News

Verizon Zaps Analog Nets

4/11/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Verizon Communications, fulfilling a commitment to the Federal Communications Commission, said it will phase out all the local analog channels offered on FiOS TV on a regional basis, with plans to shut off the analog tier in New York on April 21.

The telco said it has notified customers of the change with letters, e-mails and phone calls, and has set up a section of its Web site (verizon.com/godigital) with information about the all-digital changeover.

AHEAD OF DEADLINE

In June 2007, Verizon told the FCC it would eliminate analog channels before the February 2009 digital-TV transition in order to receive a temporary waiver to the agency's ban on set-tops with integrated security functions.

According to the FCC, encouraging providers to eliminating analog video will “enable expanded service offerings, promote efficient use of the spectrum, deliver broadband services, spur competitive entry and expand universal service.”

But for FiOS TV customers, the only apparent difference will be that they're required to have a set-top box for every TV set in the house.

Verizon has provided local analog channels to allow digital subscribers to view programming in an analog format without using a set-top box. FiOS TV also has a small number of customers who subscribe to an analog-only version of the service; Verizon said it will provide these customers with one Motorola DCT700 free of charge.

FiOS TV customers will need to have a Verizon-supplied set top box, either the Motorola QIP hybrid set-top or a DCT700, to continue to receive the service on each TV in their home.

DIGITAL TUNER REQUIRED

Only TVs with a built-in digital QAM tuner will not need a set-top box or digital adapter to receive local programming.

“As we phase out our local analog simulcasts this year, we want to make sure that our small number of affected customers can continue receiving this programming on sets they are using without a set-top box,” Michelle Minus Swittenberg, Verizon vice president of sales and marketing for the New York region, said in a statement.

Verizon will provide customers one DCT700 box at no charge; each additional box is $3.99 per month. The DCT700 does not allow access to the FiOS TV interactive program guide or video-on-demand services.

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