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Cable, HD and QAM

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Archive through November 11, 2006Robert Hay100
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 869
Registered: Mar-05
Robert~ I'm just curious if you are able to pick up the local HD station in question on a different channel allocation? Although the HD station is originating at 114.22, it is quite possible the cable company is putting it out at a different frequency. Check through all of your found channels to see if you can find the channel in question being moved to a different location. I've seen that done to keep channels consistant with channel plans. example: If your local ABC provider is on channel 8, and they are broadcasting their HD channel on 107.22, the cable company may be assigning that to channel 8.1 I've seen that done in the system I work in even though the same channel can be found in both originating location and the newly mapped location. Just because it is not found where they say it is, doesn't mean it isn't there. The FCC clearly states in the clear channels must be restransmitted in the clear, but it doesn't say the station numbers have to stay the same. I'd be interested to know if this is the case in your scenario.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 16
Registered: Mar-06
Cableguy, thanks for responding. The answer to your question is yes and no. In fact it's what started my whole investigation. I know about transmitting on two different frequencies. That's done on the over-the-air broadcasts as well.
Adelphia was transmitting the five major local digital stations all having HD content (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS) on subchannels of 128 and 129. When TWC took over they moved the NBC carrier (channel 5) from 129.1 to 5.1, the ABC affiliate (channel 9) from 128.3 to 9.1, and the PBS affiliate (channel 48) from 128.3 to 48.1 and 48.2. All of which were picked up by my auto scanner. But they dropped (supposedly) the CBS affiliate and the FOX affiliate, coincidentally the two networks that broadcast Sunday HD football. In my attempts to find out what happened to those two digital stations I was answered with statements like "you shouldn't be getting any of those without our box" and "TWC is cleaning house and the other 3 will probably disappear soon" (which didn't make sense because why would they move them if they were planning on getting rid of them anyway). But now I find out from someone at one of those two other stations that TWC transmits all but one of our 16 local digital subchannels in the clear, on these other frequencies (some of which you would never find if you tried punching numbers for a week). I was quite happy when I tried them all and they all worked -meaning I can disconnect my antenna totally. But I am very puzzled on how and why they aren't detected by my (or anyone's) QAM channel scanner. AND I am quite angry at the secrecy/stupidity of the TWC employees. Can you give me an answer?
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 871
Registered: Mar-05
Robert~ thanks for the feedback although I'm not sure as to why they are able to viewed when dialed directly and not available when scanned?? I've never seen that unless they are hidden. For what it's worth you can always contact your local cable commission to find out what they should be or shouldn't be passing to you in the clear. I was thinking it might be something to do with the Sinclair broadcast group issue, but that deals with retransmission consent and if they don't have consent you wouldn't be able to see the channels either way? See what the cable commission has to say about it and please update the group...thanx
 

New member
Username: Janeortom

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-06
I have Comcast basic cable in West Palm Beach, FL. As I shop for a HDTV, what kind of tuner do I need to get HD without a set top box? Is QAM or a CableCard ready-slot important?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 17
Registered: Mar-06
Your situation is a lot like mine. I have basic cable service (still pay over $50/mo) with what was Adelphia and is now Time Warner. The answer to your question all depends on what your cable company transmits in the clear (unencrypted) and what you want. If you don't want to upgrade to digital cable service, a QAM tuner will only show whatever subchannels Comcast transmits unencrypted. Hopefully that includes at least some of your local broadcast digital/HD channels. I'm trying to find out from my local cable commission what local channels, if any, TWC is required to transmit/retransmit unencrypted. Use of a cable card requires you to upgrade your cable service to digital cable. Even then, they will probably try to talk you out of using the cable card so you can rent one of their nice cable boxes. After all, that's their mission...push the digital cable box.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 872
Registered: Mar-05
Robert, you don't need digital service to receive HD local channels with a CableCARD. I have quite a few people who have the card with standard service. You would need digital service to receive certain stations like TNT or Discovery, or TWC's gold package to get ESPN HD and the HDNET and INHD channels, I'm still trying to figure out which local channels they are not passing through in the clear? Hopefully the cable commission will be able to answer your question and then we'll both know. Keep the faith
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 18
Registered: Mar-06
What's the point in getting a cable card if you don't get digital service? Maybe it didn't come out right, but that's all I meant.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 873
Registered: Mar-05
I've never understood why somebody would get a card if they only have standard service, the only logical reason I can come up with is that they want the channel map to be the same as a STB.... Either way, please let us know what the commission say about retransmitted locals for your area.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 19
Registered: Mar-06
I don't know. Can you still get premium channels like HBO and Showtime in analog? I haven't had HBO in about 15 years so I don't know. Maybe one could use a cable card to get premium channels without using a cable box and w/o getting digital cable service. Anyway, I'm still waiting on an answer from the Cincinnati cable commission. Looks like I might have to bug them again.
 

New member
Username: Hrhrudi

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-06
hi guys, just spent the last hour reading over this page with great interest and so decided to register and post myself!

Am looking to buy my first HDTV set and intended to get one with a built in ATSC tuner, but now reading this it's opened my eyes to the worth of getting one with a QAm tuner as well so thank you all for that (although it will now cost me more!)

Am not flush with money,so will be trying to find the cheapest 37" lcd with HDMI as well, so will hopefully be able to cancel my rip off TMW basic cable if it all works out. Live in high point, NC, within 1-2 hours of Raleigh, so not sure if that is too far from the major cities to be blessed with a decent delction of Free HD channels, but any experiences from anyone even closer to me would be appreciated, even if I have to get an antenna to reach a little further afield. Also any recommendations for budget 37" lcd's with the specified requirements would also be gratefully received.

One thing i didn't quite get through my thick newbie skull. I was originally under the impression that the ATSC tuner itself gets the local unencrypted HD channels, but now it seems apparent that the QAM tuner is also neccessary for this same thing, right? I know i said i spent ages reading all this, but any further, basic break-down would help me here. Really want to know whether it's worth paying the extra $ for a QAM tuner as well. thanks all...have a good weekend!
 

New member
Username: Hrhrudi

Post Number: 3
Registered: Nov-06
hi again....forgot to ask something. I know i'm pushing my luck when i've already said that im looking for a budget LCD with all the tuners/inputs, but the extra whistle was that i really wanted to be able to make it networked to be able to stream audio/video back and fourth between my PC. HP have just started doing this with built in NIC, but they start at 2 grand. Was looking more around the 1 grand mark!...doesn't have to have wireless intergrated as such,just a usb port/RJ45 whatever to get connected/ thanks again everyone (assuming someone actually reads this!)
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1179
Registered: Feb-04
One thing i didn't quite get through my thick newbie skull. I was originally under the impression that the ATSC tuner itself gets the local unencrypted HD channels, but now it seems apparent that the QAM tuner is also neccessary for this same thing, right?

Read my two posts on an old thread:

https://www.ecoustics.com/cgi-bin/bbs/show.pl?tpc=2&post=603027#POST603027

The QAM tuner is of value on a cable company line only (no cable box) and then only if that cable provider does not encrypt the HD channels.

There may be others, but here's a nice one that's a little above your budget. It has 2 HDMI, ATSC/QAM, and a 15 pin D-Sub input.

http://www.butterflyphoto.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=LT37X787

http://www.jvc.com/Resources/00/00/81/61.PDF

Regarding your receiving local HD over the air broadcasts go to antennaweb, type in your address and you will get the results.

http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx
 

New member
Username: Hrhrudi

Post Number: 4
Registered: Nov-06
I appreciate the links, will read over everything and the TV recommendation. I don't mind spending a little more on a set if it's going to future proof it (and i can get it on interest free payments!)

Did you have any thoughts or knowledge of a similar set incorporating networking capabilities other than the HP set I mention? From what I can see from the market, there seems to be a lot of unknown brands offering the same features and in some cases more for a lot less than the big known ones. Ultimately do you think I would be better off just getting a wireless media player for what I want?....might work out cheaper, but wanted to try and reduce the amount of decks/mess in the lounge!....Have seen quite a few nice 37" that incorparate a slot loading DVD in the side as well which would also be very nice!....I know I'm not asking for a lot, so please keep the suggestions coming...many thanks all (again!)
 

New member
Username: Hrhrudi

Post Number: 5
Registered: Nov-06
P.S. I've seen one or two sets that have had a USB/RJ45 port, but have stated that they are for future firmware upgrades. Do you think that means that they automatically contain some sort of hosting ability/the possibility of adding other connectivity?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 20
Registered: Mar-06
Per the head of the Cincinnati cable commission, "there is no requirement for Time Warner or any cable operator to broadcast local digital channels. This is based on FCC law." FCC regulations requiring cable operators to "must carry" local stations when local stations demand "must carry" status, or to enter into retransmission agreements (one or the other is required on local analog broadcasts) do not apply to local digital broadcasts. I believe what this means is that local stations may not assert their "must carry" demands for their digital broadcasts, but may enter into "retransmission agreements" with cable companies to carry them. Apparently the Commission doesn't oversee anything to do with retansmission agreements between local broadcasters and cable companies. Bottom line, I know TWC in Cincinnati is transmitting the in the clear signal for all local digital broadcasts (except for two low power stations). But how they can do that and not have the signals be detected by QAM tuner scanners is still a mystery.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Wanabtech

Post Number: 47
Registered: Apr-06
So, are you still able to view the channels by entering the numbers from the list you had given to you?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1181
Registered: Feb-04
"So, are you still able to view the channels by entering the numbers from the list you had given to you?"

And if so, is TWC charging extra to see those channels?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 22
Registered: Mar-06
Yes, that is correct. The channels are there as long as you know the frequencies to enter. Normally on a Sony SXRD, if a channel is hidden, and you enter a valid subchannel number and the subchannel comes in, the subchannel should change from "hidden" to "shown" in the channel guide when the signal is detected. But with these subchannels nothing is detected. I even reset the entire TV to it's factory preset condition and ran the initial set-up. These subchannels just can't be detected by the scanner - not only on my set, but two others owned by friends. I was able, however, to store the frequencies in my "favorite channels". But I can't label them. If TWC has no obligation to transmit local digital channels, I guess I should just consider myself lucky.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 23
Registered: Mar-06
And no, there is no extra charge by TWC. They are transmitted on the same line as their basic analog cable service.
 

New member
Username: Ticklj

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-06
I have found this thread most enlightening and it has answered most of my questions BUT I am confused about where SD digital fits in. I infer that if there is a SD signal the tuner (really tuner+ decompressor) will build it properly and the HD display will show a degraded signal. An SD display will do its thing. As I understand it at some point analog signals will cease. Will stations now broadcast SD on some sub-channel or will the "compatability box" take the HD and display it in SD on the old sets?
Why do I ask thes questions? I have little interest in HD so if I buy a SD digital set with all the tuner things what signals will I not be able to get. Say NBC. For now I would see the analog but when that ceases will there be a substitute or can I get the HD signal in a degraded display.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 24
Registered: Mar-06
I'm no expert, but this is how I understand it. Right now, analog, standard definition digital, and high definition digital signals are being broadcast over the air and through cable systems. For cable, they all go over the same cable into your house. If you have a TV with an ATSC tuner (or similar set top box) you can receive analog cable signals and all over the air broadcast signals (assuming your antenna picks them up), whether SD, ED, or HD, and these will be displayed at whatever resolution your TV allows. All digital set top boxes can output analog signals even if they are received as digital. What cable companies call "digital cable" is really only partially digital. All of your basic cable stations are still analog. Most TVs out there in homes and hotels, etc. are still analog. If you have a TV with an ATSC/QAM tuner you can receive analog, SD, ED, and HD signals over the air and over a cable. These would also display at whatever resolution your TV will allow. So if you have a TV that can receive digital signals but can only display at SD resolution, analog channels will be displayed like ordinary analog channels, and digital signals, whether SD, ED, or HD will be displayed in SD. Eventually the analog signals will go away, but that is probably still years away. Remember years ago when cable first started, everyone needed a set top box. Then TV manufacturers started including "cable ready" tuners in TVs. Today you can't find a TV that doesn't receive basic analog cable. The same thing is happening with digital cable. Some time in the not-to-distant future, you won't be able to get a TV that doesn't have a digital cable ready tuner in it. And then cable companies will gradually drop their analog service, and cable companies will gradually stop pushing their "must have" digital cable boxes. My question is, can you even get an SD or ED TV with an ATSC/QAM tuner? Now let's hear from one of the experts here, because like I said, I'm no expert.
 

