The Comcast Media Center announced today that National Geographic Channel HD has been added to its HITS Quantum service.
For small-to-midsize cable operators, the move to all digital translates into increased costs for additional equipment such as encoders. In order to help smaller operators offer more HD programming, the Comcast Media Center (CMC) has teamed up with SES Americom to offer HD channels on SES Americom’s AMC-18 HD Prime satellite.
In addition to National Geographic, the HITS Quantum platform also offers A&E HD, HGTV HD, Food Network HD, Starz HD and Universal HD.
HITS Quantum’s HDTV service has been launched on cable systems operated by Adams Cable TV (Waymart, Pa.), Cablevision of Marion County (Ocala, Fla.) and MTC Cable (Margaretville, N.Y.). Twelve additional cable system operators have also signed up to receive the service, including Baldwin Telecom Inc., CenturyTel Televideo Inc., Eagle Communications, Merrimac Communications Ltd., Orbitel and Spencer Municipal Utilities.
“Thanks to the support of cable television programming network groups such as A&E, NBC Universal, Scripps Networks, Starz and National Geographic Channel, we are able to add HDTV to the HITS Quantum lineup, an essential component for a competitive digital video offering, as demonstrated by this initial demand from our cable MSO affiliates,” said Gary Traver, COO of Comcast Media Center, in a statement.
HITS Quantum offers more than 200 digital video and audio services in order to support cable system operators’ migration to an all-digital service. The all-digital platform, which features secured authorization, optimized DPI triggers for the insertion of ads, and high-quality video and audio, also provides networks with greater potential for additional penetration on HITS Quantum’s cable systems affiliates.
At SCTE Cable-Tec Expo this past summer, the CMC’s Ren Finley spoke during a panel session about an in-house solution that puts three channels in one QAM by encoding them at the CMC. While today’s announcement didn’t mention the three-in-one QAM solution, by adding the three channels in one QAM, operators could gain a 50 percent increase in HD programming. Aside from rigorous encoding, the CMC is able to do the 3:1 compression by pairing two “easy” channels with a more demanding channel such as sports programming.
In addition to using AMC-18 for carriage of the HDTV networks offered through HITS Quantum, the CMC relies on SES Americom’s 50-state AMC-4 satellite to deliver a high-capacity service that operates at 256 QAM digital modulation. The 256 QAM lineup, which features more than 50 of the widely available channels on basic and expanded basic tiers, combines with a 64 QAM service to allow cable systems serving smaller markets to launch digital video and other advanced services at a fraction of the comparable cost for installing, operating and maintaining headend-based solutions.