Comcast Degrades HD Quality To Make Room For More Channels

When you order Hi-Def TV, you expect it to be on the shining Excalibur level, but it looks like Comcast is degrading the quality of some HD channels in order to make room for more channels. To test this theory out, Avsforum member bfdtv recorded the same shows from the same channel at the same time on both Comcast Hi-Def and Fios TV. The left is the FiOs. The right is the Comcast. As you can see, the Comcast signal looks like crap. The forum thread has more screenshots, a signal analysis, and some source videos. So far the Comcast channels receiving extra compression are: Discovery Channel, SciFi, USA, Food, NatGeo, UHD, A&E, HGTV, Starz, Cinemax, HBO, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater, and History HD.

Comcast HD Quality Reduction: Details, Screenshots [AVSforum] (Thanks to thedave!)

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  1. oakie says:

    anyone who didnt already know about this 2 YEARS AGO should have kept their SDTV. in fact, they’re probably watching stretched images thinking to themselves, “man, this HD is GREAT”.

  2. mavrick67 says:

    Ah ha, I thought something was messed up at Comacasts end, not mine. Sometimes my signal is so weak on those channels I don’t get a picture at all. Not to mention how annoying it is watching a program with signal drops every 20 seconds.

  3. officeboy says:

    So glad I dropped comcast a few months ago. Direct TV has been well, um, the picture is great!

  4. oakie says:

    buy an antenna and be happy you’re not paying for a free HD broadcast that’s been overcompressed by cable or satellite providers.

  5. And still the best HD picture you can get is with an old school rooftop antenna.

    While this may be true about Comcast, this is not a very scientific test. What kind of cable is he running? How many ways is he splitting the signal. There are a lot of things that can cause the digital break up he is seeing. That said, cable companies are compressing the signal quite a bit, and with my HD service, Cablevision, I noticed some channels are highly compressed (Universal HD in particular) and break up a lot when there is motion on screen.

  6. Tush says:

    Yeah, same thing with Dish Network. It isn’t that heavily compressed but it’s definitely noticeable on channels like Discovery HD. Blockiness makes my TV (and me) sad.

  7. boandmichele says:

    maybe they should upgrade their network infrastructure, so they can deliver quality product and not ‘be forced to’ block bittorrent protocols…

    i guess its hard to afford such measures when your higher ups are making millions, and you are spending millions on advertising some guy quickly building a house of cards. (how apropos)

    /rant

  8. ironchef says:

    the old Adelphia clowns did something even more nasty a couple years ago…

    They got rid of HBO2 and HBO3 and replaced it with the Disney Channel and Home Shopping Network.

  9. IrisMR says:

    Ahhh, comcast. Wonder why some folks still pay for them.

  10. BugMeNot2 says:

    That sucks, but then again it’s Comcast, so no big shocker there.

    I’m more interested in how the HD screencaps were taken. The firewire output in my market is encrypted on nearly every HD channel. Is there some method other than firewire to capture the stream from the receiver?

  11. snoop-blog says:

    I still don’t understand peoples obsession with over hdtv. The quality seems fine to me. Sure I’ve seen the ones that are super clear and crisp and they DO look better, but it’s just a frikin t.v. I’m not going to start liking American Idol, just because it’s in hd. I’m beggining to think it’s just for bragging rights. The Jones’ have one up’d me once again.

  12. azntg says:

    Definitely glad I’m not paying for cable. Living in NYC with a lot of OTA channels, it’s not that difficult to sacrifice some cable-only channels.

  13. zidan says:

    What a bunch of idiots. Compression artifacts (READ: GIANT BLOCKS) is the reason my family switched to cable from overcompressed DirectTV a few years ago. With big screen TV’s becoming extremely cheap, the quality difference is noticeable by your average joe.

  14. EBounding says:

    I wonder what the smarmy Comcast lady from the Detroit area commercials would say about this.

  15. h0serdude says:

    @IrisMR: My parents’ only choice is Comcast since the trees around their property block the satellites for DirecTV and Dish. :/

  16. sleze69 says:

    This falls under buyer’s choice. Do I stick with comcast or switch to Fios? We’ll see when my deal expires in September.

