Friday, October 10, 2008

Comcast HD channel lineup

With Comcast's $14/month Limited Basic service in the California Bay Area (Silicon Valley region) the following high definition (HD) clear-QAM channels can be received:

station   channel   affiliate   resolution
KTVU-HD 2.001 FOX 720p
KRON-HD 4.002 myTV 720p
KPIX-DT 5.001 CBS 1080i
KGO-DT 7.001 ABC 720p
KQED-HD 9.001 PBS 1080i
KNTV-HD 11.001 NBC 1080i
KICU-DT 36.001 720p
KBCW-HD 44.001 CW 1080i

These channels are not encrypted and they can be decoded with any HDTV that has a built-in QAM tuner. Note that the required over-the-air ATSC tuner is different than a QAM tuner. So if your HDTV has a built-in QAM tuner, most new models do, then you are good to go. A separate set-top box, cableCARD, or extra digital cable service fee is not required thanks to the FCC's digital must carry rule.

To find these clear-QAM signals the HDTV's automatic channel scan will need to be performed. These HD channels may be randomly placed across the dial so you may need to hunt for them. Using the televisions "favorites" feature will make it easier to quickly surf only the HD channels. The station identification info will automatically be extracted with an HDTV that supports the Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP). Comcast may also choose to move the station numbers around from time-to-time so you may need to occasionally rescan for them. The cable companies don't tell you this and they don't make it easy but these "clear-QAM" signals are available for free with a "basic cable" subscription service.

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