Mediacom to phase out analog channels, add more HD

Mediacom Communications announced recently that it is upgrading its network technology to provide local customers with a major expansion of its high-definition (HD) lineup, while also eliminating analog reception for most “family cable” channels.

Mediacom’s upgrade process will remove analog television reception for all but a limited number of basic broadcast channels, which is a change to digital-only reception for channels 18 through 66.

The impacted customers are in Angola by the Bay, Bayard, Bethany Beach, Clarksville, Dagsboro, Frankford, Georgetown, Leisure Point, Lewes, Love Creek, Mariners Cove, Middlesex, Millsboro, Millville, Ocean View, Roxana, Sea Colony, Selbyville, South Bethany and other areas of Sussex County, as well as Pittsville, Willards and other areas of Wicomico County, and Berlin, Ocean Pines and other areas of Worcester County.

Company officials described the digital upgrade as an investment to give all customers improved picture and audio quality and larger channel lineups. The upgrade will include the addition of dozens of channels in HD format to deliver an HD lineup with nearly 100 HD-channel choices.

“With digital technology, consumers gain more value and a bigger channel selection than ever before, as well as the superior viewing experience of HDTV,” said Mediacom Area Operations Director Glenn Bisogno. “With this digital conversion, Mediacom customers can be confident we’ll keep pace with their demand for more HD channels and ever-faster Internet speeds.”

Bisogno explained that Mediacom’s network has been delivering a simulcast of both analog and digital signals to televisions in customer homes and businesses. The upgrade will remove the analog transmission for channels 18-66. As each analog channel is eliminated, he said, network capacity becomes available to potentially carry three high-definition channels or 10 standard-definition (SD) digital channels. Dozens of new HD channels will be added to Mediacom’s lineup in late April, they said.

The phase-out of analog television transmission for channels 18-66 will require customers using non-digital televisions to use digital adapters to view those channels. Bisogno explained that Mediacom will distribute digital adapters, which are small devices that convert signals from the cable network into a format that displays on any screen, including an older, analog TV.

Mediacom will provide digital adapters on a lease-free basis through April 2015 (for current customers and limited to three adapters per customer). Customers using newer TVs with built-in digital tuners are being encouraged to use the adapters as a way to retain the familiar channel lineup, but the adapter is not required for continued reception of the channels converting to digital.

“Instead of seeing older televisions go to landfills, we have a simple solution using digital adapters to deliver Family Cable channels,” Bisogno said. “It also is convenient for viewers with newer televisions, because the adapter automatically adds new channels without re-scanning and retains the familiar channel displays in whole numbers. It is especially beneficial for customers with HD televisions to use our high-def adapter to gain the superior picture quality of HDTV.”

Digital adapters are not needed on televisions connected to Mediacom digital receivers (larger cable set-top boxes).

Digital adapters may be picked-up at the local Mediacom office in Dagsboro. Or, customers may choose to order by phone or online at www.MediacomCable.com/getdigital or 1-800-479-2095 and receive free shipping to their home or office. The website provides digital upgrade information and includes an online order form.

Mediacom is encouraging customers to attend an open-house event in Dagsboro on April 11 and 12, at which service technicians will provide individual assistance and demonstrate how to connect a digital adapter to a TV. The community events provide a local site where customers can conveniently pick up adapters and learn more about the digital conversion.

The phase-out of analog television reception will be noticeable to customers beginning April 8, and the conversion will be completed by April 22. At that time, Family Cable channels located between 18 and 66 will be viewable only on digital-ready televisions or televisions connected to a Mediacom digital converter or adapter. Channels 2-17, 69, 70 and 78 will continue to be transmitted in both analog and digital transmission.

The Dagsboro open-house will take place at the office at 32441 Royal Boulevard, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 11 and April 12.

Customers are expected to receive informational letters on the change around Feb. 4. Channel conversion is to begin April 8, with the elimination of analog signal carriage for a subset of Family Cable Channels. On April 15, Mediacom will transition Family Cable channels to digital-only reception. The target date for digital reception only for channels 16 to 78 is April 22.

Late April is the target date for Mediacom’s launch of “Big HD,” when they will add dozen of HD channels to its lineup. The additions will be automatic, with no change in subscription price for customers equipped to receive HD channels.

The Dagsboro office will be open for provision of digital adapters and information Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.