  17. philipbarrett2003 says:

    Time Warner in Dallas is running ads on local newscasts claiming that the “only way to see this news in HD is with TW cable!” Trouble is, I really think they believe it.

    I aways have to bite my lip when I get the obligatory “look at my new HD system” tour from friends who then flick on their heavily compressed Sat/Cable feeds.

  18. As a former cable co worker I can tell you that that’s just the way it’s going to be. There just isn’t enough bandwidth in the current cable system to not compress things, especially with analog cable(customers who just plug the cable direct to the TV) eating up so much bandwidth.
    Where I worked it used to be 4+ different cable co’s that got bought out by one of the big cable companies, It was such a nightmare going to a few certain sides of towns because the plant(the lines on the pole) were in such bad shape that no matter what you did or who you escalated the problem to you could bet your bottom dollar that the problem wasn’t going to be fixed without plant modification. The cable companies are over promising on what they can deliver(home phone,TV,OnDemand,Internet services) then what they are actually cable of ESPECALLY if your in a apartment. Frankly They don’t care and seem to just want to ride it out until a FIOS option is available in their service area.

  19. unklegwar says:

    I’ve said this from day 1. You go into Best Buy, and they have comcast HD on all the TVs. I’ve always thought it looked over compressed (the best buy guys say it’s cuz of the splitter – that’s BS cuz it’s DIGITAL dammit)

    Problem is, everyone thinks you need the CD service to get HD (you can get it OTA). Second, no one understands about compression and artifacts.

  20. Gamethyme says:

    Comcast is still broadcasting a number of channels in Analog. Which eats a lot of bandwidth. We’ll see if they uncompress some of this in Feb of ’09 when analog goes away.

  21. Sherryness says:

    @snoop-blog: That’s been my opinion as well. My TV is used for cartoons and video games for my son and on occasion when I rent a movie. I really don’t need to be able to discern the borders of someone’s mole to enjoy the story.

  22. DoctorMD says:

    Somehow I have managed to end up living in some tiny shadow areas that do not get OTA reception despite being in urban areas. I feel sorry for people with analog in the same areas cuz those free boxes will be worthless.

    TV is not worth forking over $86 dollars a month for basic HD.

  23. @oakie: I got my digital TV converter boxes last week. I love the snow-free picture I get over the air so much, I’m reconsidering whether my DirecTV service is really worth $53/mo.

  24. @Gamethyme: The analog to digital transition deadline doesn’t apply to cable.

  25. @Gamethyme: Analog isn’t going away on the cable side of things for a while, Per the Gov they have to offer it to customers till a certain date.

  26. QuantumRiff says:

    @suburbancowboy: Actually, the number of splices, and quality of the wire should not matter. Digital works, or it doesn’t. (please keep that in mind when someone try’s to sell you “high quality USB or HDMI cables). If some packets are lost, you will notice voice not syncing with video, or little spots where no video displays (or large chunks missing). You will not see the total pixelation that you see in the pictures. That is just a compression/decompression problem.

  27. QuantumRiff says:

    @philipbarrett2003: Not to mention, Sattellite, and the cable providers in my area all broadcast HD in 720i. Not even the nicer looking 720p, let alone the “real” 1080 HD. I’m blown away at how nice a Blue Ray disk looks on the big screens (at 1080HD), and then how crapy and “stretched” the cable and satelite demo’s are.

  28. Walrii says:

    @mikeluisortega: Wait? Are you telling me that cable companies can’t just profit forever off of old coax lines and that they might have to someday UPDGRADE their services in order to remain competitive?

  29. Hi, my name is Papa Midnight… and I’m a former Comcast customer.

    I’m now in my 6th year free from Comcast and loving it. I might have to mooch internet from my neighbor but I feel good not having to worry about rediculous pricing, 2 week CSR calls, etc.

  30. jtheletter says:

    I’m wondering if there’s a false advertising lawsuit here considering that level of pixelation indicates the resolution has been reduced. As QuantumRiff correctly pointed out the compression used, and not line signal quality, is responsible for the difference. If Comcast is advertising “HD” TV then their offering ought to match some definition of HD. Right now it looks like that barely makes 720 resolution, however I’ll bet they would try to worm out of this by saying there are indeed 720 pixels of resolution but it just so happens that half of them are duplicate data. “HD” indeed. Anyone with Comcast who does care about the resolution they’re being sold vs what they’re getting should look into what they are officially buying on their contract as you might have a class action suit with this. Car dealers can’t sell a car with 300hp as being 500hp, cable companies shouldn’t be able to sell 480i-equivalent content as 720+.

