Cable HDTV in Southern California

Television viewers in Southern California are among the first in the US to receive high definition signals via cable.

On May 29, Comcast began offering HDTV to customers in selected areas of greater Los Angeles and Orange County. Adelphia Southern California, which serves communities in the same region, has announced its own plan to deliver HDTV by mid-summer.

Comcast launched its HDTV service with transmissions of HD programming from LA area stations KNBC-TV (Channel 4), KABC-TV (Channel 7), KCET-PBS (Channel 3) as well as productions from Home Box Office (HBO) and Showtime. The company is also offering what it calls "digitally enhanced video" from KTTV Fox (Channel 11). Comcast regional senior vice president Debi Picciolo told reporters that the May 29 date was chosen so that subscribers could "watch the NBA finals with picture resolution that is up to six times sharper than analog."

For modest rental fees, Comcast will provide subscribers with HD tuners and digital set-top converter boxes. The digital video format is described as "two million pixels per picture, an aspect ration of 16:9, with color resolution twice that of analog, and picture detail six times better." Comcast HDTV service will be available in many Southern California communities including Santa Clarita, Hollywood, Inglewood, Culver City, Pomona, Bellflower, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Corona, and Lake Elsinore.

Having recently acquired AT&T Broadband, Philadelphia, PA–based Comcast is one of the nation's largest cable providers, present in 17 of the 20 largest US metropolitan areas—a total of 55,000 employees serving more than 21 million customers. The company's western division is based in San Ramon, CA, and serves approximately three million customers in California's Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles regions. On May 12, Comcast sent shock waves through the cable industry with an announcement of a new digital video recording service to be tested by the middle of this year. The service will use set-top boxes made by Samsung, with networking software by Ucentric Systems, and will allow customers to simultaneously record and view different channels in multiple rooms and on multiple television sets.

Not to be outdone by Comcast, Adelphia Southern California will also soon begin delivering HDTV to its subscribers, many of them in communities adjacent to those served by Comcast. By mid-summer, Adelphia expects to offer HDTV to subscribers in Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Chino/Chino Hills, Fullerton, Glendora, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Monrovia, Montclair, Newport Beach, Ontario, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino (city and county), Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Ventura, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, and many other communities. To properly display HD signals, Adelphia subscribers will need "an HD-capable television set, which supports 1080i format and which has YPbPr component connections, a YPbPr component connection cable, and a Motorola model DCT5100 set-top receiver," according to an announcement posted on the Adelphia website.