Cable company lays groundwork for more channels

"Monster robot spiders from outerspace are coming to Coupeville and Greenback. On the Sci-Fi channel, that is — along with the History Channel, Northwest Cable News and KWPX Tacoma. But at the same time, cable television subscribers in the area will be losing MTV, VH-1 and the Home Shopping Network.Millennium, which competes with AT&T for Whidbey Island’s cable TV business, is scheduled to complete construction of a fiber optics backbone that runs the length of the island by the end of the summer. Fiber optic lines allow for the transmission of much more information than conventional lines. But the first phase of the company’s plan to offer digital and broadband services across the island comes with changes that may not be welcome by all customers.Nancy Ervin, the vice president of cable operations for Millennium, said the first step in the process is to consolidate the company’s menu to a standard 43 channels for all customers from rural Oak Harbor to Clinton on Sept. 1. Some channels will be deleted, while some will be added.Customers in north and central Whidbey, for example, will get 11 new channels, including KONG, the Comedy Channel, ESPN2, the Family Channel and American Movie Classics. But customers will also lose four channels: CKVU, CHEK, MTV and Odyssey.The price is $30.95 beginning Sept. 1, which is a small increase over current rates.By fall of 2001, Ervin said the company will have the hardware in place to offer digital and broadband services to customers. That means high-speed Internet service, a total of 60 channels for the current analog cable subscribers, or nearly 200 cable channels through digital programming.“It’s more channels than anyone could possibly want,” Ervin said."

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