harder to ignore and is easier to place in a case file.



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post #1004 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:22 PM
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^^ Indeed
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post #1005 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 02:32 PM
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I don't know if it's just the programs, but most of my HD has looked like garbage today, little grainy, no detail, not what I usually get from Comcast. If they are really doing this garbage, then hello DirecTV, no need for me to pay extra now anymore, especially now that they aren't exclusive to things like Comcast SportsNet anymore. So far today, HGTV (not sure if it was supposed to be a true HD show though), TNT HD (which normally looks great) is crap (showing a movie), and ABC and FOX sporting events looked weak, but they have always been a little below standard for me

I will try to check again tonight and these coming nights to look out for some real HD programming.
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post #1006 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machael View Post

I'm sorry if this came off harsh, but I needed to vent.

Go ahead and vent, but in this case you are quite wrong IMHO. No one supports cable more than I do, but they have dug their own hole here, not the FCC. Comcast can move any number of analog cable channels to digital tomorrow and go back to providing full-signal HD channels on a 2/QAM basis and the problem is solved. Sure, they might lose a few customers who get angry because their favorite cable channel is now only available with a box, but they are losing quite a few more with this stuff they call HD that isn't.

The FCC is not responsible for them dragging their feet on SDV and system upgrades beyond 760Mhz, they are. They placed more priority on internet/phone service and they totally misjudged DirecTV's ability to put enough sats in orbit to provide the bandwidth to accept more HD channels and to then get most cablenets to convert to HD early because carriage was available on DirecTV. Cable thought they had until the end of this year to do what they need to in order to compete, but they just got caught with their pants down. They need to grow up, admit their mistake, and get on with business.

I can't speak for Comcast, but by the end of the year on Cox, all this should be a non-issue. SDV should be here as well as upgrades to 1Ghz, more nodes, etc. All this stuff is underway and has been in the pipeline for some time, just behind DirecTVs drive to leapfrog ahead. Cableco's simply need to forget about subscribers who don't want boxes and compete on a quality basis. No matter what they do, boxes are in our future and they need to realize that not needing a box is not going to sell lousy service.

Cheers, Dave
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post #1007 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

Sure, they might lose a few customers who get angry because their favorite cable channel is now only available with a box, but they are losing quite a few more AVS Forum members with this stuff they call HD that isn't.

There. I fixed that for you.

In other words, is Joe Sixpack aware of this issue? I would guess not.
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post #1008 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post

There. I fixed that for you.

In other words, is Joe Sixpack aware of this issue? I would guess not.

I'm not sure. DirecTV has started a campaign aimed at this very subject and I'm sure JSP will eventually be made aware. Cable here still touts their IQ over sat and they promise to catch up on quantity of channels by the end of the year. Obviously, it's pretty much an issue that is limited to those of us with HDTVs, but we are growing in numbers.

Then too, I'm never quite sure who JSP is. I'm just an average Joe who enjoys TV. It doesn't take much for me to notice a difference between my cable IQ and my neighbor's sat IQ. The questions then become is that difference worth the time and hassle to switch services or will one catch up with the other in an acceptable period of time?

For me, the answer to the first part is "No", but then I have Cox, not Comcast. The answer to the second is "Yes" (AFAIK), so I'm willing to give them more time. I honestly think 3/QAM is temporary (at least until MPEG4) and Comcast is working to resolve the issues, they just aren't being open or candid about it. I know some comments can make one think they don't care, but IMHO that's just plain silly. It seems farfetched to think that they aren't watching subscriber trends and taking action, albeit not quick enough, etc.

There is no doubt they are behind the power curve and certainly won't admit it in public, but things like 1Ghz, SDV, MPEG4, etc., don't happen over night. I'm actually more concerned about local mulitcasting and the immediate drain on IQ regardless of what Comcast does. Today it's a weather sub-channel, tomorrow it's a traffic sub-channel with 24/7 traffic cams, and what's next? My retirement countdown clock to Feb 28, 2009?

Cheers, Dave
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post #1009 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Exactly, and the FCC has very limited, if any at all, control over how a company markets it's products.

