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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I could not find anything via the search.

I'm thinking of switching from DirecTV to my local telephone co, as they now offer a nice package deal, consisting of phone, DSL, and HDTV/DVR service for much less than what I'm paying now for just phone and DirecTV service without DVR. I have not been able to see a demo of it, but they say it is delivered to my house via twisted pair - essentially sent over DSL. The DSL modem serves double duty to provide internet access (up to 3Mbs), as well as convert and send the HDTV signal over CAT5e. They said a current limitation (which is to be addressed this fall), is that only one HDTV signal is sent over the CAT5, essentially disabling the ability to watch one HD program, and record another. You can however, watch a SD signal in one room, and record the HD in the other.


I was just curious as to what tech they are using to do this, what the expected quality is like, what compression they use, etc. My phone co is a smaller regional provider (Fidelity), and my small town is the first area they're offering it in. It's to be installed this Friday, and I have no commitment to keep it, if I don't like it...


Thanks for any insight!


-Ryan
 

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What you're referring to has been available from Qwest for several years in select markets - parts of Phoenix and Denver. See http://www3.qwest.com/cgi-bin/qwest....p_new_search=1 for a starting point.


Several of my neighbors have the TV service, commonly referred to as VDSL. Qwest allows up to 4 receivers per household along with 3Mbs DSL internet concurrently, so it looks like they have more bandwidth available than your local phone co. has. A second line is run, independent of your regular home phone line (if you still have one), so you don't need filters for phone service. It is a Cat5 line. I do have the DSL internet service, the TV service is slightly more expensive than E* and has fewer HD channels available.


Hope this helps as a resource.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Mike!

Yes, it looks like Qwest does offer a bit more bandwidth than what Fidelity currently can. However, they have claimed that this should be addressed this fall, so I'm not too concerned at this point.

In terms of quality, the VDSL service claims to have better PQ than the rest... I suppose I'll find out soon enough. I assume they are using MPEG4 compression to fit that much material (as well as 3Mbs DSL service) in a single phone line? I imagine that the DSL service and the VDSL television must operate on different frequencies in order for one not to affect the other?


I certainly hope this will be better than DirecTV... I'm keeping it alive until I can make a fair comparison, just in case ;-)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanDinan /forum/post/14346902


Hello!

I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I could not find anything via the search.

I'm thinking of switching from DirecTV to my local telephone co, as they now offer a nice package deal, consisting of phone, DSL, and HDTV/DVR service for much less than what I'm paying now for just phone and DirecTV service without DVR. I have not been able to see a demo of it, but they say it is delivered to my house via twisted pair - essentially sent over DSL. The DSL modem serves double duty to provide internet access (up to 3Mbs), as well as convert and send the HDTV signal over CAT5e. They said a current limitation (which is to be addressed this fall), is that only one HDTV signal is sent over the CAT5, essentially disabling the ability to watch one HD program, and record another. You can however, watch a SD signal in one room, and record the HD in the other.


I was just curious as to what tech they are using to do this, what the expected quality is like, what compression they use, etc. My phone co is a smaller regional provider (Fidelity), and my small town is the first area they're offering it in. It's to be installed this Friday, and I have no commitment to keep it, if I don't like it...


Thanks for any insight!


-Ryan

AT&T U-verse is the poster boy for the type of technology you describe. Essentially, it's fiber to a node (called a VRAD) in your neighborhood, then twisted pair into the home. It's all IP based (IPTV), and uses technology from Cisco, Microsoft, and lots other advanced technology providers. It allows the telco's to offer their own version of the 'triple play bundle', TV/Internet/Phone, to compete with the cableco's.


Most A-B comparisons have shown U-verse to be an average HD product. They typically have 40-45 HD channels, with middling HD image quality. They are in the process of rolling out a second HD stream and a whole house DVR is not too far behind.


Having said that, the real key is how your telco Fidelity decides to manage the bandwidth they have. Unlike U-verse, they could dedicate enough bandwidth to the video so it would look better than your other alternatives. The only way to know is to try it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Ken,


I just got off the phone with the people at Fidelity, after they answered an exhausting barrage of my questions



From what they say, each HD channel occupies 5Mbs of the available bandwidth. The lady said it was 7Mb, but they cut it back due to some optimizations
She did not know what the compression method was, but at these data rates, I assume (and would hope) that it is MPEG4.