  31. @mikeluisortega: Isn’t Comcast the one who claims they have “High Capacity State of the Art Fiber Optic” lines?

  32. mac-phisto says:

    @Sherryness: well i do. & i’ll tell you why. first off, most companies charge more for their hd lineup. even if they don’t charge more, they require you to spend some ridiculous amount of money on an hd receiver. seems silly to spend more to get less, doesn’t it?

    second, since hollywood & tv execs have done an excellent job stripping away any meaningful story/plot, believable dialog & emotion out of their works, the ability to discern where a mole starts & ends is just about all i have left. please, don’t take that away too…or…or…i’ll stop watching….yeah, that’s it. i’ll do that. now, where’s the power butto….ooooh lookey here! cliffhanger! i can’t remember the last time i saw it…last tuesday or wednesday…….*drool*

  33. Orv says:

    @BugMeNot2: Firewire isn’t all encrypted in every market. Comcast isn’t very consistent about this. Also, if you have a QAM tuner you can sometimes get some of the channels directly off the wire — usually at least the local stations are unencrypted, but sometimes other channels are, too. Again, it varies from market to market and sometimes from week to week.

  34. @Papa Midnight: Most cable co’s use a hybrid network, Fiber from the base to nodes spread out in their service area and then from those locations, copper to all the houses that that node serves. It’s misleading when they say FIBEROPTIC and DIGITAL! All semi lies but like any company they use Buzz words to get people excited.

  35. Pop Socket says:

    The native FiOS resolution is 1080i and ComcastHD is 720p. Right there is one difference before even accounting for macroblocs and compression.

  36. DeepFriar says:

    or here’s a shocking idea – less channels!

    I know, I know, its crazy. But here me out – I don’t want 5 home shopping channels and approximately 50 PPV channels.

    Just throwing that out there.

  37. radio1 says:

    I swear the best HD programming I’ve seen on my HDTV is PBS: 720p OTA.

    It’s funny though, all the channels I want and watch in HD are the ones being heavily compressed by Comcast.

  38. warf0x0r says:

    All I needed to hear. When it comes time for me to move to HD I’m switching to dish.

  39. @Pop Socket: Not necessarily, Depending on the station, There should be different stations broadcasting at different resolutions, If you have a Scientific Atlanta 8300 box, it will tell you what res the signal is coming in on unless you lock it to a certain resolution. This could be different in other markets but I never heard of the Comcast system be locked to 720p exclusively.

  40. mac-phisto says:

    @Pop Socket: it’s a difference, but which one is better? hobbits or oompa-loompas?

    [www.neopoleon.com]

  41. Norskman says:

    I knew my Comcast cable HD shows were compressed. I notice it from time to time, especially with motion but I live with it. Until this weekend.

    HBO was showing Matrix Reloaded, one of many shows previously enjoyed by myself on DVD. I was excited to watch this in HD to see how much better it looked. I was appalled. It was the worst compression I’ve seen to date. It looked like it was streaming right from YouTube. At first I thought I must have been the issue sitting there watching the non-HD broadcast but I was not. In fact the show-info stated this to be HD and at times it did look passable as an HD broadcast… at times.

    I don’t know what happened to this particular broadcast but since I prefer to finish what I start watching I popped in the DVD and watched the show on an upconverting DVD. It was grainy but you know what, that kinda worked for me. It was a Matrix movie afterall.

    Now I’m trying to figure out if this will be the norm for future movies on this particular HBO channel. If so I’m not especially impressed. Why am I paying for this again?

  42. Toof_75_75 says:

    @radio1:
    I was thinking the same thing. Why are they choosing the channels I want to watch as the ones to compress…Especially Discovery, who could arguably be one of the most graphically needy channels.

