Comcast inks purchase agreement for Thomson’s DTAs

Tue, 07/08/2008 - 8:40am
Mike Robuck

Add Thomson to the list of vendors that are providing digital-to-analog (DTA) adapters to Comcast after a purchase agreement between the two was announced late yesterday.

Comcast is relying on the adapters to reclaim spectrum that is currently being used by analog video subscribers. The DTAs are a cheaper alternative to digital set-top boxes, but while they convert the digital signals back to analog at the TVs, they don’t provide other digital cable features such as video-on-demand (VOD). Comcast seems to be relying more on DTA adapters than on switched digital video (SDV) in order to reclaim bandwidth.

Cable operators are looking at going all digital to reclaim bandwidth in order to offer more high-definition (HD) channels or wideband deployments, but the DTAs also help them provide signals to analog sets after the broadcast digital transition goes into effect on Feb. 17 of next year.

“Thomson is pleased to enter the U.S. cable video market and expand our relationship with Comcast by becoming a supplier of DTA adapters,” said Frederic Kurkjian, VP of video premises systems for Thomson’s Systems Division. “The experience on this project will be invaluable for us as the world prepares to follow suit and migrate from analog to digital.”

Motorola and Pace Micro Technology are also reportedly providing DTA adapters to Comcast. Comcast is looking at starting its migration to all digital sometime this fall.

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 standard-definition (SD) MPEG-2 digital programs can be inserted into one 6MHz slot – this yields enough bandwidth for nearly 590 channels.

More Broadband Direct:

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