analog equipment and the FCC

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Rick Merrill, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Rick Merrill

    Rick Merrill Guest

    Recent FCC regulations will make analog over cable (that's right, over
    cable) obsolete by Feb 2012.
     
    Rick Merrill, Jul 8, 2008
    #1
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  2. Rick Merrill

    Guest Guest

    | Recent FCC regulations will make analog over cable (that's right, over
    | cable) obsolete by Feb 2012.

    Technology did that back in the early 1990's. The FCC is just now catching up.
     
    Guest, Jul 12, 2008
    #2
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  3. Rick Merrill

    Smarty Guest


    Phil,

    I don't understand your point. My local Time Warner cable company delivers
    nearly 70 analog TV channels to this day in analog format. Are you referring
    to some cable companies which are purely digital?

    73's
    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jul 12, 2008
    #3
  4. Rick Merrill

    David McCall Guest

    I heard that too.
     
    David McCall, Jul 12, 2008
    #4
  5. Rick Merrill

    David McCall Guest

    Oops, het the send too soon.

    It came as a suprise because I wouldn't have thought that the FCC had
    much control of the signals transmitted over a privately owned wire or
    fiber.

    Not a big surprise though. The cable industry has wanted to get rid of
    analog
    for several years. I guess their lobbiest are doing their job.

    David
     
    David McCall, Jul 12, 2008
    #5
  6. Rick Merrill

    Rick Merrill Guest

    Smarty wrote:
    ....
    It seems to, but if you have a cable box (STB) then they send digital
    signals to the STB which converts to analog for your "consumption."
     
    Rick Merrill, Jul 13, 2008
    #6
  7. Rick Merrill

    Smarty Guest

    Not necessarily. My TimeWarner cable box which provides the 'latest' 1080p
    HDMI HDTV service on the "digital" channels also tunes and down-converts
    standard analog broadcasts for the lower 68 channels I receive. If you look
    at the cable spectrum with a spectrum analyzer, you will see traditionally
    spaced 6 MHz analog channels with traditional audio carriers at 4.5 MHz,
    color bursts at 3.58 MHz, and a traditional single sideband (VSB) video
    signal.

    In fact, a nearby paging service which operates in the normal VHF high-band
    160 MHz range will often come on the air to do paging, and their signal
    strength is strong enough here that the classical beats and herring bone
    which we ham radio operators call "TVI" (television interference) are
    produced. This would never happen if the originating analog signals had been
    converted to digital before being put on the cable wire as a modulated
    signal.

    My point really was / is that analog transmission from the cable company
    front end to the consumer RF input jack still exists, at least in some cable
    systems, even when a new vintage STB is employed. Time Warner is actually
    "bragging" in their local ads that the February 09 FCC mandate will not
    adversely impact their customers, and are encouraging people who lack newer
    ATSC tuner-equipped TVs or converters to drop their off the air reception
    and switch to their cable system.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jul 13, 2008
    #7
  8. Rick Merrill

    David McCall Guest

    This thread was not about the February 09 FCC mandate.
    It was talking about an all new mandate for February 2012.

    I'm not saying it's true, only that I heard that rumor before. Some
    cable systems have already switched to all digital, but many still
    send a set of analog chanels along with the digital signal for the
    sake of customers that still haven't updated to digital. Some of
    those will not sell you analog service because they really would
    like to dump analog all together. It sounds like they have gotten the
    government to step in and make that possible.

    In terms of your TVI. You may be correct. It would be an indication
    that a cable (likely not at your house) that has gone leaky.

    Having said all of that, It is still concievable that your digital STB
    could still be all digital. Some (maybe all) cable systems get their
    local channels over the air. This could still allow TVI to get in at the
    head-end and be sent along with the desired signal to all customers.

    Just a thought.

    David
     
    David McCall, Jul 13, 2008
    #8
  9. Rick Merrill

    Smarty Guest

    David,

    I fully understand that the original post referenced the recent FCC
    announcement regarding cable transmission, not OTA. My only reason for
    referencing the Feb 09 OTA mandate was to make the point that the local
    TimeWarner ads emphasize that they, TimeWarner, will continue to deliver
    analog broadcasting to their subscribers well beyond Feb 09, and thus
    provides an alternative for those who are resisting the idea of replacing
    their TVs, antennas, etc. Their continuation of analog delivery was and is
    my point......

