Ramapo Converts to Digital Television Service

Ramapo made the long anticipated switch from an analog to a digital cable service last week, but the transition has caused problems for students still using older tube-style televisions.

In a letter to campus residents issued Sept. 6, a Ramapo official addressed recent concerns over the transition.

Linda Diaz, director of residence life at Ramapo, said in the statement that the office had received "numerous complaints of picture quality, channel and service outages and long response times to problems" under the analog system. She said the digital service would be clearer, offering 133 channels including 12 in high definition.

Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Chang further explained Residence Life's response to the complaints.

chose not to renew their previous cable contract and held a competitive bid process to find a new cable vendor," Chang states.

The new cable agreement offers residents 133 channels, including 12 in high definition.  Yet for some students on campus, digital TV service means all they can watch is snow.

Problems began to arise as students noticed that older televisions were unable to sync up to the "channel search," which enables televisions to convert to the digital cable system. In Diaz's letter to the college, she stated that Residence Life was not informed from the outside vendor that in order to convert to the new digital cable system, students must have a certain type of television which can sync up to the digital channels.

If they do not have an up to date television, students can still receive the digital channels by buying and connecting a converter box to their television. The boxes are available on Amazon.com starting at $39.99.

Chang said the outside vendor offered to sell converter boxes to students for upwards of $100, which is why Residence Life has instead been encouraging students to buy the converters from Amazon at a lower cost.  

Residence Life has partnered with the residence directors from each housing facility to assess the numbers of students that have had to buy converter boxes, or have encountered other issues with the digital cable. Academic Media has been working with students on an individual basis to address problems that have encountered with outdated televisions and converter boxes.

 "There are no numbers out yet, but Academic Media has not received many calls within these first few weeks that the new system has been in place," Chang further explains.  

Senior Caroline Harvey and her roommates have had a difficult experience with the digital cable and their new converter box.

"I am not satisfied with the digital cable because our picture cuts out every two minutes.  It's like someone is changing the channel," Harvey says.

She added that buying the converter box on Amazon was still more expensive than using her older television with the analog system, which Harvey said had caused her and her roommates no trouble.

Chloe Dougherty, also a senior at Ramapo, is satisfied overall with the new digital system, but argued that the switch was not an essential one for residents.

"There are pros and cons but the cons outweigh the pros. The channels are good, but I don't think it was necessary to switch over," she explained.

Junior Tracy Black is frustrated with the way that channels appear, most of them with a decimal followed by numbers one through ten, creating a confusing viewing experience for students.

"I wish [Ramapo] hadn't switched. Besides having to buy a converter box, most of the channels aren't anything my friends or I watch," Black says.

Residence Life encourages students that are still encountering problems with their televisions to contact media@ramapo.edu.