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Reception is reality: Cable and dish subscribers enjoy the digital difference

Digital reception -- a service both Cable ONE and satellite dish networks use as a selling point -- offers a sharper TV picture and sound, as well as the capacity for more channels.

Digital reception -- a service both Cable ONE and satellite dish networks use as a selling point -- offers a sharper TV picture and sound, as well as the capacity for more channels.

Digital reception allows for more information to be transmitted at a greater quality and faster speed than standard analog signals.

Both cable and satellite services use the MPEG compressed video format, the same used to load information on to DVDs. This digital compression allows for roughly 10 times the information to be transmitted.

Though cable TV offers digital service, the system is still limited by bandwidth, a range of frequencies.

Older systems carry 400 to 500 megahertz, while newer systems can carry 600 to 700 megahertz, and the ceiling is still rising.

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Scott Geston, general manager of Fargo's Cable ONE operations, said programming is received by digital feeds, then compressed in their digital hub and transmitted through their grid systems. Once the information arrives at a subscriber's home, the information is decompressed in the receiver and displayed on TV.

The digital difference allows for 10 channels to be offered on a single analog channel.

Dave Monson, owner of Cable Solutions in Fargo, said dish services are "digital from the word go."

Dish companies receive signals from programmers, digitize the information and send it up to the satellite, where it bounces back to subscribers' dishes.

The digital compression allows the satellite companies to offer more than 200 channels. Without it, satellite companies would be limited to transmitting 30 channels.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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