Silver Member
Username: Formerly_fx

Dallas, Tx

Post Number: 193
Registered: Mar-06
"My question is, can you even
get an SD or ED TV with an ATSC/QAM tuner?
"

No, otherwise it would become an HD TV/monitor.

xvxvxvx
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 25
Registered: Mar-06
You lost me there, Scooby. If it had an ATSC/QAM tuner, it wouldn't be a monitor (doesn't 'monitor' mean it doesn't have a tuner?). And if it was only SD or ED it wouldn't display HD. I would think it would be quite possible to have an SD or ED TV with a ATSC/QAM tuner. I just don't know if they put those in non-HD TVs.
 

New member
Username: Ticklj

Post Number: 2
Registered: Nov-06
The postings were most helpful. However there remains some confusion on my part. This may be due to my being a pre-alzheimer case or because big (in the sense of covering a large area) words and abreviations are being used. So let me take the opportunity phrase my confusion in smaller units. I will restrict the use of SD to refer to 4xx scan lines and HD to 5xx(?) lines this being independent of digital or analog.
As I see it the system is divided into 3 units, signal source, tuner (really + decompressor) and display.
The signal is received say by cable and is fed to the tuner part of the tuner. In the "dtv" case (never mind HD or SD). A sub-channel is selected and the result is demodulated to produce a digital ie bits. This is expanded ie de-mpeg-ed to produce the sequence of digitally represented images. Now suppose the display system was a CRT.
the sequence of digitally described images must be transformed into the usual "analog" start and stop pules and all that good stuff to make the display on the CRT face. I guess this is done in the "tuner" but maybe in the display.
If the signal was that of an SD transmission ie 4xx lines then this could be displayed properly on an NTSC tv set. If one had an HD CRT then I would assume that is was capable of displaying the SD images properly. So far this is sort of obvious.

Now suppose the images in the signal were HD (5xx lines etc) and the CRT was capable of displaying 5xx lines and there would be no complication.
But if the CRT was capable of only displaying 4xx lines are the current systems capable of generating a degraded image or is the the duty of the "box" which will come into being when
"analog" signals cease
The situation with LCD is a bit more complex and has to do with whether an "analog" or "digital"
coded image is being sent to the display.
I have to disagree with scooby doo. If one is in the world of digital tv that is mpeg compressed then one would need ATSC/QAM stuff to rebuild a displayable signal irregardless of the number of scan lines. Whether the current stuff does this I do not know but the cable is full of "DTV" which is not HD and could be displayed on a SD monitor.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 26
Registered: Mar-06
Sorry Leo, but you really lost me on that. I don't think you'll find a set that has a digital tuner in it that can't display a digital picture. And if you're using a digital set top box and feeding it to a TV that cannot display a digital picture you would have to use the analog outputs of the set top box. I mean why would you want a TV with a state of the art tuner and a 1980's display? I admit, I haven't looked at CRTs lately, so I might be totally wrong.
 

Silver Member
Username: Formerly_fx

Dallas, Tx

Post Number: 194
Registered: Mar-06
" You lost me there, Scooby. If it had an ATSC/QAM tuner, it wouldn't be a monitor (doesn't 'monitor' mean it doesn't have a tuner?). "

Boy, so much effort for so little success. Yes as you worded your statement you are correct but if I had left off the "/monitor" portion som onme els woould have chimed in with, " But how about a monitor? They will display an HD input". I just can't win for losing.

xvxvxvx
 

Silver Member
Username: Formerly_fx

Dallas, Tx

Post Number: 196
Registered: Mar-06
"I have to disagree with scooby doo "

That is your perogative but you would nearly always be incorrect if you do. If I could understanf your incomprehensible post I would attempt to clarify further.

xvxvxvx
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-06
Actually Robert Hay, yes you are incorrect. The FCC wants analog broadcasting over the air to stop in 2009. So they are working HD tuners into all tv's with tuners built in. So far in 2006 they made it so all tv's 25" and up are required to have ATSC tuners built in if they have tuners at all.

I know for sure that all toshiba tv's 25" and up have QAM tuners. The analog sets(SD) only display a DVD 480i quality image. But it still looks good. A 27" toshiba SD analog tube with atsc/qam built in will run you about $280.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 27
Registered: Mar-06
I guess that makes sense. And I suppose right now since analog TVs are still quite a bit cheeper there still might be a small market for them. But as HD TVs come down in price, I would think such animals will become extinct. I wonder how many people realize that all of those small screen portable TVs they are buying will require a converter box in 2009.
 

New member
Username: Cologuy

Loveland, CO USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-06
Cableguy, a question for you please -

I'm new to this forum, so please bear with me. I have a Sony KD-30XS955 TV, which is DCR with an ATSC/QAM tuner, as well as an NTSC tuner. I have basic Comcast cable (channels 2-99) and have no trouble receiving my local channels in HD (on digital subchannels) with no cable box.

I am considering a Cable Card because I thought it would allow me to receive the remainder of my basic channels (2-99) digitally.

However, upon reading your comment of Nov, 19 which said:

"I've never understood why somebody would get a card if they only have standard service, the only logical reason I can come up with is that they want the channel map to be the same as a STB."

I am having second thoughts about getting a Cable Card. Upon looking up a description of Cable Cards in Wikipedia, I found the following:

"CableCARD is a plug in card approximately the size of a credit card that allows consumers to view and record digital cable on televisions, digital video recorders, and personal computers without the use of other equipment provided by a cable company."

Please help a newbie! Will a cable card and a DCR TV allow me to receive my present analog channels as digital channels?

Thank you very much for your patience and help.

ColoGuy
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-06
I have read through all "Cable, HD and QAM" posts today after discovering that our new Sony KDL-V32XBR1 can receive HD versions of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. without a cablecard or box. We are considering canceling our appointment with Comcast for a cablecard installation, since we are getting all we need by just plugging in the cable connection. From what I have read, it sounds like we could have the stations one day and they could be gone the next, and the only recourse we would have is to rent a box or cablecard to get the stations back. Is this correct?

If we had any sense that these HD stations were there to stay (without using a cablecard of box), I wondered if it is possible to buy an external QAM tuner for my older two HDTVs (that currently require a box to receive HDTV) and not pay Comcast for the privilege of renting their boxes? Or would that be foolish since we are receiving these channels at the whim of Comcast right now? Thanks.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Wanabtech

Post Number: 52
Registered: Apr-06
First: The purpose of a cable card is to provide you with an alternative to a box rental for those digital and high definition channels, that are provided to customers for a fee. The card is nothing more than a "language interpreter" if you will. It receives authorization from a providers billing system informing the card of what paid services a customer subscribes to. Then, it decodes those channels. It has no ability to "improve" the quality of the picture. It will channel map the unencoded HD channels. In other words in our area, 704 is NBCHD. If no card is present the tv will read the channel as (not sure exactly, just an example) 103.1. The card tells the tv its 704. It's a rough explanation, however the end result is as described.

Second: the local HD channels are passed on without being encoded. That is why you're able to receive them.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 28
Registered: Mar-06
I'm anxious to see Cableguy's response to both of these questions. He is surely better qualified than me. But I think the answer to Paul's question is that basic cable is still only analog transmission, and even with a cable box you are still only receiving analog signals. If you subscribed to digital cable you would receive the basic analog channels in addition to the digital channels in whatever package you buy. The digital channels would need a digital cable box or a cable card to unencrypt those channels. The cable card wouldn't do anything to basic analog channels. (And some digital cable boxes actually degrade those analog signals so you are forced to split the signal and view the analog channels through your internal tuner). Now maybe some cable companies transmit their basic cable channels on a digital platform, but TWC and Insight Cable in our area don't.

As for Amos, here has been my experience to date...by FCC regulation, every three years local broadcast stations have the option of invoking their "must carry" rights (which requires cable companies to carry their analog signal in their basic service, but does not include their digital SD and HD broadcasts), or they can opt to enter into retransmission agreements with the cable companies. Since the cable companies want local channels in their service most enter into these kind of agreements. Since there are no regulations on how these agreements are written, most local stations negotiate clauses which require the cable companies to carry the digital broadcasts, in the clear, along with the analog broadcasts, in their basic service. This is why most cable companies do actually send the SD and HD local retransmitted signals over the same wire as their basic cable service (which also carry the encrypted digiotal channels). So you may lose or gain local digital transmissions based on changes in these retransmission agreements. I am happy to say that Time Warner in Cincinnati now carries all of our local digital broadcasts over their basic cable service (with the exception of one low power station).
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 2
Registered: Dec-06
Thanks Wanabtech. I have no need for any premium stations - the standard stations in HD are what I really want. My concern is that Comcast will start to scramble the HD channels on a whim some day and a QAM tuner will no longer be sufficient. What I would really like is a way to get rid of all my boxes, pay basic cable, buy QAM tuners for the other HD TVs I have that don't have tuners, and just get HD local channels to all TVs. Then I would only have to pay Comcast for basic cable. Is this possible or am I dreaming? ;-)

Robert - thanks for the post. It sounds like there is a decent chance that Comcast will continue to sent the HD channels in the clear, although the actual lineup could change (which I wouldn't mind unless one of the major stations dropped out). I guess I am tired of spending ~$85 a month when all I really want is ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox in HD and would be willing to buy QAM tuners in the short run if it made sense cost-wise.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 29
Registered: Mar-06
I would think that cable companies will continue to carry the local digital channels in their basic service for a while since supposedly in about two years and 51 days from now that's all there will be from the local stations. Don't know how many cable stations will have gone digital by then. Of course, analog cable will eventually go away too. That will be the time to get your cable card. Hopefully, by then digital cable packages might be worth a few dollars more. Until then, I'm like you. I'm perfectly happy with basic analog cable (looks great when upconverted to 1080p via my Sony SXRD), and all of my local channels in HD.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Wanabtech

Post Number: 54
Registered: Apr-06
you can go to antennaweb.org to find out just how close you are to local broadcasters and get your antenna for local HD. You input a zip code and it will show distances, directions etc... This is potentially another option for you.
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 3
Registered: Dec-06
Robert - it would be great if they continue to carry the HD channels unencrypted. I looked up external QAM tuners and they are not that prevalent (and some are quite pricey). Here is one http://us.lge.com/products/model/detail/tv%7Caudio%7Cvideo_digital%20video__LST- 4200A.jhtml but I think this may be discontinued. Ideally any QAM tuner would have a cablecard slot in case I ever need to unencrypt channels, but that may be too much to ask. I'll keep researching...
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 4
Registered: Dec-06
Hi Wanabtech - I did this earlier today when I was reading the posts and unfortunately I would have to take up reading at night. Thanks though!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 30
Registered: Mar-06
I've wasted a lot of money this past year, and a lot of time trying to get antennas to pull in all of the local digital stations and I only live about 5 miles from downtown Cincinnati. Even when I could get some to come in I would have to get up and fiddle with the stupid thing if I changed a channel. Receiving the HD channels over the cable (with only basic $53/mo service) is great. No boxes, no cable card, no antenna. I've had basic cable for over 25 years and I see no reason to spend more for a few more lousy channels.
 

