Verizon Communications, fulfilling a commitment to the Federal Communications Commission, said it will phase out all the local analog channels offered on FiOS TV on a regional basis, starting in New York on April 21.
The telco said it has notified customers of the change with letters, e-mails and phone calls, and has set up a section of its Web site, verizon.com/godigital, with information about the all-digital changeover.
In June 2007, Verizon told the FCC it would eliminate analog channels before the February 2009 digital TV transition in order to receive a temporary waiver to the agency's ban on set-tops with integrated security functions.
According to the FCC, encouraging providers to eliminating analog video will "enable expanded service offerings, promote efficient use of the spectrum, deliver broadband services, spur competitive entry and expand universal service."
But for FiOS TV customers, the only apparent difference will be that they're required to have a set-top box or digital converter for every TV set in the house.
Verizon has provided analog channels to allow digital subscribers to view local programming in an analog format without using a set-top box. FiOS TV also has a small number of customers who subscribe to an analog-only version of the service; Verizon said it will provide these customers a free digital adapter.
FiOS TV customers will need to lease a Verizon-supplied set top box or install a digital adapter to continue to receive the service on each TV in their home. Only TVs with a built-in digital QAM tuner will not need a set-top box or digital adapter to receive local programming. Verizon will provide customers one digital converter box at no charge; each additional box is $3.99 per month.
"As we phase out our local analog simulcasts this year, we want to make sure that our small number of affected customers can continue receiving this programming on sets they are using without a set-top box," said Michelle Minus Swittenberg, Verizon vice president of sales and marketing for the New York region, in a statement.
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