Cox cable customer service New Orleans

Cox Communications eliminating analog cable television service

Cox estimates that 20 percent of its subscribers are analog only. Others have some digital cable service - on a primary TV set, for example - but have analog cable on secondary sets; these customers will need converter boxes on the secondary sets.

The company doesn't have a tracking mechanism to count secondary-set analog users, said Bruce Berkinshaw, Cox director of marketing. It estimates that 50 percent of its digital subscribers will need a new box of some kind to continue using those TVs.

"It could be half of our digital customers, " he said. "We don't have network intelligence on that."

Cox said it will supply digital "mini-boxes" to analog-cable users – some free of charge for as long as five years. Eventually, these will carry a $2.99 monthly rental fee, the company said.

Customers who currently subscribe to Cox's "Starter Analog" package will receive two free mini-boxes for two years. If the Starter Analog customer is a Medicaid recipient, it's two free for five years.

"Essential Analog" customers are eligible for two free mini-boxes for one year. Digital customers are eligible for one free mini-box for one year.

Additional mini-boxes carry a $2.99 monthly fee. That applies to customers on all plans once their free-use term expires.

Current Cox customers who get their cable signals via CableCARD-enabled TV sets won't need a mini-box, Berkinsaw said. "For customers with digital receivers on their televisions, there's nothing they need to do, " Berkinshaw said. "They won't even see this as an issue.

"Any television connected directly into a wall plate will need some type of device in order to receive channels."

The transition, scheduled to end by early next year, mirrors a national trend, said Jeff Kagan, an Atlanta-based cable-industry analyst. "Cox, along with Comcast and Time Warner and Charter, are all moving toward this same digital universe, " Kagan said. "This digital product does have lots of benefits, but you also lose others. Depending on who you are, you're either going to love it or you're not.

"Customers who want all the new features, who want all the new technology, will love it. Customers who are happy with their plain old cable television won't like it. The reason they won't like it is (that) it will cost more to have a box on every television."

Berkinshaw said the new benefits delivered via mini-box include:

  • Expanded channel lineup (including the Golf Channel, SEC Network and Fox Business) compared with analog service
  • On-screen programming guide
  • Better picture quality in some cases
  • 50 new music-only channels.

Eliminating analog signals also will free up bandwidth that now uses about 40 percent of Cox's capacity, Berkinshaw added. The bandwidth gain after the transition will let the company increase Internet speeds to its cable-modem customers and add more high-definition TV channels to its lineup packages.

Accessing many of those new channels, as well as on-demand movies and time-shifted network programming, will not be possible with a mini-box. Instead, it will require a different – and more expensive – rented digital box.

Cox operates in 17 Louisiana parishes and is the primary cable provider for the New Orleans area south of Lake Pontchartrain. It serves about 200, 000 local households.

The company is the third-largest cable-TV provider in the United States, with about 6 million total customers for its TV, Internet and telephone services. All Cox markets across the country are undergoing the analog-to-digital transition, some preceding Louisiana.

Mini-boxes, which are about the size of two stacked mobile phones, may be obtained at Cox customer-service centers, ordered online at or by calling 844.239.2224. The devices come with a 24-page installation-instruction manual and all needed connection hardware. Cox has also posted installation and instructional tutorials on YouTube.

Customers may request professional installation for $39.99. "We're finding a vast majority of our customers are self-installing, " Berkinshaw said.

For current analog customers, the transition period will mean a gradual decrease in the channels they see until they obtain a new mini-box or more advanced digital box. "We're calling them peel-backs, " Berkinshaw said. "We're moving roughly a dozen channels at a time from analog to digital."

Informational screens about the transition will replace the vanished analog channels. Cox also will program informational on-screen "crawls" as the transitional peel-backs, expected to begin in October, proceed.

The peel-back approach is intended to raise awareness of the pending transition among analog-cable users, and also avoids a sudden signal blackout for tens of thousands of customers. At least one other cable operator tried the abrupt approach in its analog-elimination program, Berkinshaw said.

"We don't think that's the best customer experience, " Berkinshaw said. "We think (peel-backs) are, for lack of a better term, a gentler way to do this."

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