New York --While direct-broadcast satellite companies
failed to meet their much-hyped goals of delivering high-definition television last fall
and again this spring, at least one cable company here has quietly hooked up a small
number of customers to Home Box Office's new HDTV feed, which launched early this
Time Warner Cable spokesman Mike Luftman confirmed that the
company is providing the signal free and in the clear in upgraded areas of Manhattan to
subscribers who own HDTV sets.
Because copy-protection issues have not yet been ironed
out, Time Warner is sending HBO's HDTV signal via cable directly to the television
using the 8VSB (vestigial-sideband) modulation standard chosen by digital terrestrial
Time Warner will migrate to a more bandwidth-friendly 256
QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) scheme as soon as HDTV-compatible set-top boxes are
HDTV owners currently don't need subscriptions to HBO
to receive the HDTV feed from Time Warner. But Luftman said the odds are high that
consumers who have purchased expensive HDTV sets are already HBO subscribers.
And since there are "literally a handful" of Time
Warner subscribers watching HBO's HDTV feed, Luftman said, it's not a financial
"We want to do everything that we can to encourage
HDTV," Luftman said. The MSO will make the HDTV signal available in other upgraded
markets, as well, if subscribers ask for it.
Time Warner has the capacity to carry as many as 24 HDTV
channels on upgraded systems, Luftman said.
Cablevision Systems Corp. also confirmed that it is making
HBO's HDTV feed available to subscribers in its rebuilt systems on Long Island, N.Y.