Qwest Communications International has started phasing out its Choice TV service for 42,000 video customers in the Valley and is attempting to persuade those customers to subscribe to a satellite TV/broadband package instead.
Choice TV was rolled out as a trial project in Gilbert in 1998 and expanded Valleywide in 1999 as the telephone company entered the video business in competition with Cox Communications. The technology provided a video signal to customers’ homes through the telephone system instead of the cable TV infrastructure.
A few years later Qwest also started offering a video service through a partnership with the DirecTV satellite network.
Qwest never expanded Choice TV beyond the Valley, except for a small area in Colorado, and the set-top box that is required for the service is no longer being produced by Motorola.
Qwest is offering special pricing for Choice TV customers who decide to switch to DirecTV, said Steve Sklar, Qwest’s director of product management.
Sklar said the satellite technology offers services not available through Choice TV such as video on demand, remote control of the video recorder from outside the home and higher-definition images.
“Because Choice TV relies on technology from the late 1990’s, it cannot offer those services,” he said. “DirecTV has been very innovative, and combining their capabilities with our network, we can provide a better video experience for the customer.”
The satellite service requires both a rooftop dish and a set top box, he said. Installation is provided by DirecTV.
Qwest spokesman Mark Molzen said it’s too soon to know how many Choice customers will make the switch because the process of converting has just started.
The phase out of Choice TV began Monday and will continue through the end of 2009, Sklar said.
East Valley communities where Qwest offered Choice TV in addition to Gilbert are Chandler, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and unincorporated areas of Maricopa and Pinal counties.