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USDTV Announces Low-Cost, Localized Digital TV

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the similarities-to-uk-service dept.

Television 246

pagercam2 writes "According to a CNN story, USDTV is about to roll out a new digital TV service, the difference being that it doesn't use cable or a satellite. They stream the DigitalTV signals on currently idle frequencies to standard UHF/VHF antennas. The service includes 35 channels, including local stations as well as many of the basic cable (Disney, Discovery, ESPN, TLC, FOOD...) with more to come. $19.95/mo is the price point for a basic service, though '...customers must buy a $99.95 set-top device to decode the channels.' Initially to be rolled out in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Albuquerque, could USDTV keep prices low and still support local content since they have no cable network to maintain, and no satellites to launch?"

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246 comments

Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593859)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Don't forget to HATE WINDOWS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593898)

windows (452268) [slashdot.org] is hated by no one?!

It is your duty as a Slashdot reader to officially and formally hate windows. [slashdot.org] Slashdot is impure until windows' freaks outnumber it's fans! Strike down this vile evil corporate monster today! Show it how much you hate it. Do Slashdot a favor and bloat windows' freaks [slashdot.org] list!

UPDATE! WE GOT MODDED UP!

Our founder, users.pl [slashdot.org] , got modded up to zero [slashdot.org] in one of his "Windows is hated by no one?!" posts in a Mac article! He was modded back to -1 in short order, but make sure you metamod that "insightful" as fair, or the "troll" as unfair! Mac users have fought back! Mac users have made it clear. Windows must be hated! [slashdot.org]

Waves of people have already joined our cause [slashdot.org] . Every Slashdot account counts!

FIRST POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593865)

RIGHT ATCHA BITCH!

Get some PRIORITIES!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593880)

It's mere hours after the single WORST TRAFFIC ACCIDENT IN US HISTORY [cnn.com] and you people are talking about television???? MY GOD, people, GET SOME PRIORITIES!!!!!!

Re:Get some PRIORITIES!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593971)

Bah! That's nothing. Last year we had a 200 car accident on the freeway here in Long Beach that injured over 40 people. We had to use city buses to get the people off of the freeway since so many people were stranded.

Big ass accident [kfwb.com]

FRIST POST (-1)

Jizmak (95124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593882)

Can I be in the GNAA now

YES (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593883)

Just what we need! My ass will not leave the couch!

Re:YES (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593999)

Just what we need! My ass will not leave the couch!

In that case, you need a Lazybowl.

Re:YES (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594040)

could USDTV keep prices low and still support local content since they have no cable network to maintain, and no satellites to launch?

The could but they won't. At $99.95 (which is not 'low') for a box costing $2.50 to build and $15 to supply they're onto a moneyspinner.

How many more goddessdamn set-top boxes am I expected to buy? There's a whole frickin' stack of them! I want one set-top box, preferably not a box at all but built into my TV, using a standardized protocol, which any supplier can unlock at will for the services I buy -- which will be rare, given that I have 500 channels or something right now, and there's sod all on worth watching.

Oh, and it must run Linux so I can hack on it :-)

At least... (1)

macshune (628296) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594067)

At least you pay in USD for USDTV, right? Makes it simple! Instead of those other TV-over-UHF people that make you pay in Euros for USDTV or CAD for USDTV.

*DUCKS* C'mon, it's finals! +1 bad joke?:)

Re:YES (-1, Offtopic)

xenocytekron (586678) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594214)

"goddessdamn"??? what the hell is that? You've taken feminism so far that its ridiculous, since "goddamn" is an insult to god, assumedly male by inferring from your post, goddessdamn would be *insulting* the female deity

Re:YES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594167)

What I need is for them to stop bombarding my DNA with their photons.

Here's to hoping they can hack it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593886)

Competition is good.

TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593890)

"My advice to people today is as follows: If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out." --Timothy Leary

sounds familiar (2)

cRueLio (679516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593892)

i heard that they already doing this in england with dvb-terrestrial.

does anyone know if they will be using DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) format? (I didn't read the article so don't flame me...)

in case they are, this would be easy to pick up on computer's equipped with a dvb pci card and software ;)

Re:sounds familiar (4, Informative)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594161)

Yes, we are doing Digital TV over the airwaves like that. I'm not sure if it is DVB based (I don't think it is), but its all broadcasted in spare UHF frequencies. It started off as a pay service called onDigital. They weren't doing very well, as the channel linup was limited, compared to Sky (digital satellite) or ntl and Telewest (cable), they weren't doing too well, so the product was re-branded ITV Digital, in line with the ITV channels. They spent ludicrous sums of cash on rights to football matches nobody really cared about. The company ultimately folded about 18 months ago. What was left was just the free-to-air channels supplied by the BBC. A new service was launched, called Freeview which only carried totally free (as in beer) programming. You just had to spend 100 on a decoder, or you could use your existing ITV Digital decoder (ITV Digital subsidised the STBs, but wrote them off as a loss so everybody could keep them). A new service is now launching in parrallel with Freeview called TopUP TV, which carries some paid programming. Its so far caused problems as its added more channels than some of the latest generation decoders can support!

Freeview [freeview.co.uk]
topup.tv [topup.tv]

Re:sounds familiar (3, Informative)

A (8698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594213)

It is not DVB based, but ATSC. Still mpeg2, but with a few changes. They are renting bandwidth from the local digital tv stations (including pbs) for these 10 or 11 channels.

Re:sounds familiar (5, Informative)

legoburner (702695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594217)

Not only do we use DVB-T in the UK, there is also a cheap PCI card from hauppage which is supported in Linux (after a lot of driver fiddling) and works perfectly with mythtv. It is therefore nice and easy to set up a mythtv box without being a slave to the cable company or satellite company and having full control over everything. New channels get added all the time and they are basically multiplexes over individual channels (ie; what would be one analog channel is a mux of about 8 channels, though most of those are used for crap!) Check out the dvb-t linux docs and mythtv docs if you want to know more. There are a few main muxes all of which are encoded slightly differently (and so some channels do not get as good reception as others, BBC 1/2 are much clearer than ITV2 and Channel 5). The channels are basically MPEG2 streams so if you record them raw, they can be easily converted onto DVD with no analog problems. At its peak the dvb-t service when operated by ITV digital had about 60 channels IIRC. It is a great piece of technology but is not well suited to private companies IMHO.

Re:sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594240)

There was originally a digital terrestrial service called OnDigital/ITV-Digital why did pay over DVB-t, it collapsed two years ago because of overstrected expenses on sporting rights and formidable competition from Murdoch's 'Sky' satellite service.

It was replaced by 'Freeview' which, as the name implies, is entirely a Free-To-Air platform so people can just pay a one off fee for a box around 40-100 ($60-$160) then that's it. Off the back of the robust sucess of 'Freeview' a pay-lite package called 'TopUp TV' is now trying to piggyback the network for people who want a few extra channels without the expense of cable or satellite or longterm contracts.

This new US network looks interesting, however essentially they're asking people to pay for what's already available for free anyway, much like OnDigital in the UK basically controlled access to free public-service channels. Saying you get access to all the major networks with local content and HDTV isn't saying much, stick up an antenna and a off the shelf reciever and you will get that!

Let's hope people don't conflate the free HDTV platform with this pay service, otherwise people will equate digital-tv or HDTV with pay TV.

wireless Internet over UHF? (2, Interesting)

7Ghent (115876) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593899)

Now if only they could do broadband over the same frequency range...for the same price.

Re:wireless Internet over UHF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594007)

Are you sure you want all your internet traffic broadcast over radiowaves?

Are you sure you want to deal with the latency involved with uploading via dialup, then waiting for an antenna to reply with your request?

Hmm... (4, Informative)

mgcsinc (681597) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593901)

That's just plain old broadcast digital TV, except that it reqires a decoder; I just don't see what is so revoloutionary... Also, the author cites "idle... frequencies" as if broadcasting on these is without enormous cost...

