Five More Years (At Least) Of Analog Cable? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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We all like to speculate here on how long it will be before cable clears out analog altogether. If you thought that would happen at the same time as the broadcasting shutoff on 2/17/09, prepare for some disappointment. Here's Brian Roberts of Comcast:
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Asked if Comcast would ever get rid of the analog tier altogether or if in the future, the cable operator would always have some form of an analog tier, Roberts said that internally, company executives have debated that 20-40 analog channels would remain until at least 2011.
Full Multichannel News article here, with my blog comments here.
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post #2 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobColby
We all like to speculate here on how long it will be before cable clears out analog altogether. If you thought that would happen at the same time as the broadcasting shutoff on 2/17/09, prepare for some disappointment. Here's Brian Roberts of Comcast:


Full Multichannel News article here, with my blog comments here.
Almost half the US doesn't now have digital cable or a digital tuner enabled TV. Cable forcing this down it's customers throat arbitrarily is business suicide. I think you'll see them migrate a few channels a year over time and retain for the forseeable future some form of analog for the digital resistors to have a choice.

Seems to make sense to me.

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post #3 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 10:19 AM
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My cable company (Mediacom) friggin' sucks! Almost everything is analog, with picture quality on some channels akin to using a coat hanger to pick up OTA signals. The only digital network they offer me is a hi-def NBC feed. The rest are analog only and look like garbage.

I'd love for them to switch over completely to digital (just for the improved picture), but I have a feeling it's going to be a loooooong time before that happens. Hell, they still don't offer the Sci-Fi channel in my city, even though they show commercials for "Sci-fi...on Mediacom" all the time.

And because I live over 60 miles away from the nearest tower, I can't even pick up HD OTA signals.

I'd love to switch to a dish, but even then I still can't get HD networks since I can't get waivers for my closest stations. :mad:

Sorry for the rant.

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post #4 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoIrish
Almost half the US doesn't now have digital cable or a digital tuner enabled TV. Cable forcing this down it's customers throat arbitrarily is business suicide. I think you'll see them migrate a few channels a year over time and retain for the forseeable future some form of analog for the digital resistors to have a choice.

Seems to make sense to me.

GoIrish
I agree that some kind of continuing analog cable package is necessary to prevent mass revolt. But given how much additional bandwidth satellite is going to be adding in the next couple of years, keeping up to 40 channels could seriously impair cable's ability to compete in the area of new HD.

Of course, if neither Comcast or Time Warner can carry your new HD network, you might want to think twice about launching in the first place.
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post #5 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoIrish
Almost half the US doesn't now have digital cable or a digital tuner enabled TV. Cable forcing this down it's customers throat arbitrarily is business suicide. I think you'll see them migrate a few channels a year over time and retain for the forseeable future some form of analog for the digital resistors to have a choice.

Seems to make sense to me.

GoIrish
Gee, I wonder how the satellite companies survive! They make ALL their subscribers get a tuner box!!!

If cable switched over, its subscribers won't go through any more hardship than sat viewers have had to go through over the years -- or broadcast-only viewers will experience as Feb. 17, 2009 approaches. Plus, cable can finally call itself "all-digital" just like everyone else.

About the only drawback is that there'd be no justification to charge extra for a "digital tier." Hmmm ...

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post #6 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dline
Gee, I wonder how the satellite companies survive! They make ALL their subscribers get a tuner box!!!
The FCC doesn't require sat to provide the local stations on channels 2-13 on their systems in analog for those who do not want a STB but use the tuner in the set like cable has too.

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post #7 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
The FCC doesn't require sat to provide the local stations on channels 2-13 on their systems in analog for those who do not want a STB but use the tuner in the set like cable has too.
I don't know what you mean.
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Doesn't bother me any. Analog cable looks far better than digital. The amount of compression used for the digital stuff is horrible. The only thing that doesn't suffer much from the compression are the movie channels. But I can still see macroblocking from time to time, indicating they're getting too much compression, too.
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post #9 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 04:45 PM
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Cable continues to ignore digital at its peril.

Of course now it is far more concerned with VOD and VOIP and internet and bundling. It feels it still has a few years before digital becomes important enough to worry about.

But soon DBS and telephone -- already all digital -- will also have enough bandwidth for pristine HD, and cable will be reduced to pleading for its consumers to stick with it because of the perceived convenience of bundling.

