Comcast will convert its Detroit preferred basic customers to digital service by the end of this year, a move to recover bandwidth in order to launch more HDTV channels.
After the change, only the customers who subscribe to limited basic, a 35-channel package including broadcast signals, local access and home shopping channels, will receive analog signals and be able to watch TV without a set-top box.
Comcast serves 1.3 million customers in Michigan. Spokesman Patrick Paterno said 90% of the customers in Detroit already have subscribed to digital services, so only a small percentage of customers are affected by the shift. Preferred basic customers were able to receive 79 broadcast and basic cable channels without a set-top box. Companies can launch three channels of HD programming for every analog channel slot they recover, according to Comcast.
Notifications, including multiple letters, phone calls, bill messages and cross-channel spots began appearing in August.
Paterno said Comcast is making an effort to clarify that this digital upgrade is not related to the Feb. 17, 2009 digital television transition.
Comcast is providing affected customers with a conventional digital converter for their primary television at no charge. A free converter is also offered for a second set for six months, after which consumers will have to pay $4.20 in box-rental fees.