April 29, 2013

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We’re Converting Analog Signals to Digital Across The New York Region

If you live in Mount Vernon, Staten Island, or Bergen County, N.J., you may have gotten a letter from us announcing that we’re transitioning from analog channels in the Basic TV package to an all-digital TV signal. Over the summer, we’re going to roll these changes out across the New York City region, neighborhood by neighborhood.

This is something we’re doing to eventually convert to an all-digital network, freeing up bandwidth on our network in New York. We did it in Maine a few years ago, and now are rolling it across NYC.

This means, essentially that we can offer a much better picture and sound quality, offer more On Demand programming, and faster Internet speeds. More on that below.

Here’s a short video that will explain more:



The overwhelming majority of our customers will not be directly affected by this at all. If you have a new(ish) TV, a DVR, a cable box from us, or a third-party device with a Cable Card installed, you won’t notice a thing. This affects our residential and Business Class customers that have our Basic TV package and a cable line plugged directly into the TV, VCR, DVD player or similar device.

If you own a TV set with a QAM tuner with a wire sticking straight into it from the wall, you’ll want to do this, too. We’re constantly evolving the technology that delivers your services, and it’s ideal to get an adapter or set-top box.

If that’s you, we’ve got you covered: we are providing customers with a Digital Adapter, a small device that allows digital TV signals to be displayed on analog TV. It’s roughly 4 inches wide and three inches deep, very unobtrusive. It looks like this:

To help residential customers prepare for the digital conversion, we’re offering several simple and easy ways to order the Digital Adapter:

1) through the website at www.TWC.com/digitaladapter
2) via the telephone at 1-855-286-1736
3) in-person at a local TWC store
4) have a tech visit and install it

Time Warner Cable Business Class customers can order a Digital Adapter by calling 1-877-227-8711 or visit http://www.twcbc.com/DCI. Digital Adapters are free of charge for residential and commercial customers through December 31, 2014. Beginning January 1, 2015, a Digital Adapter will cost 99 cents per month per adapter.

While we are working as hard as we can to make this simple and easy for our customers, ordering online or over the phone are probably going to be the most painless way to go. Digital Adapters will be shipepd to customers free of charge. Digital Adapters are also free to residential customers through December 31, 2014. Beginning January 1, 2015, a Digital Adapter will cost 99 cents per month, per adapter.

We say that we’re doing this to “free up bandwidth,” and I’d like to explain a little more about what that means.

When we talk about “bandwidth,” we are referring to a section of the electromagnetic spectrum. Imagine it as you would a radio tuner. The radio is a different portion of the same spectrum, but should help you visualize this. We control/operate a finite section of spectrum along a much wider spectrum that also includes sections for radio waves, police-band radio, cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc. The FCC has designated a specific portion of the spectrum to be used for TV and Internet communications – that’s the territory that we use. The spectrum is measured in megahertz, abbreviated as Mhz.

Each analog TV channel occupies 6 Mhz of spectrum. Imagine an FM radio station that’s clear and audible from 90 to 96 on the dial. A radio dial that offered stations in chunks of 6 Mhz wouldn’t have that much room for very many stations.

We can fit about 10-12 digital channels into the same spectrum that is occupied by one analog TV channel. Or, we can fit roughly 3 digital HD channels into the same 6 Mhz slot.

This can also allow for improved Video On-Demand performance, allowing more people to access the network and enhanced performance.

Eliminating analog channels also allows us to use the available spectrum for faster downstream Internet speeds. Six mhz is roughly equivalent to 40 mbps of download speed. It’s not much when distributed across an entire footprint, but if we eliminate 30 analog channels, it adds up.

This got long. I may have lost a lot of you, and oversimplified things that would embarrass a number of engineers out there – please bear in mind that I’m trying to provide a cocktail-napkin understanding here, as opposed to a college course.

+- 10 Comments

  1. Justin's reply

    Very happy to hear this news. Although I am not in NYC, I am encouraged to hear that the “waste” of analog is going to be going away over the next couple of years.

  2. Chris Glenn's reply

    Not bad for a “napkin” course. I applaud the middle ground approach.

  3. Jason Schwartz's reply

    Kudos!!! A great bandwidth saver! While you’re at it, any way to get rid of the “SD” duplicate channels and letterbox everything (saving even more bandwidth)? There’s no reason to have TBS and TBS HD (for example) showing the exact same content. If everyone has either a digital cable box capable of tuning in all the channels (HD and no-HD) and allowing it to display on an old analog TV then we can officially do away with the unnecessary duplication of resources.

  4. Dolf Muccillo's reply

    This is a comment for the TWC Twitter team at @TWC_Help. I just wanted to say that this group is one of the MAIN reasons that I have stayed on as a customer of TWC. They have set the benchmark for excellence in Customer Service on Twitter. Any large company that thinks customer service can’t be implemented via Twitter is wrong. This group of individuals is proof that it can be done. Questions are answered almost instantaneously. Resolutions are often quick. And in the cases where they cannot be of service, they forward you to the RIGHT person. Please keep up the great work and please make sure this team knows that their work is appreciated.

  5. Phillip Dampier's reply

    If TWC benefits from this change and can market additional products and services from which it can profit, it should cover the cost of the DTA boxes indefinitely instead of charging customers $12 a year forever, starting in 2015. If the customer loses or damages the box, or wants additional ones after an interim period, then a nominal charge might be appropriate, but it really isn’t for existing customers who have to go through the inconvenience of adopting new equipment, installing it, and paying the electric bill to power it.

  6. freddy's reply

    will the DTA get only local channels like abc,nbc,fox,public access, home shopping or other channels i subscribe to on standard tier like fox news and mtv?

  7. Jack's reply

    Thanks Jeff!

    This is huge! Better picture, sound quality, and more channels will come about as a result of this. I would really like to see channels 2-99, (the analog band for most TWC systems) go away. The bandwidth that this would open up would be huge. Coinciding with this, only local “Must Carry” city and local government municipalities should occupy anything on channels 2-99.

    Is there a planned time-line for what states and cities are next after New York divisions? I would also like to see a Theme Based Channel Line up for ALL TWC divisions, like Wisconsin does now, I think some areas of Ohio do as well.

    The Theme based line up is so cool everybody! On the TWC Digital Tier just for an example in Wisconsin:

    Channels in the 100′s are Kids and Family
    Channels in the 200′s are Entertainment
    Channels in the 300′s are Sports
    Channels in the 400′s are Free SD On-Demand
    Channels in the 500′s are Premium On Demand
    Channels in the 700′s are Adult Only
    Channels in the 800′s are PPV Special Events
    Channels in the 900′s are Music Choice
    Channels in the 1000′s are High Definition
    Channels in the 1400′s are Free HD on Demand

    To get to any HD station if available, you just “Add a 1 to the SD channel number”, so Food Network in SD for Wisconsin is 151. Its HD equivalent is 1151.

    There are too many TWC divisions, who’s channel line-ups are all over the place. An all digital and uniformly theme-based standardized line-up is a great victory for TWC customers and employees! Make it happen!

  8. Martin's reply

    Please publicly confirm if channels which are regularly available over the air (OTA) will be encrypted or not.

  9. Gina Dell's reply

    thank you for taking the time to explain so we may be able to explain to our customers better.

  10. James's reply

    J ust received a letter from TWC about the digital adaptor. I have one TV (Sony Bravia) that is 8 months old and one TV (Panasonic) that is about 18 months old, do they need adaptors? I have the cable coming out of the wall directly into the TV, no set top box or DVR.

    Thanks

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