Interesting. The FCC just had 2 separate en banc mtgs over the fact that comcast was blocking and slowing down ********** traffic. There is an enforcement action pending over this blocking, and yet comcast never advertised **********, and they are delivering the speeds they claim.

All this on Internet sevice, which the FCC has much less authority over compared with video.

This whole thing started when someone filed a complaint at their website, the way folks here are doing.

Believe me, the FCC can do a lot here, actually more than they can with the ********** issue.
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post #1010 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Believe me, the FCC can do a lot here, actually more than they can with the ********** issue.

Could be, but aren't these different issues, marketing HD vs specific blocking/slowdown actions? Of course, like the courts, the FCC can probably do anything they want and, if someone doesn't play nice with them, they just go to Congress for yet more authority.

I'm actually kind of surprised there isn't more definitive criteria for labeling something as HD. All kinds of products have to jump through hoops to get some labels, but as long as a signal is 720p or 1080i, that seems to be the only criteria to label something as HD regardless of how good/bad the image is.

Cheers, Dave
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post #1011 of 2079 Old 04-19-2008, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post

There. I fixed that for you.

In other words, is Joe Sixpack aware of this issue? I would guess not.

FWIW, I am a regular Joe Sixpack consumer who noticed my HD not looking as good as it used to, typed in "Comcast HD quality" into Google and found this forum. So my guess is that this is not just an issue for "A/V fanatics" such as yourselves (no offense intended - you guys are much smarter than I am, I only understand about 27% of this thread )
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post #1012 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

I honestly think 3/QAM is temporary (at least until MPEG4) and Comcast is working to resolve the issues, they just aren't being open or candid about it.

Dave, this statement reads to me that MPEG4 IS the most immediate solution to this problem. That's just not the case - MPEG4 is likely the LAST solution. NONE of the HD boxes from the cable companies now in folks homes are capable of decoding MPEG4. So, the first thing that cable would need to do is to replace a large number of the HD cable boxes out there. That will take YEARS. Probably the most immediate thing is SDV (but that can take a year) and cutting back analog channels (which has another whole set of problems). Expanding to 1GHz, etc. all take time (and $$$).

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post #1013 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 08:45 AM
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Dave,

Wasn't meant that way at all. It was meant to convey the idea that until MPEG4, 3/QAM is not feasible at all at full bitrates, at least IMHO. They will still try 3/QAM with other tools/equipment, but it will never be as good a 2/QAM full bitrates. AFAIK, MPEG4 is a few years away, though cable will have to be able to at least receive it soon since many networks will begin sending their signals that way fairly soon. I have read a few comments that seem to suggest MPEG4 unser hardware will be available sooner than I thought, but I don't put a lot of credence in that until I see more discussion from knowledgeable folks.

It was also meant to convey my hope that 3/QAM is just a temorary solution to getting more HD channels out there until they get SDV, etc., working. I'm still hopeful that 3/QAM will go away until something more robust, like MPEG4, comes along.

Cheers, Dave
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post #1014 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

Go ahead and vent, but in this case you are quite wrong IMHO. No one supports cable more than I do, but they have dug their own hole here, not the FCC. Comcast can move any number of analog cable channels to digital tomorrow and go back to providing full-signal HD channels on a 2/QAM basis and the problem is solved. Sure, they might lose a few customers who get angry because their favorite cable channel is now only available with a box, but they are losing quite a few more with this stuff they call HD that isn't.

Completely incorrect - there are (at last count I saw) over 30 million analog-only cable subs. Not to mention all the folks that would be highly pissed at having to rent STBs for all the extra analog sets in the house even if they have digital service.

Moving a bunch of analog channels to digital would mean inviting your customers to switch to satellite, because there would be no reason (especially with this HD degradation) not to switch if you have to have STBs for all your analog sets.

If that's not obvious enough already, why has Comcast not spread their digital-only experiment in Chicago elsewhere? Because they are scared of what will happen.

Their solution to the analog dilemma might be the demarc (whole-house) digital-to-analog channel converter to allow analog sets to continue to work without rentals. I've read that they are investigating this solution.
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post #1015 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Yes, but my point is it carries the moniker "HD" which is purely marketing. That "standard" for HD video you mention, while it's certainly the accepted "standard" as we know it, is also basically nothing but marketing, there is no industry(or government) body that defines and enforces what HD is as far as I know. I'll bet that to most of the general public, "HD" simply means the screen is 16x9, and you can bet that video providers definitely play on that lack of knowledge.

