Insight Joins the DTA Dance

Insight Communications Co. Inc. has selected Lexington, Ky., as its first market to get an all-digital treatment.

Taking an approach popularized by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Insight will tackle the analog reclamation project with the help of standard-definition Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices that convert digital video signals to analog for use on older TV sets. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Company CEO Michael Willner touched on those details in a blog post this morning, noting that the all-digital conversion will begin in May and lead to a bevy of "Digital 5.10" service upgrades.

The upgrade will bring consumers about 100 HD channels, faster Docsis 3.0 cable modem services, and new products such as whole-home DVRs, Willner wrote, but he didn't offer any timeframe for the launch. The DTAs, which are designed for customers to install themselves, will provide access to as many as 10 channels that have previously been offered only to Insight customers who have made the jump to digital, he added.

An Insight spokeswoman confirmed a local newspaper report saying the operator plans to provide up to two DTAs for free to Lexington customers that don't currently use cable boxes, and one free DTA to homes that already have one cable box installed. Insight intends to charge a monthly lease fee (still to be determined) for any extra DTAs.

The spokeswoman said the MSO has not yet decided if or when it might deploy DTAs in its other markets; it partly depends on what happens in Lexington. Insight, which is undergoing a shift in ownership, has about 716,400 basic subscribers in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. It's the ninth-largest incumbent cable MSO in the US. (See Private Equity Firms Gain Some Insight .)

All of its systems are based on the Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) digital video platform. Moto, Pace plc , and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) are among suppliers that make DTAs that run on Motorola cable systems.

It's expected that Insight's initial deployments will involve standard-definition DTAs. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules that would allow MSOs to use a new type of DTA that can support high-definition video broadcast channels. (See FCC Inches Towards Net-Agnostic Gateways and HD-DTA Battle Heats Up .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:38:41 PM
re: Insight Joins the DTA Dance Nothing's set in stone, but I should note that Willner noted that the hope is to conduct similar upgrades in other Insight systems "methodically" starting later this year and into 2011. He's the boss man, so we'll go with that. JB
Putzaround 12/5/2012 | 4:38:33 PM
re: Insight Joins the DTA Dance

From a customer who recently got the Insight DTA boxes.

a.  they do not work

b. they will not allow you to use any other provider along with Insight - ref If you have Insight and Direct TV;  it will not talk and work together

c. the boxes are primarily so Insight and any other cable company can detect how many tv's are in place; to prevent cable theft

d. have them in house now - unpluged because of their failure. Insight has said they will have technical get back to me

e. $1.75 for first box; .75 cents each thereafter per month

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:38:33 PM
re: Insight Joins the DTA Dance They don't work? As in, they're bricks attached to your TV? Can you explain the nature of that one further? I'm curious because I just received two DTAs from Comcast that I haven't hooked up yet... but I'm looking forward to seeing how easy they are to install and how well they work.

You're right , these only work with the MSO's cable service, so of course they won't work with DirecTV.

You are also right that DTAs have a side benefit of reducing theft since they act like a trap.

Also thanks for the update on the pricing. Were you analog-only customer before that? Wasn't sure if you were already using digital boxes and maybe had a couple of older analog sets that needed the DTAs in addition to the digital boxes you already had. Thanks!

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