Re:Hmm... (4, Informative)

ERJ (600451) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593955)

I would say that the technology is not so revolutionary. What is neat is that they will be using it to broadcast channels usually only available to cable / dish customers. Nothing new except that, because of no wires to maintain and no satellite to launch, the cost is much cheaper.

Re:Hmm... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594109)

...the cost is much cheaper.

Evidently, you've never seen the electric bill for a 100,000 watt transmitter.

Re:Hmm... (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594173)

But so much for passing the savings onto the customer. This service only offers 10 encrypted channels for $19.99. People might think that there's 30 stations coming out of their box, but about 20 of them are free over-the-air digital channels including the digital subchannels that you don't see with an analog tuner, but are decodable by any digital tuner.

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593963)

That's just plain old broadcast digital TV, except that it reqires a decoder; I just don't see what is so revoloutionary...

Well, as far as I know, you can't get Discovery, TLC, USA, or ESPN with a regular antenna... but you can with this service.

Re:Hmm... (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594149)

True, but that's a marketing decision, not a tech one. The grandparent was just saying "what's so special about this tech?"

Re:Hmm... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593992)

It's more or less "idle bandwidth" that they're talking about. Every TV station should have a digital transmitter up by now, but not every TV station has HDTV content to put on it. Affiliates of Univision, Telemundo, Pax, Shop-At-Home and ShopNBC simply have no HDTV programs to put on their signals, so why not sell their wasted bandwidth cycles to this thing...

Re:Hmm... (3, Interesting)

Alan Cox (27532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594245)

Its what we've been doing in the EU for several years now. And as the previous post says it is not without cost or limitations (less bandwith than satellite for example).

In fact our big pay-to-view digital terrestrial tv company went spectacularly boom and nearly took out half of the soccer world with it, so that we had only free-to-air digital for a while, although a new player is now attempting to make pay to view digital terrestrial work again.

And if they hit the target for analogue switch over (unlikely as lots of voters have analogue only tv's still) then there will be lots more room to grow the digital tv space.

Encrypted? (4, Interesting)

jrockway (229604) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593903)

Is this encrypted like satellite TV? Or can I buy a receiver and not pay for the signal? Are these people going to sue all purchasers of smart card IO devices?

Likely they are Evil(tm) (0)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593943)

Information wants to be free! It's not like recieving the signal lessens it for others. Share!

Encrypted?-GPL TV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593978)

Are you willing to watch ads because you're a cheap bastard?

Re:Encrypted? (4, Informative)

wattersa (629338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594003)

FCC rules for Digital Television mandate that broadcasters must transmit at least one free over-the-air stream in their digital signal to the public just like current TV. However, they can charge for ancillary services [doc.gov] like internet (~19 mbps!), pay-per-view, etc. that are in parallel streams. So if you buy the receiver you'll probably need a descrambler and subscription to access the premium content.

Check this list [fcc.gov] to see what stations are operating in your area. Call them and ask what kinds of services they will be offering. many stations simulcast their regular lineup as part of the FCC transition program.

Re:Encrypted? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594015)

It looks like they're going to use a smart-card based decoder just like DirecTV and Dish Network are using. You can pluck their signal out of the air with no problem, but figuring out what to do with it to squeeze the content out won't be so simple.

Sweet! (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593905)

I live near SLC and was looking for a cheaper way to get HDTV..

I just hope these guys pickup cartoon network soon.

Re:Sweet! (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594208)

I live near SLC and was looking for a cheaper way to get HDTV..

I just hope these guys pickup cartoon network soon.


Prepare to be disapointed. This thing doesn't offer any HDTV that isn't already available over the air. Their 10 pay channels are all non-HDTV channels.

And as to picking up more channels... that's doubtful. It's hard to squeeze much more than 3 or 4 extra channels onto a digital TV signal, so they need 3 or 4 local broadcasters to help them out. They won't be adding any more channels because they won't have anywhere to put them.

