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MIT Cable offers digital TV, more channels, pay-per-view

MIT Cable TV will be offering campus residents high-quality digital television, more channels and more pay-per-view events starting Sept. 1 under an agreement with Falls Earth Station, Inc. of Madison, N.Y.

According to Randy Winchester, coordinator for MIT Cable TV, the combination of MIT's free cable channels and the offerings from Falls Earth Station (FES) will give subscribers in MIT's campus residences access to much more choice than was available under MIT's previous cable provider, which provided only 25 channels. By contrast, FES offers 121 channels plus multiple pay-per-view channels, in addition to the 24 channels offered by MIT Cable.

Preliminary work on improving cable service began in fall 1999 with a survey of students. Proposals from three vendors were reviewed in early 2000, and the decision to go with FES was made that summer. FES provides video content and services to more than 40 colleges and universities.

An MIT Information Services Discovery team led by Winchester was formed in November 2000 to implement the proposal. The team included representatives from the Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs and from the Dormitory Council.

Under MIT's agreement, subscribers will be able to sign up for service, contact customer service, order pay-per-view events, and manage their account entirely through FES's secure web site. Subscribers may select from several different packages at different monthly rates. All billing will be through a subscriber's credit or debit card.

MIT Cable TV was launched in 1976 with three MIT channels, As part of its current lineup of free cable service, it offers four MIT channels, four language channels, two student channels, a NASA channel and 11 Boston-area channels. Recently added to the free service is the ResearchChannel, which broadcasts video programs from the world's leading research institutions.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 29, 2001.

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