RCN is switching to all-digital TV programming in Chicago, reclaiming 80 analog channels for new standard and HDTV channel launches, officials said Tuesday.
By going all digital and reclaiming excess spectrum, RCN has recreated its entire cable offering and rebranded its expanded-basic offering and digital-tier offering as the new Signature and Premiere packages.
“This marks a very important step into the future for our Chicago cable customers," RCN CEO and president Peter Aquino said in a statement. “By reclaiming analog channels, RCN will be leaders in delivering HD and customized cable packages in an all digital world. We have converted the first RCN hub and target completion in the entire Chicago market before the end of spring."
The Signature package, formerly with 80 channels, will relaunch with 180 channels for the same price. In addition, Premiere will be more robust with additional HD selections and channel pods to give consumers more flexibility and choice. The channel pods group RCN's Premiere tier by genre, such as sports, news and information, children and family, and movies and entertainment. The pods provide customers with the ability to pay only for the programming they want to watch.
In addition, RCN is also upgrading its video-on-demand platform and adding additional free content, subscription and pay video on-demand programming to provide even more choices available at the touch of a customer's remote.
“With the Federal Communication Commission's mandate that all broadcast channels be transmitted digitally by Feb. 17, 2009, digital is the future direction of the industry," RCN vice president and general manager Tom McKay said in a statement. “While RCN's exciting new services will require televisions to have a digital converter box or cable card, RCN's all-digital network opens up an exciting world of opportunities and choice for our customers."
Once converted to all digital, Chicago area customers will need at least a standard digital converter box or cable card to view the new Signature and Premiere lineups. HD and HD/DVR converters can also be used and are necessary to view Signature and Premiere HD channels.
RCN has initiated a campaign to get the word out to RCN customers about the transition.