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Old 07-30-2014, 05:55 PM   #1
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TiVo Crafts ‘Embedded’ Switched Digital Video Tech

This is the first time I head about this, and some "know-it-all" on this forum made the statement that it could not be done. I for one will be the first in line if/when TiVo release a retail box.

http://www.multichannel.com/news/tec...eo-tech/376007
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:18 PM   #2
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As I understand it, the problem was always cable company resistance, not technical difficulty.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:19 PM   #3
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Sounds like this uses the internet just like Comcast VOD. Unfortunately most cable companies actively try to deter CableCARD use so I doubt many of them will be rushing to add this functionality to their headend.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:20 PM   #4
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As I understand it, the problem was always cable company resistance, not technical difficulty.
Exactly!
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:53 PM   #5
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As I understand it, the problem was always cable company resistance, not technical difficulty.
From the article: "TiVo’s technical team is already holding discussion with operators about a way to support SDV without a Tuning Adapter."

I think the "cable companies" are starting to realize that they need to compete with someone or they will be declare a "common carrier" and not just for internet, but for everything.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
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From the article: "TiVo’s technical team is already holding discussion with operators about a way to support SDV without a Tuning Adapter."

I think the "cable companies" are starting to realize that they need to compete with someone or they will be declare a "common carrier" and not just for internet, but for everything.
I would imagine these "discussions" are with MSOs that already use TiVos. I'm not sure other cable operators are really their priorities for this initially. I hope I am wrong and this will work for the stand alone market but I am not holding my breath.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:22 PM   #7
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Margret talked about it in the summer release thread.
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Old 07-31-2014, 05:11 AM   #8
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I think the "cable companies" are starting to realize that they need to compete with someone or they will be declare a "common carrier" and not just for internet, but for everything.
God, I wish.
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:14 AM   #9
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I would imagine these "discussions" are with MSOs that already use TiVos. I'm not sure other cable operators are really their priorities for this initially. I hope I am wrong and this will work for the stand alone market but I am not holding my breath.
Yeah, you're probably right. TWC goes out of it's way to be extremely hostile to TiVo users, and they are the big SDV user, so unless the Comcast-TWC merger goes through, they're not going to do anything about it.

If the merger does go through, then it remains to be seen if Comcast "Comcast-izes" the TWC systems and gets rid of SDV, or puts SDV on it's own systems or what. Comcast would be the only MSO that would actually do this, except that they don't use SDV.

The real answer is MPEG-4. An 860mhz plant can do 200 HDs and 300mbps internet if they use MPEG-4 for all the HDs.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:55 AM   #10
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Yeah, you're probably right. TWC goes out of it's way to be extremely hostile to TiVo users, and they are the big SDV user, so unless the Comcast-TWC merger goes through, they're not going to do anything about it.

If the merger does go through, then it remains to be seen if Comcast "Comcast-izes" the TWC systems and gets rid of SDV, or puts SDV on it's own systems or what. Comcast would be the only MSO that would actually do this, except that they don't use SDV.

The real answer is MPEG-4. An 860mhz plant can do 200 HDs and 300mbps internet if they use MPEG-4 for all the HDs.
That's it? Really? Only 200 HD channels with switch to H.264?
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:04 PM   #11
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I think it's a lot more than 200.
860 Mhz / 6 Mhz per QAM 256 = 143 QAM 256 channels.
Each QAM can support total bit rate up to 38 Mbps. So let's assuming you are very generous and limit each QAM to 3 HD channels (12.67 Mbps each which is generous for H.264 encodings) then you can fit 143*3 = 429 HD channels. Of course you don't use full bandwidth for TV channels since there will be a lot of bandwidth dedicated to cable modem and other uses, but still back of napkin calculations give you an idea. Realistically, the cable companies would probably try to squeeze in 5 to 6 HD channels per QAM when using H.264 encoding - many already squeeze in 3 or more HD channels per QAM using mpeg2 encoding.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:39 PM   #12
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Yeah, you're probably right. TWC goes out of it's way to be extremely hostile to TiVo users, and they are the big SDV user, so unless the Comcast-TWC merger goes through, they're not going to do anything about it.