  43. lordkaio says:

    I always thought that something was wrong with my TV. I’ll be calling Comcast and cancelling my TV service. If I didn’t need them for their net, I wouldn’t have them at all.

  44. karmaghost says:

    Yup, noticed this after I got my new TiVo HD which happened to coincide with the addition of the new channels. I thought it was the TiVo’s fault, but apparently not.

  45. Ghede says:

    Does that mean they are removing the HD tag? Discovery middling-depth. I wonder if the decrease in resolution is enough to warrant false advertising charges if they don’t…

  46. Mr. Gunn says:

    boandmichele: actually, they’re going to stop messing with bittorrent.

  47. Mr. Gunn says:

    snoop-blog: Sports, in particular, are much better in HD, and the Nature channels are, too. It’s a distinctly nicer picture. If you saw a true HD picture and a normal one next to one another you’d realize it.

  48. HootieMac says:

    @IrisMR: B/c some folks can’t get satellite in their apartments and live in places where FiOS is a myth. Someday…

  49. Morac says:

    I submitted this a few days ago. I wonder what happened to it.

  50. Mr. Gunn says:

    mikeluisortega: If they can’t deliver the service they’re promising, they shouldn’t sell it.

  51. mac-phisto says:

    @Mr. Gunn: sports are better & worse. a football game definitely looks much sharper in hd – you can just about read the logos on their socks from the blimp shot. however, if the broadcast doesn’t resolute well, or if your tv can’t keep up, it can make the game quite difficult to watch.

    i used to go over to a friend’s house for sunday games, but after awhile i became fed up with the blocking & screen freezes. now they come over to my place & we watch it in good old sd.

  52. guroth says:

    This saddens me but is just another reason I haven’t gone out and spent big bucks on a nice HD TV.

    Mainstream Consumer HD has been out for how long now? at least 5 years? And the only way to get the most out of your HD set now is Bluray.

    I’ll dive in once all the programming I want to watch is uncompressed 1080p HD. Until then my 225lb 40″ CRT TV displays SD TV better than 90% of the LCD TVs

  53. TechnoDestructo says:

    @suburbancowboy:
    Those are compression artifacts.

    Digital signal loss looks different. You see seemingly random blocks of solid colors, or blocks of the actual image in the wrong color, the entire image being completely the wrong color, or having the look of the color kind of doing one thing, while the brightness/contrast doing something else, or having parts of the image not moving quite right.

    Compression artifacts just make things look “chunky.”

  54. Mike_ says:

    Comcast also just reintroduced the Program Guide banner ads in my area. They’ve replaced 20% of the guide with advertising, compromising user experience for a new revenue stream (while still raising my rates). Last time they tried this, it caused a revolt, and they had to remove it.

    I just called to complain about the new ads, as well as the other problems I’ve been having with my service (including degraded high-def). They gave me free HBO and cut my digital cable rate in half for a year. Had they done any less, I’d be on the phone with Dish Network right now.

  55. Geekybiker says:

    Nothing new here. Comcrap has always been about over compressing its lineup to the lowest common denominator’s standards for image quality. HD was nice for awhile as a specialist market but I knew it was too good to last.

  56. boandmichele says:

    @Mr. Gunn: oh i know. kind of a cop-out solution, imo. in any case, i meant that if theyd spend some money on their infrastructure, then they wouldnt have had to do that in the first place. (at least that was their excuse, as is the overcompression of hd signals)

  57. dtm says:

    Not so long ago, the dish companies had the same problem, Increasing number of channels and limited bandwidth to broadcast in. I switched from Directv to Comcast when I bought my HD set because Directv looked awful compared to the cable picture. I understand that problem is being resolved by launching more satellites and using newer compression and modulation schemes.

    Last year I started to notice that my Comcast HD picture(specifically the HD broadcasts of my beloved Red Sox) started to have a lot of blocking. Coincidentally it happened at the same time they added HGTV and some others to their lineup. I switched to FIOS and have been much happier with picture quality.

  58. MelL says:

    So is anyone else going to ask what movie the screenshots are from? Ok, I will: what movie are the screenshots from?
    :)

  59. BrockBrockman says:

    On a side note, I absolutely love the AVS Forum – it is the single best resource for researching AV equipment, including HDTVs, surround sound systems, media computers, media providers, cable companies, retailers, and regular old set-top antennae. If you have questions about equipment, it’s a good place to start.

