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A comparison of Discovery HD between FiOS and cable with a 35.8% average bitrate reduction.  (Source: AVSForums user "bfdtv")
Canadian cable company compresses curious channel choices

HDTV enthusiasts in Canada having a chuckle at the expense of Comcast customers earlier this week are scheduled to receive similar treatment shortly. Beginning April 9th, Rogers Cable, one of the major cable companies serving the province of Ontario, is scheduled to begin compressing over a dozen high-definition channels.

Digital Home Canada
, a major site for Canadian consumer electronics, reported having been passed a technical brief from Rogers Network Engineering and Operations stating the impending compression and a listing of affected channels, shown below:
  • HD PBS Buffalo
  • HD WGN
  • HD The Score
  • HD Showcase
  • HD National Geographic
  • HD Mpix
  • HD Discovery
  • HD TMN
  • HD NBC Seattle
  • HD SUN
  • HD RAP
  • HDA&E
The selection of channels is similar in scope to those being compressed by Comcast -- so-called "premium stations" that most subscribers typically purchase as part of a bundle above and beyond the basic digital and HD channels. A sample of the compression artifacts seen on the Comcast feed of Discovery HD, compared to the same channel on Verizon's FiOS fiber-optic network can be seen to the right -- providing an estimation of what Canadians are in for.

Major American networks such as ABC and FOX, and Canadian networks CBC, CTV, Global, and sports network TSN were omitted from the list. While the American networks -- and The Sports Network -- may have been given a pass due to the large number of viewers, the immunity granted to the CBC may have roots within the regulations of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC.)

In the CRTC Broadcasting Public Notice dated June 12, 2002, paragraph 61 states that:
Accordingly, as a matter of policy, the Commission considers that a DTV signal distributed by a BDU [broadcasting distribution undertaking] to its subscribers should be of the same quality and in the same format as that received by the BDU, without any degradation.
However, no specific wording to this effect could be found within current CRTC regulations to this effect. With other major cable companies likely to follow suit, and opinions regarding the quality of Bell ExpressVu satellite service being less than stellar among the enthusiasts, the only remaining option for Canadian HDTV owners to obtain a crystal-clear signal may be to dust off the old antenna and fly it proudly on their roof.

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By omnicronx on 4/4/2008 2:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
(or MPEG2 for that matter)
What format do you think your digital signals are sent in? HD channels you are currently getting are transmitted in mpeg2. Your box has a decoder, which decodes the signal, simple as that. Theres no reason a cable box would not be able to decode an HD Divx signal, if such a decoder does in fact exist.

My belief for why Mpeg2 was chosen as the standard is there that no other format out right now that has the compatibility and the availability of decoder chips as mpeg2.. period..

By glennpratt on 4/4/2008 4:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
Slow down man. Let me break down the conversation as I read it.

MPEG2 is a relatively simple compression. MPEG4/H.264 is more advanced and takes more processing power to decode and uncompress.

Hell I have a 30 dollar DVD player that can decode Divx ;)

It's doubtful that it could decode HD Divx (or MPEG2 for that matter).

I guess to be more clear, I should have said: "It's doubtful your '$30 DVD player' could adequately decode Divx or even MPEG2 at HD bitrates."

By mindless1 on 4/5/2008 6:50:52 AM , Rating: 2
If there were demand for such a chip in sufficient volume (lowering price some) it would be more widespread. The issue is the bottom line, what those transmitting this content perceive is most profitable and changing equipment isn't that, not on their end or the consumers' end (until the day when they want more bandwidth to make themselves more money, not to give the customers substantially higher quality.

MPEG2 is the standard because of the past, the world does not hop onto every new technology when there's an infrastructure that has to be replaced, these things take time. The move from MPEG2 will come, but not as fast as on a PC where you just download a new codec.

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