The New Basic Cable 102 - How to get the channels you want

by Doug Engstrom
July 8th, 2013 in Support Guides

The first step in the process is to talk to multiple providers, cable and satellite, give them a list of the channels you want to carry on your RF system, and that you want “Clear QAM” channels – unencrypted channels you can tune with any TV.

In most cases, you’ll find that once providers “know that you know” – they can provide that programming in a Public Viewing contract. There are some exceptions for certain types of venues and channels, but usually, there aren’t any issues for news and information content.

In some sites, where it’s economically feasible, the cable company can install their own technology to deliver the array of open channels you want. Of course, that service isn’t free; the cost will be recovered in monthly fees. Some sites prefer to deliver those channels using their own in-house system. That has a higher front-end cost, but gives you the freedom to change providers whenever you want and negotiate for the best cost.

Building Your Own In-House Cable System

As we noted before, the mix of channel content will vary with your site’s needs.

Cable and Satellite Channels

In this application, the output of two cable or satellite receivers feed our QMOD-YPB2 HDTV Modulators. The two Component feeds are combined into a single HD cable channel that can be tuned by any TV. The channel is then fed into a Combiner with other channels, then amplified for distribution throughout the facility.

Digital Signage and IPTV

The HDMI and/or VGA output from signage players are fed into a QMOD-HDMI 1.5 HDTV Modulator, or two HDMI sources using the QMOD-HDMI2. The units can accept 1080p or 1280x720p video from the signage players, or scale for other VGA resolutions as well as tweak the image to fit exactly on TV screens. Broadcasting signage over RF takes advantage of the HD tuner built into the TV to show HD signage, and one player can feed many TVs without extra IP wiring, licenses, or servers.

This solution is also used by Emergency Operation Centers and other sites to feed IPTV resources for traffic cameras, presenters, and educational programming via Ethernet.

HD-SDI Distribution

This application is common to Houses of Worship and TV studios who need a cost-effective solution for distributing HD-SDI content facility wide. The SDI feed from a camera or studio switcher is fed into the QMOD-SDI 1.5 HD-SDI Modulator and converted to an HD cable channel.


Instead of paying for local HD off-air channels, you can integrate the free channels into your in-house cable system. A device called an ATSC to QAM Transcoder can tune in 2 off-air (ATSC) channels and convert them into one HD (QAM) cable channel. The cost per channel is fairly low, as the unit is not creating a new channel; it’s just reformatting the off-air digital channel to the type of channel used by cable systems.

In the end of the process, your in-house cable system will be carrying only the channels you need, without supporting the burden of all the channels you don't. The result will be a far more reliable system, fully HD, and in most cases, spending much less in subscription and rental fees than a full-bore digital cable system.

Part 1: The New Basic Cable 101