Cable managements -- not all, but many -- are reminiscent of pre-deregulation airline executives. They have no clue about living in a competitive world. (Remember Eastern, National, TWA, Pan AM, Western, Frontier, etc.?)

And with state-wide licensing of competitors and technological advances coming faster and faster, cable had better get ahead of the curve, and fast.
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post #10 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa

But soon DBS and telephone -- already all digital -- will also have enough bandwidth for pristine HD, and cable will be reduced to pleading for its consumers to stick with it because of the perceived convenience of bundling.
But will they use it for pristine HD or "Little Giant Ladder" channels :D .
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post #11 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karyk
I don't know what you mean.
An outdated rule requires cable to provide cable channels 2-13 in analog for those people who only want local channels and use the built in tuner in the television set and not have to rent a STB for those channels. Many believe that rule will go by the wayside by the end of analog shutdown.

All opinions expressed (unless otherwise noted) are the posters and NOT the posters employers. The poster in NO WAY is/will speak for his employers. "Arguing with an engineer is like mud wrestling with a pig. After a couple of hours, you realize the pig likes it"
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post #12 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA
My cable company (Mediacom) friggin' sucks! Almost everything is analog, with picture quality on some channels akin to using a coat hanger to pick up OTA signals. The only digital network they offer me is a hi-def NBC feed. The rest are analog only and look like garbage.

I'd love for them to switch over completely to digital (just for the improved picture), but I have a feeling it's going to be a loooooong time before that happens. Hell, they still don't offer the Sci-Fi channel in my city, even though they show commercials for "Sci-fi...on Mediacom" all the time.

And because I live over 60 miles away from the nearest tower, I can't even pick up HD OTA signals.

I'd love to switch to a dish, but even then I still can't get HD networks since I can't get waivers for my closest stations. :mad:

Sorry for the rant.

And I thought I lived in bad area.
Beaumont is the Garden of Eden compared to that.
Where are you located? And thanks for making me feel better.
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post #13 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dline
Gee, I wonder how the satellite companies survive! They make ALL their subscribers get a tuner box!!!

If cable switched over, its subscribers won't go through any more hardship than sat viewers have had to go through over the years -- or broadcast-only viewers will experience as Feb. 17, 2009 approaches. Plus, cable can finally call itself "all-digital" just like everyone else.

About the only drawback is that there'd be no justification to charge extra for a "digital tier." Hmmm ...

Well, D*and E* have always required a box, so that's how they've done it, (I guess you didn't know that though....) Many cable subscribers don't look at satellite as an alternative because they don't want a box and don't ever want one. While you may not understand the feelings of this audience segment, cable companies do understand that arbitrarily forcing millions of customers to take a box they have said they don't want, to keep the 60 odd channels they already have, is a bad buisness move and unnecessary. Migrating slowly over the coming years is the best consumer solution.

My cable company is all digital already if you have a digital box. They maintain the analog portion because only slightly more than half their customers have selected digital service.

Also, this has nothing to do with ancillary digital tiers of programming services so your comment doesn't make sense.

GoIrish
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post #14 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 06:56 PM
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TNT will remain analog on South Jersey Comcast till 2011 but they will raise rates 3-4 times
in those coming years. Remember Comcast's motto, "Bandwith is for VOIP. No more HD channels for you"
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post #15 of 37 Old 05-24-2006, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcade
And I thought I lived in bad area.
Beaumont is the Garden of Eden compared to that.
Where are you located? And thanks for making me feel better.
A small town in the Middle Georgia area called Eastman. And I'm not kidding about the analog channels. Lost was almost unbearable to watch tonight. :mad:

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post #16 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 05:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa
Cable continues to ignore digital at its peril.

Of course now it is far more concerned with VOD and VOIP and internet and bundling. It feels it still has a few years before digital becomes important enough to worry about.

But soon DBS and telephone -- already all digital -- will also have enough bandwidth for pristine HD, and cable will be reduced to pleading for its consumers to stick with it because of the perceived convenience of bundling.

Cable managements -- not all, but many -- are reminiscent of pre-deregulation airline executives. They have no clue about living in a competitive world. (Remember Eastern, National, TWA, Pan AM, Western, Frontier, etc.?)

