One year after RCN started down the pathway of migrating to an all-digital platform, the company said that the project is nearly completed.

The all-digital migration, which RCN calls “Analog Crush,” is slated to be finished by the end of this month in RCN’s metro customer markets, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

By completing the conversion to all-digital,  RCN said it was able to leapfrog cable competition and free up available spectrum that in turn permits the company to accelerate new standard digital, high-definition (HD) and international programming rollouts and create significant operational, maintenance and cost-efficiency benefits.

"Completing our Analog Crush project is a major strategic move for RCN," commented RCN CEO and President Peter Aquino. "Thanks to the FCC's grant of our set-top box waiver, RCN was able to bring more choice, value and programming to our customers, leading the push to go all-digital and accelerating our capital program in 2008 to accomplish this significant objective. By reclaiming bandwidth, RCN established the freedom to offer our customers an all-digital explosion of entertainment choices and more expanded basic digital TV channels than ever before.”

In the New York City metropolitan area, RCN competes with Verizon’s FiOS TV service, while Time Warner Cable and Cablevision also offer video services in some of the city’s boroughs. RCN also goes up against Comcast in Chicago and parts of Boston.

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

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