Antenna troubles? (3, Insightful)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593907)

I've never had any luck with antenna-based communication. How would service be affected by bad weather? I know digital is definently better than analog over the air, but it still brings back memories of moving my hand half an inch one way while holding up a large metal rod and dancing a jig.

Re:Antenna troubles? (2, Funny)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593935)

Just remember ff you dont' have a modern art sculpture of foil and coat hangers on your TV you aren't getting good reception!

Re:Antenna troubles? (3, Interesting)

l810c (551591) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593988)

It says here [usdtv.com] that you must have line of sight to the tower. Might work better in the west or places were a tower can be placed really high. Bellsouth had a similar system(Not sure if they still offer it) in Atlanta where they were placing anteneas in Pine Trees in order to reach the tower. Big storm and there goes TV.

Also,
I want a system where I can pick each and every channel individually. I'd only want about 12-15 of them and I'd be willing to pay .50/channel :)

Re:Antenna troubles? (2, Insightful)

anachron (554095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594083)

but it still brings back memories of moving my hand half an inch one way while holding up a large metal rod and dancing a jig.

Waayyyhay! And they say slashdotters need girlfriend/boyfriends. Way to use that technology, sir!

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593908)

They've been doing this outside of the USA since the 1980s. You just have a set-top decoder box. You can tune into the stations without a box, but you can't see the pictures (doesn't matter for music or news stations really).

Nothing new... (5, Interesting)

elleomea (749084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593914)

The UK have has a DigitalTV service that broadcasts to standard antenni for a little while now. FreeView [freeview.co.uk]

Re:Nothing new... (2, Interesting)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594093)

We used to have a pay service, ITV Digital (previously OnDigital) but it kinda flopped.

Basically it was providing less channels than most of the competing pay services, and while it had the advantage that you could get it absolutely anywhere without changing the house (great if you're living in university halls of residence), that wasn't enough to make it successful.

Re:Nothing new... (2, Funny)

dickiedoodles (728410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594191)

We used to have a pay service, ITV Digital (previously OnDigital) but it kinda flopped.

That really depends on how you measure success. Ok granted financially it was a disaster, the service wasn't as good as the competition and despite what you say there were at least some areas where it couldn't be received(Freeview suffers from the same problem).

On the other hand those monkey adverts were superb.

I wonder (2, Interesting)

skank (106609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593917)

I live in BFE, where there is no cable and I'm too cheap for a dish (plus no Internet from a dish out here). I wonder since this is going thru the UHF/VHF frequencies, if it will be available farther out of town than cable is in most places. Also, most channels thru my standard antenna don't come in very well. I think 2 of the 6 channels I get are clear. I wonder if this will have the same problems for those of us stuck out in the country?

Curious (3, Insightful)

WndrBr3d (219963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593919)

I'm curious if the set top boxes use a form of authorization on the video stream like DTV or DishNetwork.

I know it's been a big deal lately that there has been a new sat. receiver released that can descramble Dish Network signals without the use of a SmartCard by simply providing it the latest decryption keys which anyone can get from a website.

Curious how long it'll take before they crack the protection on this system... so anyone can get free digital TV anywhere (well, if they roll it out everywhere).

Re:Curious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594019)

I know it's been a big deal lately that there has been a new sat. receiver released that can descramble Dish Network signals without the use of a SmartCard by simply providing it the latest decryption keys which anyone can get from a website.

This happened so long ago that I can legally discuss it here (I was doing it prior to the change in Canada's laws two years ago). It was called "emulation" back then, and required a real receiver. :) After that people used DVB cards, which was... hmmm, at least a year ago, probably more.

As far as that receiver goes, it will just serve to cause Dish to roll keys all day long, as it's a real pain in the ass to enter hex digits with only left and right scroll choices.

Curious how long it'll take before they crack the protection on this system... so anyone can get free digital TV anywhere (well, if they roll it out everywhere).

