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Tom: Granted that the time frame of roll-out may not be met, this announcement could add to the acceptance HDTV by the mainstream viewer. Regards.
 

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Hey as long as they are onboard, it'll happen sooner or later. Better that they are saying "heck yea we'll do it, it'll just take time, and we're not really sure when it'll be" than "HDTV? Whats that?" :)
 

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It will still not catch on until ALL cable companies are required by the FCC to carry digital. Currently RCN, which controls a huge chunk of Chicago, for example, refuses to offer any digital at all, not even the unmodified 8VSB signal through their cable. I am sure many people are in the same boat and do not subscribe to one of those "big 10."


What is the possible logic for the refusal to carry the 8VSB signal? How much more bandwidth could it require that is not available? They recently raised their prices and have given absolutely no additional benefits to consumers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
While I certainly hate to argue for the cable companies, I can see their logic. Only a few percent of subscribers at best have HDTV equipment, and HDTV channels (in any format, including 8VSB) do take up significant bandwidth. They would have to move or eliminate 6 or so non-HDTV channles to make room for one HDTV channel. That is just the way it works, and that is why they are reluctant. The number of customers they alienate by elimininating or not adding the non-HDTV channels is in the short term going to be greater than the number of customers they alienate by not carrying HDTV. Of course this is short sighted and eventually HDTV will be a competitive advantage but lets face it, right now it isn't.


But there are a lot of creative options that cable companies could use. They could convert more analog channels to digital (non-HD). They could drop channels that nobody watches anyway. They could improve their compression technology.


-Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tom Morrow
While I certainly hate to argue for the cable companies, I can see their logic. Only a few percent of subscribers at best have HDTV equipment, and HDTV channels (in any format, including 8VSB) do take up significant bandwidth.
Well heck if thats the case, why are the broadcasters even bothering to put out signals if nobody has the equipment yet. Everybody loves to hammer on them when they dont meet deadlines yet without cables cooperation aint "nobody" *ever* gonna bother buying the equipment. Cable carriage is the last hope we have that the millions of people, even in areas where there have been a number of digital channels up and running for quite some time, are actually going to care about HD at all. They certainly havent cared one bit yet when it comes to investing in the means and the hassle of getting the signals OTA.


I doubt they would even if tuners cost only $100 instead of 500, this is afterall a cable tv society. So let cable keep dragging their feet, particularly in the largest markets. But then lets hope nobody complains about why there isnt more HD programming or HD channels.
 

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Gentlemen,


I obviously come into this argument with a bias toward the cable viewpoint, but let me suggest a slightly different way of looking at the situation: The cable companies will adopt HD, and they'll do it because it's important to their business.


The majority of cable operations (not all, thank you) have been dragging their feet, not because of the cost of the boxes, but because of the scarcity of supply. They simply did not want to endure the pain of putting customers on waiting lists, eat the truck roll expense of replacing boxes with a 25% failure rate, and listen to the complaints of customers over both. Some, non-HFC (hybrid fiber-coax) systems, just can't do it.


Some, like us, felt it was important enough to people like you to go ahead and launch, and to work through the logistical hurdles. We did it because we felt it was important to our customers, and thus, important to the future of our business.


Others will get on board because they either realize, or will shortly realize, that HD is important to their business.
 

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gmclaughlin,


I am glad that someone is taking the pro-cable position.


However, from where I sit, I am not impressed.


I was on the board of our local cable firm (a co-operative) prior to its being sold to AT&T. I know a fair amount about this industry.


The cable companies have stalled HDTV for years, doing everything they could to avoid it. Their belief was that maybe it would just go away. They saw HDTV only as a burden, requiring new expenditures just to keep the same customers. In a sense, they are right.


Only now are the cable companies realizing that HDTV is coming and they need to support it in order to survive.


The current shortage of STB's is an artifact of the industry's delay. Had they gotten on board several years ago, there would be plenty of STB's.


