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Old 04-27-2012, 09:51 AM   #1
ghuido
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Comcast MPEG4 - Anything?

Looks like FIOS is switching over to MPEG4. (http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...d.php?t=486112)

Does anyone know of any future plan for Comcast to switch over to MPEG4?
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
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Fios is adding it, not switching to it. This isn't like the DirecTV transition (and even DirecTV still uses MPEG-2 for SD, right?). It'll be gradual.
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:55 AM   #3
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Same for Comcast - the installed base of STBs and DVRs is too huge to switch, so it will take a LONG time to convert to MP4.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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Same for Comcast - the installed base of STBs and DVRs is too huge to switch, so it will take a LONG time to convert to MP4.
All new DVRs and STBs should support mpeg-4. So you will probably see Comcast start with small markets and make the switch. They will obviously have to exchange out old hardware fully before they can do it. My guess is when cable companies switch to all digital, they will also be making sure each market has deployed only mpeg-4 capable hardware at the same time so they can make the switch down the road to more mpeg-4 channels.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:22 AM   #5
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They have a crapton of older stuff still out there that doesn't, and it's expensive as hell to replace all that junk. It will be a phase-in just like FIOS is doing.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:22 PM   #6
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They have a crapton of older stuff still out there that doesn't, and it's expensive as hell to replace all that junk. It will be a phase-in just like FIOS is doing.
Yes, it is already happening with every cable company. None of them are re-deploying old hardware that isn't capable afaik. Mainly because the newer boxes will have better VOD support and support premium packages like MLB that are already starting to switch to mpeg-4.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:05 PM   #7
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Can you record more when the source is in MPEG-4?
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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Can you record more when the source is in MPEG-4?
Yes, but not necessarily.

To the extent that it's a smaller size per unit of time (and this is the whole point of switching -- to be able to reduce the bitrate while (hopefully) maintaining the same PQ), then logically it follows that, yes, you can record for a longer time in the same amount of storage. However, the bitrate will vary from channel to channel and even within programs, just as it does now with MPEG-2.

It's possible that in some cases, where the MPEG-2 signal is already bit-starved, the switch will be used to improve quality rather than reduce bitrate. Or both.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:48 PM   #9
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All new DVRs and STBs should support mpeg-4. So you will probably see Comcast start with small markets and make the switch. They will obviously have to exchange out old hardware fully before they can do it. My guess is when cable companies switch to all digital, they will also be making sure each market has deployed only mpeg-4 capable hardware at the same time so they can make the switch down the road to more mpeg-4 channels.
I'm skeptical. Any CATV company that has already invested in SDV has no need for a band-aid solution like MPEG4. At the very best, an H.264 stream may require half the bit-rate of an MPEG2 stream of identical content. This means changing out all the MPEG2 coders for h.264 coders - a very expensive proposition - only gains one at most a factor of 2 in the number of potentially available channels. Meanwhile, an SDV solution can easily increase the number of available channels 1000 fold - far, far beyond the number of available content streams at the moment or for some years to come. More to the point, the SDV solution can bve expanded without limit. The MPEG4 solution offers a one time doubling of capacity. If the company is looking to choose an upgrade strategy at the outset, then MPEG4 makes some sense, depending upon the existing node density, as a stop-gap measure for the next 3 or 4 years. If the company has already deployed SDV, or even if the node penetration is already at a reasonable level, then investing in MPEG4 technology makes little or no sense.
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Old 04-30-2012, 04:01 PM   #10
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I'm skeptical. Any CATV company that has already invested in SDV has no need for a band-aid solution like MPEG4. At the very best, an H.264 stream may require half the bit-rate of an MPEG2 stream of identical content. This means changing out all the MPEG2 coders for h.264 coders - a very expensive proposition - only gains one at most a factor of 2 in the number of potentially available channels. Meanwhile, an SDV solution can easily increase the number of available channels 1000 fold - far, far beyond the number of available content streams at the moment or for some years to come. More to the point, the SDV solution can bve expanded without limit. The MPEG4 solution offers a one time doubling of capacity. If the company is looking to choose an upgrade strategy at the outset, then MPEG4 makes some sense, depending upon the existing node density, as a stop-gap measure for the next 3 or 4 years. If the company has already deployed SDV, or even if the node penetration is already at a reasonable level, then investing in MPEG4 technology makes little or no sense.
It's not just a bandwidth issue. Networks are slowly switching to mpeg-4 so cable companies already have to be able to process this type of video. There's a reason why all the new boxes support mpeg-4. VOD and premium content is already moving to mpeg-4. Cable companies need an excuse to get users to replace old boxes after all. And they will have to invest in mpeg-4 technology. They have no choice.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:57 PM   #11
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No reason it has to be either sdv or an mpeg-4 technology, exclusively. New equipment from cameras to edit suites to delivery technologies are going to phase mpeg-4 in as well as the head ends and set top boxes, so why not? They can still use SDV, and they will gradually switch over until the last mpeg2 sources and boxes fizzle out.