Bottom line, as long as Comcast doesn't advertise any specific resolution and/or bitrates they're pretty much free to call whatever crap they put on the screen HD. That's where DirecTV got into trouble, they advertised specific resolutions, didn't deliver, and got sued for it.

Right, so 1x720 interlaced at 0.1 bitrate can be called 'HD'. Of course, this wouldn't be implemented. But, the point is, if they tried to call a broadcast so obviously not HD, as 'HD', they wouldn't be able to for too long. The question is how much can they degrade the quality and still get away with callling it 'HD'. Apparently, Comcast thinks they are providing enough quality. Obviously, many disagree.
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post #1016 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Interesting. The FCC just had 2 separate en banc mtgs over the fact that comcast was blocking and slowing down ********** traffic. There is an enforcement action pending over this blocking, and yet comcast never advertised **********, and they are delivering the speeds they claim.

All this on Internet sevice, which the FCC has much less authority over compared with video.

This whole thing started when someone filed a complaint at their website, the way folks here are doing.

Believe me, the FCC can do a lot here, actually more than they can with the ********** issue.

Yes....but the BT issue is a little bit different in that Comcast was actually blocking/disrupting specific content moving over it's lines. I suppose a comparison would be if Comcast were to block certain programs, say a newscast on the virtues of going with satellite over cable, or if they decided to turn off the local station's broadcast signal during certain times of the day.

Plus, with the internet there's there whole neutrality issue and I believe there's different rules/regs governing internet access. If a "neutrality" type of regulation could be applied to video then maybe would could get the signals as they are provided to the cable/sat company, but so far, the FCC hasn't really made any indication that they care what a provider does to the signals it carries other than some specifics regarding local stations, and even those are not guaranteed pass'em as they get'em.

What ever works, if the noise being made here and elsewhere brings about some regulation about the quality of what can be termed HD, then we should definitely hound the FCC, personally though, I just don't see them getting that involved in it.
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post #1017 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 10:58 AM
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Completely incorrect.

Maybe, but you're saying so doesn't make it so. After all, it's only my opinion.

Look, no one knows what will happen if and when they move more channels to digital. They've already moved some over the past few years and how many subs did they lose because of it and it only? And, I didn't say they'd have to move them all. We still have almost 66 analog channels here and there is no doubt in my mind that they could move a half dozen of those with very little negative effect allowing them to add 12 more HD channels at full bitrate or discontinue the 3/QAM.

And, they don't necessarily need to charge a lot, or even anything, for additional boxes. We're not talking high-cost HD boxes, just regular old digital boxes. There are a lot of ways to recoup costs, including keeping the high paying customers happy because they are the ones switching now. Eventually they will go all-digital and they've already been heading in that direction, albeit slowly so folks don't panic.

I do think the box issue is being blown out of proportion, but then maybe I;m wrong. I'm sure I'm not alone in having cable, not because I don't need a box on additional TVs, but because I've never seen a reason to switch and I like all my services from the same provider. I had boxes on all my TVs until my son-in-law returned from Korea and the grandkids moved to North Carolina. I may add one box back because I have begun watching a few shows on digital channels (that were never analog) and I'd like to sometimes watch them in the bedroom vs watching a recording the next day.

And, All Digital with Full Access to All Channels on All TVs for just $3.99 a month per TV doesn't sound all that bad. I'll take 3, thank you very much.

Cheers, Dave
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post #1018 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 11:11 AM
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Here in Atlanta, watching the Braves/Dodgers on Fox HD and it looks great. And yes, I'm on Comcast...

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post #1019 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 11:23 AM
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I'm in the Portland, OR area. And all the HD Comcast channels look very good in the past week or so, at least back to what they were. I'm wondering if they increased the pic quality recently.
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post #1020 of 2079 Old 04-20-2008, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by McDonoughDawg View Post

Here in Atlanta, watching the Braves/Dodgers on Fox HD and it looks great. And yes, I'm on Comcast...

Did you compare it to your OTA Fox local signal? or do you have the capability to do such ?
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