Comcast has announced the launch of 23 new high-definition channels in its Groton market, including eight that will be available starting May 30, as the company continues the process of converting customers from analog to digital service.
The Groton area includes the Naval Submarine Base, Ledyard, Stonington, North Stonington and Voluntown. The Clinton area, which includes Old Saybrook, Chester, Deep River, Durham, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth and Westbrook, started the same conversion in February, and several more channels are to be converted to high definition today, including CNN and ESPN.
Conversions are intended for those with Limited Basic or Standard analog services or people with Digital Starter plans who need converter boxes for additional televisions. Rates for the various Comcast plans will remain the same.
"This is the first phase (in Groton)," said Comcast spokeswoman Kristen Roberts during an interview at the East Lyme Starbucks coffee shop. "The world is going digital."
Groton is the last area in Connecticut to go through the conversion process.
One benefit of the conversion, according to Roberts, is a faster Internet speed. Customers also will receive more choices for on-demand programming and access to additional high-definition channels and interactive features.
No installation costs are charged for customers who are able to make the conversion themselves using a self-install kit with easy instructions, she added.
Roberts said cable subscribers have been notified several times about the switchover, which will require them to acquire digital converter boxes. Anyone who hasn't received a converter will see a black screen on the eight new channels, reminding them that they should call Comcast at
1 (877) 634-4434 to arrange to receive up to three boxes at no additional charge.
Customers also can pick up the converters at Comcast's service center at 401 Gold Star Highway in Groton.
Anyone with more than three TVs will be charged an extra $1.99 a month for each additional box required.
Roberts said more than 93 percent of Comcast's customers in the Groton area are served by a digital signal. Customers do not need a high-definition TV to make the conversion, which is expected to be completed in the Groton area by August.
The digital conversion follows Comcast's launch in March of Xfinity Home in Connecticut, offering security features as well as the ability to remotely adjust thermostats and lighting. In February, Comcast also launched Xfinity Streampix, a subscription video service that allows instant access to movies and TV shows on a variety of platforms.
"You can have your entertainment wherever you are," said Laura A. Brubaker, a Comcast spokeswoman for western New England.