If they have any brains and avoid nagravision like the plague, a long, long, long time. But, who am I kidding? Of course they'll use Nagravision! >:-D

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594106)

muxa stuk sell

Like On Digital/ITV Digital used to be in the UK? (3, Informative)

farnz (625056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593921)

In the UK, we had a pay TV service, originally called On Digital, and later called ITV Digital, that used standard TV broadcast frequencies for their pay service. It failed for a number of reasons including poor encryption.

We've now got FreeView [freeview.co.uk] , a free to air replacement. Same technology sans encryption. There's also a group called Top Up TV [topuptv.com] , who are looking to add some pay channels to Freeview, but they look likely to fail due to lack of new equipment to receive pay channels on, and a poor selection of channels (limited due to lack of UHF bandwidth).

Oh, boy! I can't wait to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593929)

...how creative Comcast gets to crush these guys if they ever try to set up shop here in Philadelphia.

When RCN tried to begin service in Philadelphia a few years back, Comcast leaned on the local politicians and got all sorts of roadblocks put up, and RCN gave up and went away.

I pay $77/mo for basic cable and 3 HBOs. We could use some competition here in Philly. And now Comcast is perverting some underprivileged-area-development-incentive to get massive tax breaks if they move into a new 60-story skyscraper in the heart of very-privileged center city Philadelphia. But somehow I'm sure that even though they'll be saving all that money, my cable bill will just keep going up.

Terrrestrial digital TV isn't new here (0, Redundant)

Lurker McLurker (730170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593931)

We've had this in the UK for a while now. The company providing the service went bust, and now it runs as a free service (though you have to buy equipment, which would be included in your cable or sattelite package), with a combination of BBC Channels and channels with advertising. There is also a new service which allows you to add subscription channels.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593932)

According to a CNN story, USDTV is about to roll out a new digital TV service, the difference being that it doesn't use cable or a satellite. They stream the DigitalTV signals on currently idle frequencies to standard UHF/VHF antennas. Does it sound cool, you might ask?...do you wonder how long before someone cries about civil liberties? --- Does this seem like an idea that would suck? Is it good, or is it whack?

No Comedy Central (4, Funny)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593934)

They don't have Comedy Central, which is 1/3 to 1/2 of what I watch:
Child Development: South Park
Sociology: Dave Chapelle
News: Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart

There's even optional:
geography: Dave Attel

As I wrote to the CEO of Dish Networks, lack of comedy central will be the deal breaker.

Already in service in .NL (4, Interesting)

Benm78 (646948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593936)

Funny that this seems to be breaking news, as a very similar service named Digitenne [digitenne.nl] has been in operation for a year or so in the Netherlands.

Indeed, the service is a little cheaper than the common cable system, but brings about one major disadvantage: You will need a receiver and subscription for every receiver you own. So if you have 2 TV's and a VCR, you need 3 subscriptions, and this setup is more expensive than cable plus an amplifier and indoor coax cabling.

However, the service can be used on the road, allowing good quality TV reception in vehicles and on, for example, campsites.

Re:Already in service in .NL (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594032)

>Digitenne has been in operation for a year or so in the Netherlands.

>Indeed, the service is a little cheaper than the common cable system

Digitenne offers only about 2/3 the channels of a typical cable system.
It seems attractive until you notice that it has no BBC, no Belgium channels, no German channels, etc.

A satellite receiver setup costs less than Digitenne and offers much, much more.
I am considering to end my cable subscription and looked at Digitenne as a backup for bad weather conditions and to complete the channel lineup, but the offering is very limited indeed.

They could do it in Santa Cruz... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593937)

Where I live I:

Can't have a sat dish

Local cable stinks

Both cost an arm, leg and couple fingers

My only subscription is sat radio, which I will never give up.

Re:They could do it in Santa Cruz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593991)

Why can't you have a sat dish? Don't have a south facing view?

Re:They could do it in Santa Cruz... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594062)

Why can't you have a sat dish? Don't have a south facing view?

