Over winter break, ENC’s cable provider, Privatel Inc., switched their on-campus service from analog to digital.
This change brought more than digital television reception. It also brings lower power consumption, smaller equipment, and over-the-web troubleshooting.
Before the change, the routers were too big and it took the cable company’s sub-contractors more than an hour to get to ENC to solve even small issues.
Changes include the addition of 12 high-definition channels and the much awaited arrival of ABC Family on channel 57, which was previously unavailable with the previous analog cable system.
“I was excited to see that we had ABC Family. A lot of different people, including me, had been complaining that they were missing out on different TV shows and the special movies put on at certain times,” junior Sondra Hazelton said. “Last year, they had a survey on which channels ENC should add to the cable plan and ABC Family was one of them. I’m really happy that they are taking the time to get the students’ input and then actually acting upon what the student body wanted.”
According to the ITS website, a student’s TV should work “provided it has a QAM tuner, cable input and is capable of auto-programming.” For most people with TVs on campus, it required some button-pushing for the TV to scan and search for channels. Other TVs connected automatically.
“I honestly just hit a bunch of buttons and a menu said ‘scan channels,’ and after a few minutes of waiting it finally started working. It was kind of frustrating,” senior Lisa Kuhrt said.
However, the switch has caused problems for students who do not have digital cable-ready television sets.
Students that do not have cable-ready TVs will be required to buy an analog-to-digital converter box. About two weeks ago, ITS learned that only one converter will work.
“It should be noted that only a Technicolor [analog-to-digital] coverter box available from Privatel will work with the new system,” Director of ITS Charlie Burt said. “ITS tested the box and found that it displayed most but not all channels and the viewing experience on an older set was not as good as on a newer one.”
“We have had students in the past purchase [cable boxes] from a store and they did not work,” Christina Brown of Privatel said. She suggested buying a $99 TV (Sceptre, Insignia, Element) from Best Buy, Walmart, or Target since the convertor boxes that Privatel sells cost $125 and do not display all of the channels offered.
Some residents have noticed it is not just converter boxes that don’t show all the channels. Even with a cable-ready TV, some channels do not display quite right.
“Some have four bars around each corner, but some fill the whole screen,” senior Kelsey Waddle said.
The option of buying a new TV is not being received well. Most students complain about the price.
“I don’t really have money to buy things like that,” senior Sarah LeGrand said.
The option of buying a converter box is not being received well either.
“I would never pay that much for a converter box. At the most, I’d be willing to dish $50 for a box, but not if I’m only [going to] need it for 4 months,” senior Melanie Marchetti said.
When students in the Commons were surveyed, there were choruses of “I’m broke” and “I guess it’ll be Netflix and Hulu from now on.”
While ITS does not officially offer support per their contract with Privatel, they have helped many students who are having difficulty with the new system. If anyone has a TV that they believe is cable-ready but is not connecting, they should contact Privatel directly.