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Not all

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As consumers enter the high-definition age, misinformation, confusion abound

is created equal

ike millions of other Americans, Rick Hansen has joined the HDTV revolution. The South Carolina pharmacist purchased his first big screen, high-definition television a year ago. The sleek, 63-inch Toshiba hasn’t failed to deliver. “It is fantastic,” says Hansen, who notes that the life-like images set his three dogs to barking whenever they see one of their kind pictured on the screen. HDTV sales are growing steadily as viewers become more enchanted with its clear, vivid images. About one of every three new televisions purchased nationwide today is in the HD format, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

And those sales are revolutionizing the way Americans watch — and think — about home entertainment. But with this revolution come waves of misinformation, leaving many consumers feeling technologically adrift. Pat Hayes, Charter Communications regional director of technical operations, is among those cautioning the public to be informed and savvy. “Everything (Charter) advertises as high definition is true high-definition content,” he says. That isn’t always the case with traditional cable’s competitors, who sometimes overstate the availability of true high-definition programming. For example, satellite dish providers [ c o n t i n u e d o n pag e 2 ]


[ c o n t i n u e d f r o m pag e 1 ]

“I think 90 percent of the public have some information. Less than 10 percent have a true handle.” Glenn Ashley, sales manager at Jeff Lynch, a South Carolina electronics retailer

claimed they would offer as many as 100 HD channels by the end of the year; however, there aren’t 100 true HD channels currently available even now. According to Hayes, several factors determine viewer access to HDTV. For one thing, you must own a high-definition television. And for another, the signal must be broadcast in a digital format. The Federal Communications Commission has seen to the latter, mandating that all television programming be broadcast digitally by 2009. The third piece of the puzzle is that programs must be produced in authentic HD format. And that’s the real rub — many production companies are yet to make the switch to the new technology. If a program isn’t recorded in true high definition, it’s only a digital reproduction. So while an increasing number of shows are available in high definition, many others still aren’t. For those that aren’t, an HDTV and digital signal don’t matter. Hayes says Charter is committed to offering customers an increasing array of true HD programming as it becomes available. The company plans to add 10 or more true HD stations to its current lineup by the end of 2008. It’s all part of a broadcasting industry that is being driven by a technological advancement that, surprisingly, is more than half a century old. In 1949, French engineers created the first public high-definition network. Yet the new technology wasn’t commercially viable because broadcasters at the time lacked the bandwidth necessary to transmit HD signals. That changed in the 1990s with the emergence of digital technology. With its higher speed and greater capa-

bility, the digital image has become the industry gold standard. And broadcasters, with encouragement from the FCC, are scurrying to embrace it. Charter has invested in the necessary infrastructure and is already delivering a state-of-the-art digital signal to every home it serves. But the industry shift doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are keeping up with the learning curve. “I think 90 percent of the public have some information,” says Glenn Ashley, sales manager at Jeff Lynch, an Upstate, S.C. electronics retailer. “Less than 10 percent have a true handle.”

Part of the confusion has to do with distinguishing between digital and HD. A digital signal is required to receive HD programs but not all digital signals are broadcast in the actual high-definition format. Definition is determined by the number of lines of resolution appearing on a television screen — the greater the number the crisper the image. Standard definition carried over the traditional analog format consists of 480 lines of resolution, each stacked on top of one another. To qualify as true high definition, a television image must include at least 720 lines of resolution, says Hayes. There is an even higher resolution of 1,080 lines also available. The FCC’s mandate, which itself is a source of confusion, applies only to broadcasters who must convert to a digital signal by early 2009. Anyone with a digital converter box, like the ones already issued to traditional cable subscribers, can continue to enjoy all their favorite television programs on their current sets indefinitely. In addition, traditional cable operators broadcast HD networks that don’t require an HD converter or box. Also, HDTV cable cards can be inserted into existing TVs, a choice that may be preferred especially for wall-mounted TVs. A high-definition set, on the other hand, is a luxury purchase for the increasing number of Americans prepared to pay for its superior images and greater convenience. Ashley takes a break from his work on the sales floor to talk about this new generation of products that surround him. The average customer, he says, will spend between $1,000 and $3,000 for a 42-inch HD screen, though a 70-inch model is available for $10,000. He promises that no one will be quizzed on what they know about HD and that his job is to assist customers in choosing a TV set to meet their needs. One of those choices is to decide between LCD and plasma screens, each of which has its advantages. [ c o n t i n u e d o n pag e 4 ]

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The Difference Is Dramatic • Up to 5x sharper than standard TV • High-quality Dolby Digital surround sound • The best movies, sports, concerts, primetime TV and local broadcast networks.

