[opendtv] Re: Toward digital TV

  • From: Bob Miller <bob@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 20:16:45 -0500

Manfredi, Albert E wrote:

>Bob Miller wrote:
>>>I don't know about NYC, but it would certainly be no big
>>>shakes for a store in the Washington area to install an
>>>outdoor antenna and feed their display DTVs. In fact, they
>>>used to do this at first, in the bad old days of 1st gen
>>And they gave it up because later generations of receivers
>>were not as good as those first gen ones??
>Since you know very well that's not the reason, there must
>be another reason.
There is but you will not accept it and it makes no sense to re-state 
it. You simply ignore the evidence. The market is the evidence.

>>Maybe you can explain to me why the US is so different
>>than the rest of the world. If both 8-VSB and COFDM
>>receivers are the same market wise what makes every country
>>that has COFDM and are going bonkers selling COFDM
>>receivers so different than us?
>That's the question. Your answer to everything is "COFDM,"
>but it seems ever more obvious that modulation isn't the issue
>at all.
You keep saying that but it is just as obvious to me that modulation is 
the issue. The real question is if we had DVB-T in the US why wouldn't 
we be doing as well as other countries like the UK, Japan and France to 
name a few? The answer given by some is that we are different. How? The 
answers given include topography, percentages wedded to cable and 
satellite, network design, subsidies, government involvement, legacy 
antennas and the innate superiority of just being American. All these 
have an affect especially the last which unfortunately isn't innate if 
you happen to be born anywhere south of the Rio Grande.

Topography isn't the answer. Most examples of topology in the world can 
be found somewhere in the US.

A decent percentage of cable and satellite subscribers would switch to 
OTA only or add OTA with the right OTA business plan. IMO Other 
countries with high cable and satellite use are doing well with OTA. The 
UK is seeing people drop SKY, decide against SKY or add OTA to the SKY 
subscription they already have. A better TopUpTv service would skew that 
toward OTA IMO.

Network design is not the answer. As Stephen Birkill said is a recent 
post the UK analog broadcast network is similar to ours and their 
current mini powered digital network is not hindering their digital 
transition. Since we are already full power on many stations that is 
decidedly NOT the reason. And since we are transitioning to digital the 
question of re-design should have been a key component of the decision 
making process not a simple decision for modulation based on our current 
network design. Everything should have been in, pardon me, should be 
included in the decision. Network design, modulation and compression 
along with other things.

Subsidies are not the reason other countries are doing better. Italy is 
the biggest subsidy country I know of. I don't think they needed it. The 
UK has no subsidy and Germany's was minimal. Subsidies have had little 
or no affect.

Government involvement is not the answer. Ours has been more involved 
than most and only made things much worse. The UK has a good education 
process but that would not have helped at all here since in trying to 
explain our transition to date the education process would only have 
educated people to stay away from OTA digital even more. After all it 
would have to have included classes on installing rotorized rooftop 
antennas and explained all the intricacies of multipath both dynamic and 
static. They would have had to educate the public to the fact that they 
don't even need OTA if they already have cable or satellite and that the 
next TV they buy could just as well be another analog set if they still 
plan on using cable or satellite.

They would have to explain why we must give up mobile and portable 
reception forever or for some unknown period of time even though it is 
and is not necessary to do so in most other countries. The would in 
other words have to explain the many added benefits of 8-VSB over a 
COFDM and why it was imperative to enshrine MPEG2 before it became a 
true antique.

And the biggest reason that digital receivers are selling in other 
countries but not here is that we are not offering the same set of free 
OTA programs that other countries are offering and my answer is that if 
we had the right modulation we would be. And we will be even with 8-VSB 
if we get decent receivers someday. It just has been a colossal waste of 
time and money so far and will be for some unknown future period of time.

But Bert the simple reason that 8-VSB receivers are not being actively 
built, sold or bought is that no one in the process truly believes in 
8-VSB or in OTA for that matter.  I still believe that the future of OTA 
will be for mobile and portable services, the one area that fiber, cable 
and satellite cannot match and you need a better modulation for that. I 
have been convinced that this is an incredible new and the largest 
market for video since 1998. And I will slowly be proved right over the 
next five or so years. HD in the living room is great but 90% of video 
will be watched on smaller devices in five years.

>>Why don't you ask LG? They are still happily selling stand
>>alone COFDM receivers in OZ while still not selling stand
>>alone 8-VSB receivers in the US. They should have all the
>You asked, right? And they didn't give you any sensible
>answer. LG sells 5th gen STBs if they have a DBS receiver
>too, but not without DBS. They sell an ATSC-only STB and
>also ATSC-only PVR, but not 5th gen.
>So by what twist of logic do you conclude that COFDM would
>make a difference? If they seem willing to market only
>obsolescent products in ATSC-only livery, when they market
>their good stuff at large discounts only when associated
>with a subscription service, it seems to me that this same
>behavior would exist no matter what the modulation scheme.
>I'm ever more amazed by your religious zeal.
I think logic would say that if they believe they can make a profit on 
an HDTV COFDM receiver in OZ they probably could make a profit on it on 
the much bigger market of the US of A. Also even if they didn't believe 
that simple logic customers like yours truly and USDTV would come out of 
the wood work ordering COFDM receivers from any of the 100 manufacturers 
clamoring to sell their COFDM receivers in the US. I know personally 
that a number of large STB manufacturers declined to make 8-VSB 
receivers for the US market because of how bad it was. Nokia and Pace 
just for starters. Both participated in the House Hearings in 2000 and 
were both dumbfounded when the FCC stayed the course with 8-VSB in 2001.

No other manufacturer that defied that thinking has made significant 
dollar number one from making 8-VSB STBs IMO.

>>Soon?? When exactly are they going to become a commodity?
>I can give you an exact date: March 2007.
I don't think so. You will have a lot of selling of monitors and some 
cheap 8-VSB integrated sets and no meaningful difference from the 
present as to OTA DTV. There will be few 8-VSB receivers for sale stand 
alone. Most smart shoppers will be savvy enough to avoid any cash layout 
for OTA integrated receivers by then. The only commodity receiver will 
be the government subsidized ones and they will be absolute SD only junk 
IMO if they ever materialize. And they will cost the government more 
than $75 possibly around $110 before marketing or cost of just handing 
them out. Haliburton will probably get the contract to distribute at 
$200 per not counting the cost of the unit.

>>I saw an infomercial on cable today selling a 20" or so
>>LCD and informing the public at least five times in five
>>minutes that this did not have an HD tuner, didn't need
>>one because all you have to do is hook it up to cable and
>>satellite. Save money they kept saying and don't waste it
>>on an OTA tuner. I expect that will become a mantra in
>>all retail outlets over the next year or so.
>And this proves what, exactly? That they couldn't say
>precisely the same thing about COFDM?
No with COFDM allowed in 2000 the low cost of the integrated COFDM 
receiver that actually worked would have been touted as an inexpensive 
feature and all manufacturers would have included it and all consumers 
would have wanted to have it. If we switched today the cost would be 
little and again there would be a number of USDTV ventures that would 
subsidize the cost to zero whether integrated or stand alone for 
subscribers. But the main thing today would be the vast new reservoir of 
new manufacturers, new business plans, new innovative receivers that 
were mobile and portable. It would be very exciting. With 8-VSB I can't 
imagine exciting. Only a mundane and possibly doable business plan but 
not exciting and that only with 5th gen prototype equivalent receivers 
which don't exist yet.

Not weird just realistic like in the real world.

Bob Miller


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