Digital receivers coming for Spectrum cable TV customers

New receivers to bring better picture quality, more HD channels and entertainment options

All Spectrum cable TV customers in Maui County will have to pay a monthly fee for digital receivers, and each television will need its own box by the end of the summer, company officials said Tuesday.

The company formerly known as Time Warner Cable plans to begin its all-digital upgrade for Maui customers on July 24 and continue into August. Molokai and Lanai will transition later this summer.

The upgrade means anyone whose TV is plugged directly to the cable outlet on the wall will need to order a digital receiver by phone or internet or pick one up at a Spectrum store. Most customers will be eligible for a digital receiver at no cost for one, two or five years, depending on their programming package and other qualifying factors.

After the free period, Spectrum customers will pay $6.99 per month for each digital receiver in their home, officials said via email. Legacy Oceanic Time Warner customers who kept their original package and didn’t choose to switch to Spectrum packages will pay $8.45 per month for each receiver.

Most customers will fall into the one- or two-year category of free receiver use, with the five-year period reserved for bulk buildings contracts such as apartments and senior living properties. Those without Spectrum cable service and only internet or phone do not qualify for a free box.

Pamela Yu, senior manager of communications at Charter Communications, said in an email Tuesday that all TVs, new and old, will work with a Spectrum digital receiver. She added that the vast majority of its customers have already adopted digital devices for at least one television in their homes.

Yu also noted that the vast majority of its competitors, including Hawaiian Telecom, don’t carry analog signals, and require a box for every channel and every TV. She declined to disclose customer numbers for Maui County for “competitive reasons.”

“Analog is incredibly inefficient technology,” Yu said. “A single analog channel takes up the same amount of capacity on our network as three or four HD channels or up to 12 digital channels. We carried analog signals for the past several years to help ease the transition to digital technology for customers who still have one or more TVs connected directly to their cable outlet.

“By freeing up capacity in our network we can deliver more HD channels, support new innovation — and pave a path for future internet speed increases.”

Dennis Johnson, senior director of West Region Communications, also addressed concerns regarding customers being able to watch public access channels on older TV sets.

Customers on the Mainland were reportedly worried that the channels may go beyond the 1300-channel range, which would make them inaccessible on outdated TVs.

Johnson said “all-digital” means the receiver is the tuner so the TV’s age and channel range are irrelevant.

Spectrum plans to finish its transition to digital service for Big Island customers this month, while Oahu customers’ switch was completed in June. The company is notifying customers of their specific upgrade date and the need to acquire a digital receiver for each of their televisions.

Company officials have said that the upgrades will give customers access to better picture quality, 70 additional HD channels and more entertainment options. The use of two-way, fully interactive digital receivers also gives customers access to thousands of On Demand movies and shows, as well as interactive guide, search and parental control options.

Customers can have a digital receiver shipped to their home for free by visiting spectrum.com/DigitalNow or by calling 1-844-278-3408 to request a self-installation kit.

Maui customers can pick up the cable boxes at Spectrum’s offices in Kahului and Lahaina. The Kahului store is located at 158 Maa Street and the Lahaina store is at 910 Honoapiilani Highway No. 6.

Both stores are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Extended hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays will be offered at both stores; in Kahului from July 17 to Aug. 14 and in Lahaina from July 31 to Aug. 14.

Molokai customers can pick up their box at Ulili Street, Lot 18, Unit D, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. The store is closed from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the two days and is closed all other days.

The Lanai office is at 730 Lanai Ave., Suite 104, and is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended hours for the all-digital upgrade at Molokai and Lanai stores have yet to be announced.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.

COMMENTS