And with state-wide licensing of competitors and technological advances coming faster and faster, cable had better get ahead of the curve, and fast.
Great points.
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post #17 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
An outdated rule requires cable to provide cable channels 2-13 in analog for those people who only want local channels and use the built in tuner in the television set and not have to rent a STB for those channels. Many believe that rule will go by the wayside by the end of analog shutdown.
Okay. Seems like they should at least have the option of providing the STB for free. As people transition to HD, the old boxes should be pretty plentiful.
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post #18 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa
Cable continues to ignore digital at its peril.

Of course now it is far more concerned with VOD and VOIP and internet and bundling. It feels it still has a few years before digital becomes important enough to worry about.

But soon DBS and telephone -- already all digital -- will also have enough bandwidth for pristine HD, and cable will be reduced to pleading for its consumers to stick with it because of the perceived convenience of bundling.

Cable managements -- not all, but many -- are reminiscent of pre-deregulation airline executives. They have no clue about living in a competitive world. (Remember Eastern, National, TWA, Pan AM, Western, Frontier, etc.?)

And with state-wide licensing of competitors and technological advances coming faster and faster, cable had better get ahead of the curve, and fast.
Sorry, Fred, but I disagree. I think keeping analog will be a very big competitive advantage for cable and they know that. Many people really don't like STBs, especially for their 2nd, 3rd sets in the house. That's one of the resistance points keeping many from DBS. I think once these folks are forced to upgrade to digital cable it will open the door to considering competitors.

I am one of them. I have HD satellite on my main set and analog cable run through the house on several other TVs. When analog cable shuts off I will consider DBS throughout my house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoIrish
Many cable subscribers don't look at satellite as an alternative because they don't want a box and don't ever want one. While you may not understand the feelings of this audience segment, cable companies do understand that arbitrarily forcing millions of customers to take a box they have said they don't want, to keep the 60 odd channels they already have, is a bad buisness move and unnecessary. Migrating slowly over the coming years is the best consumer solution.
Exactly.
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post #19 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:28 AM
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Figure 1 in Craig Kuhl's CED article estimates the continued presence of analog channels even with channel number expansions until 2010.

Switched broadcasting (SB), also called switched video, lets head ends--even lower-bandwidth 550- or 750-MHz ones--add numerous new channels while retaining the bandwidth- hogging analogs. SB only delivers subscriber-tuned channels instead of all channels, all the time, to all subscribers. A net or AVS search provides SB details. -- John
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post #20 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Rain
Doesn't bother me any. Analog cable looks far better than digital. The amount of compression used for the digital stuff is horrible. The only thing that doesn't suffer much from the compression are the movie channels. But I can still see macroblocking from time to time, indicating they're getting too much compression, too.
Analog looks better than digital cable? This is not my experience at all. My analog channels on Comcast are full of video noise and are much softer/blurrier than most of the (non-HD) digital channels. There are exceptions, where some of the better analog channels are superior to the worst digital ones, but by and large the digital channels are much cleaner and clearer. I'm watching on a 58" widescreen RPTV.
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post #21 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hondo21
Analog looks better than digital cable? This is not my experience at all. My analog channels on Comcast are full of video noise and are much softer/blurrier than most of the (non-HD) digital channels. There are exceptions, where some of the better analog channels are superior to the worst digital ones, but by and large the digital channels are much cleaner and clearer. I'm watching on a 58" widescreen RPTV.
IF you're viewing analog through Comcast's cable box. Try using a splitter and run a line to your TV's coax input. There's a HUGE difference in PQ with my TV's analog tuner. I have Mediacom cable. Analog and digital cable look like crap through their DVR cable box (Motorola 6412). I mostly blame the box. The Phase II unit has terrible video noise on analog channels compared to the newer Phase III unit.
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post #22 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Peterson
Sorry, Fred, but I disagree. I think keeping analog will be a very big competitive advantage for cable and they know that. Many people really don't like STBs, especially for their 2nd, 3rd sets in the house. That's one of the resistance points keeping many from DBS. I think once these folks are forced to upgrade to digital cable it will open the door to considering competitors.
Thanks for crystallizing my thinking on this. You're right - once the STB-resistant crowd is forced to have one, it removes the barriers keeping them loyal to their provider. They have to make a change anyway, so why not examine all their options at that point? Cable companies are right to fear that.
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post #23 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason
Figure 1 in Craig Kuhl's CED article estimates the continued presence of analog channels even with channel number expansions until 2010.