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• Includes ten of the top-rated networks in HD

And, there’s no need to worry about set-up or installation — we do it for you.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO ENJOY CHARTER HDTV®? • A High Definition Television • A Charter HD receiver • HD programming from Charter

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Are you ready?

Charter’s HD lineup*

Consumers Gear Up for DTV Transition

Program

Charter has already invested in the technology Change … coming soon to a television near you! needed to handle the new digital format, so every Stay tuned for new technology as television television connected to Charter – whether it’s an old stations make the switch from analog to digital analog set or a newer digital product – will transition transmissions. This government-mandated without any additional effort changeover – known as the on the consumer’s part. (If you DTV Transition – represents are connected to an alternative a complete overhaul of pay service, check with that the country’s over-the-air provider for details on how it broadcasting system. will support your analog set Analog, which transmits Wilmington Market Tests after the transition.) pictures and sounds using DTV Transition Not a Charter subscriber? If radio frequency waves, has Television viewers are watching you watch broadcast television been the standard broadcast Wilmington. That’s because this five-county on an analog TV with “rabbit technology since the market is the testing ground for the ears” or a rooftop antenna, inception of television. Now nationwide transition from analog then you must do one of three it gives way to digital, which to digital broadcasting. As part things: uses radio frequency far of the pilot program, commercial more efficiently to transmit • Buy a new television set broadcasters in Wilmington will turn computer code, or data bits, off their analog signals at noon with a built-in digital tuner. for higher-resolution display. on September 8, 2008 – well in • Buy a digital-to-analog advance of the deadline for the rest Digital technology offers converter box that plugs into of the country – to provide real-world dramatically better picture and your existing TV. experience in preparation for the sound quality; it also expands official changeover on February 17, programming capabilities and • Connect your analog TV 2009. makes possible innovations to cable, satellite or other pay Wilmington’s local stations* – such as interactive video and service. WWAY (ABC), WSFX-TV (FOX), WECT data services. (NBC), WILM-LP (CBS) and W51CW (Trinity Broadcasting) – volunteered But that’s not all. DTV’s Cutting the Cost to switch to all-digital transmissions efficient use of bandwidth with Coupons ahead of schedule to help the Federal frees up much of the limited A digital-to-analog converter Communications Commission (FCC) broadcast spectrum, making box – a device that makes DTV spot any potential problems that need more of the airwaves available to be addressed prior to making the signals viewable on an analog for use by public safety federally-mandated change across set – is a one-time purchase; services such as police, fire the nation as a whole. Prior to the expect to pay from $40-$70 advanced transition on September 8, and ambulance. at select consumer electronics 2008, consumers in Wilmington with retailers. To help defray the analog television sets must: Getting the Picture cost, the Federal Government • Buy a new television set with a Congress has mandated is offering U.S. households built-in digital tuner. that all full-power television up to two $40 coupons to be • Buy a digital-to-analog converter stations make the DTV used toward the purchase of box. Transition (and completely certified converter boxes. • Connect to cable, satellite or cease analog transmissions) For information or to other pay service. by February 17, 2009. Some request your coupons, The FCC is working with broadcasters might make the call 1-888-DTV-2009 broadcasters, viewers, cable switch earlier – although all (1-888-388-2009); visit companies and others who will be must do so by the deadline – online at www.DTV2009. affected to anticipate and address so consumers are encouraged gov; apply by mail at PO Box any potential problems; the FCC is to take steps now to ensure 2000, Portland OR 97208; also working to ensure that digitaltheir screens don’t go blank. or fax 1-877-DTV-4ME2 to-analog converter boxes are Most of us still have analog readily available at local retailers for (1-877-388-4632). Deaf or consumers with analog televisions who television sets but you DO NOT hearing-impaired callers may rely on over-the-air service. have to purchase a new digital dial 1-877-530-2634 (TTY). *WUNJ (PBS) will continue broadcasting or high-definition television Coupons are free, but the both analog and digital signals; W47CK to continue receiving oversupply is limited. Applications (MyNetwork TV) will continue to broadcast its the-air signals after the DTV will be accepted on a firstanalog signal. Transition. Old-style TVs just come, first-served basis need to be connected to cable through March 31, 2009. or satellite service or outfitted with a digital-to-analog The coupons expire 90 days after they are issued converter box. – and cannot be re-issued – so it’s important to If you’re a Charter customer, the DTV Transition is review your information packet as soon as it comes guaranteed to be smooth and easy. That’s because in the mail.