New member
Username: Cologuy

Loveland, CO USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Dec-06
Gentleman -

Thank you all for responding to my "newbie" question as to whether a Cable Card would magically transform my basic analog channels to digital.

I think I will stay where I am and enjoy the local HD channels I now receive without a CC or STB, and keep my fingers crossed that they continue to be "in the clear" and Comcast continues to let us enjoy them.

Thanks again.

ColoGuy
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 5
Registered: Dec-06
Hi all,

Having discovered that my Sony TV doesn't require a cablecard to receive the HDTV stations via Comcast, I am thinking of going to Basic Cable ($12.50/mo) and buying this QAM tuner http://www.tvantenna.com/products/dtv/stb/DTB-H260F.html for my two HD Tvs that don't have QAM tuners. I know I run the risk of the HDTV channels being encrypted but might risk it. Can anyone see a problem with this plan? I recall reading that the digital signal is not filtered so Basic should allow both types of signals to come thru - or have I misunderstood?

Amos
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 31
Registered: Mar-06
WOW, only $12.50/month. It seems I've been using the wrong terminology. I have TWC Standard service (channels 2-99), not Basic service (channels 2-24). I'm not even sure TWC in cincinnati offers just a basic cable package. How does that even work? I didn't think they scrambled the analog cable channels any more. How would you NOT pick up standard cable stations like ESPN, HGTV, TNT, etc. with a standard NTSC cable ready tuner? Are there people out there getting standard cable channels while only paying $12.50/mo? Or do they block the standard channels at the pole outside your house? But if you can get a cable line to your house for only $12.50/mo, then it should have the local digital SD and HD transmissions on the same cable for your QAM tuner to receive.
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 6
Registered: Dec-06
Robert,

I guess the question becomes whether they are turning on the HD signal when you subscribe to digital cable (or blocking it if you don't subscribe) or whether it comes through in the same feed as the analog. I just found the following quote on the Comcast-NE's site http://www.comcast-ne.com/catv_faqs.html.

_Customers with an HD set with a 256 QAM tuner would be able to receive all HD broadcast channels (ie WGBH HD, WBZ HD etc.) without the need of an HD box. The HD box is necessary to receive the non-broadcast HD services (ESPN HD, Discovery HD etc.)._

Since they are being open about this in their FAQs, I'll call their customer service line and ask whether this FAQ is true for Basic cable. If so, I can buy a QAM tuner for one TV and a DVR/QAM tuner for the other TV and replace what I rent from Comcast. I pay ~1K/yr for cable service now, so they payback would be less than a year.

Amos
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 33
Registered: Mar-06
Yes, all digital signals, both encrypted and in the clear, come over the same cable as the analog feed. So NO, you don't have to subscribe to digital cable to get the local HD signals. So your scenario should work well for you. My question came from when you said you could get basic cable for $12.50/mo. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who only subscribe's to basic service (meaning only the bare minimum to get the cable hooked to your house, (ie. local channels and community access, and maybe C-SPAN) to see if such an animal still exists. If so, I'm wondering how they block the other analog cable channels like TBS, TNT, TLC, E!, etc. I don't know if Cableguy still watches this thread, but anyone feel free to chime in.
 

New member
Username: Amos

Post Number: 7
Registered: Dec-06
Robert,

Thanks for the post. I had the basic package for about 3 years - back then it was on ~$8/mo. I don't recall all the channels I got, but it was a lot more than I expected (including SciFi and Spike I think).

I found the answers to my questions by using Google to search the Comcast site. Some of the really good information is in the small light gray print at the bottom of the page and some is in their FAQs.

On one page, I read this:

HDTV broadcast feeds are included in limited basic service. A subscription to HBO or Showtime is required to receive the HDTV channel from that service. HDTV Programming is limited to the programs delivered to Comcast in HDTV format by the underlying program provider. Programming is subject to change.

This is in their FAQs:
The 1992 Cable Act required that cable companies offer premium channels, like HBO, Cinemax or Showtime, to customers who purchased the lowest-priced basic cable package without having to buy the full standard cable package.

So it sounds like you can get HDTV from Comcast (New England) with the most basic plan and add premium stations a la carte if you want.

I hope this helps another inquiring mind.

Amos
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 34
Registered: Mar-06
Amos, thanks for the info. I pay about $53/mo. to Time warner Cable for the "Standard" analog package (channels 2-72). Years ago I had HBO but decided it wasn't worth the money. They've always had to offer the Premium channels to everyone, no matter what package you had. I pretty much still get the same channels I have always had for the last 25 years, except now I get the local SD and HD transmissions on my Sony SXRD via it's QAM tuner. I still hope Cableguy or some other expert chimes in on "Basic" cable (channels 2-24 at TWC in Cincinnati). TWC will charge me for a housecall if I ask to talk to a technician. I'd just like to know if "Basic" cable still exists, and if so, how they prevent you from getting the "Standard" analog channels. If I can lower my bill to $12.50 /mo. I might consider it.
 

New member
Username: Cologuy

Loveland, CO USA

Post Number: 3
Registered: Dec-06
Robert -

My apologies for using the term "basic" in my earlier communications. Like you, I too am paying for "standard" service and am receiving channels 2-99 for about the same monthly cost as you.

To find out if basic service is available in your area, you can log on to Comcast's website, enter your zip code when requested, and they will list all the services available in your area.

ColoGuy
 

Bronze Member
Username: Say_what

Post Number: 12
Registered: Mar-06
Logging on to most any Cable operators website will allow you to view their lineup. All customers should have been provided a lineup card, but the TW system I work in also has pdfs online of our available channels for the cities we service.

The card is broken into sections, your basic cable stations will generally be the first 12-20 channels depending on your provider. Customer Service can also provide you with this information.

Cable Tier, or standard, or whatever your provider calls it, is generally removed by a trap or filter placed at the tap. Our system does not require you to have anything more than basic to get local HDs or the in the clear sub-channels offered by some. PBS stations, Weather Plus, doppler radar channels, are a few examples of in the clear sub-channels we carry in this system.

The filters we use are tuned to stop removing frequencies at 550MHz. All our digital and HD signals are above that frequency, so there is no problem tuning digital/HD with the right equipment.

As has been discussed, encrypted channels are another issue. Your local HD channels are provided through an agreement between the station or group that owns the signal and the service provider, I would not expect there will be any encrypting going on.

If you are comfortable not being able to view the 60 plus analog channels you will lose, you will certainly save money. Just make sure you really want to do it, many systems will charge you to come back out to remove the trap, if you change your mind.

Hope that helps.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 35
Registered: Mar-06
Thanks, Say What,
TWC shows a basic tier in their channel line-up, but no where do they mention that it's available and if so, how much. I'm sure they will tell me if I call them, but they won't tell me what you just did, which is really all I wanted to know. I figured they would have to block it at the pole, but I guess I really didn't think cable companies still did that. (It seems so 1980's if you know what I mean). I'll probably just keep what I've got, even though about 90% of what I watch is on the local/major network stations. And the majority of those 60 or so analog stations are nothing but a bunch of reruns, infomercials, biased news networks, and lame cartoons. Well there might be 3 or 4 channels worth watching. Question is, is that worth an extra $35 - $40/mo.?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Wanabtech

Post Number: 57
Registered: Apr-06
Robert,

I hear what you're saying. I hear everyday how subs don't watch 1/3 of what we carry, why can't they pick and choose. I fear one day the FCC may give into the subs and force providers to go "ala carte." I just wonder if people realize the expense of what they're asking for?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 36
Registered: Mar-06
I don't think there's need to worry about that. Things are so dynamic right now - changing month to month, year to year. More and more cable networks will go HD, eventually analog will go away, and there will always be something new to dangle in front of the public. It all started back in the 50's and 60's when we were promised pay TV without commercials (since we would be paying for it there would be no need for commercials). That was a big selling point for what eventually became cable TV. Channel surf through your cable channels at any given moment and you'll find you have commercials running about 60% of the time. Well I'll get off my soapbox now.
 

New member
Username: Ceeelgee

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-07
Robert,

When you find that unbiased news network, please post the information here

I will tell anyone who was searching as I was what I have found out, which is that basically you are on your own to find out this kind of invaluable information when making HDTV decisions. Your local HDTV salesman won't know, and it's highly unlikely your local cable provider's techies either won't know or won't tell you the whole truth. We live in Kokomo, IN, and subscribe to Insight digital cable. When deciding on what features we absolutely had to have on our new HDTV, just to receive the six or seven network channels of HD content. Luckily I found this forum to help answer almost all of my questions.

Insight offers two "analog" packages (for lack of a better term) -- their Basic, which is 24 channels that include the Indianapolis network affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, Fox and the new CW. All these broadcast over the air with a digital broadcast as well, and all have some HD content. The next Insight tier is Classic, which adds about 45 channels including all the popular ones like two ESPNs, Disneys, Discovery, TLC, TBS,AMC and the like. Also, as a digital subscriber, and only with the company's DVR, I get pay-per-view, on-demand, free spot stuff, music and the six networks' HD programming, which displays on my Sony SDTV as widescreen letterbox. In searching for an HDTV, one major priority was being able to display this HD content without the noisy and hot DVR. I assumed that CableCARD was my only option, even though I had no desire to subscribe further with any premium HD channels, such as ESPNHD or DiscoveryHD. I even called Insight's technical support people to confirm that this was the case, that the only way to get these "basic" HD channels was with the CC. But, after reading on this forum how much difficulty everyone was having with CC, and how few real options for smaller HD sets offered CableCARD, I decided I would rather raise an aerial and pull in my own signals than mess around getting CC to work. On to Plan B.

After choosing the right set for us (a wonderful Toshiba 26HLV66 LCD), I began to research antennas, preamps and the like, but said let's just get the HDTV set home and see where we are exactly. Naturally buying a TV with a QAM tuner was essential, so I hooked it up to the cable, ran a program and - voila! - there are my HD channels I wanted. Why couldn't Insight have just told me that in the first place? And the nice boys at H.H. Gregg were helpful and all, but unless it comes out the back of their little cable in the showroom, they know nothing about what is carried in-the-clear by Insight and what isn't.

There is something interesting about what channels came up. Here in Central Indiana, the over-air channels for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and Fox are 6, 8, 13, 20 and 59, respectively. On Insight's channel menu they are 6, 7, 12, 20 and 11. But when they came up digitally, they are 6.1, 8.1, 13.1, 20.1 and 83.1, respectively. Go figure. And the local CW network, normally 29 over-the-air and 4 on Insight, came up 83.2 and 83.3 digital (83.3 being a subset of 83.2 that carries The Tube). I'm not complaining.

I guess the short version of all this is, why would anybody not buy an HDTV with a QAM tuner for in-the-clear cable channels? Hope this helps anyone who is in the position I was in a few weeks ago.
 

