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updated: 2/8/2013 7:18 AM

Comcast subscribers see fee for once-free digital adapters

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  • Digital adapters, which are needed for older analog TVs, used to be free from Comcast but now are $1.99 a month apiece.

      Digital adapters, which are needed for older analog TVs, used to be free from Comcast but now are $1.99 a month apiece.
    Associated Press

  • COURTESY OF COMCAST CORP.Here's an example of a digital transport adapter, a device that helps to provide the digital signal to an older analog TV. Comcast is now charging for the once-free DTAs.

      COURTESY OF COMCAST CORP.Here's an example of a digital transport adapter, a device that helps to provide the digital signal to an older analog TV. Comcast is now charging for the once-free DTAs.

 
 

When Michael Zalokar of Winfield opened his Comcast cable TV bill this week, he suddenly noticed extra charges; two digital adapters, which had been free, now cost $1.99 each.

"That bites the wallet," he said.

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He and his family have been Comcast customers since November 2006 and had enjoyed having those digital adapters for free and never expected the fees. Then Zalokar went back and found that a note was added to his January bill, under the "New from Comcast" section.

It said, "Please see the enclosed information regarding upcoming changes to prices for select video and Internet services and equipment."

"Perhaps that referred to what was on pages 3 through 6," Zalokar said. "I have long since recycled pages 3 through 6. Like I have the time to go sift through that much information."

Like Zalokar, other customers also noticed the additional fee for the digital transport adapter, a small device that lets you watch programming from an all-digital cable network on your older, analog TV. When we contacted Comcast's Midwest headquarters in Schaumburg, the company said the new charges are justified.

When Comcast began moving toward full digital distribution in 2008, it provided up to two digital adapters to customers at no additional charge with Standard/Expanded Basic Cable, said spokeswoman Angelynne S. Amores.

That digital transition brought free additional channels, including History International, Biography, C-SPAN 3, G4, Sprout, Bloomberg News and Hallmark Movie Channel. The adapters also provided customers with improved picture quality, she said.

"The deployment of DTAs allowed us to increase the number of HD channels from about 30 to as many as 100 channels, depending on your area, and faster Internet speeds," Amores said. "We are also beginning the deployments of HD-DTAs, which will provide customers a less expensive way to access HD services on additional outlets, as well as deployments of an interactive guide for the DTAs. Bringing these enhancements to our customers requires significant investment, and we feel the nominal fee now being implemented for DTAs appropriately reflects the additional value of the service," she said.

With the additional $3.98 plus taxes and fees, Zalokar's monthly bill went to about $100 a month, he said.

"I'll still remain a customer," he said. "There aren't too many options."

• Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at akukec@dailyherald.com.

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