    My original reply and the subsequent follow-up reply merely state that
    analog transmission on cable is still a very real and viable method, and
    cable companies have not necessarily switched, as Rick Merill states, to all
    digital. In fact they have good economic reasons not to switch, and their
    investment in head end and distribution equipment can be squeezed for years,
    especially if the consumer also avoids buying new and expensive equipment as
    well.

    Regarding TVI, while it is true that some interference could hypothetically
    appear at the head end and create the very same visual interference effect,
    you have to consider the following, which totally disproves this
    possibility:

    The majority of cable channels lie in bands of frequencies which are shared
    with other broadcast services. High band VHF public service band radios, for
    example, sit in a band of frequencies which are exclusively reserved for
    police, fire, taxi, paging, etc., and these transmissions are deliberately
    located at frequencies far removed from television broadcast. The paging
    system which interferes with my cable reception, for example, is located in
    the 152 MHz (approx) spectrum, which is well outside any neighboring
    frequency where TVI could occur. This frequency range is, however, directly
    where Cable Channel 19 is located in the "Midband" cable allocations used by
    most cable companies including mine. The *******ONLY********* way that this
    paging system could interference with cable 19 as it does in my home is by
    directly competing at approx. 152 MHz with my cable mid band signal. My STB
    box could ***NOT*** be all digital and still have mixer products / RF
    interference arising from a nearby paging service, since it requires both
    the analog TimeWarner signal sent on channel 19 along with the competing
    pager signal sent at 152 MHz to beat against one another. If you can think
    of a way that "It is still conceivable that your digital STB could still be
    all digital" I would like to know what you have in mind. The paging service
    transmitter, incidentally, is less than a mile from my home, and about 25
    miles from the TimeWarner head end and OTA antennas.

    I've spent a lot of time with my cable system and a spectrum analyzer,
    having been in RF engineering for most of my career, and fooling with cable
    descramblers, and there is no doubt in my mind that TimeWarner continues to
    carry classical (1960's vintage) analog signaling in the lower 500 MHz or so
    of their system ( roughly 70 channels) and has piggy-backed their digital
    onto the higher bandwidth expansions above 500 MHz as they build-out their
    network and add capacity. This strategy makes tremendous economic sense,
    since it retains and milks their original investment to the max. The
    eventual plan as I have been briefed and read is the obvious
    one........namely, to eventually replace the lower 500 MHz with digital
    signaling. The gain in efficiency with mpeg will then add yet another one
    hundred + channels if and when they are needed with replacement hardware
    needed in the head end only, since the STBs can be easily re-programmed to
    handle these new digital channels in the same manner as the ones currently
    being sent above 500 MHz.

    There is still one puzzling aspect to me, and this is the point the original
    post alluded to. How the FCC has any authority to mandate any private wire
    signaling escapes my understanding entirely.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jul 14, 2008
    #9
  10. The FCC is not restricted to RF communication. They have been
    reuglating wireline services (i.e. telegraph, telephone, etc.) since
    before many of us were born.

    Perhaps you are too young to remember the bad old days when
    there was only one long-distance provider, and you could connect
    only telco-owned equipment to the line, etc.

    Trying to analyze why any federal agency does what it does (or how
    it does) is a sure path to madness. :)

    One practical example of FCC rules on cable providers (and satellite
    providers, as well) is the requirement to forward all national and
    regional EAS emergency messages, etc.

    I'm currently working on an alternative EAS system for a non-profit
    broadcaster. The commercial units practically rival the cost of the
    actual broadcast equipment (transmitter, tower, antenna, etc.)
     
    Richard Crowley, Jul 14, 2008
    #10
  11. Rick Merrill

    Smarty Guest

    No, I do indeed know and remember the FCC role in other wireline decisions,
    and actually was involved in a 'mom and pop' small telephone company
    business in the 1960's when the Carterphone decision was handed down. My
    amazement / bemusement really relates to their authority to mandate how a
    privately constructed network of any type, particularly if it is not
    monopolistic, can signal information. I am no doubt extremely conservative
    in my view of how government should NOT intervene in such matters, and it
    certainly is, as you say, maddening. ;-)

    To date me in the context of the EAS forwarding system you briefly
    mentioned. I had a Conelrad detector in my ham shack in the 1950's which
    sensed Conelrad broadcasting to alert me to the "impending danger".......