New member
Username: Ehong33234

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-07
i just bought the vizio 50" plasma hdtv with built in ntsc/atsc/qam tuner. This thread is very interesting because I was thinking the same thing. Why would a tv mfg. have a built in qam tuner if HD service could not be picked up freely via coax connection? The ATSC picks up over-the-air HD (via antenna), the NTSC picks up set top box (digital) HD and if I'm not mistaken, the QAM is strictly for picking up HD via analog cable. Correct me if im wrong here.

I normally have my coax from the wall go to my digital receiver and then to my tv. Today, I tried running the coax from the wall directly into my tv. The basic cable channels (2-72) work fine but none of the channels come out in HD. My question is, do I need to do anything to enable the QAM tuner to function? Its not covered in the manual. Anyone else get it to work?

Anyone find out if cable companies have the right to shut off analog HD?

Thanks in advance!
 

New member
Username: Ehong33234

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-07
ok, after poking around..i found the answer to my own question. I got the HD broadcasting to work on my tv using the QAM Tuner! Wow, what a huge difference! Here's what I did...

First, I took the coax directly from the wall and plugged it into my tv. (Vizio 50" Plasma HDTV)

I first tried having my tv on "TV" input and did a channel scan in the menu options but it didn't locate any HD channels (just my basic analog cable channels 1-72). So...

I changed the input mode to "DTV" and did another channel scan. After it found about 125+ channels, I exited the channel scan and crossed my fingers. I noticed the channels were now weird (i.e. Channel 85-3 was CBS; normally channel 2). So I flipped through all of the channels and noticed that their "info" heading would actually say what type of feed it was. I was happy to see that the HD channels were all together. It works! This QAM Tuner and Vizio TV is sweeeet! Quality is unbelievable!

Goodluck everyone.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 930
Registered: Mar-05
Ed~ glad to see somebody figured it out on their own. The only thing to add is the NTSC tuner is for analog and the ATSC is for digital/HD. It really doesn't matter if it's OTA or cable.

Happy surfing
 

New member
Username: Ceeelgee

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-07
Congratulations. That is interesting that the Vizio offers those options. My Toshiba is just like many other TVs (including SDTV), which is only "Air" and "Cable." I will say this about when I performed my channel setup, and that is the fact that it "memorized" so many channels with nothing displayed, and all of them were subsets of higher channel numbers. For instance, it found 55 subsets of Channel 110 and 20 subsets of Channel 114. I'm guessing maybe they are the cable company's digital music channels and what not. These all had to be deleted manually. Ugh. Small price to pay for the in-the-clear HD, though.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 42
Registered: Mar-06
Yes, it's really interesting to see what you get when you do a channel scan with a QAM tuner. I have Time Warner Cable and they are still in the transition from Adelphia. So I find new/different things every month or so. I get about 85 subchannels under 3 or 4 different channels with nothing but music, about 25 of which are all in Spanish (and I live in Cincinnati). Just starting last week I now pick up somewhat scrambled audio from all of the encrypted digital tier channels, and that comes over on channels with 4 decimal places. All of the "extra" digital stations I was picking up like CNBC, AZN (Japanese station), and the Spanish History Channel are now gone. All of the local HD stations that had wierd channel numbers (over 100) are also gone and the versions with priority channel numbers (5.1, 9.1, 12.1, etc.) are still there however. I agree with cableguy, except I think your ATSC tuner has to be QAM in order to pick up local HD over the cable. At least that's how it is in my case. I have 2 digital TVs, one with and older (non QAM) ATSC tuner and one with an ATSC/QAM tuner. The non QAM tuner only picks up the local digital broadcasts over the air, not over the cable. And I believe that it still depends on whether your local stations have retransmission agreements in place that stipulate that cable companies carry the local digital feeds in the clear. Cable companies are not obligated (yet) to carry local digital feeds in the clear. And these are renegotiated every three years, so it is possible that some may disappear.
 

New member
Username: Ehong33234

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jan-07
it is indeed very interesting that this feature is available... I guess I am more excited about it because I bought the tv not even knowing what QAM was. =)

I am trying to boost my cable signals some more using an amplified splitter and better cables, hoping to get more channels (or HD channels).

(going off topic momentarily, does anyone have a good link to more information on amplified cable splitters/boosters and if they actually work?)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 43
Registered: Mar-06
Signal amplifiers are good especially if you are splitting your signal to several TVs/VCRs. Don't know what your situation is as far as how strong your cable signal is coming into your house. But if you are hoping to bring in more digital channels over and above the local digital stations, signal amplifiers probably won't do any good. It's likely that all of the other digital cable channels are encrypted, and only increasing your cable service to digital cable tiers will do that. And if you use splitters, make sure you use the ones that allow the higher frequencies through. I went for months wondering why I wasn't getting the HD channels only to find that my old splitter was not allowing those higher frequencies through.
 

New member
Username: Ehong33234

Post Number: 4
Registered: Jan-07
very interesting Robert. Do you know which types of splitters will work best? I am thinking some gold plated 2400mhz splitters are good, but these are not amplified. there is a new thing called HDTV splitters too, is that what you are referring to?

I am thinking about just going with the Terk Indoor HDTVa antenna to get all of the local channels. With my QAM right now, I am getting about four 1080i channels, thirty 480i and a ton of music channels. But i guess getting the antenna doesn't necessarily mean I will get all either...
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 44
Registered: Mar-06
Well you can't go wrong with HDTV splitters if that's all you want to do is split off the signal to other TVs. I tried both indoor and outdoor antennae and nothing worked well for me. I live close to the city but I'm kind of down in a valley. But luckily TWC is sending most local channel's digital signals over the cable and unencrypted, including most of the multicast SD subchannels. So I'm antenna free. I'm still a little confused about your first posting. There's no such thing as "analog HD". And you mentioned something about a separate digital receiver. What level of cable service do you currently have? Are you already paying for a digital cable tier? Or are you just getting basic and classic (analog) service like me?
 

New member
Username: Typer_801

Cincinnati, OH USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Mar-07
I'm a little late to the party, but I'm a Cincinnati based TWC customer who recieves their "Basic" $10.91 per month cable package (channels 2-24). Recently bought a Panasonic TH-42PX600U (w/QAM tuner) and hooked it up to the OTA and recieved a number of stations (more than I get through TWC Cable ironically). Each PBS channel, for example, sends 6 digital signals (14-1 through 14-6, 16-1 through 16-6, etc.) Anyway, tried hooking up the cable last night and doing an "auto-scan". That netted all the analog channels we recieved previously, but no HD channels :-( With the exception of ONN, ABC Family and some C-Span channels, I get more content and better quality with an OTA than I do through cable.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cableguy

Somewhere on... U.S.

Post Number: 972
Registered: Mar-05
Call the local TWC office and ask them if your basic filter is prohibiting the "HD channels in the clear" to be viewed. They should be passing throught to you without any additional cost, but that does depend on the franchise agreement with retransmission. If you don't get a decent answer, contact your local cable commission and ask them to investigate.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 45
Registered: Mar-06
TWC in Cincinnati does transmit the following local digital stations in-the-clear. If you are not getting these it must be your filter, or possibly an older splitter that is preventing the higher frequencies from getting through:

WLWT-HD (5.1)HD
WLWT-WX (5.2)SD
WCPO-HD (9.1)HD
WKRC-HD (12.1)HD
CinCW (12.2)SD
WXIX-HD (19.1)
TUBE (19.2)SD
CETHD (48.1)HD
CREAT (48.2)SD
CETei (48.3)SD
KET1 (54.1)HD
KET2 (54.2)SD
KET3 (54.3)SD
plus about 73 digital music stations
 

New member
Username: Ercjncpr

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jun-07
I will not be buying an HDTV any time soon because I think they are a big ripoff. My cable box is a DVR HD receiver connected to a 14 year old Maganavox analog TV set. I get all local HD signals provided by my cable company. The actual picture I see on the HD channels is a wide screen picture with black bars on the top and bottom, which I do not mind because I am used to that from watching wide screen DVDs over the past few years. The video and audio that I get on the HD channels is 1000% better than even the QAM reception provided on the equivalent "digitally QAM enhanced" analog channel . I personally don't feel I am missing much by refusing to give $500 to $1000 to some TV manufacturer just to get so-called "true HD"
 

Silver Member
Username: Formerly_fx

Dallas, Tx

Post Number: 280
Registered: Mar-06
"I get all local HD signals provided by my
cable company. "

No Eric, you don't, an analog tv cannot receive nor display a digital HD signal.

"The video and audio that I get on the HD channels is 1000% better than even the QAM reception provided on the equivalent "digitally QAM enhanced" analog channel ."

No such channel exists, sorry.

xvxvxvx
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 46
Registered: Mar-06
Eric, you need to read up a little about digital TV. Scooby Doo is absolutely correct. You cannot possibly see a digital picture (HD, ED, or SD) on your analog TV. What you are seeing is a digitally broadcast signal converted back to analog by your HD DVR receiver so your analog TV can display it. The "HD" channels look better because there is much less signal noise and interference than the analog channels. But you are not getting the resolution you are paying for. Believe me there is a remarkable difference between a 420i display and a 720p, 1080i, or a 1080p display. And I must say you are really cheating yourself if you are paying a cable company for digital service and HD and a DVR, and not watching it on a HD TV.
 

New member
Username: Ceeelgee

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jan-07
I have to concur with the last two posts. I was doing what Eric did for a while, watching the networks' HD broadcasts via cable company's DVR and my analog Sony set with black bars. While it was much better than the analog broadcasts, when I got my 26" Toshiba REGZA with a QAM tuner, I was blown away. The only drawbacks are those aging screen stars who have moved to TV roles -- the closeups can be a real b-itch!
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 2
Registered: Dec-06
yea, the imperfections on their faces is way more noticeable.

New question. I'm in retail sales. I've been telling customers that the FEB 2009 date refers to antenna users only. So they don't necessarily need to worry about an HD tuner right now(still selling left over 06 models). But having an HD tuner w/ QAM doesn't hurt though since you can pick up local hd channels without paying any extra if your on cable.

But latley, i've had a few customers tell me that they got a letter in the mail from comcast telling them they had to be ready for the feb 2009 date and having an HD tv wasn't a bad idea. If it were 1 customer, i would have paid it no attention. But this was 3 seperate customers.

My question is did some cable companies decide to also make the digital only switch in 2009? Possibly to free up some bandwidth. Also, if everything does switch to digital, will the QAM only be able to pick up the local digital channels only. In my area, only the local hd's are unscrambled. So without a box, you wouldn't get very many channels. Or would the cable companies decide to unscramble the basic and standard lineup?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 47
Registered: Mar-06
If all they said was that "having an HD TV wasn't a bad idea", they are absolutely right. It's a good idea even now at this date. I wouldn't buy any analog TV now, not even a 6" to put in my bathroom. But that's mainly because I hate set top boxes. Feb 2009 is supposedly when local stations will cease broadcast of their analog signals over the air. It makes no difference whether you subscribe to cable or just use an antenna. You will need a set top box for any and every analog TV you watch. By then you should be able to buy them for under $50, or I'm sure most cable companies will still have tons of boxes for those dumb enough to rent them for $7 to $10 per month like they do now. Cable networks won't be required to be "all digital" by Feb 2009, but the local channels will all be digital. So you'll need a box to convert the signal to analog for analog TVs, whether it comes over the air or from cable. Of course, cable companies could convert the digital signal to analog first and send it over the cable along with the digital signal, like they do now. But they won't. After all they're not just in the business to sell you cable, they're in the business to rent you set top boxes.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 3
Registered: Dec-06
i thought "over the air" meant antenna. It makes sense to me why they would make antenna users have to switch. So they can free up alot of frequency and divy them out. Right now the airwaves are full and alot of technologies are overlapping on the same frequencies. For instance, telephones, wireless routers, bluetooth and other wireless devices all can operate at 2.4ghz. Prompting the FCC to free up the 1.9ghz band just for telephones and calling it DECT 6.0. Because the general public will think 1.9ghz is worse even though it's not.

