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Mediacom's all-digital conversion enters 2nd phase

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 8:20am
Mike Robuck

Mediacom is gearing up for the next phase of its all-digital conversion, which is scheduled for its Florida/Alabama market.

Mediacom has started informing customers in the Florida/Alabama market that the conversion is about to get underway.

Earlier this year, Mediacom started its first major all-digital project in Cedar Rapids and other areas of its Iowa footprint.

"We have several other big markets scheduled to transition in the next six months," said Mediacom spokesman Thomas Larsen. "Minnesota will follow on the heels of Florida/Alabama. The immediate change that will occur in conjunction with these transitions is the launch of HD channels. We will be offering upwards of 100 HD in these markets post transition."

Mediacom, the nation's eighth-largest cable operator, is offering digital tuner adapters (DTAs) with rent-free leases, and customers can receive them for all non-digital televisions. Mediacom is using DTAs from Technicolor for the project.

Like other cable operators, namely Comcast, Mediacom is freeing up bandwidth by converting some of its analog channels to digital. The end result will be more HD and SD channels, as well as the faster DOCSIS 3.0-based tiers.

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 lifeline 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 MPEG-2 digital programs can be inserted into one 6 MHz slot – this yields enough bandwidth for nearly 590 channels.

Larsen said Mediacom doesn't currently have any HD DTAs deployed.

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