And maybe we will all be watching h.265 with lossless audio by the time allvid shows up.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:34 AM   #12
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It's not just a bandwidth issue. Networks are slowly switching to mpeg-4 so cable companies already have to be able to process this type of video.
Well, that's true.

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There's a reason why all the new boxes support mpeg-4. VOD and premium content is already moving to mpeg-4. Cable companies need an excuse to get users to replace old boxes after all.
Given their 'druthers, I'm sure they would rather not. DVRs an d STBs aren't cheap, and if they can they would definitely like them to last at least 24 months so they can recoup the cost of purchase.

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And they will have to invest in mpeg-4 technology. They have no choice.
Well, that's not true. It may prove economically feasible in the long run, however.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:24 AM   #13
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Cox in some markets are using it for additional HD channels
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:57 AM   #14
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It's not just a bandwidth issue. Networks are slowly switching to mpeg-4 so cable companies already have to be able to process this type of video. There's a reason why all the new boxes support mpeg-4. VOD and premium content is already moving to mpeg-4. Cable companies need an excuse to get users to replace old boxes after all. And they will have to invest in mpeg-4 technology. They have no choice.
Over IP, I can see it because that's where they want to go anyway - otherwise, I don't get it. I don't see mp4 arriving over QAM anytime soon for mainstream channels, in other words, it will be an IP simulcast on freed up analogs at best (which will need new boxes). Too bad AllVid won't be here by then.

U-Verse has the right idea here, but the wrong infrastructure.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:19 PM   #15
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I don't see mp4 arriving over QAM anytime soon for mainstream channels
It's not a question of foreseeing it; it's happening now.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:37 PM   #16
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First Comcast isn't using SDV. They investigated using it and decided against it. Instead they are slowly converted their entire US wide foot print to digital only. My area just switched over to 100% digital (including basic cable) a few weeks ago (and I got about 20 new HD channels to boot), but many areas have not. I think Comcast will finish doing that before they decide on their next move.

That said I think eventually all cable companies will switch to MP4. It simply makes too much sense not to. That or switch totally to IPTV, but as that would be highly disruptive, I don't see that happening any time soon.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:39 PM   #17
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First Comcast isn't using SDV. They investigated using it and decided against it. Instead they are slowly converted their entire US wide foot print to digital only. My area just switched over to 100% digital (including basic cable) a few weeks ago (and I got about 20 new HD channels to boot), but many areas have not. I think Comcast will finish doing that before they decide on their next move.

That said I think eventually all cable companies will switch to MP4. It simply makes too much sense not to. That or switch totally to IPTV, but as that would be highly disruptive, I don't see that happening any time soon.
Comcast has also stated there going to start rolling out IP/QAM STB to start sendings some IP content only. I have a feeling were still up to 12 months away though.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:01 PM   #18
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It's not a question of foreseeing it; it's happening now.
Wow, his foresight is 20/20...
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:05 AM   #19
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One of the basic problems with cable operators sending program material via an IP stream is that of bandwidth limits and net neutrality.

If comcast makes available an on-demand title for $5 and streams it to your box using 10GB of data that does not count against your monthly limit. But Netflix sends you the same title using 10GB that does count. That is not in complaince with net neutrality and until bandwidth limits are dropped or the cable operators include thier own programming against the limits, its going to get tied up in courts for some time.

When the media distributer also owns the network the data is transmitted on, we get conflict of interest and will have to be resolved.

This whole issue is also why Sony recently dropped the idea of providing a IP based streaming serivce for program content.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:50 AM   #20
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That's perfectrly true, but there are more hurdles than just those. There are significant technical issues, as well. First of all, while the CATV transport technology lends itself very well to SDV, it does not lend itself as well to IPTV, or indeed IP in general. To be sure, as we all know, IP traffic can be carried on CATV lines. A truly efficient IP delivery, however, requires for the switch boundary to be at the customer dwelling. CATV systems have their switch boundary at the node, though. This means all the bandwidth in and out of the node is shared among as many as 2000 or more receivers. Downstream, that is not quite such an issue, as 670+ MHz of RF spectrum represents a vast amount of data. Upstream is a different matter, however. The CATV system only has about 25 - 30 MHz of useable RF spectrum in the upstream direction. This ony represents less than 5% of the downstream bandwidth. TCP traffic requires about 20% of the downstream bandwidth for upstream use to work properly. IPTV gains a great deal in this respect by being UDP based, but the upstream channels still present a very significant bottleneck. This is magnified quite a bit by the fact every IPTV stream to each receiver must be unique.

