Comcast Cable Communications Inc. began marketing a tier of high- definition television services to about 1.3 million customers last month in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Comcast's initial HD lineup is comprised of programming from major networks such as ABC, NBC and CBS, as well as shows and movies from premium nets HBO and Showtime.

Comcast, like other MSOs, has spent heaps of money upgrading its networks for new digital video and data services.

"HDTV, the most sophisticated form of television commercially available, is the next step in this process," said Michael Doyle, president of Comcast's Eastern Division, in a statement.

As part of that process, Comcast said it would offer HDTV tuners to customers who don't own sets with that capability built-in. Customers with HDTV-ready televisions can rent or purchase a Motorola-built set-top box that allows them to view standard analog and digital stations, Comcast added, noting that its HD service features a 16-by-9 wide-screen picture with a resolution of more than two million pixels.

On pricing, Comcast rents the HDTV decoder to digital customers for $10.95 per month, or offers an option to buy it outright for about $300.

Though HD programming remains rather limited, networks included in Comcast's package do offer select movies, primetime shows and some events in all of their high-definition glory. HBO, for one, offers "The Sopranos" and "Band of Brothers" as part of its HD lineup.


Comcast Nov. 1 HDTV rollout


Bucks County, Pa.

Coatesville, Pa.

Delaware County, Pa.

Levittown, Pa.

Lower Merion, Pa.

Montgomery County, Pa.

Philadelphia, Pa.

West Chester, Pa.

Willow Grove, Pa.

Burlington County, N.J.

Gloucester County, N.J.

Pleasantville, N.J.

Trenton, N.J.

Vineland, N.J.

New Castle, Del.

Channel lineup:

ABC (channel 180)

NBC (channel 181)

CBS (channel 182)

HBO (channel 300)

Showtime (channel 339)