I don't see a reason for cable companies to make people have to pocket out more money other then to also free up bandwidth for their own system.

I found quite a few sources stating that cable and satelite customers are unaffected about 2-3 months ago. Until recently, that hasn't changed. I still can't find any definitive sources saying cable companies are required to switch including the FCC's own website. Only "over the air" is required. I haven't read the comcast statement. I didn't get one in my bill at least. If they put it in small print, then i shredded it up after i paid it.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 48
Registered: Mar-06
Yes, I believe you are correct. Cable companies (or more precisely cable networks) do not have to change. But now for the local stations, cable companies pick up and transmit both the analog and the digital channels. When local analog broadcasts cease they will only be able to transmit the digital signals. You won't be able to pick them up without a set-top box or a TV with a built-in digital tuner (unless the cable company converts the digital signals to analog, which I don't believe they will do). The only customers that will be effected are those with analog TVs who currently don't use a set-top box. They will have to get a set-top box, either store bought or rented from the cable company.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 4
Registered: Dec-06
why don't you believe they won't convert them to analog? We have a unit that does that for us at our retail store for our analog tv's. We get an HD loop from our echostar satelite. It's not like it's a huge cost to comcast for the converters. The first 20 or so channels isn't going to free up a huge spectrum of bandwidth for them. And i don't think it's worth more then the hassle of the customer complaints of having all but the first 20 or so channels in their analog line up. The locals are what people watch the most, for news, sports, prime time shows.

I can see all the old people in an outrage right now for those local channels. That's all they watch is the news.

Does anyone have any factual information on this. So far, it's just heresay because it's what i've heard second hand, and trying to guess comcasts business plans.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 49
Registered: Mar-06
Well, I guess you don't agree with me, but since you asked I will tell you why I don't believe cable companies will convert local station digital signals to analog. First because it's backwards technology. Why convert superior picture quality back to mediocre quality just for the shrinking number of customers who haven't upgraded to digital service (like me)? Second, I doubt if they would even be allowed to. It makes absolutely no sense for the Government to force broadcast TV to eliminate their analog signals only to have the cable TV industry take their signals and make them analog again. Third, the cable company wants to make money. Why spend money to down convert for a few customers when the trend has always been to go digital? The cable companies want to phase out analog service, and they want to rent you their cable boxes. Look what they have done to the cable card technology. They don't want people using cable cards. And lastly, by Feb 2009, analog TVs will be all but gone from your store shelves. It's a dying technology. Just as all analog TVs all converted to having cable tuners 30 years ago, all TVs will be made with ATSC/QAM (digital cable) tuners. And everything I've read about Feb 2009 has said that analog TVs will need set-top boxes, which includes OTA, cable, and of course satellite, which has always needed a box. Congress has urged the Industry to make conversion boxes "affordable" to the general public, just like they did when cable first started. How many people still have a TV that doesn't have a basic cable tuner? START PHASING OUT YOUR ANALOG TVS. This isn't a fad. (Beta Max forever!).
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1612
Registered: Feb-04
­
Well put Robert. I'll bet you are right, although I don't believe the cable industry is quite as conspiratorial as you suggest. This whole digital conversion wasn't their idea after all. The Feds are going to reap millions selling off "our" frequency spectrum to the highest bidders and who can blame the cable operators for making some extra bucks renting cheap cable boxes to their relatively unprofitable basic cable subscribers. I can't prove this, but I'll bet the percentage of basic cable users, which I define as all households using cable with no cable boxes on any TV, is relatively low. Of course if you include households with boxes on some but not all TVs, the number would surely go up. I tried to find out what these statistics are a while back, but with no luck.

Last year I asked my cable company what they were going to do regarding any possible downconversion from digital to analog and the answer I got is "we don't know yet." Time to ask again I suppose, and if I get something worth reporting I will post it here.
­
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 5
Registered: Dec-06
Although it is definitley a shrinking number. It's still the majority and will be in 2009. Analog tv's last a long time. Many people have recently paid several hundred dollars for them in the last few years and are unwilling to give them up. The picture quality is fine for most people. I still get alot of customers who still don't see a difference in HDTV. HDTV's are slowly getting cheaper. I'm sure a name brand 32" lcd will break the $500 mark by 2009, on par with analog sets today. Panasonic is already close at $769.99. So no doubt everyone will buy only hdtv's by 2009. But we still don't sell enough tv's every year to get close to the amount of analog sets out there.


Again, like i said before. It is in the country's best interest to free up the analog over the air channels, so that frequencies can be allocated to help alleviate the congested airwaves. Cable is a closed system and broadcasting analog doesn't affect anyone other then freeing up some bandwidth for the cable company itself. At least that's all i can think of for that. And of course as you mentioned, making money.


In order to be a successful business, you have to give your majority customers what they want. Compared to how much comcast is billing people every month. A $200 converter for about 80 channels isn't alot of money to them. Considering how many customers they'll retain. Most customers i have today are on standard/ basic, and are unwilling to spend the extra money for digital cable or rent a box. They'll be forced to go satelite. I have digital cable and love it, i try to convince them of the benefits, but all they see is the 40% increase on their bill with the box.

In order to satisfy this majority, they would have to sell or rent QAM boxes and also descramble maybe the first 80 channels. Which is my guess as to what will happen if cable goes mandatory digital. But as of now, in my area only the locals are descrambled. Making people switch to digital for a decent channel lineup will absolutley lose comcast tons of customers.

Also on another thought. If the FCC made it mandatory for cable companies to switch to digital only. Why wouldn't they make QAM mandatory also on tv sets. Most all cable companies use QAM encoding. They only made ATSC standard, which is for over the air antenna. Satelite is unaffected because they are already all digital as far as broadcasting.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 50
Registered: Mar-06
I didn't mean to make the cable companies sound conspiratorial. They are going to do what's best for them. And they won't lose any customers by not having analog service. The actual service of providing digital channels is actually cheaper than analog. Most companies only charge a few dollars more a month right now, and that's because you get more channels. And they won't lose customers by forcing analog customers to buy or rent a box. The only alternatives, OTA and/or satellite, will require a box for analog TVs. Has anybody out there heard anything to the contrary? I think you may get some more miles on those analog TVs because I don't think this will actually happen in Feb 2009. I still have 3 analog TVs. But I certainly wouldn't buy another one. And they said FM radio wouldn't last.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 6
Registered: Dec-06
i know they will eventually phase out all analog tvs. But i was specifically worried about the feb 2009 date. I have 5 tvs in my house. 2 are HD,1 with qam. So i'd have to end up shelling out for either renting cable boxes or buying atsc/qam tuners for those tvs. If they continue to broadcast analog for another 5 or so years, i'd be happy with that.

It is also different from area to area as well. Digital cable is $20 a month and $10 a month to rent the analog box and $15 a month to rent the HD box. Basic and standard is $52 a month. So digital is $30 more a month which is a 57% increase. More then only a few dollars for us. If you buy the box, i believe the going rate is $175. My friend moved and never returned his box, they billed him that much for the box. He returned it quickly after he got that bill.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Say_what

Post Number: 16
Registered: Mar-06
Thank God you folks have it all figured out. I was waiting for Corporate to tell me to get ready to remove all my analog equipment from my Headend and all I had to do was check Ecoustics.

While I personally would welcome a move to all digital and operators would reap a lot of bandwidth, I would be cautious telling folks any cable operator is or is not doing something.

Does it make sense to buy an analog set now? Maybe not, but it depends on your circumstances. As stated in one of the other posts, QAM tuners are not mandatory in new sets and ATSC tuners (required) do not do cable. Folks need to understand the differences and what they need the set to do in their specific situation. Speculative discussions about what operators will do or can do only further muddy the waters for folks seeking guidance.

The Feds, in my opinion, are doing a pretty lousy job of getting needed information out to the average person and there are likely alot of folks buying many more bells and whistles than what they will need to maintain what they have now. Retailers are probably loving the confusion. Those who are here asking questions should also view the FCC site.

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-273677A1.doc

I copied the following paragraph directly from the FCC document linked above. Please see the last sentence.

"When buying television sets and other TV equipment such as DVD players, consumers should know whether or not the equipment includes a digital tuner. (TV equipment that includes a digital tuner is sometimes referred to as a "digital receiver.") Digital tuners are needed to watch local broadcast stations that will be sent in digital format after February 17, 2009. Consumers who want to continue to receive their local broadcast television stations after February 17, 2009 must either purchase a TV set equipped with a digital tuner or purchase a digital-to-analog converter box that will convert those over-the-air digital signals into analog so that they can be displayed on an analog device. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services."

I don't see anything in there that would suggest cable operators are required to do anything. Converting a digital signal back to analog is not that difficult and I already have equipment in my Headend that does it.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 51
Registered: Mar-06
That's pretty much what I said, except I came to the logical conclusion that cable companies won't convert the local digital signals back to analog. That would defeat the entire process of making OTA stations go digital. Nor would it be profitable to the cable companies. But if you want to believe that the cable companies will go backwards while the rest of the industry, including satellite, goes forward, by all means, go buy those cheap analog TVs. I'm sure they'll still work with those Beta-Max VCRs.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 7
Registered: Dec-06
If cable companies are still offering an analog package. I'm sure they'll convert the locals. That's a bulk of what people watch.

It does defeat the process, but not the purpose. The purpose of broadcasting on digital is to free up congested airwaves for the FCC to split out. That's the main reason for the digital push. Digital converted to analog, still looks great. After all, that's what these non HD cable boxes are doing anyways. So if the cable company has or can get the equipment, it's no big deal for them to convert to analog. Only reason why they shouldn't is to free up bandwidth or trying to push people into renting a cable box and paying the extra $20 a month for digital cable. People will see right through this if other cable companies are going to downconvert. So it's either all cable companies have to agree to not downconvert locals, or hell will be raised by consumers.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Say_what

Post Number: 17
Registered: Mar-06
Your dead on NK. The digital transition is only being pushed so Uncle Sam can auction the vacated space. Anyone who thinks our government is concerned with moving forward for any other reason is kidding themselves.

The point I was trying to make was blanket statements concerning what cable operators will do won't work. Each person should be talking to their provider so they know what to expect. Not all companies are owned by the big MSOs and may opt to do something completely different than a Comcast or TW. Systems owned by the same company may do different things. There are still systems out there with no digital at all with 30-40 analog channels. Not likely they are going to invest in all the equipment, controller, digital settops, etc. to work around 5 local channels going to digital.

I expect some cable operators will transition to an all digital lineup but it is not tied to the broadcast transition and I do not believe it will be completed for quite some time. A tremendous effort would be required to force a total digital lineup on a system with 100,000 subscribers.

I don't want to be the poor schmuck who walks into a house with 8 settops, one for each of the customers analog sets or they will no longer get a picture.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1619
Registered: Feb-04
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"Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services."

This point has already been made, but the general perception among the public and the beaurocrats who write these gov't help sites is that "cable service" automatically means there's a set top box present. We know this is not the case for every cable-fed TV, and this statement doesn't answer the question of what will happen to basic cable after Feb. 2009. I agree with Robert that once broadcasting becomes 100% digital, basic cable will do the same.

So what if cable customers get upset? What's their alternative? Buy a gov't sponsored box and stick rabbit ears on top of it? The wifey is going to love that. Go satellite? That's not quick, cheap or easy either. Construct an antenna system for the house? You're still going to need a box for all those analog TVs.

But I also agree with Say What? in that what's the big deal with a few digital to analog converted channels on the cable? I'm no cable engineer, but aren't most cable lines full of both analog and digital signals now?
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 52
Registered: Mar-06
I hope folks haven't been taking what I say as gospel, because I am by no means any kind of an expert. My opinions are based only on what I think is the most logical conclusion based on the facts. After years of the cable industry fighting against the "Must Carry" rule, you'd have to be pretty naive to think they won't jump at the chance to say farewell to local analog broadcasts and make way for more lucrative cable networks.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1622
Registered: Feb-04
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For what it's worth, I e-mailed my cable company, Wide Open West which is centered in the mid-west and is a competitor to TimeWarner here. I asked

"After the digital changeover in Feb. 2009, will there be any analog channels on the basic cable line? Will old analog TVs need a cable box to receive even local channels? Thanks"

Their reply was

"Thank you for contacting WOW! Internet and Cable.

At this time we do not have information as to what will and will not be available. As the mandatory switch over becomes closer WOW! will have information regarding the change. I would suggest checking with WOW! about 6 months before the change.

Thank you,

Tech Support
WOW! Internet, Cable, and Phone"


Maybe a cable company wouldn't want to tip its hand this early, but I would bet they really don't have a hand to tip yet. I think it's possible they really don't know how this whole thing will shake out.
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New member
Username: Webraider

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-07
Okay... Whoever is posting Disagreeing that you have to subscribe to Digital Service to Receive ClearQAM is wrong... At least in New York City. First... Cable is cable... you are already receiving digital Signals on the same cable that is transmitting an Analog Cable Signal. The difference is that the Digital Cable needs a Digital Tuner to interpret that Signal. Most of the channels are Encrypted but Basic over the air channels (NBC, ABC, etc...) CANNOT be Encrypted by Law. Therefore if they are already available via an Encrypted Digital Service (ie... Digital Cable), Then you should be able to pick them up WITHOUT a Digital Subscription (which is only purchasing you a digital Tuner box with the ability to decrypt the encrypted channels) with a Clear Qam Box. As long as you have ANY feed from the cable company, you should be good to go because they cannot, By law encrypt those channels. If they are.. I suggest you take them to court...

ClearQam channels are highly available in New York City.
 

New member
Username: Webraider

Post Number: 2
Registered: Oct-07
Oh... One More Thing... The starter of the post made reference to recieving HD Digital Clear Qam. There is a BIG difference between Digital Cable and HD Digital Cable. You may indeed pick up NBC Digital Broadcast, but it may or may not be HD. It depends on whether or not the original signal is HD. Most Digital Cable is HD, but not all of it is, or has to be.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 53
Registered: Mar-06
Michael, not sure what you are responding to. It seems the thread you are referring to was started in 2004. I think it's been resolved a long time ago that most cable companies feed the local digital channels (whether SD or HD) unencrypted to all customers, no matter what level of service they subscribe to. And, if you have a QAM tuner you should be able to receive them. But I disagree with you when you say they are "required to by law". Cable companies are not required to carry local digital signals like they are for local analog signals. The "must carry rule" never applied to digital broadcasts. I believe that cable companies still enter into retransmission agreements with the local stations, and they "elect" to carry digital broadcasts simply because it's a good business decision. I also have to disagree with the last line of your second post. Most digital cable is NOT HD. In fact digital cable has nothing to do with High Definition. Digital cable is just a means for the cable company to bring more channels, with lower signal loss, to it's customers. Most digital cable is in fact analog programming transmitted digitally. Of course, as more HD programming becomes available, digital cable is a good way to receive it. And after Feb. 2009 it will probably be the only way to get local channels via cable. I still think people will need digital to analog converter boxes to watch local stations on analog TVs, not only for OTA, but also over cable. My earlier opinion advising folks not to buy any more analog TVs seems to be somewhat reinforced by Best Buy's recent announcement that they will no longer sell analog TVs.
 

New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-07
After Reading all this.
I may do a wait and see. I would like to know if a digital turner without a QAM. Will receive digital cable signals that are unscrambled. I was thinking of getting a SDTV. I was told by Comcast on the phone, which I think they are wrong now. No matter what type of tv you have you will need a converter even for those on limited basic.

The FCC says if they still broadcast any Channel in analog they must provide over the air channels for 3 years after the digital transition date. I wrote them and ask them this.

Why type of tv do I need to receive digital signal without getting a converter box.

They were suppose to do the conversion at the signal office. Not as a set top box.

Just out of curiosity. Has anyone tried the digital to analog converters that are meant for broadcast on cable for example the RCA DTA 800.
What happened?

What makes me mad is people on low income subscribing to limited basic and possible be tricked into getting a converter sooner. Then being charge more for the box.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 8
Registered: Dec-06
No, you absolutely need a QAM tuner. Any tv that tunes cable manufactured after march 2007 is required to have an ATSC(HD) tuner but is not required to also read QAM signals. So make sure it has QAM because not all tv's have it. QAM is the digital modulation technique used by the cable companies. ATSC is only for HD off the antenna.

I wouldn't even recommend an SDtv unless you are really really on a budget. Most HD is broadcast in widescreen. It's better to just buy a widescreen HD TV. Find one on sale or open box. You can find 26" HDTV's for as low as $400 when they are on sale. That's how much 27" tv's cost 3-4 years ago.

If you are looking for an SDTV, toshiba and phillips usually almost always has a QAM tuner. }
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 54
Registered: Mar-06
I agree with NK. You need a QAM tuner to receive unencrypted digital cable without a STB. And I also agree, forget the SDTV. HD TVs are getting cheeper every day. Also, as far as I know, the jury is still out on whether you'll need a STB for local stations over cable when subscribing to basic cable service. Cable companies will still have to transmit local broadcast stations, but I don't think there is anything that says they have to back-convert to analog.
 

New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 2
Registered: Nov-07
I really do not like HDTV. I checked in my area for the size I am wanting. It cost above $300.00 of HDTV.

I have a 25 inch picture tube Tv
I have a 19/20 inch flat screen picture tube tv
I have a 19 inch flat screen picture tube tv.
I have two vcrs. One dvd player(Possible upgradeable)

I can not afford to replace them all at once.

From reading one the post above. I though QAM was not officially supported through Comcast. They want to make you get a converter. I am being switched to Comcast at the end of December.

Can you get a SDTV with a QAM turner?

On a satellite do you need a converter with all types of tvs?


Robert.
It is the must carry rule by the fcc. I know Wiki is not totally reliable other web pages sort of agree with this. There seems to be misunderstanding of this rule if varies by web site. From reading other pages. It seems that the must carry rule only applies if the cable company does not go to all digital signal at the same time broadcast does. If any cable signal remains in analog format, they must carry the local stations in that format for 3 more years. Small cable systems can get a wavier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Must-carry


In September, 2007, the Commission approved a regulation that requires cable systems to carry both analog and digital signals if the cable system uses both types of transmission. Small cable operators were allowed to request a waiver. The regulation will end three years after the digital TV transition date, and applies only to stations not opting for retransmission consent.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 9
Registered: Dec-06
QAM not supported? QAM is what their entire digital cable system runs off of. Whether they send channels encrypted or unencrypted is up to them. Inbuilt QAM tuners can only read unencrypted channels. You will need their box to decypher the encrypted channels.

Why do you feel the need to buy all new tv's? The FEB 17th 2009 date is only for "over the air" antenna broadcasting. It does not require cable companies to shut off analog broadcasting. In fact i was at a get-to-gether at a friends house a few weeks ago. One person there was a cable tech for comcast. He told me comcast has no plans to shut off analog. If the customer demand is there, then they will simulcast it along with their HD. He also said there is plenty of bandwidth to do both.

Trust me, in 2 more years analog tubes may only be down to 20" or less. Maybe not at all. Price will drop even more. 26" hdtv LCD will be very affordable.

Yes, like i said before. Toshiba and philips SDTV's usually always have an ATSC tuner with QAM built into it. Other's do as well, but you must read the specs on each one.
 

Gold Member
Username: Samijubal

Post Number: 3634
Registered: Jul-04
Cable companies are mandated by the FCC to keep local analog channels until 2012. National channels can go digital whenever they want to.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 55
Registered: Mar-06
Greg, I think you need to reread your "must carry" reference. And what David says above doesn't make sense. After Feb 12, 2009 there will be no such thing as "local analog channels". And the "must carry" rule is rather moot anyway, since just about every major network affiliated local station has opted to enter into retransmission agreements rather than invoke their "must carry" rights. And even if they did, like I said, after Feb 19, 2009 there won't be any local analog broadcasts. Each individual cable company would have to decide whether it is in their best interest to back-convert the broadcast digital signals to analog for poor schmucks like us who don't want to rent or buy a STB. They won't be required to do that, and to me I doubt if they will. That's just my opinion.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 56
Registered: Mar-06
I agree with NK to the extent that I believe that most cable companies will continue with analog service, simply because many cable networks will still be transmitting analog signals. They are not required to be fully digital by Feb 17, 2009. All local stations, however, are not only required to be fully digital, but also must cease any analog broadcasts. So when he says that "Comcast has no plans to shut off analog", that only means they won't shut off stations that are still analog. Sorry, but that doesn't include local stations (because there will be no local analog stations). If someone knows of any firm commitments by any cable company to back-convert the local digital signals to analog, at the head end, once the analog broadcasts cease, so a STB is not needed for analog TVs, I'd like to hear about it.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1937
Registered: Feb-04
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All the Feds care about is grabbing the extra bandwidth freed up by the digital changeover and selling it to the highest bidder. The fat bureaucrats in the FCC and Congress probably don't even know or care about the poor schmucks with just the wire. Those that do are content the let the market work out the details. This is why the cable companies don't know what they're going to do.

As I understand it, downconverting even a handful of digital channels to analog would eat up valuable space taken up by a slew of SD channels and a growing number of bandwidth hungry HD signals. The cables are more concerned with competing with satellite providers than they are with satisfying the aesthetic sensitivities of low monthly rate customers who are offended by boxes atop their TVs.
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 57
Registered: Mar-06
Well said, John.
 

New member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 10
Registered: Dec-06
Robert,i'll have to disagree with some of what you said. As far as i was aware, the Feb 17th 2009 mandate only pertains to over the air broadcasting. Not broadcasting analog in general. And that they will need to offer 100% if their programming in digital, not neccessarily HD. Pretty much the same as they do now by converting analog to digital.

I don't think the government has any right to tell them not to allow their programming to be in analog over cable. It's a closed system and doesn't hurt anyone. Infact cutting it off will hurt many lower income customers who solely subscribe to basic basic cable.

All of my local stations show all of their prime time, talk shows, most newly filmed daytime dramas, and news programs in HD already. But they still offer all of the above in analog. If they have the equipment to downconvert right now and comcast will still be broadcasting other channels in analog, why wouldn't they still offer it to comcast for retransmission in analog? It's not like it will cost them anymore money once they have the equipment.