There is a reason why FIOS still delivers all its linear channels via QAM while delivering all its VOD via IPTV, and yet FIOS has a tolopogy that is far better suited to IPTV than a coaxially based network.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:47 PM   #21
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My area just switched over to 100% digital (including basic cable) a few weeks ago (and I got about 20 new HD channels to boot), but many areas have not.
My area still has many analogs in the channel range of 2 - 31. But they did change 32-69 to digital a while ago. I'm surprised you're 100% digital. I have a plethora of of channels even with hundreds of MHz left alone as analog. Perhaps you're not on an 860 MHz system.

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That said I think eventually all cable companies will switch to MP4. It simply makes too much sense not to.
Well, let's hope not anytime soon. I'm sure TiVo won't bother updating the Series 3 to decode MP4, even though it's theoretically got the hardware (the devil is in the details). I certainly don't want to buy new boxes!
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:49 AM   #22
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My area still has many analogs in the channel range of 2 - 31. But they did change 32-69 to digital a while ago. I'm surprised you're 100% digital. I have a plethora of of channels even with hundreds of MHz left alone as analog. Perhaps you're not on an 860 MHz system.
Sorry, I was a little unclear. I just received 20 additional channels to what I already had. There's over about 100 HD channels now, though I don't subscribe to some of them.
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:59 PM   #23
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My area still has many analogs in the channel range of 2 - 31. But they did change 32-69 to digital a while ago. I'm surprised you're 100% digital. I have a plethora of of channels even with hundreds of MHz left alone as analog. Perhaps you're not on an 860 MHz system.
...
my comcast headend area is 860 and has been all digital for a couple years now off the top of my head.

Comcast has been handing out DTA's since 2008:
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...t=dta+unboxing

I'm only like an hour away from Morac (If i remember he's in a county right across the Delaware from Philly) - I'm surprised it took that long for his area. If I recall he's cisco based and they might have even tried SDV there for a while? I'm moto- I think they MAYBE (WAG on my part) changed moto areas's first and then later cisco/sciatl?


edit: I also think it might be related to finding room for higher internet with DOCSIS 3- after they got eveyone on DTA's they upped the internet speeds and added a higher tier or two. Nuking those last ~30 analog channels is way more then they would need to adding another internet channel or 2 from what i understand- so not entirely sure why it would be related- maybe it allows them to split internet traffic within the nodes- some on one set of frequencies some on others?
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:15 PM   #24
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I'm only like an hour away from Morac (If i remember he's in a county right across the Delaware from Philly) - I'm surprised it took that long for his area. If I recall he's cisco based and they might have even tried SDV there for a while? I'm moto- I think they MAYBE (WAG on my part) changed moto areas's first and then later cisco/sciatl?
Actually I'm Motorola based (Comcast of Burlington County). Comcast here went mostly digital about a year or two ago (and gained about 80 HD channels and faster Internet (16/2 base) at the time), but the approximately 26 limited basic channels were still analog. Those channels were switched to digital last month, freeing up more room for even more HD channels. That's the final stage in "Project Cavalry".
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:08 PM   #25
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Actually I'm Motorola based (Comcast of Burlington County). Comcast here went mostly digital about a year or two ago (and gained about 80 HD channels and faster Internet (16/2 base) at the time), but the approximately 26 limited basic channels were still analog. Those channels were switched to digital last month, freeing up more room for even more HD channels. That's the final stage in "Project Cavalry".
Comcast of Gloucester County also seems to be following the same schedule as Burlington (we also have moto boxes, went mostly digital last year, then all digital in the last few weeks).
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:40 PM   #26
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If comcast makes available an on-demand title for $5 and streams it to your box using 10GB of data that does not count against your monthly limit. But Netflix sends you the same title using 10GB that does count. That is not in complaince with net neutrality and until bandwidth limits are dropped or the cable operators include thier own programming against the limits, its going to get tied up in courts for some time.
I don't see it that way. The content is being streamed across their internal network, not the Internet. They have to pay their upstream providers for bandwidth for you to stream netflix, they don't have to pay anyone for them to deliver content over their own network.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #27
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If anything SDV is the band-aid solution. Comcast took the right path when they switched from Analog to 100% Digital, SDV is crap.

H.264 + 100% Digital lineup is what is in the best interest of everyone. SDV is not.
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