Pitkin County translator system set to go digital | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County translator system set to go digital

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Pitkin CountyPitkin County's translator sites, which rebroadcast TV and radio transmissions.

PITKIN COUNTY – Television viewers in rural Pitkin County are about to go digital.

The county will begin converting its free TV service to digital this month, phasing out the old analog service. With an antenna, residents within “line of sight” of one of the county’s six translator towers will be able to get clearer, digital reception for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and more.

In addition, some translator system users will, for the first time, be able to tune into the community government channel (11) that broadcasts meetings of the county commissioners Aspen City Council and Snowmass Village Town Board, and GrassRoots TV, the local community-access channel.

The conversion will begin Dec. 17, weather permitting, as access to some of the mountaintop translator sites is only possible by helicopter. Engineers anticipate having the initial conversion completed within weeks. Conversion of the entire translator system is expected to be finished in early 2010, according to the county.

The conversion will begin with four sites – Sunlight Peak, Elephant Mountain, Crown Mountain and Thomasville, which serve the midvalley, plus Redstone and Thomasville. Williams Hill and Lower Red Mountain will follow in February; those sites serve Woody Creek, Watson Divide, and the Aspen and Snowmass Village area.

Analog service to the areas will end, and the entire system will be shut down when the conversion begins. Service from Sunlight and Elephant Mountain should be back up the same day, with Crown Mountain following that evening, and Thomasville the next day, according to the county. Service in Aspen and Woody Creek will be back up (but still analog) the following day. That service will switch to digital later, as the equipment arrives.

Residents who rely on the translator system (rather than cable or a satellite dish) for television reception will need a digital-ready television or a converter box, if they continue to use an older television set, to receive the digital signals. They will have to “re-scan” to find the new channels.

Details on the conversion process, what residents can expect, and how they can prepare and equip to receive digital service, are available at http://www.aspenpitkin.com – click on Digital TV Conversion on the homepage.

Call 920-5390 for more information.

The translator system has long served rural county residents, bouncing analog TV and radio signals into the nooks and crannies of the mountainous terrain. Congress mandated the conversion to digital transmission and broadcasters made the switch earlier this year.

The county’s translator system has continued to convert digital signals back to an analog broadcast until it could convert its translator equipment for digital transmission.

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