QAM and HD using BASIC analog package

M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
I'm way confused about this whole QAM and HD issue. I get basic SD Comcast Cable. The coax goes straight into the TV. Have not yet received their new digital adapter box w/remote. It's in the mail. They are switching to all digital, but I guess it hasn't happened yet because I still get analog normally.

Now, I'm hearing that when you channel scan on CABLE (I have a Vizio LCD with a QAM tuner in addition to NTSC and ATSC) you're supposed to (secretly, wink wink, nudge nudge) get IN ADDITION TO the Comcast-listed 20 or so channels a bunch of local HD channels as well, possibly in the 200+ range.

I don't see them, am I missing a step or something here? Does the QAM tuner scan automatically as part of the standard CABLE channel scan process?

I understand Comcast denies this is possible, and it's also possible Comcast here in New Bedford, MA SCRAMBLES all the local HD signals. Who knows. Can anybody straighten me out here?
 
M

Maruuk

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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
UPDATE: Ah, I get it--the QAM IS the cable tuner. Ok, so when Comcast goes "all digital" will this theoretical huge advantage of the QAM tuner picking up the free HD channels (on weird locations like 27.1) disappear? Doesn't Comcast plan to keep analog locals going for BASIC service til 2012 or so?

BTW, what's "clear" QAM as opposed to just regular old QAM? Is that just an old term that got dropped? My tuner just says plain QAM.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
0
Burlington, MA
I'm way confused about this whole QAM and HD issue. I get basic SD Comcast Cable. The coax goes straight into the TV. Have not yet received their new digital adapter box w/remote. It's in the mail. They are switching to all digital, but I guess it hasn't happened yet because I still get analog normally.

Now, I'm hearing that when you channel scan on CABLE (I have a Vizio LCD with a QAM tuner in addition to NTSC and ATSC) you're supposed to (secretly, wink wink, nudge nudge) get IN ADDITION TO the Comcast-listed 20 or so channels a bunch of local HD channels as well, possibly in the 200+ range.

I don't see them, am I missing a step or something here? Does the QAM tuner scan automatically as part of the standard CABLE channel scan process?
Okay, a few notes to start off with.

First, for a period of time before and just after the transition your area is about to go through, things aren't quite as locked-down as they're supposed to be, so you can gain access to things, during that period, that you wouldn't normally have access to, and won't have access to long-term.

Second, although it is possible that that included some of the digital (SD) channels that Comcast puts in the 200-range of their virtual channel line-up, that is typically not the case. The specific channels that Comcast typically puts in the 200-range are ones that have typically been encrypted from the time they were introduced, and there has never been an occasion to make them available unencrypted, so no need to even temporarily make them available in-the-clear. Beyond that, do be aware that when we talk about the 200-range, we're talking about virtual channel numbers, so if you're scanning for them, they will not physically be Channel 200-something... physical channels don't go up that high. Instead, the physical channel will be within the normal set of channels numbers (2-125 or 2-158 perhaps), with 8-10 of those digital (SD) channels sharing a single channel. There is a mapping between physical channel allocations and virtual channel assignments, but your Vizio is not capable of accessing that information, since it doesn't have a CableCARD slot.

Third, there are channels that will be available to be found via your QAM tuner in your HDTV. Some of them will only be available until the transition to digital is complete, but others -- specifically your local, over-the-air broadcast channels -- will be available permanently. However, note that your HDTV will find them via the scan at the physical channel they're on right now -- those physical channel allocations change occasionally, so you'll need to rescan occasionally, basically whenever you try to tune in a channel that was there yesterday, but isn't there today.

I understand Comcast denies this is possible
Rather, Comcast doesn't provide customer support for clear QAM. It is your obligation to know what Comcast is required to provide (i.e., the local, over-the-air broadcast channels), to learn through your own efforts what they provide over-and-above what is required, and to support yourself with regard to finding and making use of what is available to you via clear QAM. Customer support for use of clear QAM is not part of the service you're paying for, whatsoever.

and it's also possible Comcast here in New Bedford, MA SCRAMBLES all the local HD signals.
They don't, AFIAK. It is possible that for some levels of service, there is band-pass filter on the line that is interfering with reception of the frequencies that carry local HD signals, though (but if you're getting those channels via a STB, then even that is not the case).

UPDATE: Ah, I get it--the QAM IS the cable tuner. Ok, so when Comcast goes "all digital" will this theoretical huge advantage of the QAM tuner picking up the free HD channels (on weird locations like 27.1) disappear?
There is a very clear move, across the entire industry, to lock down whatever folks are supposed to be paying extra for, because so many customers don't have any shame about taking whatever isn't locked down, whether they're paying for it or not. We all pay the price for that.

Doesn't Comcast plan to keep analog locals going for BASIC service til 2012 or so?
They've committed to do so across most of their service area, but there may be isolated pockets where that won't be the case.

BTW, what's "clear" QAM as opposed to just regular old QAM? Is that just an old term that got dropped? My tuner just says plain QAM.
QAM is the manner in which the signals are transmitted. Clear QAM simply means that the signals aren't encrypted.
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
Member
Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
Thanks, Bicker, very helpful! I read somewhere that Comcast by FCC/law has to provide all the major channels that are locally broadcast, including HD even in the basic package, but they just don't tell you about it or support them.

Yeah, I know precisely what the Basic package offers. I lost a couple of those stations during this crazy "transition" which I'll supposedly gain back when they get me the digital adapter box. Now it seems I've read that when you hook up the digital adapter rig, you'll lose any shot at the HD locals since you can only get them with the coax straight into your set--is that true?
 
M

Maruuk

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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
Also when you think about it, since cable providers have to provide the basic service of local channels+ to citizens at a low cost as the price of their monopolies, and most net-affiliated locals are HD-only, cable providers should be forced by law to provide all locals who broadcast in HD...IN HD! Otherwise they would be intentionally degrading the signal well below community standards for the sole purpose of punishing the basic cable consumers in order to force them to upgrade to much more expensive packages. Not the intention of the mandate at all.

In other words, they are not living up to the obligations of their charter by providing the actual signals many of the locals are putting out: HD.

So when these crooked scumbags finally cease to crush the signal in a punitive manner in 2012, theoretically they'll finally have to do what they should have been doing all along: provide HD as part of the basic package for around $10.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting they don't have the right to offer SD packages at a lower rate than HD. That's their right as a business. Just that if they are forced by law to offer local channels/basic service to the indigent in exchange for the billion-dollar regional monopolies granted to them, then they damned well should not have the right to artificially degrade those local channels down to SD out of pure spite. They must be legally obligated to pass through the original signals, including all those in HD.

But of course, Comcast has paid off the pols to shut up and screw the poor. Same as it ever was.
 
Last edited:
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
0
Burlington, MA
Also when you think about it, since cable providers have to provide the basic service of local channels+ to citizens at a low cost as the price of their monopolies
Let me stop you there. Cable companies are not monopolies. While the extent of competition available in each market varies, there isn't a single market within which any company has a monopoly on subscription television service. None.

It is not necessary for a company to be a monopoly for our government to impose rate regulation on that company. We have a bunch of companies that sell telephone service here, and yet those tariffs are all regulated.

and most net-affiliated locals are HD-only, cable providers should be forced by law to provide all locals who broadcast in HD...IN HD!
So I suppose it is convenient that they are indeed forced by law to provide all locals in HD, and that they do provide all locals in HD.

Otherwise they would be intentionally degrading the signal well below community standards for the sole purpose of punishing the basic cable consumers in order to force them to upgrade to much more expensive packages.
Be careful: There is no such thing as "community standards". The relevant threshold is the FCC definition of material degradation. That is effectively the standards to be applied (and no other), even if you, or your town, disagree with it.

Not the intention of the mandate at all.
Also, be careful projecting the intention of the mandate. You might want to think that the intention of the mandate is to give viewers the high quality video that they want. Nope! The intention of the mandate is to give broadcasters the right to assert their right to have their signal presented to viewers with quality.

In other words, they are not living up to the obligations of their charter by providing the actual signals many of the locals are putting out: HD.
Except they are living up to their obligations. You simply have to find the signals yourself (and the law supports this obligation placed on you) and work with them, in the form of a support call, if a band-pass filter is interfering with your reception, just like if you had a bad connector on the pole interfering with your reception.

So when these crooked scumbags finally cease to crush the signal in a punitive manner in 2012, theoretically they'll finally have to do what they should have been doing all along: provide HD as part of the basic package for around $10.
You're way off-base. They're doing what they're supposed to. The are providing HD. You're simply wrong.

But of course, Comcast has paid off the pols to shut up and screw the poor. Same as it ever was.
You're being ridiculous, and your comments are irresponsible. You're claiming things that are untrue, and trying to make it sound like Comcast is doing something wrong, when that is not the case.
 
M

Maruuk

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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
Oh please, of course they're monopolies! No sane person in America would ever suggest otherwise. They don't even have to serve low-profit rural areas if they don't feel like it. Many Americans get no cable service at all, because the monopolies wouldn't make enough profit by serving the American public.

More than 99 percent of the cable markets in the United States are served by only one cable company. An FCC survey found that cable systems with monopolies charged an average of 65 cents a channel per month while those that faced actual competition charged only 48 cents per channel.

The question is not, are they monopolies, but why were they allowed to become monopolies? It's because local governments almost universally refuse to license second systems. The reason: Local politicians have cut deals, written and unwritten, with their chosen cable operator to keep out competition.