If the merger does go through, then it remains to be seen if Comcast "Comcast-izes" the TWC systems and gets rid of SDV, or puts SDV on it's own systems or what. Comcast would be the only MSO that would actually do this, except that they don't use SDV.

The real answer is MPEG-4. An 860mhz plant can do 200 HDs and 300mbps internet if they use MPEG-4 for all the HDs.
The main reason that TWC uses so much SDV is that they are still sending through analog channels in many markets. I still get about 60 analog channels coming through on my TWC system. If the Comcast merger does go through, Comcast will force TWC to phase out analog signals and that will free up a lot of bandwidth.

Eventually, cable systems will also stop sending through both SD and HD digital signals for the exact same channel, which will also free up some more bandwidth. Any new cable boxes capable of decoding MPEG-4 should also be able to down-convert HD signals to SD signals as needed.
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:40 PM   #13
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That's it? Really? Only 200 HD channels with switch to H.264?
I don't think that there are more than about 200 HD channels in the first place. But I'll go through the exercise below anyways.

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I think it's a lot more than 200.
860 Mhz / 6 Mhz per QAM 256 = 143 QAM 256 channels.
Each QAM can support total bit rate up to 38 Mbps. So let's assuming you are very generous and limit each QAM to 3 HD channels (12.67 Mbps each which is generous for H.264 encodings) then you can fit 143*3 = 429 HD channels. Of course you don't use full bandwidth for TV channels since there will be a lot of bandwidth dedicated to cable modem and other uses, but still back of napkin calculations give you an idea. Realistically, the cable companies would probably try to squeeze in 5 to 6 HD channels per QAM when using H.264 encoding - many already squeeze in 3 or more HD channels per QAM using mpeg2 encoding.
That's pretty far off base. Let's start with a best-case scenario, Verizon FIOS, which has NO internet, NO phone, and NO VOD, and has an ~860mhz system. The downstream starts at ~50mhz, so that's 810mhz or 135 channels. They have something like 400 SDs and upwards of 200 HDs, and their system is absolutely, completely, jam packed full. Even if they're aggressive with the SDs running 10 per QAM, that's 40 QAMs. It's probably more like 50 QAMs, and I think they may actually have more than 400 SD channels. Now there's 95 QAMs left in a best case scenario. It's probably more like 85, which with a little bit of MPEG-4, and the rest MPEG-2 with some lesser-watched channels tri-muxed works out to close to 200 HDs on FIOS.

Now let's look at cable. Comcast runs around 130 HD's, mostly tri-muxed or bi-muxed with an SD or two on the QAM, plus around 300-350 SD's, internet, VOD, phone, and home security on an 860mhz system, although they aren't maxed out yet on those systems. On their totally maxed out 650mhz systems, they are running around 90 HDs, probably 250-300 SDs, and all the rest. You add two more QAMs for internet, 50 SD channels using 5 QAMs and around 14 QAMs for the additional HDs, and that's 21 QAMs, or 126mhz above a 650mhz system, or an approximately 770mhz that they are running on the 860mhz systems, leaving around 70-80mhz free.

So, back to my original post, which promised "200 HDs and 300mbps internet". Let's do the internet first. Comcast is currently running 8 QAMs on 860mhz systems, so they would need 8 more to do 300mbps internet like TWC is doing (16 downstream channels). So starting off with 78mhz free, we now have 30mhz free. Assuming that we do nothing to the SDs, let's move to MPEG-4 with 5 HD's per QAM. That 130 channels currently using say, 50 QAMs/300mhz is now crushed down to, say, 28 QAMs/168mhz, freeing up 22 QAMs/132mhz. In both I'm assuming a few channels don't get as squished as standard, as is the norm for Comcast now for a select few channels like ESPN and HBO. It's also not that clean, since they mix HDs and SDs, but the math still basically works.

Now, we have 30+132=162mhz or 27 QAM's free. That's 135 MPEG-4 HDs in addition to the 130 already there. So yes, you could probably push it to about 250-270 HDs before you are completely out of room on an 860mhz systems, assuming you are willing to go right to the top of the system.

