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.