Cable operators have even given city councils absolute programming control over certain cable channels. The entanglement of cable companies and government is a scandal. It's why cable companies are universally despised: they've been allowed to offer brutally substandard service and content for one simple reason...

THEY HAVE NO COMPETITION! (seen any a la carte packages lately? I rest my case)
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
So I suppose it is convenient that they are indeed forced by law to provide all locals in HD, and that they do provide all locals in HD.

Boy, I don't know what planet you live on, but the law says that for their monopoly, they must provide equivalent local OTA broadcasting on their cable within Basic Service. They don't. They provide a blurry, substandard version of what is going out OTA. Thus they are in non-compliance with the law. But of course, they own the pols so they can do whatever they want. Welcome to corporate-ocracy 101.
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
"sound like Comcast is doing something wrong"

Doesn't sound like it, they are. They're not delivering under Basic Service what is going out OTA locally as their mandate requires. That's illegal. They're crooks.
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
Member
Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
"You simply have to find the signals yourself"

This is a joke, right? Comcast DENIES THE HD SIGNALS EVEN EXIST.They actively discourage the user from even looking for them. Then if the signals do exist (which they usually don't for a wide variety of reasons) they constantly switch physical channel since they're NOT SUPPORTED IN ANY WAY BY COMCAST.

Thus Comcast is failing to deliver their mandated service, yet charging full price for it. That's called FRAUD.
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
Member
Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
The intention of the mandate is to give broadcasters the right to assert their right to have their signal presented to viewers with quality.

Exactly. A signal substantially lacking in quality from what is in fact being broadcast can hardly be considered to be "quality". Thank you for making my case for me.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
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Burlington, MA
Oh please, of course they're monopolies!
You can plead all you want, it doesn't change the truth.

No sane person in America would ever suggest otherwise.
I'm sane, and I'm correct. You're wrong. You don't know the law. I do.

More than 99 percent of the cable markets in the United States are served by only one cable company.
And two satellite services. The US Court of Appeals spanked the FCC last year for making the same error as you're making here, ignoring the totality of the marketplace and blinding yourself to the competition that exists.

An FCC survey found that cable systems with monopolies charged an average of 65 cents a channel per month while those that faced actual competition charged only 48 cents per channel.
And that's bull -- not that there wasn't a survey, but rather the survey itself. Here let's disprove the survey right now. Post your bill. I'll recompute it based on our rates here, where we have five competitors. I bet it'll cost more here. Competition = higher prices... try to fit that into your misguided model of how things are.

The question is not, are they monopolies, but why were they allowed to become monopolies?
No, because they're not monopolies, which is why the government doesn't break them up or regulate their advanced services. As a matter of fact, the government passed a law in 1992, that has now stood for 18 years, that prohibits regulation of rates for expanded basic and higher -- precisely because of the fact that you're trying to deny, that there is competition, that there is no monopoly. This isn't an oversight. It isn't a mistake. It is a deliberate determination of our society -- one that perhaps conflicts with your own personal preference.

It's because local governments almost universally refuse to license second systems.
More ridiculous and erroneous info. That same 1992 law prohibited local governments from doing as you suggest. You're operating based on misinformation. The entire foundation of what you're arguing is without merit, and much of it directly contradicts reality.

THEY HAVE NO COMPETITION!
Wrong. And that's not me telling you that you're wrong. That's the US Court of Appeals telling you that you're wrong.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
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Burlington, MA
Boy, I don't know what planet you live on, but the law says that for their monopoly, they must provide equivalent local OTA broadcasting on their cable within Basic Service. They don't.
Yes they do. You're wrong.

Thus they are in non-compliance with the law.
No they're not. You're mistaken.

Why aren't you doing your part to do what is necessary to tune in the HD locals that they're providing? Why not do that instead of posting erroneous information like this?
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
0
Burlington, MA
This is a joke, right? Comcast DENIES THE HD SIGNALS EVEN EXIST.
First, Comcast, the company, does nothing of the sort. There are some clueless techs that may say something like that, but that's life in the United States where you can't find any good help. People aren't conscientious.

But also note that they're not required to tell you about HD locals via clear QAM. That's your obligation. One you apparently have shirked.

They actively discourage the user from even looking for them.
They'd be idiots if they didn't. They get no benefit from encouraging you to use them. Why would you even think for a minute that they would do so? That's silly.

Then if the signals do exist (which they usually don't for a wide variety of reasons)
You don't know what you're talking about. The signals do exist in almost every case.

they constantly switch physical channel
So what? Just rescan. You seem to be extremely lazy and unwilling to do your part to get what you claim you want.

Thus Comcast is failing to deliver their mandated service
That's idiocy. You're making up mandates. You either don't know the law, as I said before, or you are deliberately posting wrong information to try to justify your baseless criticisms.
 