If I were Comcast, I would do some additional pruning to free up space. I would preserve what the DTAs get as MPEG-2 SD, but take all other SD channels, and just get rid of the ones that are also broadcast in HD, and convert the remaining ones over to MPEG-4. This would require a little bit of additional hardware, but not much, as very few people subscribe to more than Digital Starter/Expanded Basic but don't have HD. That could potentially free up a little bit of additional space, although not a whole lot, something on the order of magnitude of 30-50mhz.

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The main reason that TWC uses so much SDV is that they are still sending through analog channels in many markets. I still get about 60 analog channels coming through on my TWC system. If the Comcast merger does go through, Comcast will force TWC to phase out analog signals and that will free up a lot of bandwidth.

Eventually, cable systems will also stop sending through both SD and HD digital signals for the exact same channel, which will also free up some more bandwidth. Any new cable boxes capable of decoding MPEG-4 should also be able to down-convert HD signals to SD signals as needed.
Many of their markets, like NYC are all-digital and still require SDV. They have an epic crapload of HD channels and are still using MPEG-2.

That's going to be a LONG time for the Expanded Basic/Digital Starter channels, but will happen sooner for higher tier SD channels.
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:43 PM   #14
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U-Verse has just north of 200 HD "channels", so with the right system management (MPEG-4) and upgrades (860mhz), Comcast should be able to match their HD offering while blowing their internet totally out of the water, and offering as many tuners as people will pay for.
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:06 PM   #15
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Many of their markets, like NYC are all-digital and still require SDV. They have an epic crapload of HD channels and are still using MPEG-2.
I understand that, but in my market where the analog channels are still taking up a ton of space, even very popular HD channels are on SDV, which means if my tuning adapter fails I am pretty screwed. Getting rid of the analog channels should at least allow them to have the 50 or so most commonly viewed HD channels as non-SDV channels. I am not against using SDV for the more niche HD channels that have limited appeal, that actually makes some sense, but having AMC HD or TNT HD or FX HD being SDV is very aggravating.
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:09 PM   #16
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I understand that, but in my market where the analog channels are still taking up a ton of space, even very popular HD channels are on SDV, which means if my tuning adapter fails I am pretty screwed. Getting rid of the analog channels should at least allow them to have the 50 or so most commonly viewed HD channels as non-SDV channels. I am not against using SDV for the more niche HD channels that have limited appeal, that actually makes some sense, but having AMC HD or TNT HD or FX HD being SDV is very aggravating.
Even with a 1GHz network, my Cox market has all my favorite channels on SDV, while still supporting analog. Cox made the community a promise that analog cable would continue to work, after the OTA digital transition. I think they fear a major backlash if they cut analog service, after the media blitz campaign with that promise...

Still, once again, they are doubling our internet speeds, as they promise every year "for free". In 6-8 months, the bill will reflect the speed doubling, in the name of "due to increased operational costs, tariffs, and taxes...".

They get away with murder. I love the "Free HD", that we have to pay extra to get. Yet, they keep analog around... I guess they must have enough "low income" subscribers, who they figure they'll lose if those subscribers can't just connect and get channels 3-69, with some gaps in-between...
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:31 PM   #17
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U-Verse has just north of 200 HD "channels", so with the right system management (MPEG-4) and upgrades (860mhz), Comcast should be able to match their HD offering while blowing their internet totally out of the water, and offering as many tuners as people will pay for.
U-verse is pure IP. They only send a channel to your house when it's requested by one of your boxes. So the number of channels they actually offer is irrelevant. They could potentially offer every channel in existence if they wanted to. However they only have about 25-30Mbps total to use for both TV and internet, so the maximum number of simultaneous streams is limited to just 4 and that's with them using super compressed 5-6Mbps H.264 for the HD channels.

Typically H.264 only reduces video by about 30-40% compared to MPEG-2, so if we have 100 HD channels now converting to H.264 would only add the capacity for 40-50 more HD channels. To go beyond that they need SDV. SDV is essentially the same thing that U-verse does just at the node level instead of the individual home. If properly managed SDV can add a LOT more channels then a switch to H.264. Plus SDV is compatible with most existing equipment, whereas a switch to H.264 would require a major upgrade at the headend and the replacement of a large number of boxes in the field.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:35 PM   #18
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I don't see SDV going away. Here in Orange County Cox upgraded to 1 GHz quite a long time ago now and still heavily employ SDV. The 860 Mhz-1GHz space they are currently partially using for H.264 channels since the newer set top boxes needed for 1 GHz tuning can decode H.264 anyway. Of course they still have all the analog channels as well, so can reclaim a lot of bandwidth eventually just by doing away with those. Even if they got rid of all analog channels and all H.264 I fully expect SDV to remain. They've already made the investment in SDV (including increasing number of nodes to make SDV more efficient) so doesn't make much sense to get rid of it at this point.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:54 PM   #19
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I don't see SDV going away. Here in Orange County Cox upgraded to 1 GHz quite a long time ago now and still heavily employ SDV. The 860 Mhz-1GHz space they are currently partially using for H.264 channels since the newer set top boxes needed for 1 GHz tuning can decode H.264 anyway. Of course they still have all the analog channels as well, so can reclaim a lot of bandwidth eventually just by doing away with those. Even if they got rid of all analog channels and all H.264 I fully expect SDV to remain. They've already made the investment in SDV (including increasing number of nodes to make SDV more efficient) so doesn't make much sense to get rid of it at this point.
Cox Omaha already upgraded to 1GHz and just list past year might have been end of 2013 started using sdv So I guess with Cox at least SDV will be everywhere even in 1GHz areas.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:59 PM   #20
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This is the first time I head about this, and some "know-it-all" on this forum made the statement that it could not be done. I for one will be the first in line if/when TiVo release a retail box.

http://www.multichannel.com/news/tec...eo-tech/376007
I posted the story link on Cox Communication's facebook page, so they know of it at least.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:06 PM   #21
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I understand that, but in my market where the analog channels are still taking up a ton of space, even very popular HD channels are on SDV, which means if my tuning adapter fails I am pretty screwed. Getting rid of the analog channels should at least allow them to have the 50 or so most commonly viewed HD channels as non-SDV channels. I am not against using SDV for the more niche HD channels that have limited appeal, that actually makes some sense, but having AMC HD or TNT HD or FX HD being SDV is very aggravating.
True, some markets haven't been upgraded. There is no good reason to use SDV at all given the number of channels, bandwidth demands, and the capacity of modern HFC systems. When you can run 200 HD's and 300mbps without SDV, why use SDV? It's just a kludgy crutch to avoid investing in the systems and/or equipment.

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Even with a 1GHz network, my Cox market has all my favorite channels on SDV, while still supporting analog. Cox made the community a promise that analog cable would continue to work, after the OTA digital transition. I think they fear a major backlash if they cut analog service, after the media blitz campaign with that promise...

Still, once again, they are doubling our internet speeds, as they promise every year "for free". In 6-8 months, the bill will reflect the speed doubling, in the name of "due to increased operational costs, tariffs, and taxes...".

They get away with murder. I love the "Free HD", that we have to pay extra to get. Yet, they keep analog around... I guess they must have enough "low income" subscribers, who they figure they'll lose if those subscribers can't just connect and get channels 3-69, with some gaps in-between...
Yeah, Cox is pretty screwed up. 1ghz is great future-proofing, but there's no need to use anything above 860mhz for the forseeable future. What a boneheaded move to keep analog, Comcast finally got rid of it, years later than they should have, but they did. Analog is just a pure waste. They could just give out permanently free DTAs unlike Comcast did to support analog TVs.

The other big reason to go to digital is cable theft. They are still susceptible to cable theft unlike Comcast, which is locked down hard. I wish Comcast had kept basic in the clear for troubleshooting, but oh well.

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U-verse is pure IP. They only send a channel to your house when it's requested by one of your boxes. So the number of channels they actually offer is irrelevant. They could potentially offer every channel in existence if they wanted to. However they only have about 25-30Mbps total to use for both TV and internet, so the maximum number of simultaneous streams is limited to just 4 and that's with them using super compressed 5-6Mbps H.264 for the HD channels.
I am well aware of how U-Verse works. My point is that U-Verse offers about 200 "channels", and Comcast could match that without SDV on an 860mhz system if they used MPEG-4 for HD, and still be able to offer internet that's over 6x faster than U-Verse's fastest (and not widely available) tier.

