With Verizon rolling out FiOS TV in Philadelphia, Comcast Corp. says it has completed modernizing its cable system with digital technology in the city and expanded ethnic-themed and high-definition channels.
Philadelphia is the first Comcast market in the nation with 150 HD channels, the cable giant said Thursday. Before the upgrade Comcast offered 100 HD channels.
The new high-def content includes the Cooking Channel, Sprout, Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel and the Smithsonian.
Comcast vastly increased the capacity of its cable system this year by converting from older analog technology to digital, a project that's called "Cavalry" inside the company and marketed to subscribers as the "World of More."
The conversion has been aggravating for some subscribers who may have had to connect a new set-top box or a digital adapter to their TVs. But it has enabled Comcast to offer quicker Internet speeds and more channels.
DirecTV heavily marketed its offerings of high-definition TV channels in recent years, giving the satellite-TV company and the nation's No. 2 pay-TV company a competitive advantage over Comcast.
Separately, Verizon Communications Inc. has obtained a cable franchise to build out its FiOS TV and Internet services in the city that Comcast considers its home market.
Along with new HD channels, Comcast is offering new ethnic packages in Philadelphia themed for Korean, European, Israeli, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, South Asian and Vietnamese audiences. These cost additional money per month.
"The addition of new HD and international channels on Xfinity TV has played a major role in improving the Comcast experience for our customers and we intend to continue boosting their level and value options," said Amy Smith, a Comcast senior vice president.
The digital conversion was first completed in Philadelphia and is continuing in the suburbs, said Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander.