Comcast digital upgrade

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Comcast digital upgrade

Postby backpacker » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:56 pm

I don't know how many of you guys have done this yet but supposedly all comcast basic cable customers have to install these boxes on their TV's or they'll lose channels starting November 3rd (here in my town anyway don't know if there is a different time table elsewhere). Anyway, my grandparents got a letter telling them they need to get the boxes for their tvs. They got them yesterday and I installed them for them. The smaller box worked fine when I called to activate. But the larger box on the main tv was suppose to take one hour to download information to it. Well we tried twice activating it last night, I was there until 9:30 and it didn't work. Again we tried this morning and nothing, so now they want me to disconnect the VCR and run the coax directly to the TV and call another time. They are going to have big time problems if everyone is going to have to do this. I was wondering if anyone else has been notified of this or has completed this successfully. It seems like a waste and just one more piece of unneccessary equipment. It doesn't effect me as I only have limited basic which is basically channels 2-20 (local stuff and national networks like TBS/WGN). Although my one digital TV set gets all the channels at no charge (shhh! :) ) so I'm hoping I don't lose those but it sounds like from what my grandparents letter says that I will be. :(
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby furface » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:31 pm

Scott:

I've got Time-Warner here, but... Got family all ,over and many of them have had problems with digital upgrades, mostly due to equipment problems. The various vendors don't like to admit their equipment might not be up to snuff. That said, this sounds like there is a problem with the box they provided, especially if the VCR was/is functioning normally. Your grans may have to swap out the converter box and try again.

If that doesn't work, I see a service tech visit in their future. :(
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby butch » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:36 pm

Since, by law, all TV channels must now be in digital format yet most TV sets are still analogue, it's a very big problem to overcome. I expect it will all be worked out fairly quickly.

Back in the late 1980's when this was first being discussed, the government wanted the change-over to be complete by 2006 and the various networks, TV manufacturers, and cable companies said it was impossible to do by that date. But digital has arrived and it will all be normal now. The old fashioned cathode ray tubes have vanished from most stores and all new sets won't even recognize those old signals... the analogue ones.

I say hang in there and all will be working soon enough. You'd have to be a techie to realize what an immense problem this is... having 2 different kinds of signal in existence and trying to make 2 different kinds of TV sets work from a common signal... which is now digital. And the government wants it all to be high definition as quickly as possible, so not only is there 2 different types of signals, many stations want to broadcast in High Definition too. So they are taking advantage of all the new channels suddenly available and you can have a black box to receive the high definition signal... and if you have a high definition TV you will get the spectacular images that can give. Then, on top of that, the government wants all TV sets to convert to the newest of the new... 16X9 format screens. So, in 10 years, all TV sets sold will be 16X9 format high definition. Young people in the near future are going to have quite spectacular TV sets.

If you wonder why this is happening, the old-fashioned way of sending a TV signal requires a lot of bandwidth (a range of frequencies). With digital, as many as 6 signals can be sent over the same bandwidth, and with compression and other new techniques, that can be expanded a hundred fold.

So, the next thing you can expect to happen is the digital conversion of RADIO. I haven't heard of a time table for that but the current method is a real waste of bandwidth. All FM stations are in the frequencies between the old channel 6 and channel 7. I expect that, in the future, AM radio will vanish completely... forever. It's not a very good transmission method by modern standards and that it will be possible to put all stations in the same bandwidth as the old FM bandwidth.

To help you visualize the difference between digital and analogue... it took a Sherman Tank to deliver the old signal. The new signal can arrive on a motor scooter.

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby DeckApe » Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:00 pm

I'm going to argue that AM won't go anywhere for a while yet. Its main redeeming quality is that a high-powered signal is possible and can transmit over great distances (I'm about equidistant betwixt Seattle and Vancouver, and pick up the ol' KGO-AM, 810kc (er, kHz) out of San Francisco regularly). This is useful in the event of an emergency, and great for talk radio where sound quality isn't a big deal. Plus, millions of cars to convert... :lol:

(Besides, then what will I do with my beloved 1940 Philco? :( )
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby butch » Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:08 pm

I expect that the emergency frequencies (most automatic ones are already digital) and the 60k htz time signal from the atomic clocks in Colorado (which is semi-digital to begin with... a beep-beep type of signal) will remain longer... but the reason you give... strong signal on a single frequency are the reasons to change to digital. If you think about it, a satellite radio signal is about 1/1000 the strength of your average AM radio frequency. It is a single frequency signal that is an off/on (morse code style signal). An AM signal is amplitude modulated and can fade in and out. If the exact same frequency is used but with a digital (off/on) signal, it matters not that it fades in and out. And AFC (automatic frequency control) ensures that drift from the main frequency matters not either. A digital signal sent on a standard AM frequency should have a distance range of 2-10 times the AM signal. AM signals in digital form are able to be sent across the Atlantic by bouncing them off the ionosphere (which you can do with AM signals) but it would not have the annoying fading.
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby DeckApe » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:09 am

I guess my counter-question then would be how inexpensive and low-power are the receivers?

Also interesting to note on an unrelated line of thought that in the Great Y2K Scare, one rather large AM station in... either Chicago or Detroit wasn't entirely sure if their gear was Y2K compliant, so they took a rather extreme reaction.

They overhauled all their vacuum tube gear at the transmitter, fired it up, and went into the 21st century on a 70-plus-year-old transmitter. :D
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby butch » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:55 pm

That's pretty funny... the Chicago station's reaction. Sounds like they were worried that the power grid would fail and the old transmitter could be run off a small gas generator while the large transmitter would have sucked up gobs of power... kind of like the difference between feeding an elephant and a mouse. The old transmitter likely wasn't too powerful but would, at least, have remained on the air.

Digital can run on almost no power at all... think digital watches. Only the processor uses much juice. It's the sound amplifier in a radio that sucks up electrons but there have been some extreme breakthroughs in speaker design in the past few years. A recently revealed speaker design is so efficient the speaker can be embedded in, or actually is, cloth. In theory your clothing could be a speaker. Also, you should start seeing video screens which are flexible and no thicker than cloth arriving on the market very shortly. Your clothing could be a screen.

There is no standard yet for voltage of equipment and each manufacturer is different. That said, the basic breakdown is 6 or 9 volts for much equipment and I foresee housing currents running on 24 volts in the very near future. It is more efficient than 12 volts but 12 volts could well become the standard because most cars and boats run on 12 volts. Stoves would work better on 24 volts.

Micro processors are dirt cheap to manufacture once the original circuit board has been designed and iPod stuff is already setting the standard for music, so I expect radio will go the MP3 route for coding since it's already established and standards have already been agreed upon for quite a few years now. Major players such as Sony and Nokia have already allowed some of their patents to be shared with other companies.

So, my expectation is radio will go with MP3 coding since it's so well established already. It's not actually as good as old fashioned analogue sound but most people like it better because the sound can be "sweetened" by improving the quality of frequencies people seem to like to hear. Most people seem to like MP3 sound better than what is technically better analogue sound. MP3 sound is not "real" to life sound but it's a bit like putting honey and milk in your coffee. It isn't coffee but you like it better.

Apple seems to have the lead on the future of digital sound and I expect they will keep that lead for many years to come.

I suppose that means you should invest in Apple.

:D :D :D :D
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Re: Comcast digital upgrade

Postby FRE » Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:55 pm

I got rid of Comcast Internet, cable TV, and telephone service.

For a few months prior to late September, the service was down too often. Then, in late September, when I returned from a 5,500 motorcycle trip, the service was down as much as it was up. After about 10 days of that, and after repeatedly calling them, I had my Internet and telephone service switched to Qwest and changed to a roof-top antenna for TV. All that cost me > $400 by the time I had my security system changed for compatibility with Qwest. Now Comcast is dunning me to pay them what I do not owe them. Their collections dept. 'phoned me, even though I had sent them a letter 2 weeks before, which they claim not to have received.

I suspect that I'll end up taking Comcast to court. And to think that I have a few shares of Comcast!

Qwest has a mediocre rating with the Better Business Bureau.
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