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RCN Begins ‘Analog Crush’ In Boston

RCN Corp. has initiated its all-digital initiative in the Boston DMA, beginning in Dedham, Mass.

Dubbed “Analog Crush,” RCN’s gambit is a 100% migration to all-digital video, a project it has already undertaken in the Chicago market. There, the company said it is reclaiming nearly 80 analog channels that were currently being duplicated with digital simulcast, or 400 MHz of video spectrum, for other uses. 

RCN, (opens in new tab) which competes against Comcast and Verizon’s FiOS’s increasing presence in Boston, is now deploying a similar strategy in Beantown, with its July 4 enactment in Dedham. The process will continue to the 17 municipalities RCN serves in the Bay State over the next year.

“This marks a very important step into the future for our Boston cable customers. By reclaiming analog channels, we are able to expand the number of channels the company can offer, improve the picture quality and make the network easier to maintain,” said RCN CEO and president Peter Aquino in a statement. “By going all-digital, RCN will also be able to double its HD channels from about 40, which currently exceeds what our cable competitors offer, to more than 100, making us leaders in delivering HD and customized cable packages in an all digital world.”

Aquino noted that at launch, Analog Crush will provide Boston-area customers with 61 HD channels and more basic digital TV choices than ever before. Moreover, it will yield more robust video on demand offerings of the free, pay and subscription varieties.

The move is being made, at least in part, to counter Verizon FiOS’s incursion in the market. Aquino, speaking at Deutsche Bank Media & Telecommunications conference in New York last month, said that while FiOS has taken some customers from RCN in the Boston market in the past three years, that trend is beginning to change.

“Analog Crush is going to be a formidable competitor to what they have,” Aquino said at the time. “In the case of Boston right now, we have 40 HD channels before Crush, which is coming July 4, and they have 30 [HD] channels.”

Once converted to all digital, Boston area customers will need at least a standard digital converter box or cable card to view the new lineups. HD and HD/DVR converters can also be used and are necessary to view HD channels.

RCN Boston general manager Richard Waldman said the company has made a concerted effort to get the word out to its customer base about the transition, explaining they will need a standard, HD or DVR box or cable card . RCN will mail quick self-install instructions, or subscribers can schedule an appointment to have the boxes installed. RCN subscribers can pick up the set-tops or cable cards up at three locations:  956 Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington, Mass.; 1224 Hyde Park Ave. in Hyde Park; and 518 Union Ave. in Framingham.

"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,” said Wadman in a statement. “While RCN’s exciting new services will require subscribers 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.”