Metro

Charter conversion frustrates students, but will offer more channels

People gather and lineup outside the Charter Communications Store in Stadium Mall off of South Mission St. Jan. 20, 2014 to receive new cable boxes that are now digital versions that are now offering up to 175 high-definition channels.  (Tianyu Han | Staff Photographer)

Customers lineup inside the Charter Communications Store in Stadium Mall off of South Mission St. Jan. 20, 2014 to receive new cable boxes that are now digital versions that are now offering up to 175 high-definition channels. (Tianyu Han | Staff Photographer)

Charter Communications switched its cable television signals in Clare, Gratiot and Isabella counties, offering up to 175 high-definition channels.

The conversion, which began Jan. 14., requires all Charter customers to have a Charter set-top box. According to the city of Mount Pleasant’s website, the Charter box will be provided by the company upon request.

Having just returned from winter break, this left many CMU students scrambling to equip their televisions with the new box in order to continue watching television through Charter.

“I’m a little upset that we have to go through this and we have to get a box and everything,” said Andrew Frank, a Midland senior. “If it wasn’t through my apartment complex, then I would switch. I would switch to satellite or something else.”

Frank was among several students waiting in the line extending out the door on Jan. 17 at the Charter store, 2304 S. Mission St.

The company will provide one digital HD box at no charge, but customers will need to order additional boxes for each television they wish to receive cable on, according to a fact sheet available on the City Commission’s website and distributed to residents.

Clare sophomore Ryan Kriebel, a Deerfield resident, has found other alternatives to cable television during the conversion. He said although he has received a box, the equipment has been faulty.

“I’ve just been watching Netflix instead,” he said. ”We got our box, but it isn’t working well.”

Marc Moffitt, an Auburn Hills senior, was indifferent about the hour-long wait in order to pick up his Charter box.

“OK, so it’s not super cool. I mean it’s TV,” he said. “But it’s nice to be able to see what’s on rather than having to guess.”

In a press release, Charter President and CEO Tom Rutledge explained the conversion was necessary to keep up with increasing offerings from other cable providers.

“By removing outdated analog signals, we regain bandwidth in our network, enabling us to provide more HD channels and open the door to faster Internet speeds and future innovation,” Rutledge said in the release.

Charter customers will now gain Video On Demand access, with more than 12,000 VOD options, including more than 3,000 in HD.

The company plans to complete its upgrade in the 29 states it serves by the end of 2014.

After one year, regular equipment pricing will apply for each additional digital or HD box. Currently, that pricing is $5.99 per month for each Charter digital or HD cable box installed.

Charter will provide two boxes at no charge for one year for those who do not currently have a Charter digital or HD cable box, and one additional HD or cable box if one is already installed.

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