Video services

All-Digital, With Benefits

11:45 AM -- In addition to clearing out capacity for Docsis 3.0, video-on-demand, and more hi-def channels, RCN Corp. 's all-digital cutover just received a nice side benefit: It's no longer on the hook to perform so-called "Proof of Performance" tests at least twice a year.

According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, MSOs are on the hook to provide detailed minimum performance standards for an analog signal, including items such as signal strength and signal-to-noise ratio. Operators are also supposed to provide those results for inspection by the Commission and the local franchising authority.

No so for RCN. At least not so, anymore. In an order issued this week, the FCC removed that costly burden for RCN because, alas, it no longer delivers analog video signals. All of RCN's systems in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, have gone completely digital as part of the cable overbuilder's broad "Analog Crush" project. (See RCN's 'Analog Crush' .)

Besides, the typical Proof of Performance tests don't apply to digital video.

"We find no reason to suspect that the suspention of these rules will result in degradation of the signal quality received by subscribers," the FCC notes in the order, adding that it has no reasons to impose any special technical requirements for digital video. However, it stresses that RCN "must continue to meet the ultimate obligation to provide a good quality signal to subscribers."

So, just be sure you're minding your P's and Q's in the all-digital world, RCN.

Other MSOs may get similar dispensation if and when they switch all video to digital. But that may not occur for quite a while, since most operators, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), continue to maintain analog tiers even as they begin to migrate some analog channels to the digital domain. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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