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List of cable and satellite companies and their policy on the transition to digital television (DTV)

Are you wondering what your cable or satellite provider is doing about the upcoming transition to digital television on February 17th, 2009? You’re not the only one! TVConversionhelp has been flooded with emails and website comments over the last few weeks with questions asking what a person needs to do to upgrade to digital television if they have cable or satellite.

After a little bit of research, the following list has been been put together in accordance to Cable/Satellite provider, their policy on the transition to digital television, and a direct link to their website where you can verify the information.

Check back often, we will be adding more Cable/Satellite providers to this list soon.

Disclaimer: The following information is based on opinion, and should be verified through your local cable or satellite television provider.

Cox Communications (Cable Television Service)
Cox is offering to down-convert from its digital format to analog broadcast signals for at least three years after the February 17th, 2009.

What does this mean for Cox customers? If you have basic cable (or any television cable service from Cox) and no set top box (rented through Cox), you will continue to receive television signals after the February 17th, 2009 cut off date for “at least” 3 years.

Link to Cox Communications Digital Television Information Page


Time Warner Cable (Cable Television Service)
Time Warner Cable’s digital transition page is a bit ambiguous to say the least. They offer no insight as to their future plans on helping their customers after the digital transition. The following is a direct quote from their webpage:

Q: If I’m a Basic (analog) Cable customer, will I have to sign up for Digital Cable?
A: No. Any Basic Cable setup will do. However, now is a good time to consider upgrading to Digital Cable, which offers more channels, as well as On Demand Programming, a free upgrade to HD service, an interactive program guide and more.

While informing their customers that they will indeed continue to receive cable service after the digital transition, they offer a sales pitch to “upgrade” to digital television. It pales in comparision to Cox Communications digital transition policy.

Time Warner offers no other information on their website at this time to inform basic cable subscribers how long they will continue to receive uninterrupted cable service after the digital transition.

Link to Time Warner Cable Digital Transition Information Page

Direct TV (Satellite Television Service)

According to Direct TV, most customers won’t need to take any action for the transition to digital television. For customers who have Direct TV service, but receive local channels over-the-air, may have a tough road ahead trying to figure out what they need in order to make sure they will continue to receive television signals after February 17th, 2009.

The Great News: If you receive all of your television channels through Direct TV which includes (Very Important) local television channels (ie: NBC, Fox, CBS, etc), you should continue to receive television signals without a problem after the digital transition on February 17th, 2009.

The Bad News: If you have Direct TV service, but get your local channels through an off-air antenna, you will be most likely be affected by the DTV transition depending on what type of set top box you use. There are currently only 3 set top boxes that contain both a digital tuner for “over-the-air” television stations and a tuner for satellite stations. They are the DIRECTV® HD (H20) or DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR (HR20 only), or The new DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR (HR21). If you use either one of the 3 mentioned boxes, you should be able to continue watching television after the transition date.

Important: To check and see if Direct TV provides local television programming in your area through their satellite service, click here.

So lets use a few different scenarios for those out there who have Direct TV service but are still wondering what to do:

Scenario #1: If you have Direct TV service, receive local channels through a regular antenna, but have a television with a digital tuner, you should continue to be able to watch television after the digital transition.

Scenario #2: If you have Direct TV service, receive local channels through a regular antenna, but have an analog television set without a digital tuner, you will need to obtain a digital converter box solely for the purpose of watching local television stations. In this case, you will have 2 set top boxes, your Direct TV box for viewing non-local channels, and the other “over-the-air” digital converter box for viewing local channels.

Scenario #3: Upgrade to a DIRECTV® HD (H20) or DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR (HR20 only) set top box which contain both tuners for viewing satellite channels and “over-the-air” local television stations. The only other piece of equipment needed with these 3 converter boxes will be an antenna to help receive a clear reception of local channels. This scenario may possibly be the costliest to the consumer of all 3 scenarios.

Link to Direct TV Digital Transition Information Page


Dish Network (Satellite Television Service)

Dish Network’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on DTV and information provided on their webpage about the digital transition is the worst of all the cable and satellite providers I’ve seen so far.

Dish Network has side stepped directly answering what their customers need to do in order to continue to receive television broadcast signals after February 17th, 2009.

The only reference on their DTV FAQ page that may ambiguously notify their customers that they will continue to receive broadcasts after February 2009 without changing their set up is this:

“After February 17, 2009, analog TVs will no longer be able to receive programming unless their owners do one of the following:

1. Subscribe to a satellite or cable TV service”

Directly after this sentence, comes the hook…”DISH Network makes the digital transition easy by offering great satellite TV at the lowest all-digital price anywhere, and DTVPal—the coupon-eligible converter box with analog pass-through.”

So…after glancing at this sentence, could a Dish Network customer make the assumption that he needs to purchase a DTVPal? It’s possible, but don’t be fooled. The DTVPal is only far non-customers who receive over-the-air broadcasts on their analog television sets. DTVPal Link.

This is very dissapointing and inconclusive information provided by Dish Network. If you are a customer, you may want to contact them directly and ask what their policy is for the digital transition.

Link to Dish Network Digital Transition Information Page

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