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Shelby County is about to watch TV on a whole different level.
The government-mandated conversion of broadcast channels to digital have taken affect, and Insight Communications, which serves Shelby County’s cable TV needs, is making changes, too.
Just like over-the-air TV, Insight is moving to an all-digital lineup, and for the past two months the company has started informing costumers by mail and through commercials of the network improvements and the possible addition of a mini-box for older analog TVs.
Messages have been streaming across the top of the screen on several channels, letting customers know that those channels will be changing soon. A few already have moved.
The plan, Insight spokesman Jason Keller said, is to have the full upgrade finished by this summer. “We hope to have the changes made in the first half of the year, so by July,” he said.
Although not government-mandated, the company says it sees the changes as a commitment to customer wants and needs.
“We get calls every day from customers asking for more high-definition channels and faster Internet service,” Keller said. “So while we haven’t had a federal mandate to change, we do feel that it has been mandated by our customers.”
But it’s not just an update to convert the channels to digital; Keller said the company also will add several new HD channels.
“We’re looking at increasing the number to about 100 HD channels,” he said. “We currently offer just over 50 channels, so it’s going to be a tremendous upgrade. But it hasn’t been announced what those channels will be.”
HD equipment, including a box from Insight and an HD TV still would be needed to watch HD channels.
However, the changes will come at a price.
Keller noted that no immediate changes will be made to the price of service for existing customers; however new customers will see an increase.
If a mini-box is needed to convert the signal from digital to analog for an older TV, it will cost 75 cents per month for each box.
The cost is free for each box for existing customers until July 2013, but at that point all customers will be required to pay the 75 cents.
Current service changes will be fairly simple, Keller explained.
If a customer already has a digital or HD receiver hooked up to a television, then there will be no change to that TV.
The changes will occur on TVs that have the cable plugged directly into the back of the set.
“If you have a TV without a box, then the next action you take will be determined by the TV itself,” Keller said. “If the TV has a digital tuner, then no changes will be necessary. If it doesn’t then, you will need a mini-box that will convert the signal back to analog.”
To determine if a TV has a digital tuner – and most purchased in the past three years do – customers can check the remote to see if it includes a “–” or “.” button.
If so, it likely has a digital tuner, but to make sure a channel scan will need to be run.
It’s best to check the manual for the TV to see how to run a channel scan, but the option will likely come up on the TV’s menu.
If it has a digital tuner, the channel scan will locate the new channels and add them to the line-up.
Customers can receive more information about the change or contact Insight for help online at www.610upgrade.com, by phone at 1-888-774-9620, or by watching the Insight commercials on analog channels that have been changed.