I just hope 5MBs is enough!


They also said, they are working on getting more boxes built by Motorola and another co. I've never heard of - that will over wireless distribution in the home. Sounds great for the installers, but who knows how that will actually perform...


I'll have to investigate AT&T's setup to glean more info about this... Like I said, installation is Friday, so I'll let you all know how it goes, and how it looks/sounds.


Thanks again!


-Ryan
 

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They are most likely using MPEG4, and since it's roughly twice as efficient as MPEG2, sounds like you'll going to be disappointed.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H /forum/post/14353024


They are most likely using MPEG4, and since it's roughly twice as efficient as MPEG2, sounds like you'll going to be disappointed.

So 5Mbs for an MPEG4 HD 1920x1080i video stream isn't enough to maintain good picture quality?


That's what I was afraid of...

Everything I can find (talking about mp4 or H.264) says 7-8MBs is really needed for 1920x1080 material. If my telco dropped it to 5, that's a pretty substantial increase in compression...

I think that since they're piloting this service in my town, they may be more open to suggestions on improving their product - And if that means increasing the data rate for HD channels, then they better do it, or risk losing customers to their competitors...
 

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Well, I'm happy to report that the install went very smoothly, aside from the fact that a day later, the DSL modem/router went dead. They came back out that Monday, and replaced it with a new one, and all is well.


Basically, the tech said that they need to push 20Mbs over a dsl line to deliver the service they have now. 64Kb is for the phone. You then have 3 separate streams that can come into your house via MPEG4/H.264 compression - 2 SD and 1 HD (depending on how many STB's you have installed - we only had two, so we only demand 2 streams any any given time).


2-3Mbps is for SD streams (x2). 5-6MBps is for the HD stream. For some reason, the DVR functionality takes another 3Mbps (which is strange, and I'll explain why below), and finally, 3Mbps is reserved for DSL internet access. If you add up the max of each, you have 18Mbps (+64K) used up.


The strange thing about the DVR, is that currently, on one TV, you cannot watch something, while recording something else. You basically have to watch what you record. If you're recording an HD stream on one TV, you can go to another TV and watch any SD program. If you're recording an SD program on one TV, you can watch a HD stream on a second TV, and an additional SD stream on a third TV.

So... if you have to watch what you record, why the need for a 3Mbps overhead for DVR? Logically, Im thinking "why couldn't they just use the same stream, and have a constant buffer, so you can pause, etc?)


This is all supposed to change this fall, when they say they'll be able to deliver multiple HD streams to the house, and allow the ability to watch/record simultaneously. But Im not sure how they'll do that without bringing another line to the house, unless they compress further (which I certainly hope they do not).


At any rate, 5-6Mbps HD doesn't look bad at all. In fact, it's very comparable to DirecTV - and at times, nicer. The only thing I do notice that is worse, is during very fast movement, you do get more macro-blocking artifacts. Otherwise, the detail is very crisp and clean, and colors are bright and vivid.

The current STB's they provide are a bit castrated at the moment, but it runs on the Minerva middleware (Linux based) software, and has many features that can be added later, which I hope they do. They really need to beef up the DVR functionality, as right now, you have no option for recording a whole season of shows... it's one-touch, or manually enter by date/time/frequency.


Perhaps the nicest thing we've noticed, is the drastic increase in DSL internet speed. Like I mentioned before, they said 3Mbps was dedicated for this purpose. With our previous DSL (through the same telco) were had 768/256 service. Hold on to your hats! The new speed isn't "just" 3Mbps... I've tested over 10Mbps, on multiple bandwidth meters! Real-world results have been as fast as 1.2MB (megaBYTES) per second (9.8Mbps), so it's accurate. Obviously, they're allowing a bit more for DSL at the moment. This is good, since they can fit another HD stream in there, and still have 3Mb dsl service...


I'll keep you all posted on how this keeps going.


Thanks,
 
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