INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Charter Communications is switching to all-digital transmissions at Lake Tahoe, bringing customers more HD channels and more expensive bills for those owning several TVs.
The company has been upgrading to digital throughout the country this year in response to federal mandates that all analog television transmitters be dumped.
North Tahoe communities in Placer and Washoe counties are next in line for the transition, said company spokesman Jack Hardy.
Customers in Incline Village, Crystal Bay, Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay, Tahoe Vista, Tahoe City and Northstar California will be impacted.
“Up until now, Charter’s been broadcasting on the old analog signal,” Hardy said. “In the place of analog, we can put multiple HD signals, expanding our lineup and offering more options to customers.”
Subscribers will be required by Oct. 8 to have a Charter-issued converter box for each TV they own to enjoy more than 150 HD channels. After that date, customers can no longer run cable straight into their TVs, Hardy said.
The company will issue one free box to customers who qualify for 12 months. If subscribers have additional TVs, an extra $5.99 per box will be added to their monthly bill.
“Currently, anyone gets one complimentary converter box … it’s unknown at this point whether there will be a monthly fee (after 12 months),” Hardy said.
Customers may get a box by visiting a temporary Charter store that opened Monday at 214 Village Blvd. in Incline Village.
Its hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Oct. 7 through Nov. 2, the store will also be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Those living in the Tahoe region in El Dorado County, including the city of South Lake Tahoe, can expect the transition later this year, Hardy said. He was unsure when Nevada County will be added to the list.
“Our plan is to have everything all digital by end of next year,” he said.
On top of new HD channels, the expanded service gives access to the company’s On Demand movie system, and allows customers to download mobile apps like WatchESPN.
Customers can visit charter.com/digitalnow or call Charter at 877-959-1617 with questions. Subscribers should have received a letter from the company explaining the new system.
According to media reports, the Federal Communications Commission has mandated all analog television transmitters be shut down by Sept. 1, 2015.