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jul 14, 2008
    #11
  12. "Smarty" wrote ...
    Ah yes. I clearly recall the Carterphone decision and then Judge Green
    breaking up AT&T into the 'baby bells".
    But virtually every cable TV system in the US IS monopolistic in
    the sense that customers rarely have a choice between vendor A
    and vendor B. Local governments award "franchises" (monopoly
    licenses) for everything from trash pickup to cable TV, etc.
    I was running a radio station when the accidential alert went out
    over the wire services (AP & UPI). We were freaked until the
    messages came saying that it was an accident.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Broadcast_System#False_alarm_of_1971

    I'm actually designing an EAS system right now for a low-budget, non-
    profit broadcaster. I'm starting from scratch with an XR2211 PLL
    chip for FSK decoding, etc.
     
    Richard Crowley, Jul 14, 2008
    #12
  13. Rick Merrill

    Guest Guest

    | "Smarty" wrote ...
    |> "Richard Crowley" wrote ...
    |>> "Smarty" wrote ...
    |>>> There is still one puzzling aspect to me, and this is the point the
    |>>> original post alluded to. How the FCC has any authority to mandate any
    |>>> private wire signaling escapes my understanding entirely.
    |>>
    |>> The FCC is not restricted to RF communication. They have been
    |>> regulating wireline services (i.e. telegraph, telephone, etc.) since
    |>> before many of us were born.
    |>>
    |>> Perhaps you are too young to remember the bad old days when
    |>> there was only one long-distance provider, and you could connect
    |>> only telco-owned equipment to the line, etc.
    |>>
    |>> Trying to analyze why any federal agency does what it does (or how
    |>> it does) is a sure path to madness. :)
    |>>
    |>> One practical example of FCC rules on cable providers (and satellite
    |>> providers, as well) is the requirement to forward all national and
    |>> regional EAS emergency messages, etc.
    |>>
    |>> I'm currently working on an alternative EAS system for a non-profit
    |>> broadcaster. The commercial units practically rival the cost of the
    |>> actual broadcast equipment (transmitter, tower, antenna, etc.)
    |>>
    |>
    |> No, I do indeed know and remember the FCC role in other wireline
    |> decisions, and actually was involved in a 'mom and pop' small telephone
    |> company business in the 1960's when the Carterphone decision was handed
    |> down.
    |
    | Ah yes. I clearly recall the Carterphone decision and then Judge Green
    | breaking up AT&T into the 'baby bells".

    Which used a stupid dividing line (between local and long distance). Where
    they _should_ have divided it was between facility (wire pairs) and dial tone
    (content). That way one company would own the wires and could do nothing
    else but lease it to other companies equally.

    But they didn't understand these things back then.
     
    Guest, Jul 14, 2008
    #13
  14. Rick Merrill

    Guest Guest

    | |> On Tue, 08 Jul 2008 06:30:49 -0400 Rick Merrill <>
    |> wrote:
    |>
    |> | Recent FCC regulations will make analog over cable (that's right, over
    |> | cable) obsolete by Feb 2012.
    |>
    |> Technology did that back in the early 1990's. The FCC is just now
    |> catching up.
    |>
    |> --
    |> |WARNING: Due to extreme spam, googlegroups.com is blocked. Due to
    |> ignorance |
    |> | by the abuse department, bellsouth.net is blocked. If you post
    |> to |
    |> | Usenet from these places, find another Usenet provider ASAP.
    |> |
    |> | Phil Howard KA9WGN (email for humans: first name in lower case at
    |> ipal.net) |
    |
    |
    | Phil,
    |
    | I don't understand your point. My local Time Warner cable company delivers
    | nearly 70 analog TV channels to this day in analog format. Are you referring
    | to some cable companies which are purely digital?