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Typically H.264 only reduces video by about 30-40% compared to MPEG-2, so if we have 100 HD channels now converting to H.264 would only add the capacity for 40-50 more HD channels. To go beyond that they need SDV. SDV is essentially the same thing that U-verse does just at the node level instead of the individual home. If properly managed SDV can add a LOT more channels then a switch to H.264. Plus SDV is compatible with most existing equipment, whereas a switch to H.264 would require a major upgrade at the headend and the replacement of a large number of boxes in the field.
No. H.264 is about half the bandwidth. The nominal "full quality" standard for MPEG-2 is 2 HDs per QAM, so it would be 4 HDs per QAM for H.264, since Comcast gets away with tri-muxing, I figure they could significantly improve their quality but still fit way more channels on with 5 HD's per QAM using H.264. Using this ratio and accounting for higher video quality, you get 5/3 as many channels.

As I have shown, there is no need for SDV when you can get 200+ HDs and 300mbps internet on an 860mhz system. SDV, unlike H.264 and plant upgrades, offers an unlimited number of channels if you size the nodes to individually serve channels up to subscribers (although you will always have a lot of re-use with popular channels), however, there aren't more than about 200 HD's out there, so building a system with unlimited capacity seems sort of silly unless you're trying to engineer your way around not upgrading older systems, like 650mhz systems, which is a really crappy way of doing things. They should go and do the physical plant upgrades that need to be done, and do it the right way.

Most boxes out there today are MPEG-4 capable. The older DCT and DCH's are not, but they are way beyond needing to be replaced anyways. DCXs and newer all support MPEG-4.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:56 PM   #22
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Yeah, Cox is pretty screwed up. 1ghz is great future-proofing, but there's no need to use anything above 860mhz for the forseeable future. What a boneheaded move to keep analog, Comcast finally got rid of it, years later than they should have, but they did. Analog is just a pure waste. They could just give out permanently free DTAs unlike Comcast did to support analog TVs.

The other big reason to go to digital is cable theft. They are still susceptible to cable theft unlike Comcast, which is locked down hard. I wish Comcast had kept basic in the clear for troubleshooting, but oh well.
They put all their H.264 channels up above 860MHz, starting at 961MHz.

Their way of stopping TV service to internet subs is a trap, which is so easy to remove, a 10yr old could figure out how to remove the trap, even with the tamper shields. If the residence has no internet service, they used to just put the same trap in. If the trap disappears, they hack the cable end off, or pull the lateral out of the tube. I used to enjoy the perks of being in my garage at 2AM, when the Cox anti-theft engineer would come borrow my tools, lend me his, let RG-11 and RG-6 spools fall off the truck, along with bags of splitters and F-connectors, etc. He's gone, and so are the days of me being better-stocked than most Cox vans... Interestingly, their way of identifying potential theft was checking for signal egress/ingress spikes on nodes (most thieves don't terminate properly), then rolling by and seeing which house was egressing, and checking to see if that house was a valid sub. I was told that they got a lot of false alarms due to people disconnecting things and leaving ports open (unterminated).

They do keep a channel 99 in the digital lineup, which is analog, and only there for testing, not any actual programming to watch on it. It shows up in my digital extended channel map (unchecked).

For the longest time, their leased boxes got digital 2-99, while cablecard got them in analog. The switch to letting cablecard users get digital programming only happened when the FCC huffed and puffed before the integration ban and mandates became effective.

