CMC Plugs Digital, HD


Comcast Media Center is stocking up on high-definition programming for smaller cable operators and gearing up an option that would let them take their systems all-digital more easily.

Last week at the Independent Show here, Comcast Media Center announced it has signed transport agreements for 14 additional HD channels, bringing to 20 the roster of HDTV channels that will be available through Headend In the Sky.

The additional high-definition services, which represent eight programming groups, will be delivered via the Comcast Media Center’s Quantum MPEG-2 programming service.

The center’s most recent transport agreements will add:

  • A&E Television Networks’ History HD;
  • Discovery Communications’ Animal Planet HD, Discovery Channel HD, Discovery HD Theater, Science Channel HD and TLC HD;
  • Disney-ABC Television Group’s ABC Family HD and Disney Channel HD;
  • Fox News Channel HD;
  • Lifetime Movie Network HD;
  • NBC Universal’s USA Network HD and Sci Fi Channel HD;
  • Outdoor Channel HD; and
  • Travel Channel HD.

These HDTV networks join A&E HD, HGTV HD, Food Network HD, National Geographic Channel HD, Starz HD and Universal HD, which all launched on HITS Quantum last year. HITS Quantum’s HD channel lineup is delivered via SES Americom’s AMC-18 HD-PRIME satellite.

In addition, CMC and Motorola announced they have upgraded their jointly operated National Authorization Service to support digital-to-analog devices for CMC’s HITS Quantum affiliates.

Testing is currently underway and Comcast Media Center by this fall will begin supporting the use of digital-to-analog devices on cable systems using the NAS.

“DTA devices are an essential step in the industry’s move toward an all-digital platform,” Comcast Media Center chief operating officer Gary Traver said in a statement. “The CMC is dedicated to making the transition to digital as smooth as possible for cable systems serving smaller markets.”

The one-way digital-to-analog device lets cable operators move to all-digital infrastructures by delivering digital-quality video and audio service to existing analog cable customers.

In addition, following the Feb. 17, 2009, digital broadcast transition, DTAs will allow cable operators to deliver analog and standard-definition broadcast signals to analog television sets.

Motorola’s Digital Headend Systems have been upgraded to manage DTA devices alongside the existing population of set-top boxes.

The systems will also fully support the evolving set-top product line moving forward.

NAS provides cable systems serving smaller markets with a centralized alternative for addressing their set-top management requirements. Its national services include conditional access and set-top addressability via satellite and Internet-based virtual private network connections to local digital headends.