    I have no affiliation with the site.

  60. tape says:

    Comcast’s SD signals on the digital channels have looked like compressed crap for years. I’m unsurpised that the HD channels also look bad.

    Shittily, Verizon has come right out and said “we have no plans to expand FiOS into Boston” (the actual city, not the metro area, where numerous cities and towns already have FiOS), so I’m stuck with the Comcrap monopoly. I fucking love this country.

  61. Jon Mason says:

    What I really want is for Comcast and the networks to get their act together and start caring about their aspect ratios for Widescreen HD – For example, Extreme Makeover Home Edition gets broadcast in HD 4:3 with bars at the sides of the screen, but everytime they cut to a headshot interview, it is in widescreen, but letterboxed widescreen inside the already black-barred 4:3 picture, leaving a picture about half the size of the screen. It annoys the crap out of me – and its not the only show to do this kind of thing…

  62. cerbie says:

    @suburbancowboy: sorry, there is nothing else that will cause that. Blotches, color blocks, black areas, and other artifacts, yes, but evenly degraded quality over the whole image? Low quality encoders and low bitrates are about the only culprits.

  63. backbroken says:

    Dude just needs to slap some Monster Cables in his setup and all those artifacts will go away.

    lol

  64. Orv says:

    @backbroken: No, no, he needs to use coathangers.

  65. I’ll enjoy my free broadcast HD and save $75 a month. I various family who have direct TV and Verizon Fios. I found that there was still nothing on that I wanted to watch. Its a lot easier to surf through my 20 some odd broadcast station vs the hundreds of pay service.

  66. Trai_Dep says:

    Man, if I were one of the premium channel guys (HBO, Showtime, IFC…), I’d do some MAJOR behind-the-scenes screaming at Comcast, including threatening to go public, boycott, etc. Consumers don’t care who’s fault it is if their $30/mo sub looks like a LiteBrite display, they simply cancel. Then tell their friends how crappy The Tudors looks on their TV.

  67. snoop-blog says:

    @Mr. Gunn: yeah i can see that on sports, but your talking to a colts season ticket holder that doesn’t mind nosebleed. i’m obsessed with the colts. black and white, hd or not, heck i’ve listened to them on the radio and everytime get that same edge of my seat feeling. no matter the format. my point was simply that spending gobs of money on hd seems silly. i’ll wait for it to become such a standard, that it’s dirt cheap.

  68. axiomatic says:

    DOCSIS 3.0 will resolve this. Tell Comcast to stop spending on anything except for getting DOCSIS 3.0 out ASAP.

  69. scoosdad says:

    @QuantumRiff: Huh? Come again? 720i? as in interlaced? Sorry, no such thing:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  70. Orv says:

    @johnarlington: You’re lucky. All I get on broadcast is ION and religious channels.

  71. radio1 says:

    @Toof_75_75: I think you’re right. Many of those channels produce a lot HD programming.

    I hate Comcast. But I have no other choice.

  72. Axiomtic is right DOCSIS 3.0 will solve a lot of the problems. Having “switch digital” is nice and all but if the lines outside suck(especially the aerial lines) there is nothing that can help that besides physically replacing lines. I know in the midwest the cable drops take a beating like no other.

  73. MFfan310 says:

    @axiomatic: Comcast DOES plan on rolling out DOCSIS 3.0, and soon: to 20% of its footprint by the end of 2008, and half of the Comcast network by the end of 2009.

    So a solution may be at hand soon for you FiOS-deprived citizens (fortunately, I’m not one of them).

  74. Superborty says:

    Tough to watch sports without cable or satellite. Would be great if OTA had everything but you just miss too much. In my area or building at least, ESPN is almost unwatchable due to pixelization. Cablevision plays stupid every time you call.

  75. QuiteSpunky says:

    If anyone out there is considering whether or not to make the switch to HD, I’d suggest waiting. I recently purchased a new tv and decided to get an HD one as it was only $100 more for a flatscreen LCD HD than a standard definition one (it’s only 19″). What you never seemed to see mentioned in all this HD ranting is that while the HD channels do look nice, the old standard definiton looks TERRIBLE on an HD tv– and I don’t mean in comparison. It’s much worse than on a standard def tv. With my cable network there are still a lot more regular channels than HD ones, so I feel like overall it represents a drop in quality.

