The Comcast Media Center (CMC) and Motorola have tweaked the CMC’s HITS Quantum National Authorization Service (NAS) to support digital-to-analog (DTA) adapters.
DTA adapters have emerged as a cost-effective way for cable operators to migrate toward a bandwidth-saving, all-digital environment. The DTAs are a cheaper alternative to digital set-top boxes, but while they convert the digital signals back to analog at the TV set, the one-way devices do not provide other digital cable features, such as video-on-demand (VOD).
The CMC said today that testing is currently underway for the DTAs, and that it will start supporting the use of them on cable systems using NAS this fall.
“DTA devices are an essential step in the industry’s move toward an all-digital platform,” stated Gary Traver, SVP and COO for CMC. “The CMC is dedicated to making the transition to digital as smooth as possible for cable systems serving smaller markets.”
Once the Feb. 17 deadline takes place for the broadcast digital transition, cable operators will still provide analog, standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) signals to their customers. The DTA adapter is one of the ways cable providers will be able to deliver analog and SD broadcast signals to analog television sets following that transition.
“Motorola joins the CMC in its strong support of smaller-market cable systems in their transition to digital,” said Mark Depietro, VP of Motorola’s Video Access Business. “Our Digital Infrastructure is ready to support the DTA to enable a smooth transition for our customers.”
Motorola’s Digital Headend Systems have been upgraded to manage DTA devices alongside the existing population of set-top boxes. The systems will also fully support the evolving set-top product line moving forward.
The NAS provides cable systems serving smaller markets with a centralized alternative for addressing their set-top management requirements.
Motorola, Pace, Cisco and Thomson have developed DTAs for cable operators. Earlier this month, Comcast announced that it was using Thomson’s DTAs that were first shown at The Cable Show in May (story here). Comcast is also using Pace’s DTAs.
In the quest to save or reclaim bandwidth, DTAs are a cheaper alterative to implementing switched digital video (SDV).
Cable operators can reclaim between 250 MHz and 300 MHz in each system that goes all digital. If a typical cable system has 79 analog channels and the operator decides to move 59 of those channels to digital, while perhaps leaving 20 or so as a life-line analog service for some select markets, it would reclaim 354 MHz.
Given 354 MHz of reclaimed spectrum in the example above, and the fact that on average 10 SD MPEG-2 digital programs can be inserted into one 6MHz slot, this yields enough bandwidth for nearly 590 channels.
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