University upgrades TV services in residence halls

Students living in GW residence halls will have more entertainment options this year, as the Division of Information Technology partnered with RCN over the summer to upgrade the University’s television service from analog to digital.

A digital converter box providing basic digital TV service was installed in each residence hall room beginning in May. Students can take advantage of the new services by connecting their televisions to the University-provided converter box.

Rachel Blevins, marketing and communications manager for the Division of Information Technology, said the University decided to switch to digital cable because of legislation passed by Congress in spring 2009 mandating United States television stations to broadcast to all-digital programming.

The law was passed in order to free up airways for broadband and enhanced emergency communications for first responders, according to a statement issued by President Barack Obama in June 2009.

“In an effort to maximize the student on-campus experience, GW responded to this directive by deciding to upgrade the University’s television infrastructure,” Blevins said.

The upgrade was made through RCN, the University’s cable provider. Blevins declined to comment on the cost to the University.

According to RCN’s website, a standard consumer price for a digital converter box is $3.95 per month.

The upgraded system offers 177 digital basic channels, as well as seven HBO channels, including HBO Family, Signature and Comedy, and eleven Showtime channels, including Showtime Showcase, Extreme and Beyond.

Most residence halls have only one converter box, with the exception of City Hall and South Hall on Foggy Bottom and West Hall on Mount Vernon. Rooms in those residences have a converter box in the common areas and in the bedrooms because the rooms have more than one cable television jack, Blevins said.

Students have the option to purchase additional channels, including over 90 international channels and premium movie channels such as Cinemax and Starz through RCN. Students can also upgrade to high definition or a built-in digital video recorder (DVR) system.

“The student will be responsible directly to RCN for all costs of the upgrade and will be responsible for any equipment related to the upgrade,” Blevins said.

To upgrade their services, students can fill out an upgrade request form on RCN’s GW website, found on the Student Technology Services site.

Students will be billed on an individual basis, not among the occupants of the room.

RCN’s president and CEO Peter Aquino is an alumnus of the GW School of Business. He received his MBA from the University in 1990.

RCN representatives could not be reached for comment.

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