Charter to switch to all-digital services

Monday, February 17, 2014

CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Change is in store for local Charter Communications customers.

Charter -- the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States -- is upgrading to an all-digital network, which it said will open up bandwidth for 200 HD channels and faster Internet speeds.

As part of the upgrade, customers will no longer plug the cable directly into their television, but into a digital cable box. According to Kimberly Noetzel, senior communications manager with Charter, the company is updating its network to provide better services to customers.

" ... Analog takes up the most bandwidth and has the lowest quality," she said. "By making the switch to digital, we have more bandwidth and can offer our customers more options."

The digital cable box will be required to continue receiving services.

According to a news release from Charter, the company has invested more than $2 billion into its "fiber-rich network" to make the upgrade happen.

Missouri and Southern Illinois began a staggered transition to all-digital last month and it is expected to be complete by midsummer. Noetzel said all customers across Charter's 29-state service area will receive the upgrade by the end of 2014.

For customers in and around the Cape Girardeau area, the transition will take place in mid-April. Noetzel said customers will receive notifications one month in advance via mail, billing statements, phone and directly on their televisions to inform them of the transition.

After they receive notification, customers may either pick up the boxes from a local Charter office or contact Charter to have boxes delivered to their home. Offices in Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, Mo., will have extended hours as customers experience the transition, Noetzel said.

The boxes also come with self-installation instructions. According to Noetzel, the boxes are "very easy to install."

"I've done it, my mother's done it," she said. "Most people will be able to do it themselves."

There will be no charge for the first digital box for the first 12 months, Noetzel said. After that, she said there will be a charge of $6.99 per month.

Charter has already completed all-digital upgrades in Texas, California, South Carolina, Michigan and Massachusetts.

Noetzel said they've had positive reactions from customers who have switched.

"We've had very positive reactions for the all-digital, once the customer gets used to the box," she said.

She also said 90 percent of Charter customers in Missouri and Illinois already have adopted some sort of digital device, such as a DVR, for at least one television in their home.

"We're just giving the customers more of what they want," Noetzel said.

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