  76. durkzilla says:

    It is because of this that every time I get a call from Comcast trying to upsell me to internet and phone I tell them “No thanks, as soon as FiOS TV is available in my area you’ll be losing me forever entirely.”

    I’ve been noticing the HD compression for a long time, but it definitely got worse this weekend – the National Geographic channel in HD specifically was horrendous – huge artifacts, but Discovery Channel is pretty grainy too.

  77. BugMeNot2 says:

    @QuiteSpunky:

    That depends entirely on the TV. A good HDTV will also give you good SDTV images. You just have to be willing to pay for it.

  78. LEEED says:

    O.K. my head is starting to spin off its axis. FIOS, analog, digital, 720i, 720p, 1080HD, compression, DOCSIS 3.0, holy crap Batman, what does all this mean? Can’t the damn cable companies just come up with something that is user friendly and will not cause my head to explode. I pays my money and I wants my stuff to work when I punch the clicker button. Too much to ask I wonder. By the way, how come my video store don’t carry my Beta tapes anymore, anyone else having that problem?

  79. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Discovery Channel, SciFi, USA, Food, NatGeo, UHD, A&E, HGTV, Starz, Cinemax, HBO, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater, and History HD.

    So basically they picked channels that would have shows or movies with really awesome visuals…you know the sort of thing you’d like to see in high definition. Good job Comcast.

  80. Ignem says:

    Keep in mind, too… lots of the “HD” channels that are delivered to the cable companies are just upconverted SD feeds, using only 9-ish megabits in bandwidth. Most “real” HDs will use almost twice that. Universal HD & Starz, for example, are like that.

  81. compressionsucks says:

    I’m in the industry, and I can safely tell you that Comcast isn’t the only cable company that employs this “technology”. It’s called rate-shaping and/or clamping. Basically, digital channels comprise of RF channels which are limited to 38.8mbits. Rate shaping allows you to fit content at much greater amounts than that on one carrier. This is being done more aggressively now since the cable companies are trying to provide more HD content to compete. A lot of cable operators have run out of space in their spectrum, and have almost no choice but to do this to add more content.

    In my market, Cox is so desperate, they put 3 HD’s on a single carrier. If you do the math, that’s 57mbits of video on a 38.8 alotted space. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to digital cable.

  82. CPC24 says:

    They’re doing this to compete with DirecTV, who just launched yet another HD satellite. They already have 80-90 HD channels and will launch more later this year. In fact, they’re adding a couple this week. Comcast only has about 30-35 HD channels and needs all the bandwidth they can get.

  83. ddrager says:

    This has been coming for a while. FiOS fiber should allow for much more HD content. I switched from Comcast TV to FiOS TV about 4 months go… I don’t miss Comcast at all :)

  84. wildness says:

    A few months ago, I noticed that HD channels on Dish Network were taking less storage space on my DVR than they used to (when I recorded the same Soundstage program with Tori Amos about six months apart, the latter recording was half the size in MBs!). It isn’t as bad as Comcast’s from that screen capture, but still!!??! I have decided to drop most of my channels (keeping the locals and HBO and Showtime) and waiting for Blu Ray or DVD for the programs I want to watch – with Netflix, I will be saving about $55 a month!

  85. RhymePhile says:

    I’m in Southern New Jersey, and unless you have cable/satellite, you aren’t getting anyting OTA from New York City broadcasts.

    We also have another problem: Comcast has decided to move regular cable networks (Turner Classic Movies and The History Channel) to digital subscriptions exclusively. This meant that I got a flurry of calls from my parents confused about their new digital cable box they were forced to get.

    It sucks, but until something better comes along (no FiOS in our area) we’re stuck.

  86. rcorrino says:

    @IrisMR

    “Ahhh, comcast. Wonder why some folks still pay for them.”

    Because some of us don’t have a choice. Fios is still not available in my area (Daly City, Ca) and satellite has more expensive packages than Comcast and not better quality. I would use an outdoor antenna but the San Bruno mountain just blocks all the signals.