I think the sheer number of "The Suites" (formerly Budget Suites), and similar roach-infested, black-mold overrun, craphole hotels here might be the biggest users of analog service. They often include a TV that is bolted down on a swivel, and TiVo has them in their channel lineups, if you use the right zip codes, or special Zip codes that don't exist, like the 00000/Tiny TiVo one I discovered by accident, while bored.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:58 PM   #23
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I posted the story link on Cox Communication's facebook page, so they know of it at least.
Cox will just remove it from their Facebook page.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:02 PM   #24
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Cox will just remove it from their Facebook page.
No, they'll have their reputation management service do it for them.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:09 PM   #25
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True, some markets haven't been upgraded. There is no good reason to use SDV at all given the number of channels, bandwidth demands, and the capacity of modern HFC systems. When you can run 200 HD's and 300mbps without SDV, why use SDV? It's just a kludgy crutch to avoid investing in the systems and/or equipment.



Yeah, Cox is pretty screwed up. 1ghz is great future-proofing, but there's no need to use anything above 860mhz for the forseeable future. What a boneheaded move to keep analog, Comcast finally got rid of it, years later than they should have, but they did. Analog is just a pure waste. They could just give out permanently free DTAs unlike Comcast did to support analog TVs.

The other big reason to go to digital is cable theft. They are still susceptible to cable theft unlike Comcast, which is locked down hard. I wish Comcast had kept basic in the clear for troubleshooting, but oh well.



I am well aware of how U-Verse works. My point is that U-Verse offers about 200 "channels", and Comcast could match that without SDV on an 860mhz system if they used MPEG-4 for HD, and still be able to offer internet that's over 6x faster than U-Verse's fastest (and not widely available) tier.



No. H.264 is about half the bandwidth. The nominal "full quality" standard for MPEG-2 is 2 HDs per QAM, so it would be 4 HDs per QAM for H.264, since Comcast gets away with tri-muxing, I figure they could significantly improve their quality but still fit way more channels on with 5 HD's per QAM using H.264. Using this ratio and accounting for higher video quality, you get 5/3 as many channels.

As I have shown, there is no need for SDV when you can get 200+ HDs and 300mbps internet on an 860mhz system. SDV, unlike H.264 and plant upgrades, offers an unlimited number of channels if you size the nodes to individually serve channels up to subscribers (although you will always have a lot of re-use with popular channels), however, there aren't more than about 200 HD's out there, so building a system with unlimited capacity seems sort of silly unless you're trying to engineer your way around not upgrading older systems, like 650mhz systems, which is a really crappy way of doing things. They should go and do the physical plant upgrades that need to be done, and do it the right way.

Most boxes out there today are MPEG-4 capable. The older DCT and DCH's are not, but they are way beyond needing to be replaced anyways. DCXs and newer all support MPEG-4.
If I remember right Cox only said Analog for 2 years after the Analog to Digital switch and Cox is already looking at DTA's http://www.multichannel.com/news/tec...digital/382904
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Old 08-07-2014, 03:10 PM   #26
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No. H.264 is about half the bandwidth. The nominal "full quality" standard for MPEG-2 is 2 HDs per QAM, so it would be 4 HDs per QAM for H.264, since Comcast gets away with tri-muxing, I figure they could significantly improve their quality but still fit way more channels on with 5 HD's per QAM using H.264. Using this ratio and accounting for higher video quality, you get 5/3 as many channels.
While the claim of H.264 is 50% compression over MPEG-2, with realtime encoding it's more like 30%. Trust me this is my area of expertise. Services like Netflix can cram 1080p/24 into 6Mbps because they use multi-pass encoding of pristine source files. Cable companies are getting already compressed streams from the networks and converting them to H.264 in realtime. The compression just isn't as efficient. If they are already using a single QAM for 3 MPEG-2 channels then it's conceivable they could cram 5 H.264 channels into one, but the quality is not going to improve. In fact it'll probably look a little worse and you'll likely have more issues with navigation and pixelation at the start of programs. H.264 is not the holy grail you seem to think it is. Most of the extra compression the spec provides comes from complex features that aren't available when doing realtime encoding.

