Reading through the forum, I have noticed a lot of talk and speculation about COX Las Vegas HD. Here are a few specifics and facts to answer most questions - Got a question - ask?
1) FACT: COX LV uses QAM digital tuning for transmission for all digital content, including HD. No 8VSB (OTA) signals are being sent so integrated tuners will not work. 8VSB (OTA) signals take up the space of about 4 channels and use up too much bandwidth.
SPECULATION: It is possible that after the local TV stations DROP their analog broadcast (Jan. 1, 2007) maybe the 8VSB signals will be piped down the old "Must Carry" local analog frequencies so that integrated tuners can pick up those channels.
2)FACT: COX is currently showing 7 HD channels - HBO E&W, SHO E&W, Discovery HD Theater, CBS and PBS. More feeds to come as local channels start broadcasting. ABC was in the lineup and taken off for public launch because they could not keep their transmitter working correctly.
SPECULATION - almost FACT: NBC launches their HD content feed August 15. ABC should have their problems resolved before the end of August. These will be rebroadcast as soon as they are available.
3)FACT: COX does NOT do any of the programming or make changes to the signal other than putting it out on their QAM transmitters. HBO, SHO and Discovery HD are off a Sattelite feed - Locals are currently off an 8VSB tuner ( yes, an antenna) and piped via QAM to the 700's of digital cable. If the source is not in HD, it doesn't go out HD (other than 1080i upconversion)
SPECULATION: Fiber feeds from the broadcasters may improve the reliability of source feeds in the event a transmitter goes down. As the valley gets rewired, this may be a possibility in the near future.
4)FACT: The STBs in use are the Scientific Atlanta 3100 series with Component video out for all channels at 1080i. HD signals can't be viewed through the s-video or composite jacks. Some TV's do not accept the 1080i DTV or Component signals. If the TV is capable of HD but only through RGB, a converter may be bought from COX for a fee to convert from the STB's native component output to an RGB output. The component output is not scaleable to different formats. If you have a 16x9 TV and watch 4x3 material, you WILL have the black bars on the sides viewing through the HD output. Most TV's will not allow you to change the format while viewing the DTV input. In those cases, switch to the s-video or composite source input and change your viewing mode to prevent burn-in.
SPECULATION: New boxes are being tested for a possible roll out in the first half of 2003. These boxes have the following reported features: Scaleable output (4x3, 16x9, zoom, etc) to eliminate the black bars. PVR based on "REPLAY" technology that will record the HD signal and have multiple tuners for viewing and recording at the same time.
5)SPECULATION: COX is not making any money directly off the HD offering. I put this as speculation because I do not actually know the profits from HD, but it's very high on the probability list for these reasons. The cost of the equipment to roll out HD has not and will not be compensated by the new users (YAY!!!) The additional fees are priced only for the completely new Discovery HD channel ($5 as agreed by the original broadcasters for rebroadcast) and installation (<$50) to offset training and cost associated with contractors and crews. HBO and SHO are added at no extra cost as long as you subscribe to those channels on regular digital cable and the locals are free to subscribers. The box rental is on par with a regular digital cable box (~ $11/mo) and far cheaper than buying one outright ($455 each)
I think that they are hoping to offer a better package for all users and possibly get new accounts from other non-terrestrial HD users.
6)FACT: HD NET at this time should not be on any major cable system due to liscence agreements with certain "other" companies not providing cable services.
SPECULATION: Rumor is that ESPN may launch an extreme channel this year called EXPN (???) that is all shot in HD, sort of like Disovery HD theater. Also rumored is an addition to the Fox Sports family that may be broadcast in HD. Discovery denied the HD channel up until a few weeks or so before it went live, so there may be hope for other channels to step forward as they test and go live. Typically they will not say they are going to do something unless it is already in the final testing stage for fear of getting bad press.
7)FACT: PPV is not currently in HD. As stated earlier, COX is not processing any signals, just re-transmitting what they get. They get all PPV from an outside source.
SPECULATION: Currently "IN-DEMAND is the PPV provider and if they decide to have an HD channel feed to COX, it is plausible that COX will retransmit that too.
More facts to follow as questions are asked - this is a bit more time consuming than anticipated...