Personally, I waited until early 2001 to install OTA and DirecTV to get HDTV. I waited another year for cable to show some interest. Only two months ago did I drop my cable service down to the lowest level. I plan to drop it completely this summer after I do some additional wiring.


I gave AT&T time, and they did nothing at all. In fact, we still don't know when we will have HDTV on cable here in Palo Alto. And we have one of the highest concentrations of HDTV "early adopters" in the world right here under AT&T's nose. AT&T has lost 12.6% of its subscribers in this service area in the last 18 months; I am guessing that lack of support for HDTV is a part of this.


When Comcast takes over, we will see if they are able to do something. But for me, and many other early adopters, cable has lost its claim on us.
 

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Quote:
Eddie Fritts, chief executive of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, said, "We look forward to the day when cable operators carry all digital broadcast signals in their entirety."
Here lies the problem between the Boadcasters and cable.


Cable can't drop the analogs and replace them with the digitals in their ENTIRETY, not many viewers would be left to watch as there are very few 8VSB tuners in homes. What the NAB wants, and the cable industry refuses to do, is to maintain staus quo on the primary video of the broadcasters AND carry the entire 8VSB signal. This would double the bandwidth required for the local broadcast stations. In my market, #42, that would mean eight additional 6 MHz channels!


I believe Time Warner has it right. While I have no first hand knowledge of their methods, from reading here I believe they are maintaining the status quo on the primary video feeds and then demoding and stat-muxing the HDTV only feeds into their 256 QAM data streams and providing S/A digital, HDTV capable set tops. This is NOT what the NAB wants, but is what will help the HDTV cause. Won't do much for the NAB's version of the DTV transistion though.


Just my $0.025 :cool:
 

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Why couldnt the cable co just carry the digital side when digital channels are available? What difference would it make to the run of the mill viewer with their 27" tv. Couldnt the STB simply output the digital channels as s-video or whatever like any other channel for those viewers?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DP1
Why couldnt the cable co just carry the digital side when digital channels are available? What difference would it make to the run of the mill viewer with their 27" tv. Couldnt the STB simply output the digital channels as s-video or whatever like any other channel for those viewers?
I asked my cable company (Charter) that a year ago and they said that the cost to provide digital decoders for all subscribers was too high, the subscribers would have to pay a monthly fee for the box. Most subscribers don't even use a STB since the TV's are cable ready and a lot of them only have basic. It won't happen until it is mandatory for all subscribers to use a STB.
 

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Thats true Glenn. I thought about all the cable subs that dont even use boxes after I wrote that. But by the same token I suppose, whether it's people like that or the people with any number of sets that dont otherwise have a box connected to thier set or extra sets in the house that are OTA only, folks are going to have to get used to the notion that will need to connect some sort of box to all those sets eventually one way or the other.


Unless the analog shutdown is pushed back to 2020 instead so that all those 400.00 Wally World tv's that continue to be sold everyday will continue to work just as they do today, over the rest of thier lifespan.
 

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Quote:
folks are going to have to get used to the notion that will need to connect some sort of box to all those sets eventually one way or the other.
You're exactly right Dan. The question is who is going to pay for them? The cable cos would like to, I believe, but they like to charge around $10 a month for the box. If they could get digital boxes boxes into every home they could eliminate the anolog tier altogether and have plenty of bandwidth to go around.


Brian
 

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I already vented on this topic extensively in a previous thread - New cable HD boxes debuted - but I'll add another couple of cents worth here. First, at the current rate the analog shutdown may very well be pushed back to 2020. But, regardless of when it occurs, all existing analog sets still in use will need a STB to receive the digital signal. For that matter, won't digital sets without a built-in STB need one as well? Who will pay for/provide the STBs? An interesting question. For OTA, the TV owner will pay. Cost of OTA STB today is hundreds of dollars per set. Ouch! Hopefully price will come way down by then. For cable, they've got you by the short hairs unless some standard is mandated - you'll have to get your box from the cable company as that is probably the only one that will be supported and probably pay a monthly charge - again per set (I've got 5 sets and 1 box today). Again - ouch! I have another question - does the general public understand this? I don't think so.
 

