Adding Local HD Channels to LodgeNet Installations. A Case Study

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1 Adding Local HD Channels to LodgeNet Installations

2 Adding Local HD Channels to LodgeNet Installations TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 GENERAL SCOPE OF DOCUMENT APPLICATION DESCRIPTION INSTALLATION DESCRIPTION SYSTEM OVERVIEW Spectral Description SERVICE ADDITION OPTIONS Over the Air Clear QAM Tuner Set Top Box ZeeVee Source Recommendation INSTALLATION OF ADDED SERVICES ZEEVEE LAUNCH POWER CONTROL FINAL NOTES Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 2

3 1 General The ZeeVee, Inc. series of products are designed to cost effectively allow for the generation of HDTV channels from a variety of video sources. At the core of ZeeVee products is ZvBox, which is an electronics unit designed to take various video source inputs, and encode those inputs to MPEG II format. The MPEG II stream is then translated and modulated into a QAM 256 video stream, suitable for distribution over a cable TV distribution system for direct reception by a standard QAM capable digital television receiver. 1.1 Scope of Document This document details one of several possible ways ZvPro 250 can be used by hotel or cable operators to add High Definition services to their existing plant. 1.2 Application Description ZeeVee recently was asked to help in the deployment of a service enhancement for a hotel cable system to add a number of new High Definition channels to their existing service lineup. The method described is not meant to indicate that it is the only way to use the equipment, or achieve the result. It demonstrates the general concepts and describes the specific findings in one particular installation that should be applicable to a variety of installations. 2 Installation Description The hotel cable plant of interest used a local cable provider (Time Warner) as the source of the programming for analog channels, and employed a LodgeNet system for channel control, local content generation, and Pay Per View services. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 3

4 2.1 System Overview The diagram shows the complete installation prior to any modification or addition of channels. Details of the equipment in the LodgeNet box should not be construed as an exact representation of everything required by LodgeNet for their PPV and signage services. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 4

5 2.1.1 Spectral Description For this installation the cable feed was provided by Time Warner. The hotel extracted the low channels for providing analog SD services to the guest rooms. The upper end of the spectrum was filtered to provide spectral room for the PPV services supplied by LodgeNet, and then the LodgeNet and filtered feed was recombined for distribution throughout the property. Starting at the street feed at the top of the diagram the various feeds are detailed as follows. The Cable Street Feed is the raw cable as delivered by the cable provider. Much of the spectrum is filled with program channels. The low end of the spectrum is typically analog, since it propagates better at lower frequencies, with the upper portion being digital signals. The street feed is filtered to remove the upper channels. This creates room in the spectrum for the injected PPV channels and filters out the digital channels which are typically encrypted by the cable company and require a set top box for reception. The LodgeNet generated channels are placed spectrally above the filter point, separated by a few channel positions to insure that there is little, if any, interaction/interference. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 5

6 Lodgenet Feed (B) Lodgenet generated channels (85-110) The filtered street feed and the LodgeNet feed are then combined into the feed that supplies the network for distribution to the rooms. Specifics of that distribution network vary widely from installation to installation, but if well designed and functional for analog SD transmission, these networks are generally acceptable for use for digital transmission with little or no modification. Distribution Feed (C) Analog channels (2-77) Lodgenet generated channels (85-110) Room for Zv Channels ( ) The number of channels reserved and used by LodgeNet may vary from installation to installation, but they will generally be biased as low as possible. To determine how much room is available, measure the signal presence from 125 back down. In the case illustrated, there are 14 available channels for new channel addition (a 1 channel buffer is shown separating the available channels from LodgeNet for safety). If the televisions on site are capable of receiving up to channel 135 there may be up another 10 channels for content insertion above and beyond what is shown. 95% of all TVs we have tested have been capable of receiving up to channel Service Addition Options The described installation wished to add the four major broadcast networks to the hotel s Free to Guest (FTG) set of channel services in High Definition. There were three possible sources/methods of obtaining the channels; Over the Air, tuning the clear QAM from the cable (cable providers are required to send the OTA channels unencrypted over the cable), or via a set top box attached to the cable. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 6

