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March 11, 2009 5:05 PM

More details on Comcast digital switch

Posted by Brier Dudley

I didn't set out to write a weekly piece on Comcast's digital switch, but I do have some more details that emerged since last Thursday's installment.

Here are questions that arose, with answers from Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp:

Q: There's some confusion about whether channels 30 to 70 will truly be encrypted after they're converted from analog to digital.

Kipp: Shortly after the change, in some cases, the channels will not be encrypted. But they will be encrypted due to agreements we have with the cable networks. My advice to customers: If you happen to not have the channels encrypted, enjoy them while you can, because it won't last for long.

Q: A number of people have noticed their channel lineups changing. Is this work in advance of the digital conversion?

Kipp: We are always doing some channel shuffling or realignments as new agreements with the various networks are being made or the networks change formats or go out of business, etc. Most recently, we have been aligning some of our digital and high-definition channels by genre -- sports, news, entertainment, etc. -- as we have done with our analog channels. This is something that we would be doing regardless of whether we would be going to an all-digital lineup.

Kipp also clarified how many free boxes expanded basic customers will receive. If you are an expanded basic customer with zero cable boxes, you can receive an "advanced" set-top box and two "DTA" converter boxes for additional sets for free.

Expanded basic customers who already have a digital set-top box may receive two of the small DTA converters. They "have been upgraded to our digital starter package. (Last year, we stopped selling analog expanded basic and sold only digital starter, which is the same package of channels, plus a few more digital channels, for the same price. ) So the short answer is that the box already has been included at no extra charge. So in addition to their current box, the customer would then be eligible for two more boxes at no additional charge."

(If you have more questions, they may have been covered in this Comcast digital switch FAQ entry from December)

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