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Have cable but no box? You’ll need one

When television broadcasting made the big switch from analog to digital signals in the United States in 2009, Charter cable customers were assured they were covered.

No need to buy one of those finicky adapter boxes to attach to their TV.

No need to do anything.

But now, before Charter converts to an all-digital format in the Duluth-Superior area on Aug 12, switching its analog channels to digital, Charter customers must act. They must get a

Charter-issued digital box for each TV and hook it up.

Those with TVs already hooked up to Charter DVR or another digital box don’t need to do anything. But other TVs in the home that don’t have boxes will need one to view cable programming beginning Aug. 12.

“People won’t be able to get the signal without the box,” said Kimberly Noetzel, Charter’s senior communications manager.

Most Charter customers can get one digital box free to use for a year. But after a year, they will have to pay Charter’s standard box rate of $6.99 a month, Noetzel said. Depending on their subscription package, some may be able to get a second free box. Additional boxes can be rented at the $6.99-per-month rate.

Boxes are available at the Charter store at 640 Garfield Ave. in Duluth, where hours have been expanded, or customers can call Charter at (877) 959-1680 to have one shipped to them at no cost. If customers attempt to hook the box up but are unsuccessful, Charter will come out and do it for them, Noetzel said.

“For years we’ve provided both analog and digital signals as a courtesy to customers who were not yet ready to adopt digital equipment,” she said. “However, we’ve watched the digital adoption rate among our customers climb steadily to a point that we know those analog signals are no longer necessary for the vast majority of our customers.”

Indeed, more than 90 percent of Charter customers have digital equipment for at least one TV in their home, according to the company.

For all customers, including basic cable subscribers, the switch to all-digital will mean more channels.

“The extra (digital) bandwidth we gain in the network by removing analog signals can be used to carry more channels in both standard-definition and high-definition formats,” Noetzel explained.

The switch to all-digital will increase the number of high-definition channels offered by Charter in the Twin Ports from about 100 to 200 and will result in better picture quality and faster Internet speeds, Charter officials say.

With the boxes, all customers will get an interactive channel guide accessible via their remote, parental controls and access to Video on Demand, including thousands of free and pay-for-view movies and other programming.

“This is about bringing a better viewing experience to our customers and giving them more of what they want,” Noetzel said. “How people watch TV is changing, and the ability to watch what you want, when you want, is important.”

Last week, Twin Ports customers were given a month’s notice of the upcoming changes through mail, e-mail, automated calls or messages appearing on their TV screens.

“We’ll continue to do that until after the cutover date,” Noetzel said.

Customers can learn more by visiting or by calling (888) 438-2427. Charter’s broadband services, including Charter TV and Charter Internet, are offered in 29 states. All-digital upgrades will be completed throughout its service areas by the end of 2014.