Switched broadcasting (SB), also called switched video, lets head ends--even lower-bandwidth 550- or 750-MHz ones--add numerous new channels while retaining the bandwidth- hogging analogs. SB only delivers subscriber-tuned channels instead of all channels, all the time, to all subscribers. A net or AVS search provides SB details. -- John
Thanks for digging up this very informative article! You'll get a shout-out if (more likely when) I blog it.
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post #24 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Rain
IF you're viewing analog through Comcast's cable box. Try using a splitter and run a line to your TV's coax input. There's a HUGE difference in PQ with my TV's analog tuner. I have Mediacom cable. Analog and digital cable look like crap through their DVR cable box (Motorola 6412). I mostly blame the box. The Phase II unit has terrible video noise on analog channels compared to the newer Phase III unit.
I've also had analog cable (and OTA, for that matter) through my set's tuners that looked better than most digital SD stuff nowadays (on an SD set). Sharper, with much more detail and NO artifacts, like crawling grass or facial features. This was after all new wiring was installed.
Satellite in it's earlier days was MUCH better, too.
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post #25 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dline
Gee, I wonder how the satellite companies survive! They make ALL their subscribers get a tuner box!!!

If cable switched over, its subscribers won't go through any more hardship than sat viewers have had to go through over the years -- or broadcast-only viewers will experience as Feb. 17, 2009 approaches. Plus, cable can finally call itself "all-digital" just like everyone else.

About the only drawback is that there'd be no justification to charge extra for a "digital tier." Hmmm ...
I do know one thing - if they don't carry an analog host station anymore for those with older, analog-based DVR's that use TV Guide on Screen, a lot of people are gonna be pretty disappointed.
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post #26 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
An outdated rule requires cable to provide cable channels 2-13 in analog for those people who only want local channels and use the built in tuner in the television set and not have to rent a STB for those channels. Many believe that rule will go by the wayside by the end of analog shutdown.
This has been mentioned before, and I have my doubts about it. Our local WB is not in 2-13, while UPN, the 4 majors, and PBS are. Furthermore, having those six locals in 2-13 is irrelevant in this area, as Comcast subs that order just Basic have their entire Analog tier scrambled, and need a Basic-only box, as opposed to Standard subs who don't need a box.
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post #27 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 05:22 PM
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I had heard that Basic would be kept past 17 Feb. 09, but I count only seven network locals and some independents, that probably doesn't even total 20, let alone 40. It sounds like they will have keep abridged Expd. tier, as well. I was hoping all of Expd. would be dropped by then or before.
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post #28 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 06:01 PM
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My area is now completely ADS (Analog Digital Simulcast) as of 2 weeks ago. There are some oddball channels in the 40s and 50s that are not digital, but for the most part, all of them are QAM 64 Unencrypted. I was surprised to see my small cable company do the entire change at once. First it was only 3 (CBS) and 6 (ABC), and then the next day, everything was switched over. I expected it to take them at least 6 months to switch over, not to mention the fact that they switched over way before the analog shut off date (another surprise)

And, I have to say, the quality of it sucks. It looks worse than the analog to mpeg-2 by my Moto 6412 box (and we all know how bad that looked). This is worse. The channels look very pixelated and have a weird artifacting pattern, almost like there's some digital noise reduction being applied.

Anyways, perhaps in time it will get better.

-Derek-
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post #29 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanisrox69
And, I have to say, the quality of it sucks. It looks worse than the analog to mpeg-2 by my Moto 6412 box (and we all know how bad that looked). This is worse. The channels look very pixelated and have a weird artifacting pattern, almost like there's some digital noise reduction being applied.

Anyways, perhaps in time it will get better.

-Derek-
Well, the thing that will make it better is getting rid of the analog. That will allow more bandwidth for the digital channels.

Also, although we've discussed it in the past, I don't think we've ever found anything that indicates stupid things on On Demand don't really eat into bandwidth. Getting rid of that would probably help too.
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post #30 of 37 Old 05-25-2006, 09:18 PM
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Well, my company doesn't offer On Demand...but I see what you are saying that shutting the analog off will increase bandwidth, never thought of that. thanks!

-Derek-
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