The market for analog TVs is pretty much gone. Nearly everyone is buying HDTVs now. But the typical lifespan of CRT tubes is 20k-30khours at least 10-15years for most people. Not everyone will be eager to give up their 3-4 tvs in their house in a little over a year from now. It's not like those tv's will suddenly die in 2009 either. Through looking at my house and all of my friends, many people may have 1 or 2 HD tvs in their house, but like GREG PATRICK still have plenty of analog ones too.

From a money hungry business standpoint. It's still in comcasts best interests to rebroadcast in analog as long as the demand is there for it.
 

New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 3
Registered: Nov-07
I am being switched to comcast at the end of December. The reason I am thinking of getting new television I may go to over the air broadcast. It all depends on what my cable company really does or I may switch to satellite they include the box.

I am curious what RCA DTA 800. Does with cable signals.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 11
Registered: Dec-06
The RCA DTA 800 doesn't have QAM and only goes up to channel 69. So it wouldn't even be good for cable. You may want a different reciever or switch to satelite.
Many High definition tuners have the ability to play at 480i(analog) and can play on your old tvs. I have an old sylvania ATSC unit that does this. Bought it a few years ago when HD tvs didn't come with hd tuners built in.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 58
Registered: Mar-06
NK, I'm not sure if you are grasping the situation. Right now cable companies retransmit (via cable) both the analog OTA signals and the digital OTA signals (whether HD or SD) being broadcast by those local stations who have either invoked their "must carry" rights or, more commonly, entered into retransmission agreements. No one is "downconverting" as you have suggested. After Feb 17, 2009 local stations will no longer be allowed to broadcast analog signals. So there will be no analog feed to retransmit to cable customers. The Government has nothing to do with how the cable companies offer local broadcasting to their customers. Cable companies may still offer analog tiers because there may be some cable networks (TBS, CNN, TNT, HGTV, etc.) that transmit analog signals. But your local stations will drop off by default (because there will be no analog programming), unless the cable companies decide it is in their best interest to convert the local station's digital broadcasts to analog, at the head end, in lieu of making their "non-digital" customers get STBs. It seems you think that is already happening, and I assure you it isn't. Bottom line, after Feb 17, 2009 you may still get a dwindling number of basic cable stations in analog that can be received on your analog TVs (I still have 5 myself). But in all likelihood you'll need a STB to watch local stations on your analog TVs, whether OTA or cable, unless the cable company makes what seems to me like a bad business decision.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 59
Registered: Mar-06
Greg brings up a good point. One thing that might force the cable companies to "downconvert" the local digital signals to analog, is a deluge of cable customers switching to satellite. The only thing keeping me with cable right now is that I can still get both analog and digital stations (HD and SD) without a STB. If I am forced to get STBs for all of my TVs, I'm going with satellite.
 

New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 4
Registered: Nov-07
Robert,
I am not sure but I think Insight does this for all the local channels. I have notice on some screw ups that it looks like jagged screen.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 60
Registered: Mar-06
Does what? Convert local digital broadcasts to analog? There is absolutely no reason or need to do that at this point in time. All local stations are still broadcasting analog signals. No, Insight is not doing that, nor is any other cable company. That doesn't make sense. They are retransmitting the local analog broadcasts on analog cable stations (ie. 5, 9, 12), and they are retransmitting local digital broadcasts on digital cable stations (ie. 5.1, 5.2, 9.1, 12.1). The only question is, will they start doing it once analog broadcasts disappear?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 12
Registered: Dec-06
I highly doubt that cable companies are still receiving their local signals over the antenna anymore, especially with all the technology out today. It's just too clear, and all the time on all the local stations. More then likely they are getting the locals the same way they get all their stations. The same way direct tv and dishnetwork get their local analog stations. Through satelite uplink. My local TV station is only a few miles from my house and has 3 very large satelite dishes outside of it. This is what leads me to believe this. Also cable companies already use satelite to recieve the rest of their lineup.

Like i said before, i'm sure the local stations are already downconverting HD signals because my Vizio picks up the hd stations and organizes them right after the analog counterpart. As i scroll up through my channels, i see the exact same thing from analog, then in HD. So unless they are using an analog camera mounted right on top of an HD camera, they must be downconverting it.

So although it's not set in stone. It also depends on what each individual station wants to do. They have everything they need to do it with. They are uploading analog right now to satelite companies through satelite for sure. They could still continue to do that if they like. I don't see who would stop them.

All of this will probably be moot anyways. Looks like Kevin Martin wants to ensure local analog stays on.
http://dtvfacts.com/latest/506/analog-cable-local-stations-2/
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 61
Registered: Mar-06
First of all, who said anything about cable companies getting local analog signals over an antenna? I didn't, so why bring it up? What difference does it make whether they get it via satellite, with an antenna, or by smoke signals? The fact remains that there will be NO local analog signals after Feb 2009. Local stations will not be feeding "cable and satellite only" analog transmissions to Insight, Time Warner, Direct TV, DISH, etc. Local stations are anxious to get out of their double transmission requirement. And my guess is that Mr. Martin's proposal will falter again...

"The "dual-carriage" proposal would apply to local stations that receive mandatory carriage under FCC "must-carry" rules. Stations that reject must-carry status in favor of negotiated carriage under "retransmission consent" regulations are not included."

Even if passed, this resolution would have little to no effect, because most stations use retransmission agreements, and thusly would not be included. And it's not going to pass anyway. There are millions of low income people who can only watch TV over the air. On Feb 17, 2009 THEY will need a STB to watch TV. Do you honestly believe that the FCC is going to pass some resolution so that analog cable subscribers don't need a STB...especially one that will exempt just about every local station anyway? WAKE UP AMERICA! (Earl Pitts)
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1942
Registered: Feb-04
­
Already there's a hole in the "dual-carriage" dike:

"Federal regulators simplified the DTV transition for consumers in September, announcing that cable systems will be required to carry local stations in both analog and digital form after traditional analog broadcasts cease on February 17, 2009. The rule has an exception: Operators of small cable systems will be granted waivers--but only if they can prove their case to the FCC.

"Now five Republicans and two Democrats are proposing "a blanket exemption for systems with less than 552 MHz of capacity or with 5,000 or fewer subscribers," according to Multichannel News. This could complicate matters, albeit slightly."


http://dtvfacts.com/latest/527/dtv-small-cable/

And you're right Robert. All but the smallest market one-hamster TV station will be exempt from this "dual-carriage" proposal.

I do think it is a little early to be drawing firm conclusions except that, in the end, we can rest assured the little guy will be screwed on this deal.

PITTS OFF!

Upload
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New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 5
Registered: Nov-07
Robert
You are incorrect. Let use Sci-fi. I do not need a set top box to view that channel. Why it in analog. So the cable companies are already down converting it to analog. They can do the same with the local stations.

To All, Here is what comcast emailed me. Passing the buck. I do not think the cable companies know what to do.

[Quote]I suggest that you visit http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/digitaltv.html.

This is the FCC's official website
regarding this issue and should answer any questions you may have on this.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any more questions.[/quote]

Ironically that site say's on one page check with your provider.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1943
Registered: Feb-04
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"Ironically that site say's on one page check with your provider."

Which is what I did last June:

https://www.ecoustics.com/cgi-bin/bbs/show.pl?tpc=2&post=1174113#POST1174113

"Let use Sci-fi. I do not need a set top box to view that channel. Why it in analog. So the cable companies are already down converting it to analog. They can do the same with the local stations."

Yes, but the question is will they? And if so how long? There's certainly no law mandating that the 60-70 channels one normally gets with a cable ready tuner will be there once the locals go digital. It makes sense for the cables to go completely digital, thus freeing up bandwidth for the ever growing number of HiDef channels....including the Sci-Fi channel sometime soon I would think. Lack of bandwidth is what is backing the cables into a corner while they try to compete with the satellite providers.
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 62
Registered: Mar-06
Yes to everything John said, and this to Greg - your example which is trying to make me think I'm incorrect, makes no sense. You are making an incorrect assumption that Sci-Fi (and I guess all other cable channels) are originated and transmitted to the cable companies in a digital format. Then I guess you think that cable companies, in an effort to satisfy and keep their analog subscribers, change these digital signals to analog so we don't have to use cable boxes. What planet do you live on? If anything, the cable companies do just the opposite. And that is, they take all of these analog cable network signals, convert them to digital, and send them out to it's "digital" cable subscribers, and try to get people to believe they are watching "DTV". Most of the "digital" tier channels offered by cable companies are actually analog signals converted to digital (so they can send out many more channels over the same cable), and then converted back to analog by the STBs so people can see them on their analog TVs.
Sorry, Greg, but you need to get your facts straight. Sci-Fi, TNT, TBS, HGTV, and all of the other basic cable stations are NOT digital feeds being down-converted to analog just so you and I can watch them on our analog TVs without an STB. And John is correct, after Feb 2009, you may still get these over basic cable, but they probably won't include local stations, and they will gradually lose other cable stations until 2012, when all cable companies will be totally digital.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 13
Registered: Dec-06
Actually robert, i believe Greg would be correct because cable companies get all their channels through large satelites which would technically be digital but not necessarily HD. Then convert them to analog for use on normal tvs. Whether they do a (digital-digital) conversion or go from (digital-analog-back to digital) for digital cable box subscribers, that i don't know.

i understand why cable and satelite companies would want to get out of analog. But local stations definitly don't as long as there is a market for analog. I'm sure they'll try and at least make an effort to strike a deal with cable companies to carry/downconvert their analog feed. Their entire business revolves around the amount of viewers they have.

I'm sure you can agree that there will still be a nice percentage of comcast subscribers that are unwilling to pay the extra $30(includes box) a month for digital cable. Or upgrade their numerous tvs like Greg Patrick for instance. Comcast will want to and has told me they are still carrying analog stations for those customers. Or they'll find many people going to satelite.

So why would local stations not want comcast to retransmit and retain a large percentage of their viewers? They make their money off their viewers by selling ad time. The more viewers, the more money they can ask for. I would think they would just add that to their retransmission agreement and let comcast do it for free.

Likewise for comcast, would they really try to alienate their own customers and force them to go digital? They might find many people switching to dish for their local channels.

Everything we say on this board is here-say for the most part. They only thing for certain is the mandate to shut off analog OTA broadcasting in Feb 17th 2009. Cable companies, and local station managers, could sit down and have a meeting tomorrow and decide all this. But i don't believe anything is in writing and signed as an agreement. I believe comcast is playing it by ear. They know exactly what percentage of subscribers are still on analog. If that percentage is still high by 2009, i'm sure it'll be in their best interest to retransmit locals in analog. It all boils down to money, like an aquaintance said, if there is a market for it. Then why not?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 63
Registered: Mar-06
NK, I join with you in hopes that cable companies will suffer if they choose not to convert digital local broadcasts to analog come Feb 2009, but your logic to support why you think that they will is full of holes. First, Greg is not correct. You seem to be assuming that just because a signal comes from a satellite that is is digital. Why would you assume that? The TV industry has been using satellites and transmitting analog signals since the 50's. I don't think anybody has said that cable companies don't have the capability to convert digital to analog. Anyway it just doesn't matter how many times signals are converted/reconverted by the time they get to your TV screen. This whole discussion started because many many people think that what will happen in Feb 2009 just affects OTA viewers. Making statements like "cable subscribers won't be affected" is very misleading to the public. And cable subscribers have a right to know that there is a strong possibility that they will be affected, especially when they are considering what kind of TV to buy. You can't buy an analog TV at Best Buy any more. That should be a strong signal to anyone NOT to buy an analog TV. So if you are going to buy a digital TV anyway, and you don't want to have to buy or rent a STB, it makes good sense to get one with a QAM tuner. You are right, what we say on here is "hearsay". It all comes down to who makes the most sense. If you know anyone in the cable industry you'll know their two main objectives...get customers out of the "basic analog cable" market and on the "digital bandwagon", and, win the "cable vs. satellite" war. Like I said earlier, if local stations will only be available on a digital tier and require STBs, that might drive many cable subscribers (me included) to satellite. ANd it might prompt cable companies to rethink that decision. But instead of speculating what cable companies are going to do, just buy TVs with QAM tuners. I guaranty you, in the not-to-distant future, every TV will be digital, and every TV will have a QAM tuner. So why spend money on old technology?
 