The cable industry will still likely switch to H.264 eventually, but they will also likely continue to expand SDV and upgrade systems to 1GHz as well. H.264 is not the answer to all their problems.
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:29 PM   #27
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Their way of stopping TV service to internet subs is a trap, which is so easy to remove, a 10yr old could figure out how to remove the trap, even with the tamper shields. If the residence has no internet service, they used to just put the same trap in. If the trap disappears, they hack the cable end off, or pull the lateral out of the tube.
OTOH, Comcast, by putting everything on encrypted QAM, can cut off a customer's TV service with a click of a button in their application. Somehow the cost savings that this presumably results in never get reflected in our bills.
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:44 PM   #28
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They put all their H.264 channels up above 860MHz, starting at 961MHz.

Their way of stopping TV service to internet subs is a trap, which is so easy to remove, a 10yr old could figure out how to remove the trap, even with the tamper shields. If the residence has no internet service, they used to just put the same trap in. If the trap disappears, they hack the cable end off, or pull the lateral out of the tube. I used to enjoy the perks of being in my garage at 2AM, when the Cox anti-theft engineer would come borrow my tools, lend me his, let RG-11 and RG-6 spools fall off the truck, along with bags of splitters and F-connectors, etc. He's gone, and so are the days of me being better-stocked than most Cox vans... Interestingly, their way of identifying potential theft was checking for signal egress/ingress spikes on nodes (most thieves don't terminate properly), then rolling by and seeing which house was egressing, and checking to see if that house was a valid sub. I was told that they got a lot of false alarms due to people disconnecting things and leaving ports open (unterminated).

They do keep a channel 99 in the digital lineup, which is analog, and only there for testing, not any actual programming to watch on it. It shows up in my digital extended channel map (unchecked).

For the longest time, their leased boxes got digital 2-99, while cablecard got them in analog. The switch to letting cablecard users get digital programming only happened when the FCC huffed and puffed before the integration ban and mandates became effective.

I think the sheer number of "The Suites" (formerly Budget Suites), and similar roach-infested, black-mold overrun, craphole hotels here might be the biggest users of analog service. They often include a TV that is bolted down on a swivel, and TiVo has them in their channel lineups, if you use the right zip codes, or special Zip codes that don't exist, like the 00000/Tiny TiVo one I discovered by accident, while bored.
Yeah, that's exactly the problem, it's easy to steal. Especially if you have internet-only service. The trap system was a mess, but it's all they had for decades. Now they have something better.

Those hotels could use bulk QAM-to-NTSC demodulation systems, which are used by hotels, schools, universities, and hospitals to create local NTSC cable systems from an all-digital system without boxes in every room...

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If I remember right Cox only said Analog for 2 years after the Analog to Digital switch and Cox is already looking at DTA's http://www.multichannel.com/news/tec...digital/382904
Interesting. That would make more sense than an indefinite promise. An indefinite promise to support them for free with DTAs would be a nice thing, if that was included in their marketing...

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While the claim of H.264 is 50% compression over MPEG-2, with realtime encoding it's more like 30%. Trust me this is my area of expertise. Services like Netflix can cram 1080p/24 into 6Mbps because they use multi-pass encoding of pristine source files. Cable companies are getting already compressed streams from the networks and converting them to H.264 in realtime. The compression just isn't as efficient. If they are already using a single QAM for 3 MPEG-2 channels then it's conceivable they could cram 5 H.264 channels into one, but the quality is not going to improve. In fact it'll probably look a little worse and you'll likely have more issues with navigation and pixelation at the start of programs. H.264 is not the holy grail you seem to think it is. Most of the extra compression the spec provides comes from complex features that aren't available when doing realtime encoding.

The cable industry will still likely switch to H.264 eventually, but they will also likely continue to expand SDV and upgrade systems to 1GHz as well. H.264 is not the answer to all their problems.
Then explain how U-Verse, with slightly worse picture quality than Comcast is around 6mbps, and Comcast is around 12mbps? DirecTV is a bit higher than 6mbps, but they have much better PQ. Their 8-9mbps is on par with the channels that aren't tri-muxed on FIOS, and are running at 16-18mbps...

An average of 7.6mbps with 5 channels to statistically multiplex sounds pretty reasonable, and a huge quality jump over U-Verse's ~6mbps, and probably a significant jump over today's ~11-12mbps MPEG-2 channels.

