By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Havre cable customers may have noticed their cable service changed Thursday night as Bresnan Communications moved to updated service made possible by the installation of fiber-optic lines last summer.
Last month crews began to connect existing household cable lines to the new fiber-optic main lines. When the service went online Thursday, it brought changes to Bresnan customers, including variations in the channels available through different packages, and the switching of some of the channel numbers.
"All the networks will stay the same. We tried to do as little channel switching as possible, but we did have to do some," said Bonnie Hansen, Hi-Line manager for Bresnan Communications.
The new channel listing and show schedule is on channel 58 for those who have the expanded basic package. Those with the basic package will need to get an updated channel listing from Bresnan. The new digital cable packages have on-screen menus.
The basic cable package has an updated lineup that includes C-SPAN 2, the Home Shopping Channel, and Pax TV. However, some channels that were previously available through the basic package are now available only through more expensive plans. Basic still has 16 channels.
Several of the cable news networks that used to be on the basic package have been moved to the expanded basic lineup, including CNN and Fox News. Other channels that have been added to the expanded package are CMT, Comedy Central, Court TV, E!, the Food Network, the Hallmark Channel, MSNBC, the Travel Channel, TV Guide, VH1, and the Inspirational Network, Hanson said. Expanded basic service now has 40 channels, up from 36.
The fiber-optic upgrade also means some channels that were previously available only through digital packages are moving to the expanded basic package. Those include ESPN 2, the Home and Garden channel, Sci-Fi, Turner Classic Films, TV Land, and the History Channel.
The new fiber-optic lines also made new digital television packages available, beginning Thursday. The all-new digital service brings an additional 82 channels. Five new digital packages are available, starting with Classic at $52.99. Next are Classic Plus for $55.99, the Value package for $65.99 and Value Plus for $74.99. The Premier package is the most comprehensive and costs $84.99.
The transition to the new lineup has gone smoothly, with one exception, Hansen said.
"By the end of the day we hope to have them all up and running," she said. "We're having problems with the History Channel, on channel 62."
Bresnan used a number of ways to inform customers of the impending service change, Hanson said. Brochures and new lineup cards were sent out to customers in December, she said, and a legal notice was published in the Havre Daily News.
The number of channels available in this area through the company increased from 41 to more than 120 with the installation of the fiber-optic lines. In addition, customers can also purchase new high-speed Internet packages.
Cable television packages from Bresnan start at $15.41 for the basic package to $84.99 for the premier digital package.
Customers saw an increase in their cable rates starting in January. Hansen said there will be no increases for the rest of the year. The rate for the basic package was formerly $14.68 and is now $15.41. The new rate for the standard cable package - nondigital, including both basic and expanded lineups - is $38.95, as opposed to $34.39 last year.
Bresnan serves more than 300,000 subscribers in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Bill Bresnan founded the company in 1984.
"We're thrilled to be able to bring all these new channels to our subscribers and hope they'll be able to enjoy them," Hansen said.
New channel lineup cards are available for those who need them. Anyone with questions about the updated service can stop into the local Bresnan office at 1770 Second St. W. or call (888) 221-8348.