Cox cable subscribers who still plug their TVs directly into a wall to receive analog signals noticed that their channels were disappearing—that is, until locals in Central Florida woke up the morning of Tuesday September 20, to find that their TV screens went completely black. This is due to the company’s six-month long effort of transitioning to an all-digital platform that requires clients to get a mini box.
Although Cox provides subscribers with a mini box (also known as a digital transport adapter or DTA), or one of the Advanced TV Receivers (digital set top box) free of charge the first year, there will be an additional fee of $2.99 per month that will be added to the bill afterward.
Cox Communications Southeast Region Public Affairs Manager Cam Johnson said that switching to digital allows customers to receive better picture and sound quality, supports a 1GB High Speed Internet, and Cox will gain more efficient use of the 40 percent of the downstream network bandwidth currently used by the analog service.
“We’ve had a full marketing campaign with emails, letters, and information [explained] on bills, said Johnson. “We gave them plenty of time to either get a mini box or an Advance TV Receiver.”
Still, locals around the Gainesville area have voiced their concerns throughout the course of this year, at community meetings and social media, expressing their disappointment in Cox’s overall performance and service quality.
Kathleen Houchins, the manager of the Links at Haile Plantation, told WUFT in April that she had been trying to get Cox’s attention for two years, speaking with numerous service technicians and Cox Communications representatives from more then five cities about connectivity issues and receiving poor signal. It wasn’t until April that representatives from Cox met at the Links Clubhouse to discuss residents’ concerns.
Houchins said the community held a public meeting with Cox’s local representative Kevin Monroe last month, which lasted about 3 hours long.
“There were probably over 80 complaints, handwritten complaints, that have all been resolved,” Houchins said. “He’s on top of it, so I’m impressed with their initiatives and efforts, whereas last March I wouldn’t have been able to say the same.”
Ken Peng, the local celebrity and businessman behind Ken Eats Gainesville, tweeted last week, “my neighborhood is supposed to get AT&T Fiber Optic. Can’t wait to get rid of Cox.”
Peng said that he lives on the West side of town, where a lot of older generations reside in. Until recently, his neighborhood had no other options for a cable provider other than Cox.
“Service drops out all the time, we have outages pretty much every month…it’s inconsistent,” Peng said.
Although Peng said he “cut the cord a while ago and got rid of cable completely,” since he uses an online streaming service instead, at Peng’s neighborhood quarterly meetings, locals have proposed other Internet services in the past but “older folks just don’t care and that’s the thing, people who rely on Internet service are really frustrated with Cox.”
Johnson, however, said that the digital switch itself is an easy process and Cox has actually received positive feedback from other areas such as Pensacola, Florida and the state Georgia, when it came to switching to digital and installing the new mini box.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve gotten complaints, we’ve had a lot of questions,” he said. “We are one of the last companies to actually go all digital.”