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Local cable provider moves toward digital


GERMANTOWN–The monthly cost of cable television in town has increased by $3 on basic packages ($46.99 to $49.99), due to higher prices GTel now pays for program content.

Peter Mercer of Chatham, general manager of GTel, discussed the increase with the Town Board at its March 19 meeting. GTel’s own total increase, by all content providers, is $3.62 a month, he said.

GTel offers two systems, analog (now $42.99 per month), built in the 1980s, and digital (available in a variety of packages), started in 2010. In an effort to keep customer increases down, the company “made adjustments on the panel lineup,” said Mr. Mercer, moving 20 channels from the basic to the expanded service, and moving 14 channels from expanded to basic service.

GTel’s intent, said Mr. Mercer, is to phase out the analog system altogether over the next 18 months. Already the company has more digital than analog customers, and has stopped selling analog. GTel’s service area currently includes parts of Elizaville, Clermont and Tivoli, in addition to Germantown.

If only one or two analog customers remain on a street, they will be approached “to migrate over” to digital, said Mr. Mercer. Service limits exist in some areas, but the company plans to expand its fiber footprint over the next 18 months. It is also looking at other forms of entertainment, such as streaming, he said.

In response to a question from Councilman Joel Craig, Mr. Mercer said that the systems do give the company some information about what customers actually watch. MTV was not being watched in the basic package, for example, so it was moved to the expanded. ESBN is costly for the company, but people watch it, so it stays.

In response to a question from Councilman Donald Moore, Mr. Craig said that new cable line will follow “what’s already there,” whether it’s above or under the ground. “We aren’t going to do away with what’s there,” to make a change he said, adding, “it’s not a bad visual.”


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