Digital Television (DTV)
On June 12, 2009 the entire country transitioned to digital television, also known as DTV. To help you see what it means for you, RCN has put together the following answers to common questions. Even if you're not affected by the switch to DTV, you'll still want to know what’s happening. One thing's for sure - during the coming months, you’ll be hearing a lot about this topic.
What is analog television?
Analog television is the traditional method of transmitting TV signals and has been the standard broadcast technology since the very beginning. Analog TV sets receive broadcast signals over the air, via "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna.
What is digital television?
Digital television (DTV) is a new type of technology that lets broadcasters carry more data in their signal than is possible with analog. It delivers a sharper picture, clearer sound and many more programming choices.
What is the digital television (DTV) transition?
The FCC mandated that on June 12, 2009, all full-power broadcast stations will stop transmitting analog signals. Translation: After that date, most of your local broadcast stations started to broadcast in digital only (though some low-power community stations converted later).
Why is the FCC doing this?
For several reasons. Digital TV delivers a clearer picture and sharper sound than analog. Plus, a single digital channel can be subdivided into three or four programming "streams," so local broadcasters can offer more channels. Also, the switch to digital will free up more frequencies for first responders — police, fire and emergency teams that need the airwaves clear so they can build a national wireless public safety network.
I’m an RCN cable customer. How will this affect me?
If all of your television sets are connected to the RCN cable service, you don't need to do anything. We will take care of sending the signals to you in a way that all televisions can receive them. If you are already enjoying our digital and/or High Definition service, you already have the set-top box and/or CableCard that you need. Depending upon whether your market has converted to an RCN all-digital platform, you may or may not need a set-top box to view the basic tier, and RCN will be happy to provide you with what you need.
My analog TV set isn’t connected to my RCN cable service. Will it still work?
Your analog TV will no longer display most over-the-air broadcast signals after June 12, 2009 but with a few simple steps, you can still use your analog TV. The easiest way will be to connect your TV to your RCN cable service. Again, the best way to do so is with a cable set-top box provided by us that will give you digital quality on your analog TV set. Or you can go to your local electronics retailer and buy a different type of box, called a DTV converter box. It will receive over-the-air digital signals and convert them to analog for display on your analog television set.
What's the difference between a cable set-top box and a DTV converter box?
A cable set-top box is provided only by us, your cable company. It's needed for channels beyond our basic tier of service. A DTV converter box is sold only by electronics retailers. It allows an analog TV set to convert over-the-air digital signals received through an antenna. RCN does not sell or provide technical support for the DTV converter boxes. A DTV converter box will cost between $40 and $60, though the government is providing two $40 coupons per household to offset the cost. To learn more, go to www.dtv2009.gov.
How can I tell if my television set is digital?
If you bought your set in the last three to four years, it's probably digital. Check your owner's manual to be double-sure. Look there also to see if it has an ATSC tuner. (You might find this information on the back of your TV, too.)
RCN says I already get local channels in digital. How’s that?
To give customers a better viewing experience, RCN has been simulcasting local channels in digital, converting the analog signals through cable set-top boxes. If you are a subscriber to the digital tier of our service already then you have already been enjoying many of the benefits of digital service. Think of it a preview of the all-digital future.
I have heard that RCN is converting its system to all-digital. What is that all about?
Separate from the nationwide over-the-air digital television transition, RCN is in the process of phasing out our own analog tier of service in order to free up capacity so we can bring you more High Definition and Video-On-Demand programming. The RCN system in the Chicago market has completed this conversion and is now providing its customers with fully digital cable service. The remaining RCN systems will be converting through out this year and next. This is a separate process from the digital broadcast television transition and may not be completed in all markets prior to February 17, 2009. All of RCN’s customers, including those using both analog and digital television sets, will continue to receive their cable and local broadcast channels without interruption, but it will require that you have a set-top box or CableCARD at each TV.
Where can I learn more about the digital transition?
Visit www.dtvtransition.org and www.dtv.gov. For DTV converter-box coupon details, go to www.dtv2009.gov or call 1-888-DTV-2009.