Comcast's digital switchover; some good news?

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StefanJ
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Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:40 am

Comcast's digital switchover; some good news?

Post by StefanJ »

Long story short: In many markets Comcast is doing away with "Standard" cable. (Sometimes known as Basic Extended.) This is the analog service that offers non-premium channels, such as ESPN, CNN, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, etc. (This is NOT Basic Cable, the regulated service offering channels 2-32 . . . it will continue to offer analog for a few more years.)

The "extra" channels will go digital only. Not necessarily HDef, but digital.

This means that analog tuners (VCRs, TVs, or capture cards) will not be able to recieve the upper-range (32-78) channels.

Comcast is offering simple set top boxes called DTAs to turn the digital signals into analog. Kind of the cable equivalent of a broadcast digital converter box. The offer in my area (Portland, OR): You pay the same, and get a free fully featured STB plus three free DTAs for your older TVs and VCRs. The switchover is to occur on 4/15.

All well and good if you are a TV watcher. But what about my MythTV box? It has one digital (pcHDTV3000) and one analog (Happauge pvr150) tuner. It could still get the Basic Cable analog stations and the clear QAM stations. But what about the upper range sstuff? Comcast support really couldn't help.

Now, last night Comcast rejiggered its digital line-up. This meant a rescan for my HDTV and my MythTV box.

The pleasant surprise: Along with the expected "broadcast" clear QAM, there were dozens of new digital (non-HDef) channels. At first inspection, these appear to be the digital, clear QAM equivalents of the analog channels normally seen in the 32-78 range.

Wow? If these channels stay unscrambled after 4/15, then my MythTV box will stay relevant. I can record low-end network stuff with the analog tuner, and use the pcHDTV card to record cable channels.

The next question is: How will Schedule Direct manage this transition? Will Comcast send out a new channel map on 4/15?

rmeden
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Re: Comcast's digital switchover; some good news?

Post by rmeden »

If the channel numbers are changing, you should see FROM= TO= dates in the <map> entries of the SD data. If the "official" channel numbers are not changing, just going from NTSC to QAM there won't be a change in the data.

If they switch to encrypted QAM, the solution is the same has it has always been with PVRs and cable/satellite boxes... An "IR Blaster" to change the channel on the box.

Robert

StefanJ
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:40 am

Re: Comcast's digital switchover; some good news?

Post by StefanJ »

Update:

I compared the channel names on the Comcast digital SD listings to the listings of the new QAM channels as noted on silicon dust. The names are the same. However, while I have the digital lineup in my SD account Myth didn't associate the new channels with the digital equivalent. So I'll need to manually update.

FWIW, The XMLid of the digital channels isn't the same as the analog equivalent.

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