Leading the Waves

A&E HD Cinemax HDTV-East Discovery HD Theater ESPN HD ESPN2 HD Fox Sports Net South HD Golf Channel/Versus HD

HBO HDTV-East HD Net HD Net Movies History Channel HD MHD Showtime HDTV-East Starz HDTV-East TNT HD Universal HD

COMING SOON: AMC Animal Planet CNN Discovery Smithsonian TBS WE Weather

* Lineups vary by market

[Continued f r o m paG e 2 ]

LCD sets aren’t susceptible to glare, while plasma offers superior contrast. But the greatest advancements in HD technology are found inside the unit, where smaller components process information faster and produce larger, more detailed images. Lighter and more versatile, today’s sets can be placed on a table, mounted on a wall or even attached to an articulating arm for maximum viewing pleasure. “There’s no doubt that TV technology is on the fast track,” Ashley says. Those advancements include the accessories as well. Digital recording devices and services like Charter’s Video on Demand are giving viewers a level of convenience they’ve never known before. Hansen, who doesn’t get off work until 7 p.m., has programmed his Moxi Box, the digital media recorder he rents as a Charter subscriber, to record Channel 4’s evening news and the NBC Nightly News to watch after he settles in for the night. Yet it’s the HD—with images so clear they reveal actors’ facial blemishes — that has him sold. Same goes for Hayes. Since purchasing their first HD set recently, his family has little use these days for the old technology. “We’ve migrated toward watching a lot more content in HD as opposed to the 32-inch screen in the other part of the house,” he says. Gary Hyndman is a writer living in Greenville, SC.

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Charter gets there

in a flash

Local cable provider setting the standard for high speed Internet Fast. Powerful. Reliable. With Charter’s high speed Internet, you need never again endure the lengthy waiting time it takes to use traditional dial-up service. Charter is ready to pump data into your home at the lightning speed of either 5 megabytes or 10 megabytes per second. And there are plans to introduce even faster 16 megabyte per second service, guaranteeing it will remain among the fastest high speed services in the industry. The key, says Tobie Sprinkle, a Charter network engineer, is a growing customer base that enables the company to continue its investment in state-of-the-art digital technology and equipment. “It means a more robust network,” says Sprinkle. More robust, as in 90 times faster than dial-up and three times the speed of DSL. That means you can download your favorite music, shop or pay bills online or surf the Web in a flash. Charter customer Rick Hansen appreciates the fact his family can be online and use their home phone at the same time. And there’s no waiting to connect as with dial up. Charter high speed is ready and waiting on you at the touch of a key. Another customer Pat Borden enjoys the added convenience of Charter’s wireless highspeed service that allows her to access the Internet from a computer anywhere in her home. Wireless Internet, of course, is revolutionizing

telecommunications, allowing both business and residential users the advantages of mobility without sacrificing their ability to stay connected in a fast-paced world. And Charter technicians are there not only to do the necessary installation but also to provide expert instruction to new subscribers. For even greater convenience, Charter sells and leases Wireless modems. Then there is Charter’s technical support center staffed round-the-clock by trained, friendly professionals ready to walk you through any problems that arise. For those issues that can’t be readily resolved, technicians make inhome appointments. High speed subscribers also receive a free security package that is easy to download from Charter’s Web site. It includes anti-virus, firewall and spam filtering software. The service protects

subscribers against threats from hackers spreading viruses and engaging in identity theft. “(Customers) need to be concerned,” says Sprinkle. “Identity theft continues to grow.”

