Well, rats. But many thanks for the info!
Amen. Comcast needs to concentrate on providing every available HD Channel in existence and remove all the analogs.
Perhaps a second forum section should be created for the "techies" who want to futz around with "Clear Quam" and "Cable Cards".
|Going “All-Digital” – Tons more HD and a Faster Internet
Posted by Derek Harrar, SVP GM Video and Entertainment, in Network and Operations
There was a lot of discussion yesterday on our first quarter 2009 earnings call about Comcast’s “All-Digital” project. We generally refer to this program as “Project Cavalry.” You might be wondering exactly what it is. Project Cavalry is our plan to give customers tons more HD choices, a faster Internet and more On Demand. How do we get there?
The cable industry has provided analog television service from the inception of cable TV. Analog delivery enables a cable-ready TV to receive 60-70 channels without any equipment. Over time, the industry has migrated to digital delivery. Similarly, the government is requiring digital delivery for broadcast channels on June 12 in the Digital Transition, although that only relates to ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and Univision. Project Cavalry involves cable channels, including ESPN, TBS, A&E, etc. Regardless, it is clear that the video world is going digital. Doing so offers much improved picture quality and, with a Comcast set-top box, compelling two-way services such as Video On Demand and an interactive guide.
The real catch, however, is that analog delivery takes up more space on our network than digital delivery. For every analog channel, we can deliver 10-15 standard definition Digital channels or 2-3 HD channels. Today, approximately 2/3 of our network capacity is dedicated to delivering analog video. However, 72% of customers have digital service. By moving about half the analog channels to digital, we open up an incredible amount of capacity to bring dramatic product enhancements to customers. Half the channels remain in analog, meaning that 20-30 channels including all the broadcasters can still be viewed without any equipment on their cable-ready TVs.
Our solution is to provide a free digital service upgrade to move our “Expanded Basic” tier of analog customers to Digital. With no change to their monthly bill, we provide 8-10 additional channels, 40-50 music channels, all-digital picture quality and sound, an interactive guide and access to thousands of choices of Video On Demand. That offer includes digital equipment for three TVs at no charge. We chose that because the average U.S. home which has 2.7 TVs. Digital customers also get some free equipment and more channels including over 100 HD channels if you subscribe to HD service. Internet customers get doubled speeds. Remaining bandwidth can be used for increased international channels, even more HD, even faster Internet, etc. As mentioned, everything described happens at no additional charge.
Key to this offer is a new device we developed called a Digital Transport Adapter, or DTA (one is pictured at the top of the post). DTAs are small devices designed to replicate one-way analog service in digital. Unlike a set-top box, you can’t use On Demand or an interactive guide on a DTA, but digital channels look crystal clear in digital quality. If you want to receive more than the 20-30 analog channels mentioned above, we will provide you with a DTA on your TV when we go “all-digital” in your neighborhood. These devices are very small and were designed to be easily hidden behind your TV if you don’t want to see it. The free equipment Project Cavalry provides Expanded Basic customers includes one full-featured set-top box and two of these smaller DTAs.
The program is called Project Cavalry, since executing it requires us to touch nearly every home we provide video service to. The Comcast Cavalry sweeps into your neighborhood and works closely with you to provide great service and get you through it. In fact, it’s not very intrusive and to date approximately 75% of customers have self-installed their new, free equipment without needing anyone from Comcast to visit their home. The good news is that once you do, you’ll start seeing substantial product improvements almost immediately.
Since launching Cavalry late last year, we have deployed over a million of these DTAs in our footprint. In fact we deployed a million faster than Google sold a million of their G1 phones. It’s a fast moving program, driven by customer demand for great product improvements at no charge. Right now, Cavalry is underway in Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area, Chattanooga, Augusta, Philadelphia, the DC/Beltway area and Atlanta. Expect it to roll through your neighborhood sometime before the end of 2010.
|What to Do When There's Nothing On
Posted by Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment
You scroll the TV Listings for five minutes, and all you can find to watch is an infomercial for the Shake Weight. 195 channels (or thereabout) and thousands and thousands of choices On Demand, and you're watching someone work on their triceps.
Well no more, dear readers. It's time to take back the remote from your roommate/spouse/child/couch cushions and find something to watch.
"Search TV & On Demand" is a new menu option that will start appearing on the Guide's Search menu. Southeastern Pennsylvania and parts of Central Pennsylvania were the first areas to get this new search tool. This feature will continue to roll out to Motorola-system markets through the fall and winter.
Search TV & On Demand extends the existing search feature available today to now return results that are On Demand in addition to regular TV.
So for example, I just ran a search here in my office for "East". The results include Eastbound & Down, Clint Eastwood movies, EastEnders, The Witches of Eastwick, music videos from Lil Jon & Eastside, and an ESPN special on the Big East. Wow; I didn't know we had some many Clint Eastwood movies On Demand.