Comcast has many systems stuck at 650mhz, so I'm not sure when they are going to upgrade. Last I heard, they had no more plans to upgrade anything. The systems that got upgrades got them, and the ones that didn't... well, they didn't.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:38 PM   #29
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Then explain how U-Verse, with slightly worse picture quality than Comcast is around 6mbps, and Comcast is around 12mbps? DirecTV is a bit higher than 6mbps, but they have much better PQ. Their 8-9mbps is on par with the channels that aren't tri-muxed on FIOS, and are running at 16-18mbps...

An average of 7.6mbps with 5 channels to statistically multiplex sounds pretty reasonable, and a huge quality jump over U-Verse's ~6mbps, and probably a significant jump over today's ~11-12mbps MPEG-2 channels.

Comcast has many systems stuck at 650mhz, so I'm not sure when they are going to upgrade. Last I heard, they had no more plans to upgrade anything. The systems that got upgrades got them, and the ones that didn't... well, they didn't.
6Mbps is too low for realtime encoding and the U-verse picture quality suffers greatly because of it. Just look at their forums and you'll see a ton of complaints about picture quality. Ideally a realtime encoded 1080i H.264 stream should be 8-10Mbps and a realtime encoded MPEG-2 stream should be 14-19Mbps. These companies that are using 6-7Mbps for H.264 and 10-12Mbps for MPEG-2 are sacrificing quality in the name of cramming more channels into the pipe. Switching to H.264 is not going to improve picture quality on those systems at all, in fact it'll likely make it worse because an over compressed H.264 stream has different issues then MPEG-2. With MPEG-2 the most common artifact is a sudden burst of macroblocks when there is fast movement. (or water, confetti, etc...) With H.264 the problems tend to lean more toward smearing and softening of the picture, or an issue where the picture appears to get blurry over time and then suddenly snaps back into focus every 15-30 seconds when a new I frame comes along. You'll also notice jerkiness during pans as well as irregular macroblocking with fast motion.

Like it or not SDV is the cheapest solution for those system stuck with limited bandwidth. It's based on existing VOD architecture so it's relatively fast and easy to deploy. Whereas H.264 requires major upgrades to the encoders on the backend (costing tens of thousands each) as well as replacement of a large percentage of the equipment deployed in the field. SDV is just a better option, from the operators perspective, then switching to H.264.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:54 PM   #30
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6Mbps is too low for realtime encoding and the U-verse picture quality suffers greatly because of it. Just look at their forums and you'll see a ton of complaints about picture quality. Ideally a realtime encoded 1080i H.264 stream should be 8-10Mbps and a realtime encoded MPEG-2 stream should be 14-19Mbps. These companies that are using 6-7Mbps for H.264 and 10-12Mbps for MPEG-2 are sacrificing quality in the name of cramming more channels into the pipe. Switching to H.264 is not going to improve picture quality on those systems at all, in fact it'll likely make it worse because an over compressed H.264 stream has different issues then MPEG-2. With MPEG-2 the most common artifact is a sudden burst of macroblocks when there is fast movement. (or water, confetti, etc...) With H.264 the problems tend to lean more toward smearing and softening of the picture, or an issue where the picture appears to get blurry over time and then suddenly snaps back into focus every 15-30 seconds when a new I frame comes along. You'll also notice jerkiness during pans as well as irregular macroblocking with fast motion.

Like it or not SDV is the cheapest solution for those system stuck with limited bandwidth. It's based on existing VOD architecture so it's relatively fast and easy to deploy. Whereas H.264 requires major upgrades to the encoders on the backend (costing tens of thousands each) as well as replacement of a large percentage of the equipment deployed in the field. SDV is just a better option, from the operators perspective, then switching to H.264.
Yes, 6mbps is too low, but you'd get great results out of a 7.6mbps average statistical multiplex. Small changes in bandwidth cause large variations in quality.

SDV is a terrible kludge, at least the way it is implemented now. Once they are running 1ghz plants that have all-MPEG-4, and they're maxed out, and need more room for UHD, then they might have an argument. But until then, they shouldn't need SDV. SDV should be the last thing on the table, not the first. Upgrade systems, kill analog, switch to MPEG-4, and then and ONLY then get out SDV.
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