Getting Comfortable With The Basics

TV, Internet, Phone

Television, Internet and Phone Service at Coldstream Crossing

Your Choices
We are fortunate that both Verizon and Comcast offer all their services to us, with wiring right up to the foundation of our homes.  That gives us the ability to negotiate the best deal for our TV, Internet and phone needs.  You may not think about it, but we also have the ability to receive “off the air” TV stations if we have the right kind of TV receiver (essentially any of the flat screen digital LCD or plasma receivers).
Phone Service
Verizon did not install copper wire to our homes, which means that you must allow them to install a FIOS box even if you use Comcast for TV and Internet.  Comcast will also provide phone service if you use Verizon for TV and Internet, but this would be highly unusual.  If you have Verizon phone service, the FIOS box provides battery backup (for several hours) if you lose AC power in your home.  Comcast does not provide backup so if you have their phone service and lose power, you better have a charged cell phone it you want to make/receive calls.
Analog TV Reception
If you have Comcast as your TV provider you can still use your old analog TV receivers.  Comcast, at least for the time being, is doing a reverse format change, changing the digital signal from the local TV stations into an analog format.  Therefore, you can watch 3, 6, 10,12, 17, 29, 57 and some other stations on your old analog TVs.  There is no guarantee that this will last forever, but for now, it works.  You can no longer receive analog TV off the air.
Since the Verizon facilities are totally fiber, non-metallic, they do not provide analog signals for your old “Cable-ready” analog TV sets.
Digital TV Adapters
A few months ago, Comcast stopped transmitting many of the popular channels (MSNBC, CNBC, Golf Channel, etc.) in analog format.  When they did that, they offered their subscribers two (2) free Digital TV Adapters (DTAs), with remote controls to allow them to receive digital channels on their analog TV receivers.  You tune your analog TV to channel 3 or 4 and must then use the DTA remote to change channels.  So now you have two remotes, but at least you’re still using your old TV.
You can still receive TV from Verizon on your analog TVs, but you must have one of their converter boxes for every  analog TV.  Of course you also need one of their boxes for every digital TV as well.

Digital TV Services
Well now, there are Digital Services and there are High Definition Services and shortly, I presume there will be 3D HD services.  Now you are in a shoppers’ market place, where you will negotiate with your provider for what you want to receive.  All of this is controlled from the service providers “head end equipment” so whatever you order and agree to pay for, will be turned on/off by their computers without the need for a premise visit (except if the services you order require the installation of a different kind of converter box).  Turning HBO on/off, for example, requires no visit.
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)
Both Verizon and Comcast offer DVRs.  On either, you can watch one channel and record on another.  You can record on both channels at the same time but you can’t watch another channel.  With my Comcast service, I use a splitter between the cable outlet and the DVR box, with the other lead going to my cable jack on the TV.  Then I can record two channels and watch another on the TV.
Channel lineups
When you are watching TV through your Verizon or Comcast DVR box, your Comcast DTA, your Verizon box, or whatever, your channel lineups will be whatever they provide with that service.
If you are watching digital TV off the air, you will receive CBS on channel 3.1, ABC on 6.1 and NBC on 10.1, for example.
If you are watching digital TV on Comcast, without going through their converter box (on a newer flat panel TV) you will find CBS on 3.1, ABC on 8.1 and NBC on 8.2
If all of this in confusing to you, WELCOME TO THE CROWD!
Netflix Downstreaming
Netflix, and soon to be others, will downstream recent movies to you, on demand (for a price).  This sounds great, but you must have an Internet connection next to your TV and a converter box (many types available, including WII) for you to be able to use this service.
HELP?
The Senior Tech Group doesn’t have all the answers and your needs vary.  But we’re willing to talk with you, visit with you and give you the benefit of our best ideas and thoughts.

Glossary
Analog TV:  The format in which TV broadcasts have been made virtually since the inception of television broadcasting.  When color TV was introduced in the late 1950s, it was still broadcast in analog format, called the NTSC standard.  Analog TV required a lot of radio frequency spectrum, since each channel occupied 6 Megahertz of bandwidth.  All signals were broadcast in a 4 by 3 aspect ratio (the picture is 4 units wide, by 3 units high).
Digital TV:  The Federal Communications Commission ordered that in 2009 (it was delayed until then), all off the air broadcasting of TV signals had to be in digital format.  Digital broadcasting using QAM technology was far more efficient than analog NTSC, allowing several channels/services to fit into the 6 Megahertz bandwidth required by one analog channel.  The cable TV companies quickly adopted digital, while maintaining some analog broadcasting, generally for the local area channels.  Standard, non-high definition digital broadcasts use a 480I format, which provides a somewhat better picture than analog transmission and also uses a 4 by 3 aspect ratio.
High Definition TV:  This is simply one form of digital TV, with much more detail included and broadcast only in a 16 by 9 aspect ratio.  There are a number of formats that can be received, including 720P, 1080I and 1080P.  The P stands for Progressive Scan and the I stands for Interlaced Scan.  Virtually all off the air and cable high definition uses the 720P and 1080I formats.  Blueray DVD players use the 1080P to achieve a slightly improved picture.
QAM Tuners:  (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, pronounced KWAAM)  Virtually all the LCD and Plasma flat screen TVs manufactured today incorporate QAM tuners, as well as NTCS tuners for analog reception (remember all those VCR tapes that you may want to play someday using your old Video recorder or camera?).
Cable-Ready TV:  The Cable TV providers in the past used different channels for their analog transmissions than those that were off the air.  Therefore, TV manufacturers provided tuning capability for both off the air and cable TV selected by a switch on the TV set.  Those TV sets were advertised as “cable ready.”  If you have a new TV set with a QAM tuner and are a Comcast customer, you have the ability to receive local high definition channels (3, 6, 10, 12, 17,  29, 48, and 57 without using a Comcast cable box.
HDMI:  High Definition Multimedia Interface.  A totally digital connection point(s) provided in modern TV sets to connect DVRs, computers, gaming systems, etc. to the TV set.

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