Insight to require boxes or adapters on all TVs

Insight Communications, Lexington's cable provider, plans to switch to an all-digital cable lineup later this year and will require customers to obtain cable boxes or adapters for all televisions in their homes.

By eliminating analog channels, which take up more bandwidth on Insight's network than digital ones, the company plans to add about 50 more high-definition channels and also residential Internet service of up to 50 megabits per second, spokesman Jason Keller said.

Keller said all televisions not already hooked to a cable box will need to have one or a mini-digital adapter. The latter is a small device, about 4 inches long, that plugs into the back of a TV. It essentially functions like the converter boxes that were popularized by the move from analog to digital over-the-air network television.

The company plans to begin discussing the changes with customers in May before rolling them out gradually. Customers with questions may call Insight at (859) 514-1400.

Lexington is the only market in which the company is making so many changes at once. Other markets will see them over a longer period.

This change will restore some channels like C-SPAN2 that were switched from analog to digital in recent months to accommodate more HD.

Insight will provide up to two adapters to each home for free. Customers without a cable box will receive as many as two; a customer with a cable box will receive one.

Customers needing more will have to buy them, and Keller said the expectation is there will be a monthly charge for them rather than a one-time fee. Pricing information is being decided. Prices also haven't been set for the faster Internet that will become available.

Because many homes have more than two TVs, it could mean higher bills for many customers. "We recognize that certainly times are not the best, and that's why we're willing to work with every one of our customers to make sure they have the package that suits their budget," Keller said.

Digital boxes also can be used on the TVs to maintain service. According to Insight's Web site, a cable box with an HD digital video recorder is $15 a month. A low-end version without the DVR is $5 a month. The price for the adapters is expected to be less than that for digital boxes, Keller said.