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Well by the book (or the Balanced Budget Act of 97 if you will), as long as 85% of the homes in a given market can receive the Big 4 Networks' digital channels via OTA *or* any multichannel provider on at least 1 of their tv sets the analog shutdown can occur.


Now that might sound good on paper but when push comes to shove are they really willing to tell the other 15% to "kiss off" as well as crippling every tv aside from one that might be connected to a cable/DBS/ standalone digital tuner STB?


I dont know, but the govt is the one that wants the spectrum back so bad to begin with. Yet for some strange reason they've yet to truly mandate that all tv's sold at least above say the smallest ones have digital tuners included. What did they expect, that people would be so giddy at the prospect of digital OTA channels that they'd all go out and buy standalone tuners? Not. They wouldnt do it even for 100.00 let alone the 500+ that they've continued to cost. Again, people want these channels from cable..if they even want them/care about them at all. Plug and play baby.


All that said, just how far from the 85% are we then? Well cable accounts for about 60% of homes. DBS another 20% or so (at least in markets where they offer locals to begin with) so if and when they were both to start retransmitting the local digitals in addition to or instead of the analogs thats about 80% right there in some markets. Give or take a few points due to some homes having both. Ok then, so we'd need about 5% of OTA only homes ( about 1/3rd of those homes) to buy their own tuners or go ahead and sign on to DBS or cable.


Again, sounds ok on paper, but...
 

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In order to make any real progess in eliminating analog from the airwaves and cable, we need to have an inexpensive migration path. What we need is inexpensive digital STBs that have NTSC (480i) only ouptut that cost $100 or less. Probably two versions are needed. One for OTA only (8VSB) and one for cable only (64/256QAM). Alternatively you could make one universal, but it would cost more to have both decoders. I suppose the real question is whether the MPEG hardware would be any cheaper for outputting 480i only instead of 480p/720p/1080i.


OpenCable is supposed to help this stuff, but does it really address the digital transition and HDTV? I don't know. If they would get it straightened out at least CE companies could start making the next generation of digital "cable-ready" so that we can get back to integrated sets and most people wouldn't need STBs.


- Mike
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DP1
... if and when they were both to start retransmitting the local digitals in addition to or instead of the analogs...
That's the $64K question right there. Unfortunately, we don't know the answer. The cable industry has indicated that they will retransmit the local digitals if and when the locals begin transmitting enough "compelling content" that their customers want. By which I take it they mean HDTV, not SDTV. But I'd say there's already enough in my area (Southern California) to justify that and few cable companies are getting in any hurry to carry it. And I haven't seen any indication that DBS is going to bring me the locals' digital transmissions either. So, bottom line - don't hold your breath (unless you enjoy turning blue).
 

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Quote:
The cable companies have stalled HDTV for years, doing everything they could to avoid it.
Not Time Warner. Is it time we can stop lumping all cable companies together?

Quote:
Now that might sound good on paper but when push comes to shove are they really willing to tell the other 15% to "kiss off" as well as crippling every tv aside from one that might be connected to a cable/DBS/ standalone digital tuner STB?
Not a chance in hell. Most of those 15% will be low income, and you just wait until Al Sharpton and Johnnie Cochran figure it out.
 

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Quote:
Is it time we can stop lumping all cable companies together?
Sure as hell is. Note the only representative in the article saying "don't hold your breath" is piece of crap Cox Communications, the most backasswards one of them all.
 

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Our local cable company ( AT&T) expects to have their system upgraded from "550 MHz to 700 MHz" within the next two years. But they "don't currently have any definite plans" for carrying the digital signals from the locals, or any other source of HDTV. So January 1 may not come for us for a very long, long time.
 
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