A digital transport adapter, available free from Comcast, plugs directly into the TV set and can be installed by customers at home, typically in less than a minute. Some customers will need a DTA to convert their old-style analog channels to the new digital format. The change will take place Oct. 18. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo


Comcast upgrades basic TV channels to digital, customers can get free box as part of transition

By From page A6 | October 06, 2011

Cable provider Comcast is preparing to transform the Davis cable system’s “Limited Basic” television channels — very roughly Channels 2 to 34 — from an old-style analog format to a new digital format, starting Oct. 18.

Some Comcast customers — specifically those who have Limited Basic cable service in their homes, and have the cable coming straight out of the wall and directly into their TV set (without any box) — will need to get a free digital transport adapter.

These can be picked up in person from the Comcast office at 2501 Research Park Drive, open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Or customers can get a DTA mailed to their home by calling (877) 634-4434 or visiting www.comcast.com/digitalnow.

The DTA is a small piece of equipment — about the size of a deck of playing cards — that plugs directly into the TV set. It can be installed by customers at home, typically in less than a minute.

“It goes in between the wall and the V — some people hang it off the back (of the tv),” said Bryan Bird, director of communications with Comcast California. “We’ve tried to make it small, and it was designed to be easy to install. Thousands and thousands of people across the country have installed it themselves.

“The challenge is that you’ve got to get the box” if you are a Limited Basic subscriber with a cable wire running straight into your TV, Bird said. “If you don’t get the box, you will turn on your TV on October 18, and you won’t get an image.”

Bird added that customers with multiple TV sets need to pause and consider what they’ve got.

“You may have a box already on the TV in the living room, and the TV in the bedroom. But you might still need one for the TV in the kitchen … the set you use to watch ‘The Today Show’ in the morning.”

Bird added that this month’s digital upgrade will complete a process that Comcast began about 18 months ago. Converting these final remaining 30 analog channels over to digital will open up bandwidth, allowing for the addition of more new channels and faster Internet service.

“In the (bandwidth) space used by one analog channel, you can put 10 digital channels, or three high definition channels,” Bird said. “And you pick up Internet speed. That’s what the gamers want, as well as many businesses, medical offices, university researchers, graphics users and others who are exchanging large files online.”

Comcast customers who are “Limited Basic only” subscribers can get up to three DTAs free. Current digital customers who already have a set-top box plus additional outlets without any kind of box can receive two free DTAs for their additional outlets.

Comcast has been notifying customers with letters, bill inserts, phone calls and “screen crawls” on some cable channels.

Once the DTA is added to a TV that has not had any kind of a box until now, customers will immediately receive access to 12 additional channels. Another new batch of channels will be added later, probably before the end of the year, Bird said.

VCRs, TiVO digital video recorders and QAM tuners can be used once the DTA has been installed. Contact Comcast if you have questions regarding these devices.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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