Happiness is a Warm TV

Time Warner Cable to go all-digital, requiring new equipment

Time Warner Cable is notifying customers that they are going “all digital” and that special digital equipment will soon be required to view any channels – and with the new equipment will eventually come new charges.

Customers who have the “Starter TV” package (an inexpensive plan that provides network channels like ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS, plus a handful of cable channels, like CSPAN and TBS) or any customers plugging a cable directly into a TV, VCR or DVD recorder (Preferred customers with “extra” or “secondary” TVs receiving cable directly) will be affected.

According to a letter sent to customers this week, the all-digital switch happens on May 5, 2015. After that date, customers without digital equipment will not be able to view any channels.

A flier accompanying the TWC letter says that the adapters required to view channels are free to customers through June 30, 2016. After that, the adapters will be billed at $2.75 per month (that’s the current rate – it could go up). But the letter says you have to request the equipment by October 29, 2015 to receive the equipment without an additional charge or service fee.

Here’s what else the letter says: even people receiving the free equipment now will eventually have to pay the service fee.

As far as I can tell, this is what you’re allowed: If you are a Preferred customer with reception on a secondary TV plugging directly into the set, you get one adapter free for one year. If you have the Starter TV plan, you can get two adapters free for two years (or five years if you are on Medicaid).

After the 1-year or 2-year (or 5-year) grace period is up, welcome to an extra $2.75 rental charge each month. That’s $33 a year. If you keep it five years, you’ll spend $165 on that little adapter.

There could be similar charges going on at AT&T U-Verse or at the satellite companies, but I’m not sure. If you know that AT&T has this same charge, let me know – bcain@newsobserver.com – and I’ll put that info here.

If you have more questions about what’s going on at TWC, let them know: 1-844-895-4734.