|(Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)|
San Juan metropolitan area cable television provider OneLink has begun the conversion of its basic cable signal to digital format, a process that adds quality to the service and will affect thousands of customers who currently do not use a set-top box to watch television.
In a notice dated March 21, sent to customers last week, the cable provider said once the network upgrade is completed, subscribers will need a digital converter for every television set that is connected to cable, even if the set is “cable ready.”
As part of the process, OneLink will offer customers without digital service up to two basic digital “mini box” converters free of charge for the first year. Additional converters will be available for $2 a month. Digital set-top boxes with more advanced features, such as digital video recording and high definition will also be available, but at the company’s regular monthly fee, the company said.
The company made no mention about changes in monthly rates associated with the improved service.
“The system upgrade will be completed in several phases throughout 2011. As we prepare to upgrade your area, we will contact you to schedule a free service appointment to provide you with any additional equipment you may need,” the notice stated.
The network overhaul, for which OneLink required permission from the Federal Communications Commission, will also entail launching a new channel lineup for the digital converters.
“When you begin using your new digital converter, basic and expanded basic channels may not appear where you remember them,” OneLink informed in the notice that included the new channel lineup that begins in the 800s.
In October 2010, OneLink, which serves some 150,000 customers throughout its eight-town footprint, asked the FCC for permission to begin scrambling the signal of its basic-service tier. It asked the regulatory agency for a waiver to the rules that ban cable systems from encrypting basic-cable signals, citing significant cable signal theft in its service area, which it said stood at 6.9 percent in 2006.
OneLink noted that the federal agency had granted similar waivers to Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico Inc., and Centennial Puerto Rico Cable TV Corp., now Choice Cable, which faced similar issues.
The FCC granted its go-ahead to OneLink’s petition in January.