    And I don’t really see this as improving anytime soon unless Comcast rips out ALL of it’s existing cabling and replaces it with something that can handle the bandwith.

  87. Oryx says:

    Honestly, it’s not just Comcast here. ALL large cable company’s are/will be having the exact same problems. There simply isn’t enough bandwidth currently available for telephone, on-demand, video, and internet.

    The biggest help would obviously be to dump the analog channels which, in most systems, are about 70-80 channels that take up nearly 40-50% of the bandwidth. (About 8-9 SD digital channels or 2 HD channels in the space of one analog channel.)

    As someone mentioned above, most cable operators run on a HFC network. The fiber is usually only from the Headend to the hubs and then to nodes, with coaxial plant making up the last legs. Unfortunately, in most decent sized systems, the nodes are overloaded and need more fiber lines ran to them in order that they may be “split.” (Often, problems with overcrowded nodes are refereed to as “contention issues,” and splitting basically means having fewer people running on each fiber line.) Even with the widespread arrival of DOCSIS 3.0 in 2010-2011, bandwidth will still be an issue. FTTx is where things are heading, and unfortunately the cable guys are falling behind.

  88. coloradogray says:

    Actually, all the cable companies ~want~ to go all digital. They want everyone to have a nice digital converter box on their TV. On Demand is a major revenue stream for them.

  89. letourn says:

    @oakie:
    Here are some things to consider: Are both cable boxes the exact same during this test? Are the connections the same? Are the tv’s the same? This seems a little far fetched. I have Comcast and HD as well. With a Sony 32 Bravia using both HDMI and Component connections. My picture has NEVER looked like this. Yes, Comcast is expensive but you get what you pay for. Once analog channels are dumped bandwidth will increase and more channels will be offered as well. let’s get some answers to the following questions then maybe I would consider this. Who is conducting these tests AVS with an anonymous source? Sounds a little strange. Just saying.

  90. Clsmooth says:

    I work for Comcast. Im not a big company man or a fan of them but there are a few statements that are incorrect here.

    First native resolution of HD is set by the stations that broadcast the channels not the provider. Comcast broadcasts in 1080i and 720p depepending on the channel.

    Second comcast signal is overcompressed and can look a little shady at time. But keep in mind that when you are watching matrix reloaded in HD on TBS that these “normal” movies in HD are not true HD and simply upscaled DVDs.

    Third thing all video you watch anywhere is compressed – FIOS, Comcast, DirectTV all of them besides antenna service which will be gone next year.

    People need to keep in mind that all HD broadcast are not created equal as well. Just because your food network looks shitty compared to monday night football in HD, doesn’t mean big bad comcast is screwing you over. There is a huge difference between good HD cameras that shows are recorded in and the cheap ones that look barely different from SD video. Watch the superbowl in HD and then watch Fox primetime you’ll see what I mean.

    Comcast does screw people over on pricing though and I wouldn’t have there service if I didn’t get it for free.

  91. Anonymous says:

    You cares how he testes this?! Ever since we got “Comcrap” our audio and video has been going out on HD channels so much that we have to have caption on just to know what the heck is being said! A tech guy just came out and blamed us for the 2nd time that it was OUR problem the way my husband hooked up the cables! Why then only on HD channels are we having a problem? If they continue to blame me I think I may have to write a story to the news so the truth comes out!

  92. tangible says:

    uncompressed single link HD = 1.5Gb/s = 1500Mb/s (dual link, or 4:4:4, is closer to 2.5Gb/s)
    The ATSC spec allows HD DTV a maximum over the air broadcast data rate of 27Mb/s

    The best any of us can expect is a signal that’s been stepped on ONCE by a factor of 50,
    which is actually less signal quality than a BluRay disk (35Mb/s).
    Cable steps on that, and Satellite steps on it even more, to make the channels fix in their pipes.
    The best we can expect in the home is over the air via antenna, and its actually not terrible.
    But all that assumes the hops the signal takes are pure. FOR LIVE SPORTS TV, IT IS NOT.
    Live studio TV is the best quality potential, then prerecoded (but compressed tape) TV shows.