1. I rent

2. The Neighborhood Nazi Association bans them (that's just this backward neighborhood.)

One word (1)

xv4n (639231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594199)

1. I rent 2. The Neighborhood Nazi Association bans them (that's just this backward neighborhood.)

Move.

Re:They could do it in Santa Cruz... (2, Insightful)

chamlett (140291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594222)

You may want to read this [fcc.gov] .

Basically, the FCC says your neighborhood association can place restrictions on where you put the dish, but can't prohibit its installation.

I've seen the displays... (3, Interesting)

drayzel (626716) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593942)

I've seen the displays in our local Wal-Marts (Orem ,UT ~30 miles from SLC). The features look really good, but they just didn't have any options for adding other channels that they do NOT mention.

I prefer a lot of channels so I can skip the trash and find the good shows... I just don't see that as an option for this service. The HDTV aspect is attractive, but I don't have the money for the TV! (I know, I know, I am a bad bad bad geek)

With thier $19 price structure it looks like they are going after customers that want basic with some premium channels but not the high price, I think that is the same market that does NOT have HDTV's.

My brother is thinking about signing up so to add HDTV to his big screen, but he will still keep his dish.

~Z

Re:I've seen the displays... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594016)

They mention digital TV signal, not HDTV!
This is very different and I don't see the point, this is only useful for someone who have only one TV since you can't split it this cable...

Re:I've seen the displays... (1)

wattersa (629338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594033)

What's more is that FCC rules require the broadcaster to provide "at least one" signal of quality equal or better than current pictures. So you'll buy the HDTV and end up getting the same picture quality you have today :-(

Re:I've seen the displays... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594157)

...so I can skip the trash and find the good shows...

That would leave you with "channel" line 1 in and watching home movies on the VCR

Re:I've seen the displays... (2, Funny)

spood (256582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594203)

I prefer a lot of channels so I can skip the trash and find the good shows...

With a lot a channels, all you have is more trash to skip.

How long will it take? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593945)

though '...customers must buy a $99.95 set-top device to decode the channels.

So those channels are going to come through the antenna, uh?

How long do you think it'll take to adapt certain programs [geocities.com] to decode more than Nagravision?

In Europe, there's a channel called Canal+ that's been software-decoded for years, and they can't really do much about it. I would think people would get cracking on the code even faster when 35 channels could be available.

The Choice of Cities (4, Funny)

The_Rippa (181699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593946)

Great selection for the test markets...

Salt Lake City - only watch the 700 Club
Las Vegas - too busy gambling
Albuquerque - can't afford tv's

Digital TV (2, Informative)

ezs (444264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593948)

Sounds like Digital Terrestrial TV currently rolling out across the UK - Information from the BBC [bbc.co.uk] and here's [digitaltelevision.gov.uk] the UK Govt information.

Disney & ESPN? It'll be $49.99 in a year.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593949)

Disney (Who also owns ESPN) has a stranglehold on all cable networks. They enter into unleavable contracts and continually raise their prices that the networks cant drop. So the cost is put on the end user.

If I can find a network that doesn't carry anything Disney oriented, then I might be interested. It sucks paying through the nose because we HAVE to have Disney and the 15 ESPN channels with anything.

Re:Disney & ESPN? It'll be $49.99 in a year... (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594045)

Disney (Who also owns ESPN) has a stranglehold on all cable networks
Tell that to Viacom [viacom.com] , Discovery [discovery.com] and the others.

Flatlanders (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593964)

They may be surrounded by hills, but those three cities are all flat. I suppose Orlando is next on their list.

but (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593987)

Is it just me, or does "digital" cable not look as good as regular analog cable? I know this service is different and support HDTV, but my regular digital cable looks horrible, with pixelation all over the place, and a bunch of worthless "features" like card games that take forever to load. I have a nice TV, so it's not that. Is it just Charter in Southern California?

Sounds too good to be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593994)

I wonder what the picture quality will be like. $20/month is the perfect price point for me for cable TV. And I don't mind shelling out money ONE TIME for a box that becomes my property. It's those ongoing rental/lease fees that irk me.

