Comcast Chicago to drop all expanded basic analog and go nearly all-digital April 10 - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 17 Old 03-23-2007, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
sebenste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: DeKalb, IL
Posts: 3,474
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 16
With the exception of "lifeline" channels 2-22 or so, city of Chicago (not the suburbs) Comcast subscribers are getting written messages and phone calls indicating that all "expanded basic channels", from around 20-30 up to 80, are all being shut off and will only be on their now-ADS (Analog to Digital Simulcast), or in other words, on digital cable. This is scheduled to occur on April 10. You will get one digital for box for free as part of this; after that, a monthly rental charge occurs with each additional box/TV set you have. The only channels that will remain on analog are the local broadcast stations, public access, maybe C-SPAN and that's it.

It's about time...and may this propel the entire industry forward to get this done ASAP.

And for those of you worried about your premium channels going away...and all who rely on analog...here's a huge wake up: it's probably going to happen sooner than later in major city and suburban markets, if it happens in Chi-town!

Gilbert
sebenste is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 Old 03-23-2007, 12:39 PM
AVS Club Gold
 
homcom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 6,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebenste View Post

And for those of you worried about your premium channels going away...and all who rely on analog...here's a huge wake up: it's probably going to happen sooner than later in major city and suburban markets, if it happens in Chi-town!

How many cable companies still have analog premiums? Comcast here in the Detroit are got rid of all the premium channels a few years ago.
homcom is offline  
post #3 of 17 Old 03-23-2007, 01:01 PM
Member
 
MephistoSan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cranston, RI
Posts: 83
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Cox in RI is getting rid of their analog premiums as of April 24th, but they've scrambled them for as long as I can remember, so it's not a huge inconvenience to people here, as they charge the same rental fee for both analog and digital boxes.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is just a precursor to them shutting off expanded basic analog too sometime down the line though.
MephistoSan is offline  
post #4 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 11:18 AM
Member
 
stevewinks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: boston suburbs, ma
Posts: 74
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebenste View Post

With the exception of "lifeline" channels 2-22 or so, city of Chicago (not the suburbs) Comcast subscribers are getting written messages and phone calls indicating that all "expanded basic channels", from around 20-30 up to 80, are all being shut off and will only be on their now-ADS (Analog to Digital Simulcast), or in other words, on digital cable. This is scheduled to occur on April 10. You will get one digital for box for free as part of this; after that, a monthly rental charge occurs with each additional box/TV set you have. The only channels that will remain on analog are the local broadcast stations, public access, maybe C-SPAN and that's it.

It's about time...and may this propel the entire industry forward to get this done ASAP.

And for those of you worried about your premium channels going away...and all who rely on analog...here's a huge wake up: it's probably going to happen sooner than later in major city and suburban markets, if it happens in Chi-town!

Man that stinks. I hope this is not going to be an industry wide move, though as you mentioned I shouldn't be surprised if it is.

I have Comcast with Expanded Basic and love the fact I don't need STB's. Apart from the fact I don't need to rent/pay for a clunky STB, I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder. I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box). I fear I will also lose the free TVGOS interactive guide the works with my DVD recorder as well.

I can't understand why you say "it's about time"? All I see out of it is losing control of my viewing options and being charged more $$$$ at the same time.
stevewinks is offline  
post #5 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 11:34 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Rammitinski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Des Plaines, IL
Posts: 17,437
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 19
You might or might not not lose the TVGOS - it depends on whether you're still getting the limited basic analog channels on your incoming line, and if they are still sending the TVGOS data along on a local host channel.

Comcast needs the bandwith this will free up in order to add more HD channels.
Rammitinski is offline  
post #6 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 11:36 AM
Member
 
SPDICKEY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 193
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevewinks View Post

Man that stinks. I hope this is not going to be an industry wide move, though as you mentioned I shouldn't be surprised if it is.

I have Comcast with Expanded Basic and love the fact I don't need STB's. Apart from the fact I don't need to rent/pay for a clunky STB, I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder. I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box). I fear I will also lose the free TVGOS interactive guide the works with my DVD recorder as well.

I can't understand why you say "it's about time"? All I see out of it is losing control of my viewing options and being charged more $$$$ at the same time.