As do concerns about minors being exposed to inappropriate and unwelcome Internet content. For that, Charter engineers have designed parental controls that restrict Internet access and can even be programmed to shut down at a particular time. Factor in the availability of up to 10 e-mail addresses with each account, multiple computer access and discounts for bundling services and ordering new service online, and you can see why a growing number of customers are making the move to Charter. “I would recommend Charter to everyone,” says Pat Borden, a loyal customer for the past six years. Gary Hyndman is a writer living in Greenville, SC.

Want to know more about Charter high speed Internet service? Visit charter.com, click on “High-Speed Internet” and then “Frequently Asked Questions.”

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a bundle With Charter’s digital phone service, staying in touch has never been so easy and inexpensive

L

arry Kelly cancelled his BellSouth service to subscribe to Charter Telephone. Rick Hansen said goodbye to Vonage in favor of Charter. They are among thousands of Carolinas residents who are making the switch motivated by the local cable company’s ability to deliver on the promise of greater convenience, quality service and financial savings. Chris Deisenroth, Charter’s phone network manager, says the company introduced broadband phone service to customers in the Carolinas beginning 18 months ago. During that time it has become an important — and growing — feature of its package of services, with new phone installations averaging 350 to 400 each day. In August 2002, Charter launched its newest product in Wausau, Wis., becoming one of the first to offer residential phone service over a local broadband network. The company has systematically expanded coverage to many of its nearly 6 million subscribers in 29 states, including the Carolinas. Charter’s state - of-the -art broadband services were made possible by a $3.5 billion systemwide upgrade. “We’ve already got the infrastructure in place for many years,” Deisenroth says. “So we don’t leave anything out on the table.” He says Charter is marketing its newest product to existing business and residential customers, promising them competitive pricing through bundled services. Hansen, a pharmacist who already subscribed to Charter’s high speed Internet and digital cable, added phone service five months ago. He says bundling saves him between $200 and $300 per month. Part of his savings has been realized with the disappearance of

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long distance charges. Where AT&T billed him an average of $150 per month, as a Charter subscriber, he enjoys long distance service at no additional cost. “Bundling is the key to the consumer,” he says. While other telecommunications providers inundate customers with a myriad of confusing

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choices, Charter keeps it simple. A single plan includes unlimited nationwide and local calling as well as 11 other popular features such as voice mail, caller ID and call waiting. There’s no long-term service agreement to sign, installation and switching are free and Charter service works with a customer’s existing phones, jacks and phone numbers. Kelly, a production controller with Lockheed Martin, says bundling the package of services also appealed to him. “That was the drawing card right there,” he says. “It’s convenient for me.” He can count on receiving just one bill each month, gets immediate assistance when problems arise and as a bonus, people are friendly when he goes to pay his bill. Besides the savings and convenience, Hansen says he’s been pleased with the sound quality of his new phone service. “It really works better than Vonage,” he says. That’s because unlike other VoIP providers, Charter’s service doesn’t depend on an Internet connection. Instead, phone signals come directly into your home via the company’s crystal clear digital lines. “We are a traditional phone service,” says Deisenroth. Gary Hyndman is a writer living in Greenville, S.C.

Want to know more about Charter phone service? Visit charter.com. Click on “Telephone” and then “Frequently Asked Questions.”


High-Speed Internet

Telephone

49

$

99

New Charter per month Ad to go here Only New Everyday Low Price Do the Math. Switch and Save.

1-877-959-1645

charter.com/SaveABundle ©2008 Charter Communications. High Speed Internet includes speeds up to 1 Mbps. Offer valid to new residential customers only who have not subscribed to any telephone or Internet service within the previous 30 days and have no outstanding obligation to Charter. These services may only be purchased as a bundle. Internet speeds may vary. Charter does not guarantee data will be secure. Unlimited long distance includes direct-dial calls within your state only. Directory assistance calls not included in unlimited rates. Charter reserves the right to review and terminate service for non-residential use or abuse of service. Taxes, fees and surcharges are extra. Certain equipment may be required at installation and charges may apply. Valid service address required. Credit approval, prepayment or major credit card may be required. All services provided are subject to the subscriber agreement and applicable tariff which are subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Other restrictions may apply. Call for full details.

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