M

Maruuk

Thread Starter
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Mar 10, 2010
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Monterey, CA
You're totally ignorant of the reality that Comcast, even while stating right in their literature that they include HD locals in Basic, has begun to eliminate all their HD locals in Basic to force everyone to the extra-cost HD box and tiers. That's fraud. Buy a clue.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
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Burlington, MA
I'm sorry that you're so frustrated that you're making stuff up. I know Comcast policy. I also know Comcast reality. Are mistakes made in individual neighborhoods? Sometimes, but you are completely and unequivocally wrong about Comcast eliminating HD locals in basic. They are not. They're there, in practically every Comcast system. It is your obligation to know how to access them. It is not their obligation to help you understand how. That's our responsibility, here on this website, as fellow-members-helping-members, or more generally, neighbors-helping-neighbors.

Let me say that more clearly: It is the subscriber's obligation to know how to access the HD locals for themselves. It is not the service providers' responsibility to assist with that.

They are not doing what you're accusing them of. I suggest, if you really have a problem, and you really want to resolve it, that you take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of the folks here to help you realize what you're doing wrong.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
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Burlington, MA
The US Court of Appeals spanked the FCC last year for making the same error as you're making here, ignoring the totality of the marketplace and blinding yourself to the competition that exists. ... they're not monopolies, which is why the government doesn't break them up or regulate their advanced services. As a matter of fact, the government passed a law in 1992, that has now stood for 18 years, that prohibits regulation of rates for expanded basic and higher -- precisely because of the fact that you're trying to deny, that there is competition, that there is no monopoly. This isn't an oversight. It isn't a mistake. It is a deliberate determination of our society -- one that perhaps conflicts with your own personal preference.
Just a follow-up underscoring this issue we discussed a few months back.

As I mentioned back then, as a matter of law, there is effective competition for advanced subscription television services throughout the United States, but with regard to basic service the criteria are more stringent, probably because the FCC, in its efforts to coddle satellite service providers, have waived the requirements to provide basic service, excusing DirecTV and Dish Network from serving this essential service to its customers who need it.

The competition for basic service, therefore, must be considered on a town-by-town basis. A number of towns in my local area have reached the more stringent threshold applicable to essential services, and therefore in those town even basic service rates are unregulated.

Typically the declaration of effective competition for basic service is done one town at a time (since the satellite service providers are not factored into the consideration, due to the waivers they have), but what was notable this week is that the FCC issued an order applicable to a large number of towns, all at once.

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-848A1.pdf

So, again, the salient points here are that there is effective competition for advanced service (i.e., "expanded basic cable") nationwide, and that's been the case for almost twenty years, but now, in more and more towns, there is even effective competition for the essential "basic" service, and regulation of even that level of service is being lifted.
 
B

beachrider

SatelliteGuys Family
Jun 7, 2009
93
0
Milford, CT
Geez Maruuk, you have some reasonable issues, but you are adding value judgements that water down your whole argument.
- If Comcast is de-rezzing an OTA ATSC signal to make it 'fit' an NTSC signal, there is nothing wrong with that. You could argue that they should pass the ATSC through as a QAM and abandon the NTSC-version. That is what needs to happen by 2012.
- If you drop the name-calling, the best part of your points is much clearer.
- Why doesn't Satellite TV qualify as 'competition' for CATV? I think that it does.
- While not-really 'monopolies', cable companies certainly have some right-of-way mechanism that lets them put their lines on the telco's poles. That qualifies as some kind of 'special permission' and incurs some local controls.
 
bicker

bicker

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 15, 2009
324
0
Burlington, MA
- If Comcast is de-rezzing an OTA ATSC signal to make it 'fit' an NTSC signal, there is nothing wrong with that. You could argue that they should pass the ATSC through as a QAM and abandon the NTSC-version. That is what needs to happen by 2012.
No; it already happened, last year, despite what the previous poster asserted. They are required to provide the OTA channels to consumers without any reduction in resolution. It's the law. And they are doing so.

If a customer refuses to fulfill the customer's obligation to receive that service (i.e., plugging the cable directly into the customer's own QAM tuner), then all fault rests on the consumer.

The 2012 date is when they are allowed to stop broadcasting the NTSC downconverts.

- Why doesn't Satellite TV qualify as 'competition' for CATV? I think that it does.
And your instincts are good, in that regard, because that's not just a valid opinion, it is the law.

- While not-really 'monopolies', cable companies certainly have some right-of-way mechanism that lets them put their lines on the telco's poles. That qualifies as some kind of 'special permission' and incurs some local controls.
Yes, indeed, and the free service and cash payments cable companies pay to localities parallel the free service and cash payments that telephone companies pay to localities.
 

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