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Some cable TV users will require box

Comcast will provide converters free to customers

Now that the federal digital TV conversion is finished, some Spokane cable TV viewers must prepare for Phase 2, the conversion of about 40 Comcast channels starting next week.

An estimated 10,000 Spokane Comcast households will need free digital boxes that will allow them to watch channels 30 to 70, company officials said.

The first phase of that digital-channel cutover starts Tuesday and June 25.

Another 20 cable channels will go through the same conversion in July, Comcast spokesman Walter Neary said.

“We wanted to introduce people to the changes gradually,” with half the change in June and the rest a month later, Neary said. The two-day switch next week lets Comcast do about half of Spokane County on the first day, the other half two days later.

The affected channels include ESPN, CNN, Sci-Fi, History and the Food Channel.

Their cable channel numbers won’t change.

Customers who must add the boxes are those who get cable TV service from a wall jack directly to the TV. If customers have a set-top cable box or a DVR, they’re already equipped for the change, Neary said.

Every TV in the house will need a translator box to receive channels 30 to 70. Customers can get three of those boxes free; more than three will require a monthly fee, said Neary.

After all the channels go digital in July, Comcast plans to add additional high-definition channels to the Spokane cable lineup. Those extra channels are possible without added cost because Comcast gains a significant amount of cable capacity by no longer transmitting programs in analog form, Neary said.

Company mailings to customers will notify customers of the added channels.

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