Comcast Degrades HD Signal to Add More Channels

According to one AVSForum user, Comcast has started adding even more compression to their HD channels In order to squeeze more HD channels down the same pipe. "bfdtv," the forum poster, recorded MPEG2 streams from Verizon FIOS TV and Comcast. There's a clear, noticeable degradation in quality between the two. Some would look at this as a bad thing—Comcast subscribers, for one—but I see it as a positive opportunity for the public to start understanding the nature of digital compression and demanding more quality from their content providers. As you can see in the above excerpt shot from a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, lead singer Anthony Kiedis is a much more gorgeous woman in uncompressed HD. Comcast HD Quality Reduction: Details, Screenshots [ via Consumerist]
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12 Responses to Comcast Degrades HD Signal to Add More Channels

  1. Registrado says:

    Dear Comcast,

    You’ll be pleased to know that starting this month, the monthly Comcast cable bill of $69.95 will be paid by a check compressed to $49.95. If you’d like me to uncompress future payments back to the full amount, then uncompress my channels, you detestable lackwits.

    A. Customer

  2. Anonymous says:

    There’s always the option of getting at&t’s U-verse IPTV service. The service is sprouting up all over the country and has some pretty cool features. Like setting up your recordings through the internet and recording 2 HD+ 2 SD channels at the same time.

  3. Lonin says:

    Ditto on Verizon, FiOS has been available about 15 miles from me for a few years now, but it’s yet to move any closer. What’s sad is that Comcast has a horrible HD channel lineup in my area to begin with. I don’t even get Discovery or Science Channel HD, the two I want the most.

    Also, as stated in the original forum post, the reason some of the comparisons look so bad for Comcast is that they are compressing already compressed content making the quality get exponentially worse.

  4. Mikey Likes BoingBoing says:

    Point well taken, but even better: just get local HD channels and Netflix, then kill your cable TV bill completely.

  5. Grobstein says:

    Don’t be an ass; that’s Avril Lavigne.

  6. xllr8 says:

    hurrah!!! hurrah !!! Ditto #9

  7. stratosfyr says:

    I don’t really understand why they decided to use MPEG2 compression for these signals (or for DVDs). Aren’t there codecs that can give visually comparable quality at lower bitrates? XVID or Theora for instance?

    Seems like not building tighter codecs into the standards is going to bite them in the ass.

    Of course, now we know why we’ll all have to upgrade from HD.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The pictures show transmission artifacts, not compression artifacts.

  9. adamrice says:

    Stratosfyr: When the USA wrote the HDTV spec, they went with the best codec that was available at the time—1993. Back then, it was a bit of a leap of faith that real-time MPEG-2 decoders would be cheap enough to build into consumer electronics.

    Certainly in hindsight it would have made sense to think of the TVs more like computers, with upgradeable codecs, but for the time, it was a fairly ambitious spec.

    Even a modern codec like H.264 would not be enough to bring Comcast’s video quality up to the level of Verizon’s, and even if it were, they’d probably over-compress *that* to stuff more channels in anyhow.

  10. Enochrewt says:

    I recently cancelled my Comcast HD package. I got sick of paying a crazy monthly bill for something like 18 total HD channels at very questionable quality.

    I wish they’d bring FiOS to my area, but since I live directly downtown in a 100+ year old building I’m not holding my breath.

  11. mdhatter says:

    Of course, now we know why we’ll all have to upgrade from HD.


  12. daede says:

    I’ve noticed this for a while in my area (North Bay Area) and it sucks, big time.

    I just wish Verizon would hurry up and get their service going in my area.

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