The line at the Spectrum cable office in Glens Falls was well into the parking lot on Friday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, it stretched out the door onto the sidewalk.
The office has regularly had long lines of people in recent weeks as customers try to find out what to do now that the company is discontinuing analog cable TV signals and encrypting its digital cable television signals.
While the company has said boxes are needed to receive channels going forward, some have questioned whether they are really needed, or whether the box requirement is a money grab by the company.
A cable box will be needed to decrypt the signal on television sets that aren’t equipped with a built-in “cable card” or hooked up to a Spectrum-endorsed streaming media player. Even with a streaming media player, a Spectrum subscription is required to receive the company’s channels and content.
Andrew Russell, a spokesman for Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications, said the programming changes will take effect in the Glens Falls region on Dec. 12.
“What’s happening is we’re upgrading the entire Spectrum footprint to a two-way, interactive digital network,” he said in an email. “The key reason for moving to 100 percent digital is because it frees up capacity on our network to deliver customers faster internet speeds, more HD and On Demand content and new features, a best-in-class voice experience and pave a path for future innovation.”
He said encryption is only part of the change.
“What this means from a technical standpoint is we are removing all analog TV signals from our lineups and delivering those channels exclusively in a digital format,” Russell added. “By adding capacity to our network, it enables the things our customers tell us they want, like faster broadband speeds, more HD and new features. Encryption is literally the last step of the process and is aimed at ensuring customers receive the services they pay for in their Spectrum packages.”
Despite some online grousing among customers, there did not appear to be much backlash locally. Michael Mender, assistant to Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond, said the mayor’s office had not received any complaints.
A reporter who visited Spectrum’s Dix Avenue, Glens Falls office to pick up a cable box found it jammed with customers shortly after opening Tuesday morning.
Most were not enthused about the new requirement, with one man saying he had six television sets around his house and he was trying to figure out whether cable boxes or HD antennae were his best option.
While the company’s literature indicates the office opens at 9 a.m., it is opening at 8 a.m. until the end of the year to deal with the influx of customers seeking cable boxes. The reporter who waited in line spent nearly 45 minutes to get to the counter and when leaving, counted 25 people waiting their turn.
A short time later, the line stretched out the door again, with customers standing under an awning to stay out of a cold drizzle.
Those who don’t want to visit the office or wait in line can order the required equipment at spectrum.com/DigitalNow or by calling 1-844-278-3408.