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Mon, Oct. 21

Digital Deluge: Cable One accesses new technology<BR>

PRESCOTT – Cable One has joined the digital revolution.

The cable television company's local office recently upgraded its system to offer digital service to customers.

Local cable TV viewers will now have access to 147 digital premium movie, pay-per-view and music channels, in addition to the company's existing 68 basic analog channels.

In order to receive digital service, customers must switch out their "converter box" for a new "digital receiver."

For the next two years, Cable One will promote the new service by providing the new receiver to new and existing customers free-of-charge for one year. After their free year, customers can continue renting the receiver for $8.95 per month.

Currently, cable TV subscribers pay $1.11 per month to rent their converter box and remote control. Therefore, most existing customers will see a net increase of only $7.84 per month for the digital service, which is completely optional.

Basically, digital service – similar to computers – transfers information through a simple binary code of "0s" and "1s." The information is translated into a television picture once it reaches the customer's home. Analog, on the other hand, transfers the entire television picture across cable lines.

Most people agree that digital service – from television, to music and telephones – provides a higher quality picture and sound than analog.

John Pezzini, general manager for Cable One's local office, said that consumer requests, as well as competition from digital satellite services, drove the company's decision to go digital.

He said that Cable One has seen an upswing in competition from the satellite companies since they began offering local network channels this past year.

"We want to be in a better position, competitively," Pezzini explained.

However, he believes that Cable One provides better service than satellites because it keeps a local office staffed with customer service representatives and technicians.

"Satellite dishes just don't do that," Pezzini said.

In order to upgrade its system to accommodate digital broadcasts, Cable One invested about $500,000 in its electronic control system. It also forked over about $3 million for 10,000 new digital receivers.

While the new service will not provide any additional basic channels – which will remain analog – those customers subscribing to premium movie channels will see a significant boost in their channel options.

For example, HBO and Cinemax subscribers, who now get a total of five different movie channels, will receive a total of 20 digital movie channels – at no extra charge.

Also, digital customers will get 40 music channels at no additional cost.

The other new digital channels consist of pay-per-view movie and sports channels.

Before they get a new receiver, Cable One asks that customers sign up for a free presentation explaining the new system's features.

Among other things, the 30-to-45-minute presentation explains installation procedures and the digital service's new, interactive channel guide.

"There are so many features on these new receivers, that we want people to understand how to use it before they take it home and install it," Pezzini said.

Cable One, which is the ninth largest cable company in the country, has about 766,000 customers in 20 states.

For more information about digital service, contact the local office.

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