Just wait until the over the air analog signals are turned off in 2009. Cable operators are scrambling to see if they can down convert the digital signals to analog or have to supply millions of digital set top boxes (leased of course for a fee) for each and every non-digital set in the household.

More info on the analog-to-digital conversion at http://www.multichannel.com/blog/200...140007814.html
SPDICKEY is offline  
post #7 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 11:40 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Rammitinski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Des Plaines, IL
Posts: 17,437
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 19
I bet that if there's a huge, mass exodus from their service, the boxes will be available cheaper or even for free, although it might take some finagling. But if people just passively "pay up", then this will never happen.
Rammitinski is offline  
post #8 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 01:47 PM
Advanced Member
 
wierdo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 936
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
This wouldn't be as big of a deal, IMO, if they transmitted the ADS channels in the clear so that any TV or STB with a QAM tuner could receive them. As others have said, they have to go all digital at some point. It's ridiculous how much bandwidth the analog channels take up.

In Tulsa, Cox has ADS, but sadly, only the big 4 networks and a couple of random channels are in the clear. They're currently using 36 carriers to transmit every channel on the system digitally. By contrast, there are around 68 analog channels. It's just not feasible going forward to continue to send the analog channels. After all, you can put two HD channels in the space of one analog channel at full bitrate, or more if they further compress.

Really, any backlash is their own doing. Much as in the early days of cable, one needed a box (or a new cable ready TV) to receive more than 12 channels, one might now need a digital cable ready TV. Of course, the cable companies are being stupid about it by not transmitting all the ADS channels in the clear. That's nobody's fault but their own.
wierdo is offline  
post #9 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 02:56 PM
QZ1
AVS Special Member
 
QZ1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: S.E. PA
Posts: 5,047
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdo View Post

This wouldn't be as big of a deal, IMO, if they transmitted the ADS channels in the clear so that any TV or STB with a QAM tuner could receive them.

Of course, the cable companies are being stupid about it by not transmitting all the ADS channels in the clear. That's nobody's fault but their own.

If they did that, they would have to use filters outside to block out 'Expanded.' channels for those that don't subscribe to it; they obviously don't want to use them anymore, due to lack of security. So, the only alternative is to encrypt all non-'Basic' channels. The real problem is that there is no Interactive Digital Cable Ready standard, so that people don't have to use a box. I know some people are happy with one-way CableCards, but they are almost extinct in TVs, at this point.
QZ1 is offline  
post #10 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 07:05 PM
Advanced Member
 
wierdo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 936
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Yes, god forbid they have to do things the way they do today to leave their customers with the same capability they have today.

I suppose they could go the route VZ went and start putting addressable NID boxes on the side of the house that decode the current basic/expanded basic channels and RF modulate them. Given the prices I've read that VZ is paying for the NID boxes, it would be cheaper than all but the most bare-bones of box, although it wouldn't allow for PPV and VOD purchases, which is probably the real reason they want to get the boxes into people's homes.

Interestingly, Cox (at least around here) has stopped publishing a basic rate separate from the expanded basic rate, so presumably they only have a relative few new basic only subscribers. (It's still available if you ask for it, just not published)

I don't really buy the filter argument, though, as it's not like Cox (or most others, AFAIK) is transmitting all the basic channels in the clear, either. My point was, though, that they could easily cut through most of the arguments that people have about the switch to digital just by giving people the same options they have today and had 20 years ago when a lot of TVs weren't cable ready, just like a lot of TVs now aren't digital cable ready.
wierdo is offline  
post #11 of 17 Old 03-29-2007, 08:20 PM
AVS Special Member
 
whoaru99's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 6,960
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

I bet that if there's a huge, mass exodus from their service, the boxes will be available cheaper or even for free, although it might take some finagling. But if people just passively "pay up", then this will never happen.


Maybe, but what is the alternative where you don't (or won't) eventually need some type of STB?

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
whoaru99 is offline  
post #12 of 17 Old 03-30-2007, 02:38 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
bfdtv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,484
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Not all analog channels are going away. The analog locals are here to stay for the forseeable future. Only analog cable channels such as USA, TNT, CNN, Fox News, SciFi, and The History channel are going away. You'll continue to get the locals with that 20-year old TV in your kitchen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevewinks View Post

Man that stinks. I hope this is not going to be an industry wide move, though as you mentioned I shouldn't be surprised if it is.

I have Comcast with Expanded Basic and love the fact I don't need STB's. Apart from the fact I don't need to rent/pay for a clunky STB, I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder. I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box). I fear I will also lose the free TVGOS interactive guide the works with my DVD recorder as well.

I can't understand why you say "it's about time"? All I see out of it is losing control of my viewing options and being charged more $$$$ at the same time.

You aren't seeing the big picture, as they say.

Modern cable systems have 750MHz to 860MHz bandwidth. Every analog channel consumes 6MHz of bandwidth, so those systems support 125-143 channels, assuming you take away VOD and Internet. A cable system with 60 analog channels is using almost 50% of its capacity on just those channels.

With digital delivery (256QAM modulation), every SD channel takes the equivalent of 0.6MHz bandwidth -- one-tenth as much. A cable system with 60 digital channels is using less than 5% of its capacity.

With digital delivery (256QAM modulation), a 1920x1080i HD channel supplied with full ATSC bandwidth (i.e. maximum quality) will consume the equivalent of 3MHz, while a 720p60 HD channel will consume the equivalent of 2MHz. Full 1080p60 channels -- which don't exist yet outside of the lab -- consume up to 6MHz. At DirecTV's "HDTV Lite" quality levels, you can reduce that by about 50%.

That's right, the 860MHz cable system in Chicago could offer 430+ 720p60 HDTV channels, 285+ 1080i HDTV channels, 143 1080p60 HDTV channels, or some mix of the three, at full quality...if they were to get rid of all other services. Comcast Chicago is keeping ~20 local channels in analog on their system, so those numbers are reduced by about 15%.

In addition to providing superior efficiency, digital delivery also eliminates picture defects associated with analog transmission, such as excess picture noise, ghosting, and snow. Alll that extra bandwidth can be used for virtually an unlimited number of new SD channels, dozens of new full HDTV channels (none of that "HDTV Lite" crap), as well as HDTV VOD and faster Internet. Said a different way, digital delivery provides the consumer with improved service and more choice.

All this comes at the expense of a set-top box, which many cable companies now include (no extra cost) with a cable subscription. The rub is that some cable providers want you to pay for extra boxes for other TVs. I don't know if that is the case with Comcast Chicago. Ideally, a cable provider would include STBs to support all TVs in a household at no extra cost, or at least decrypt the cable channels in the "digital basic" tier so they are receivable with the built-in digital cable (QAM) tuners found on virtually all new TVs.

In a year or two, this will be a moot point with new TVs. CableCard provides displays with the means to decrypt all cable channels, but most manufacturers don't incorporate it because of cost and usability concerns. Current CableCard implementations -- which use unidirectional OpenCable receivers -- cannot access guide information, interactive services, VOD, or channels delivered using Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology. That will all change next year.

Beginning in mid-2008, you will see televisions start to implement bidirectional digital tuners with OCAP in their TVs. With these TVs, you will simply plug the access card (CableCard) into the back of your display, and it will provide you full access to every channel and service you get with a set-top box. You will get the program guide with the same interface you get on the set-top box. By 2010, they probably won't even sell TVs without this functionality.

Quote:
I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder.

You can do that already with digital, just not using existing DVD recorders. Some newer DVD recorders have built-in digital (ATSC and QAM) tuners. You split the coax cable, run one end into your TV (or set-top box) and the other end into the DVD recorder. The DVD recorder can record one digital channel while you watch another with your STB/TV. Next year, you'll see DVD recorders with CableCard (and bi-directional receivers) that can pull the guide and program information directly from the cable provider -- no longer will you have to depend on the TVGoS service that is unreliable in so many areas.

As far as picture-in-picture, solutions are available now that integrate to dual ATSC/QAM tuners onto a single chip. As far as I know, Olevia is the only manufacturer shipping a display (747i/742i) that uses such a chip. On the Olevia 747i, you input a single coax feed from your cable company and you can display two different digital cable channels, SD or HD, using both split-screen and picture-in-picture. It will also do split-screen and picture-in-picture using the built-in digital cable (QAM) and OTA (ATSC) tuners.

Most 2007 models seem to be sticking with the highly integrated, ultra-cheap single-tuner ATSC/QAM silicon, which integrates ATSC and QAM tuners onto a single chip, but only one of those tuners can be active at any given time. Starting next year, as new single-chip, dual QAM/ATSC tuner solutions become available (more competition = lower cost), you can expect more television manufacturers to incorporate that technology into their products.