    My point is that the emergence of digital technology itself is what made analog
    technology for TV delivery obsolete. The FCC didn't do it. Instead, the FCC
    just took its time very slowly getting out of the way of digital technology.
    Some cable companies are slower than others in adopting this technology. They
    do know it can mean more money. But it also takes money invested to make the
    change and remove the obsolete technology. One of the issues is the installed
    base of analog input STBs they have to replace. Most are doing this tier by
    tier with basic being last (where they might have to provide free STBs).

    As I understand it the cable system in Chicago is 100% digital. I have not
    found out how they are meeting the "analog mandate" to provide analog signal
    to the basic customers. A simple STB that has only analog output could do
    the job.

    There is talk that Comcast is deploying (testing?) 8VSB instead of QAM for
    the few channels that will be on the basic tier, apparently to take advantage
    of the cheap converter boxes that emerged from the government coupon program.
    They won't have to provide an STB at all to customers that have one of these.
    It may be the case they will squeeze all the basic channels in SD into 2 or 3
    RF channels, and deliver the HD versions of these on the remaining QAM channels
    to regular customers who get a full cable digital STB. Taking 15 basic analog
    channels and sqeezing them into 3 8VSB channels receovers 12 RF channels for
    use in delivering other digital programming on above-basic tiers.
     
    Guest, Jul 14, 2008
    #14
  15. Rick Merrill

    Smarty Guest

    I agree Phil, and your choice of phrasing "digital...made...analog TV
    delivery obsolete" is not entirely in the past tense, but, as you say, and I
    have already opined, the economic motives ultimately drive this issue, both
    on the part of the cable company investments as well as the consumer
    investments. The cable companies have an ultimate economic incentive, since
    they open more effective channels and then sell more advertizing. I have no
    idea what the rate of return on their investment is, but I would purely
    guess that a new head-end to deliver another 150 channels in former analog
    spectrum would be under a million bucks and perhaps closer to 500K, using a
    simple guess of $3K to $5K for each of 150 mpeg encoders. If and when the
    can sell the new, additional advertizing, it would seem plausible that 30%
    of their broadcast schedule would be delivered as paid advertizing
    potentially yielding maybe 800-1000 more hours per day of ad revenue (150
    channels x 7 hrs per channel). Given that cable ads sell for $100s to $1000s
    per minute, and that they now have added 60,000 new additional minutes per
    day of ads, one would think that they would be highly incentivized to make
    the investment as soon as possible, since the return is astronomical, even
    if STBs and other components also need to be upgraded / changed-out. I know
    I have portrayed a very optimistic and very unrealistic picture of their
    economic situation, but I think that even a discounting of my estimate by a
    factor of 100 would still make a very reasonable case for doing the switch.


    Rate shaping and bandwidth reduction for carriage of OTA via cable is at the
    heart of this, IMHO, since cable operators can legitimately avoid using the
    8VSB forward error correction coding so entirely necessary for atmospheric
    OTA (which adds a huge amount of overhead bits) and can further rate shape
    (as in DEGRADE) broadcast quality to deliver a lower definition picture
    which most consumers will not notice. The end trade is more capacity for
    reduced quality, a trade which the cable operators ALWAYS seem to make in
    favor of their revenue streams by adding more channels.

    Smarty
     
    Smarty, Jul 16, 2008
    #15
  16. Rick Merrill

    Steve House Guest

    You mean the bad old days when telemarketers didn't exist, the phone
    service was cheap and reliable with no hidden fees and charges,
    service calls were answered 24/7, handled within a day and were free,
    installation was free, a human operator was available to assist you
    and was free, you called "0" for emergencies and a human who knew your
    town answered the call and connected you to help, directory assistance
    was free and the operator actually helped you find what/who you
    needed, and if you had a question about your bill it was handled by a
    human in an office across town who if necessary you could go and see
    face-to-face instead of by a droid working off a canned script in a
    call centre in Mumbai?

    Wireline telecommunications is one of those areas that a tightly
    regulated monopoly, forced by the government to place public good and
    consumer equity above all other considerations and in return to be
    guaranteed to make a reasonable profit, makes perfect sense.
    Deregulation was not for the benefit of the consumer, it was for the
    benefit of corporate greed and the consumer be damned.
     
    Steve House, Jul 19, 2008
    #16
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