Possibly illegal? (4, Interesting)

PunkKangaroo (595323) | more than 10 years ago | (#8593996)

A friend of mine found out about this awhile back and has been documenting his research into the matter. You can read what he has found here [a.zzq.us] . Basically: "While surfing the web I have found out that USDTV is renting space for 3 of its 11 channels from KULC. While I am no lawyer I think that this is illegal as KULC is licenesed as an educational station."

Re:Possibly illegal? (4, Informative)

A (8698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594129)

I am the author of the website my buddy here linked to. I just got a letter today from KULC, the non-profit station in question. The respondent did give some decent support for the legality of their choice to lease out part of the digital tv channel. I feel he did not address the ethical issue of selling part of the station to a company without any public input or notification. Here is a column I wrote for my Uni newspaper: http://www.wsusignpost.com/vnews/display.v/ART/200 4/03/10/404ec7769f825 [wsusignpost.com]

Re:Possibly illegal? (1)

A (8698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594162)

Here is a mirror [xmission.com] for http://a.zzq.org/kulc/ [zzq.org] page. Please try not to eat up all of my co-lo bandwidth.

digital TV and need of Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8593998)

I was thinking for quite some time, whether we need cable for standard TV content, since we have digital TV. Each analog channel band can carry 5-6 digital channels, so if you do a simple math, then upto 100 digital channels can be carried in allocated VHF-UHF band range.

The Cable satellite should be for premium TV, HDTV, etc. That is if everyone converts their sets to digital TV with built-in tuner and broadcasters convert to pure digital format.

Further reading... (3, Interesting)

WndrBr3d (219963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594008)

In a previous comment I wondered about how they would go about protecting the digital stream from piracy.

I went ahead and did some reading and it seems that when you purchase the unit, you have to call customer service and read them the UID number and the serial number from the receiver.

I'm sort of disappointed in their engineering department. I give it 3 months of mass market exposure before you see a hack (perhaps opening the unit and being able to serial into it?) that will let you change the UID and Serial Number to perhaps an existing subscription. or even a universal unlock code (like region 0), who knows.

Big Fat Fiber Pipe (2, Interesting)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594021)

One day, we will all have a big fat fucking fiber pipe (fffp technology) right up to the door, and all this silly old technology for media delivery will die out, as it should. But, for the time being, this looks marginally interesting, as long as the consumer does not have to foot the bill for some box that will only become junk a year or so later (WebTV...).

Lets hope their reception is better... (1)

metallikop (649953) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594023)

Lets hope their reception is better then their webserver:
Click on Reception Maps:

Warning: mysql_connect(): Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock' (11) in /home/virtual/site1/fst/var/www/html/Connections/u sdtv.php on line 9

Fatal error: Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock' (11) in /home/virtual/site1/fst/var/www/html/Connections/u sdtv.php on line 9

USDTV? (4, Funny)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594029)

What's USDTV? Did the Department of Television replace the Department of Education so soon?

If this is over public airwaves (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594037)

Why is there a monthly fee to recieve it?

"equipment rental" my ass.

DMCA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594070)

Dycripting without proper corporate oversight would be a DMCA violation.

Doesn't matter that the public airways are just that.. public.

The corporate state really sucks.

Re:If this is over public airwaves (2, Informative)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594076)

You're free to recieve it, just as you're free to recieve satellite signals. You only pay to decode it.

Existing cable companies could benefit from this (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594039)

I can see a few local cable companies getting scared, but I think where it will be really useful is for existing cable companies who need to service new subdivisions - laying new cables isn't cheap, and using otherwise empty broadcast spectrum might make a lot of economic sense.

Former Linux company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594041)

One of the developers there runs our local Linux user group (flux.org). USDTV used to be a company called Metrolink who used to make an Xwindows server called Metrox.

Playboy Channel? Spice? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594050)

If it doesn't have both it will be a failure.

Would that be an FCC violation? Hmm....

