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Upgrades to ‘Cable Upgrades’

I am writing in response to the article “Cable Upgrades to Digital” in the June 15 edition, which I feel requires clarification.

MIT Cable Television presently carries 48 channels. MIT provides 22 of these channels free of charge to all campus residents and to many offices, classrooms and other areas. This free service will continue to be offered and those who do not subscribe to pay services will still receive the same channels that they do now, although the channel numbering will change. The new digital service that MIT Cable will deliver beginning September 1 has two basic offerings: 60 channels for $23.99 or 80 channels with 31 no-commercial stereo music channels for $32.99 monthly.

By comparison, AT&T Broadband’s basic service for MIT consists of 19 channels. In the time since the article appeared, AT&T Broadband has increased the monthly price of the MIT basic 19-channel service to $16.15. The article states that Falls Earth Station was selected to provide the service mainly because it “would cost MIT nothing up front.” Although my quote is correct, the emphasis added by the Tech article is misleading. Falls Earth Station was selected because their proposal addressed our concerns by greatly expanding the channel lineup and improving service. The MIT Cable Television Discovery Project at provides much detail about the work that went into selection process.

Also, the statement that “AT&T Broadband’s proposal would have eliminated individual subscriptions and instead sent one bill to MIT” is not correct. AT&T Broadband has never made a proposal like this to MIT. Rather, it has been stated by several AT&T Broadband representatives over the past several years that billing individual customers would be discontinued and that MIT would be sent a “bulk” bill based on the number of connections our system provides. Connections that are available but not used are also billed, creating a situation where people who do not use the service subsidize it for those who do. I and others working with me have taken this seriously considering that AT&T Broadband currently uses this model at other colleges and universities and we do not think that it is appropriate for MIT.

Randy Winchester
Coordinator, MIT Cable Television
Project Leader, MIT Cable TV Discovery Project