7 2.2.1 Over the Air Over-the-Air Antenna One way to receive the network content is the old fashioned way over the air. This requires an antenna with clear reception and a good quality ATSC tuner. No cheap stuff as the quality of the inroom picture will be proportional to the quality of the picture rendered by the tuner device. ATSC Tuner YPrPb Component Cables Audio: SPDIF(C/O) or Analog PROS: No recurring costs. Not affected by service provider changes to channel map. ZV-250 COAX Output CONS: Requires some infrastructure work to install and is susceptible to environmental damage and potential atmospheric disturbance. Not all locations may receive good, clear over the air transmissions Clear QAM Tuner YPrPb Component Cables COAX Input Clear QAM Tuner ZV-250 COAX Output Audio: SPDIF(C/O) or Analog Cable companies are required to transmit over the air broadcast stations that can be received in a given service area in the clear on the cable plant. This means that a simple Clear QAM tuner should be capable of receiving these channels. As with the OTA receiver, quality will be dependent on the rendering capability of the tuner device. PROS: No recurring costs. Little infrastructure work required. As reliable as the cable service. CONS: Every time the cable provider changes the channel lineup the channel to which the tuner is set must be rescanned and the channel re located. This may result in unpredictable service outages. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 7

8 2.2.3 Set Top Box YPrPb Component Cables COAX Input Set Top Box Tuned to Broadcast Network Audio: SPDIF(C/O) or Analog The simplest method to receive the networks is to rent a High Definition set top box from the cable provider. The high definition channels usually reside in the upper portion of the cable spectrum, the part filtered out to provide the room for the PPV services. Therefore the cable box is required to tune and output the video, which ZvBox then remodulates to the available portion of the spectrum. ZV-250 COAX Output PROS: Lowest entry cost. Set Top Boxes usually contain excellent rendering engines. Channel lineups and servicing handled by cable provider. Little infrastructure work required. As reliable as the cable service. CONS: Recurring monthly cost to rent the four set top boxes ZeeVee Source Recommendation If the data source is a cable provider ZeeVee recommends the use of the cable company provided set top box if the recurring costs are not exorbitant. The image quality and reliability should be superior using that source. If the service provider is a satellite company the preferred option is to provide the major networks via an over the air antenna setup. As noted, the tuner needs to be of decent quality for maximum image quality. 3 Installation of Added Services Grafting the added services into the existing plant requires two steps. First is the addition and tuning of the hardware and second is the modification to the channel plan and additional control for the added channels. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 8

9 The diagram below shows the additional equipment required to add HD network services to the plant. The distribution portion of the plant is not shown. The only signal impact is that the width of the splitter at the root and the width of the combiner at the base have increased by one. 1:3 splitters usually have a 3.5dB output, and two 7 db outputs. The 3.5 db output of the splitter at the top should be allocated to the Filter leg. Similarly the 3.5dB port of the combiner should be allocated to the LodgeNet equipment. That way the overall drop on the two feeds is 3dB relative to the starting configuration. That should be insignificant relative to the overall plant. If this proves to be an issue at the end stations (guest rooms), the distribution amps should be bumped by 3dB to account. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 9

10 3.1 ZeeVee Launch Power For proper balancing, the ZeeVee output from the 4:1 combiner downstream of ZvPro 250 s should be set to equalize the levels of the LodgeNet equipment and the filtered cable feed. The exact level is completely dependent on the structure of the cable plant. 3.2 Control Channel changes in a LodgeNet environment are handled by the LodgeNet system. Guests do not control the channels directly. An overview of the control system is shown and described below: Since we ve added four new channels to the lineup, the LodgeNet Control Station needs to be made aware of them and add them to the lineup. For example, in the installation shown, channels 2 77 were already occupied with existing FTG channels. The request was made to LodgeNet to add the following channels: Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 10

11 User Channel (what they tune on Guest remote) Physical Channel to be sent to TV by Control Station Network FOX-HD CBS-HD NBC-HD ABC-HD This addition must be made by LodgeNet. With up to date firmware on the control station, this change can usually be made remotely by the field service technician. 3.3 Final Notes This document shows rough details of how to add services to a pre existing LodgeNet hospitality network. Exact amplitudes and channel allocations depend on the specific hotel or hospitality network. Conceptually the installation is quite easy and there is nothing marginal and the guest experience should be excellent. Video quality on the HD channels is solely dependent on the quality of video rendering of the tuner device. This is one of the reasons that ZeeVee recommends a set top box as the tuner. The ZeeVee encoder/modulator products are capable of full frequency agility from channel 2 through channel 135. This document shows placement of the new channels in the very upper end of the frequency range, but channels could be placed anywhere in that range where there is a channel hole. ZvPro 250 generates spectrally clean signals and there is no penalty or downside to placing the new channels adjacent to any existing digital or analog channel. The same concepts used to add the broadcast networks can be used to add other services, like ESPN HD or HBO HD, etc. Addition of those services needs to researched and negotiated with the originating content provider (cable or satellite). ZeeVee assumes no responsibility for violations of the service agreements between the service provider and the hospitality provider. Adding HD Channels to LodgeNet Page 11

12 zeevee.com ZeeVee, Inc One Monarch Drive Littleton, MA vpro250_ggg_v3_4

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