500 Channels and Nothing to Watch

The U.S.'s largest cable operator is switching to compressed-digital TV

THE CABLE COMPANIES THAT FILL OUR HOMES WITH more TV channels than we know what to do with have been threatening for years to adopt technology that could compound the problem tenfold. Now one of them is poised to actually do it. Tele-Communications Inc., which provides cable TV to 9 million U.S. households, announced plans to install equipment that could, in theory, deliver more than 500 channels by early 1994. TCI's announcement represents the first major consumer application of compressed-digital TV, which can squeeze 10 channels in the space currently occupied by only one. Not to be outdone, officials at rival...

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