New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 6
Registered: Nov-07
NK
I have more than one person in the household. It took several years to get all those tv and vcrs-low paying jobs. Some were gifts.

Maybe the comcast person was not an idiot they just didn't know. They should of at least said. We are not sure what we are going to do at this time.

If you do get dish or dirrect tv. What ever you do. Do not use SBC/ATT as your service prodiver. Very hard to cancel, so I have heard.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 14
Registered: Dec-06
There is noise. Noise is everywhere, it's in the components of the elctronics, amplifiers, receivers, and the atmosphere. You also have reflection and 2nd and 3rd order harmonics spawning from different frequencies that can add noise to the signal. As clear and clean as the pictures are today on my cable. It's very doubtful that they are still beaming analog. It would make more sense to beam digital and make room for more channels, as well as have a perfect clean picture.

Also, this link explains where most cable companies in the U.S. get it's programming from a satellite dish and how it's digital. I know wiki isn't always the most reliable source, but alot of times it is dead on true.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headend_in_the_Sky


Greg, i'm with you. I grew up in a low income family, having only my father to raise and support 2 kids. Back then, we were making it from paycheck to paycheck. No way we could afford more then 1 tv. We only had basic cable also. Given the area we lived in, i would say most people would either have to have given up on tv or switch to satelite.

In my area that i live in now, everyone can afford to stick with cable and get a digital box for their tvs. But in the city and larger metropolitan areas where there are large sections of low income families. Cable companies may lose substantial amount of customers.

Like i said before, i think you and I both agree. Nothing is set in stone as of yet. We can only speculate. Until cable companies decide what to do. Noone can be certain. It's only 1 year and 3 months away, they better decide soon and make a formal announcement about dropping local analogs on cable.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Say_what

Post Number: 18
Registered: Mar-06
I will throw my 2 cents in on this one, for what it is worth.

I work in the Headend for a cable operator. Last word we got was, NO change in Feb. 2009.

Can I use a digital OTA signal and send it out as an analog channel? Absolutely! Most, if not all OTA digital receivers have video and audio outputs that work quite well with the same analog modulator I use everyday. We have used this method to keep our analog channel on the air while the broadcaster was repairing their analog transmitter. So, will the shutdown of analog transmitters force any cable operator to eliminate analog locals on their system? Absolutely not!

Yes, folks we still use an antenna for most of our local stations. Someone still has to climb the tower to maintain these. We have some stations we have a fiber link to the studio but the bulk are still received OTA.

The equipent used by the Headend to receive the local broadcasts and send them out determines the difficulty in keeping the analog going. In my case we receive the OTA signal, demodulate it to video and audio then re-modulate it and send it out on the channel we want it on. Some systems use a processor that accepts the OTA signal and sends it out as received on the correct cable channel. The demodulators and processors will be useless after the shutdown but as long as I can get video and audio into it, the modulator will play on..

Satellite signals have been received digitally for years and connected to an analog modulator. It comes out of the receiver as video and audio that can be seen and heard on any monitor. Some channels have digital and analog simulcasts. If we chose to get the digital receiver, we still send the signal from the Headend as analog. Most channels converting to digital will provide a receiver if they plan to shutdown their analog signal but no matter how it is received, if it is on channels 3-78, it leaves here analog. Analog cable is not rocket science.

Cable operators break their lineups into tiers. We have a basic tier 3-17 and a cable tier, 18-78. All our local broadcasters are in the basic tier, 9 channels. We have some channels in our cable tier we digitally simulcast. Customers with a digital converter see the digital signal, those without see the analog version.

So in all this discussion of bandwidth savings, would it make more sense to digitize the cable tier, 60+ 6 MHz slots that could hold hundreds of channels or should we screw around with a measly 9 channels? Should an operator spend a few thousand dollars to continue doing what they are doing or invest millions in purchasing and installing converters on every TV in their system?

Digitizing the cable tier makes much more sense, if an operator wants to go there and while that does not make an analog TV completely useless, watching a few channels is not likely what most folks want from their TVs. Problem with all the discussion is cable tiers, digital tiers, etc. are not involved in any of what happens in 2009 and changes could occur at anytime with a 30 day notice if an operator chooses to digitize those 60+ channels forcing customers to use a converter/digital capable device to receive anything above basic cable. I would expect if any operator is looking to go this route, they are not waiting on Feb. 2009 to go forward with it.

There is also SDB or switched digital broadcasting that some companies are already using and many more will adopt soon. This is allowing for many new channels to be added in spite of bandwidth constraints but currently requires a digital converter from your cable operator. This will also change in the future as CE manufacturers start producing 2-way devices capable of communicating with the cable company's controller.

In reading all this back and forth speculation, the only thing I would definitely agree with is to check with your cable operator as the shutdown gets closer but I expect most will continue doing what they are doing now.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1954
Registered: Feb-04
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I'd like to thank Say What? for taking the time to write this generous missive. It has certainly cleared up some questions regarding the digital changeover. The banter on this thread concerning that kind of reminded me of the dire predictions concerning the clock ticking to 00:01 on New Years 2000. It does make sense that for cable customers--even the lowest of basic subscribers--that it will remain business as usual, at least for a good while after the changeover.

Maybe.

"...if an operator wants to go there and while that does not make an analog TV completely useless, watching a few channels is not likely what most folks want from their TVs."

I don't know. If there's a significant number of cable subscribers out there with some or all of their TVs on basic cable, then obviously these people are not after a gazillion channels. Sure, they may watch E!, The Comedy Channel, or FoodTV, etc. with their cable-ready tuners occasionally, but I submit that the real reason the cable is in their houses is for decent reception on the 5 main networks. I was never more excited about having cable than when I first welcomed the lovely coax into my house in 1978. Finally, I could see shows without triple ghosts!

This leads me to my first question for Say What?---I certainly hope he's still around.

Of all the cable subscribers, what is the percentage of TVs with just the wire, no converter box?

On another note I would like to know if you have any opinion on compression of the channels, particularly the HD channels. The media has led people to believe that the PQ on OTA HD is better than that same channel through an HD cable STB because of supposed rampant compression...

Again, thanks for your time and expertise.
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Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 15
Registered: Dec-06
as far as how many people are on analog only without a box. That number would not be accurate even if there was one. For most houses with cable boxes, they don't have them on every tv in the house. Like in my house, i have 2 HD tvs, 1 with a box, 1 without, plus 2 analog tvs.

The cable company only knows how many boxes they rent out vs, how many subscribers they have. They don't know about my 3 other tvs.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1958
Registered: Feb-04
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"The cable company only knows how many boxes they rent out vs, how many subscribers they have. They don't know about my 3 other tvs."

What?? Do you think cable companies are fools? They may not know about your "3 other tvs", but I guarantee you that they have a pretty good estimate of how many cheaters like you who are not paying for the basic service on their extra TVs.

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New member
Username: Gpatrick

Post Number: 7
Registered: Nov-07
John S. That has changed. There is no extra charge to hook up additional tv, vcr, dvds,dvrs or tvs yourself. They just do not want you to know that. For the first hook there is a charge. Most companies have dropped additional monthly charge for each set. They never counted Vcrs. I consider if I am paying cable. The line comes into my house on private property. I can put as many tvs or vcrs I want on that line. You are allowed to do self hookups yourself.

I told the cable office about my extra tvs, they said they do not need to know that. Nk is not a cheater. }
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1959
Registered: Feb-04
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OK Greg, thanks. I apologize for being a little rough with NK. I wasn't aware that splitting off the cable for other TVs in the house was officially OK now. For years it was a no-no, and if they found out, your monthly fee went up for every TV on the line. This change of attitude does make sense. After all, people are going to do it and there's not much they can do about it. Besides, the cables have found other ways to nickel-dime customers. Just yesterday I received another "Dear John" letter warning of yet another rate increase in January.....

If my wife wasn't addicted to a couple of cable channels, I'd put a coat hanger antenna on the roof and be done with cable.
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 64
Registered: Mar-06
Yes, my cable company went the way of the phone company many years ago. They do, however, frown on splitting it to other potential customers in the same building. But this is just another reason why I don't believe the cable companies will be very sympathetic to us who have 2, 3 or more analog TVs hooked up without a box, when it comes time to decide whether to down-convert local channels to analog or go all digital.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 16
Registered: Dec-06
i merely stated that even if they did have a number, it wouldn't be very accurate. It's not like they do a census of how many tv's are in every household.

And yes, i did call comcast 4 years ago to have cable service hooked up into my new house i was moving into, and i asked if it costs any extra for every extra tv. They said only for installation but not for service every month.

They also never do installation themselves in my area. They always subcontract for new installs. Doubt they would even write down how many tvs are in the house for a database.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1962
Registered: Feb-04
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"i merely stated that even if they did have a number, it wouldn't be very accurate. It's not like they do a census of how many tv's are in every household."

I agree, but I also think any observer/particpant in the cable industry could make an intelligent guess. The only reason I ask the question in the first place is that if that number is relatively high, the cable cos. would have to think twice before switching to all digital and pissing off all those paying customers. Basic cable may be the most unprofitable end of the business, but it is still money.
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 65
Registered: Mar-06
I don't think cable companies really care how many analog TVs there are hooked up out there, unless they want to estimate how many STB's they might need if/when they go all digital. And the only thing that will piss them off is if basic/standard cable customers jump ship for satellite. Does anyone know how satellite works as far as hooking up analog TVs? Do satellite customers need a separate STB for each TV?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1964
Registered: Feb-04
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Besides cable, your only alternatives are an indoor or outdoor antenna and satellite. After the changeover, all analog TVs hooked up to OTA antennas are going to require a converter box. Regarding satellite no TV, digital or analog, can process the incoming frequency from the dish, so a STB has and will always be needed for the system to work.
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Bronze Member
Username: Bobbythebeast

Post Number: 66
Registered: Mar-06
That's what I thought. So, at least for my money, the biggest advantage (and maybe the only advantage) cable has over satellite is that I don't need STBs for all of my TVs. So listen up Time Warner, if/when you go all digital (or just do away with local channels in analog), and force me to get STBs for all of my TVs, that's when I go to satellite.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_s

Columbus, Ohio US

Post Number: 1969
Registered: Feb-04
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Whatever the Evil Empire (Time-Warner) decides to do, I believe you will know about it at least 90 days before the changeover. That will be the time to draw a line in the sand, if you need to.
 

New member
Username: Michaelgsxr

Post Number: 1
Registered: Aug-08
Can anyone help me???
I have a p50 hdtv20a. The problem with it is that when its pluged in the standby light is lite up. when you press the power on button, nothing happens. Any ideas on what to check or what could be the problem.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gggplaya

Post Number: 17
Registered: Dec-06
why are you posting that in this thread, your problem is completely irrelevant to this thread?
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