Early adopters beware of digital

On August 2 – as an existing Sky subscriber – I asked for the advertised digital information pack. I received the pack on October 23 having made at least four calls chasing it. I rang ONdigital on October 11 and received its pack six days later.

Observations? The Sky Digital material has made me think twice about being an early adopter with the company.

The special offer to existing analogue subscribers is attractive – until you look at the detail. For instance, why do I need to hook up the set-top box to a telephone line? Do I have to have interactive services when all I want is a TV picture? And there are other areas of potential additional or hidden costs. I note that even if I am disconnected from the analogue service when the set-top box is installed I still pay for it unless I specifically tell Sky that I don’t want it.

The clincher for me to stick with my existing analogue Sky service is that Sky Digital tells me in the literature that it has selected for me “the digital equivalent of your current viewing package”.

But has it? No. It appears to have decided that I didn’t want to watch any more sport. If that’s wrong what else is? ONdigital’s offer looks more promising. I’ll get eight channels “Free to View” – so getting ride of the ghosting that plagues our terrestrial signal – and there’s no mention of telephone sockets.

I’ll be calling ONdigital when its helpline opens for more details.

What does this tell me? That maybe I’ll wait for the service to settle down and for the hype to get out of the way. I understand (and see at my work) the transmission benefits that digital TV brings.

What I can do without is the confused messages I’m receiving about how I hook up to the digital revolution and how much it will actually cost.

I think I may well let somebody else be the early adopter. Can I join the early majority please?

Jeff Salter


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