This is THEFT of public resources (2, Interesting)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594052)

What??? Using public airwaves to send for-pay content??? That is not right. These broadcasters pay NOTHING to lease very VALUABLE public resource (air-waves). The arrangement has always been that for leasing for free, they MUST broadcast open and clear signals. This kind of encrypted services is clear violation of that agreement. I have no problem if this company pays for the unused spectrum, but to use public resources to make profit seems like a very bad land grab by very greedy people. Where the hell is FCC??? Oh, I forgot, they are in the pockets of the broadcasters...

What are you smoking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594148)

the FCC auctions off bands of frequencies to companies all the time.

the sattelite TV bands are certianly not free for use either

of course they're in the pockets of the broadcasters... they're the ones that DELIVER US TV SERVICE

replicate the decoder (1)

true_majik (588374) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594058)

i give it 6 months tops before somebody figures out how to replicate the decoder :)

$2 a channel? (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594084)

USDTV only really adds 10 channels that you can't get with a normal digital TV decoder. Namely, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, HGTV, Food Network, ESPN, ESPN2, Discovery Channel and TLC.

Everything else they list on this page [usdtv.com] are channels that can be plucked out of the air with a standard digital TV tuner in the Salt Lake City area. So, in effect, viewers are paying $19.95 to get 10 channels... roughly $2 per channel.

Not to tell people how to do their jobs (1)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594085)

But does it make any sense to roll out your new content delivery system in Salt Lake City? Entertainment is against the law there.

--Shoeboy

Viacom (1)

software_tweaker (626035) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594125)

It will cost an extra 9.99 if you want all of those great Viacom channels though.

Thanks for the update... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594134)

.. only two days late this time slashdot.

More spectrum monopolies (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594136)

Great, just great. Who needs yet another outlet for corporate propaganda beamed into our living rooms? If there's available spectrum somewhere, it should be released for unlicensed services. A longer range, lower bandwidth Wifi capability in the VHF band is far more beneficial to the public than yet another Disney channel.

Hardly seems worth it. (1)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594169)

This deal, you have to buy a $100 set-top box, that controls one TV, and then you have to pay at a minimum $20 per month, doesn't seem like quite a deal, and seems like it would be easy, almost too easy to lose reception, just like using a regular antenna. I don't see this deal as anything spectacular, I'd rather deal with my cable company (or you may wish to continue to deal with your satelite company). Doesn't seem like there is anywhere in this whole deal that would be very beneficial to anyone.

Basic cable is what, like $15 or less per month, and it sounds like you get about the same amount of channels as you do over this USDTV for $20, maybe a few channels here and there, but this is hardly a deal.

DTV decoder? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594182)

Is it a standard DTV decoder? If so, I'd buy one just to have plain-old DTV decoding. I can't afford an HDTV, but I'd be happy to be able to receive the existing digital signals over the air for plain-old TV.

Unfortunately, such devices seem to cost more in the $250 and up range than the $100 range.

It was a disaster in the UK. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594184)

Too expensive, competition from existing sat and cable made it poor value and finally went bankrupt paying over the odds for the right to air minor league football matches that nobody wanted to watch.

In fact the only success was the funny knitted mascot toy they made famous which was used in the advertisements these sometimes fetching crazy prices on ebay at the time.

Great Idea, In Theory (2, Insightful)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8594204)

I think the basic concept (broadcasting cable channels on unused DTV bandwidth) is a great idea. I'd sign up immediately, but for a couple of problems:

  1. USDTV is a bit pricey for what you get. You're basically paying $20/month for a dozen decent channels. I can pay $30/month and get the same channels, plus a couple dozen more, plus a free DVR.
  2. I can't see spending for cable channels without getting some sort of news station, preferrably CNN.

I've also heard that Disney has invested money in USDTV. It appears that this is true, given the some of the channels: 2 pure Disneys, 2 ESPNs, 2 and Lifetimes. It looks like USDTV can't get away from one of the evils of cable: forced bundling.

Keep Fox... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8594225)

THE only thing on Fox worth watching is The Simpsons, I get them on p2p.
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