Quote:
I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box).

Newer TVs and DVD recorders with digital cable (QAM) tuners also allow you to delete the channels you don't want. That's not an analog-only feature by any means.

Some software used by cable companies allows you to edit and delete channels you don't want, while other software does not. Verizon FiOS has allowed customers to delete channels from their STB/DVR since day one. Comcast's Tivo software upgrade for Motorola DVRs does allow you to remove whatever channels you want from the guide and channel +/-. They do charge you a few extra dollars per month for that functionality, but that buys you all sorts of other improvements as well.
bfdtv is offline  
post #13 of 17 Old 03-30-2007, 04:33 AM
AVS Special Member
 
RCbridge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Limerick Pa
Posts: 1,874
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 14
Quote:
Just wait until the over the air analog signals are turned off in 2009. Cable operators are scrambling to see if they can down convert the digital signals to analog or have to supply millions of digital set top boxes (leased of course for a fee) for each and every non-digital set in the household.

The cable-co's do this now (demodulate to baseband and remodulate) to fit there cable plan.
The fact is the number of analog channels is shrinking as we speak, so yes they would like to rent more boxes or cable cards for the newer set!!
RCbridge is offline  
post #14 of 17 Old 03-30-2007, 08:13 AM
Advanced Member
 
wierdo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 936
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

Beginning in mid-2008, you will see televisions start to implement bidirectional digital tuners with OCAP in their TVs. With these TVs, you will simply plug the access card (CableCard) into the back of your display, and it will provide you full access to every channel and service you get with a set-top box. You will get the program guide with the same interface you get on the set-top box. By 2010, they probably won't even sell TVs without this functionality.

Talk about needless expense and complexity. God forbid they be like all the other networking businesses in the world that actually implement a clear standard that others can implement a client with as much of or as little as need be. Instead, our TVs will need 256MB of RAM and 64MB of flash memory and a 400MHz CPU just to run OCAP. I guess it doesn't matter..electricity is too cheap to meter now.

OCAP is a white elephant. Unfortunately, it's a white elephant we'll likely be stuck with, because the cable companies think they're special enough to rate control over everybody's boxes. The telcos used to do that, too...
wierdo is offline  
post #15 of 17 Old 03-30-2007, 09:29 AM
AVS Special Member
 
AntAltMike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: College Park, MD
Posts: 3,532
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 19
This move would at least temporarily knock Comcast Chicago out of the Hotel/Motel.Dormitory SMATV market. I imagine they had already lost almost all of that to RCN, Lodgenet, OnCommand and DirecTV/DISH anyway. Someone in Chicage paid me $25,000 to install a 63 channel headend and augment his distribution system a little to accommodate it, and paid it at the drop of a hat. He had a competing bid from another DBS supplier for over $60,000 though that included a service contract, so Comcast/Chicago might already have priced itself out of that market.
AntAltMike is offline  
post #16 of 17 Old 04-01-2007, 01:56 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Rammitinski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Des Plaines, IL
Posts: 17,437
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdo View Post

After all, you can put two HD channels in the space of one analog channel at full bitrate, or more if they further compress.

Bite your tongue !
Rammitinski is offline  
post #17 of 17 Old 04-01-2007, 02:46 PM
QZ1
AVS Special Member
 
QZ1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: S.E. PA
Posts: 5,047
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdo View Post

Yes, god forbid they have to do things the way they do today to leave their customers with the same capability they have today.

The problem is today's way is not secure, and with Digital they now have a secure way of filtering out channels.
Quote:


I don't really buy the filter argument, though, as it's not like Cox (or most others, AFAIK) is transmitting all the basic channels in the clear, either.

In this and many other areas, Comcast sends all of the Analog channels (Standard) in the clear, unless filtered out.

In some areas they filter out the Expd. section of the Analog tier. In other areas, Basic and Expd. are interspersed, so if one doesn't have Expd. they filter out the entire Analog tier, and provide a 'Basic-only' box for those TVs that don't already have a Digital Box.

Either way, they have been filtering out these channels outside when needed, and not with enough security apparently, hence the switch to leaving only Locals in Analog and Digital in the clear.
QZ1 is offline  
Reply Cable, Digital Cable - Non-HDTV

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off