The results are sorted by relevance, just like a Google search would be. Eastbound & Down is at the top of the list, so it must be popular. I might want to check it out, so I can set a Reminder or a Recording on my DVR for it on my way down the list to the Clint Eastwood movies. And if I wanted to get more specific results I could just type in the full name "Eastwood'. Easy.
Folks can also search within On Demand itself. You'll find the Search icon appearing right on the On Demand main menu over the next few weeks or months. It works the same way as Search TV & On Demand except (pretty much like you'd expect) this way you only see results that are On Demand.
I'm looking forward to you feedback! Now I'm going to go figure out how to talk my family into letting me have control of the remote tonight.
|Wow this is great! A long time overdue, but def. a step in the right direction!
Will Scientific Atlanta/Cisco markets have to wait for this one?
Keith s | November 5, 2010 4:53 PM
|Hello Keith S. and thanks for your comments and question.
Customers in our Scientific-Atlanta/Cisco areas will see these two new search features as a part of our new tru2way guide coming to those areas in the first half of 2011. More details on that guide are coming soon.
Ted Hodgins replied to comment from Keith s | November 8, 2010 10:27 AM
|Comcast Tees Up Switched Video Rollouts
Plans SDV Deployments in 2010 To Offer 150-Plus HDs
By Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News,
6/16/2010 12:25:04 PM
Comcast expects to deploy switched digital video in several cable systems later this year -- with plans to expand into other markets in 2011 and 2012 -- which will let it offer more than 150 HD channels and roll out new services like 3DTV, the company said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.
The operator did not indicate where it will commercially launch SDV first. Comcast said it expects SDV will "result in the launch of at least 50 additional HD channels, bringing the total number of HD channels in these systems to over 150."
As SDV capacity increases over time, the operator said, it will be able to launch 3DTV, offer additional niche-interest and ethnic channels, and deliver faster broadband services. Comcast outlined the plans in comments filed Monday in response to the FCC's proposed changes to CableCard rules, designed to "improve" CableCard rules until there's a successor solution such as outlined the agency's "AllVid" notice of inquiry.
Switched digital video more efficiently delivers less-watched linear TV channels, by transmitting them only when a customer in a given service group requests them unlike traditional cable services in which all channels are broadcast to all homes at all times.
However, one-way CableCards devices are unable to access SDV channels. Comcast said that with the proposed switched digital video launches, it will provide "tuning adapters" to subscribers with CableCard-enabled TiVo DVRs and other devices at no additional charge. Tuning adapters from both Cisco and Motorola have been deployed by cable operators, including Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications.
Comcast told the FCC that the tuning adapters are likely to cost "tens of million[s] of dollars" if many customers with CableCards elect that option. "Comcast is making these expenditures in fulfillment of the cable industry's commitments to TiVo," the company said.
As of the end of February, Comcast had 296,967 CableCards installed in active customer homes, according to the most recent quarterly report on CableCards from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. That's roughly 1% of Comcast's 23.5 million basic-video subscribers.
The cable industry has argued that the FCC's CableCard regime has failed and earlier this week the NCTA proposed that the commission stop requiring operators to use CableCards in their own set-tops. The latest FCC notice of proposed rulemaking on CableCards proposes requiring "more transparent" billing for CableCards; simplified installation processes; CableCards that can tune multiple streams; and a streamlined CableCard device certification process.
Comcast noted that its primary tool for freeing up bandwidth has been low-cost digital terminal adapters (DTAs) that let the MSO eliminate analog broadcasts by delivering expanded basic cable lineups in all-digital format.
The FCC has proposed to exempt all DTAs that lack DVR functionality from the "integration ban" that requires operator-supplied set-tops to include CableCards. Comcast said it "strongly supports" that position and that the FCC should also exempt HD DTAs, which would be "a particularly attractive option for secondary TVs in the home."
But along with the DTAs, Comcast said it "requires additional bandwidth-conservation tools to meet the ever-growing demands on our network" to explain the need for SDV.
TiVo, in prior comments to the FCC, proposed an "IP backchannel" proposal to deliver SDV channels to one-way cable devices. Comcast said it believes the tuning adapter is an "adequate solution" to enable customers with CableCard devices to access SDV channels.
"We have concerns about having to dedicate substantial engineering and other resources to develop a new solution for UDCP [unidirectional digital cable product] customers when the Tuning Adapter works perfectly well," Comcast said.
Comcast's SDV disclosures with the FCC were reported Tuesday by Light Reading Cable.
In 2007, Comcast had selected BigBand Networks' SDV management software. The MSO also around that time specified Motorola as an SDV supplier, as well as Arris and Harmonic for edge quadrature amplitude modulation devices.
At the time, Comcast said it was testing switched digital video systems in systems in Denver and New Jersey.
In 2008, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau issued orders fining Time Warner Cable and Cox for moving some channels from their broadcast lineups to SDV on the grounds that this violated "viewability" rules by making that programming inaccessible to CableCard-based devices like TiVos.
Last year, however, the FCC vacated those decisions, citing the "potential consumer benefits of SDV deployment, and other factors that limit the potential scope of consumer disruption."