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FSN Cable plans digital service

(ran PC edition)

The move will give customers in east and central Pasco more choices, at a price.

FSN Cable is planning to expand service this spring to its 22,000 subscribers in eastern and central Pasco County.

But as with most good things, one must pay for the privilege.

Starting in April, FSN will offer optional digital cable service for those willing to plunk down $5 a month to rent a cable box. Digital technology lets FSN squeeze more channels into the signal it sends into customers' homes.

Digital cable viewers will get 17 pay-per-view channels in the fields of sports, movies and adult entertainment, plus 15 channels of continuous, commercial-free music in various genres.

FSN will also start offering multiple-channel versions of premium cable services such as HBO and Cinemax.

"We want to start putting boxes in the home so we can offer more of the things customers want," FSN general manager John McQuaid said.

FSN, headquartered in Zephyrhills, is owned by Moffitt Communications of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company operates 680 miles of cable in east and central Pasco, from Odessa and Land O'Lakes to Dade City and Zephyrhills.

FSN is two years behind Pasco's other big cable company, Time Warner Communications, in providing digital service.

Neither company offers cable hookups for the Internet in Pasco, a service available in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. McQuaid said Time Warner should beat FSN to the Internet market by about a year.

"We're not on the crest of development," McQuaid said.

FSN is, however, on the leading edge of cable rates. The $36.50 it charges each month for 56 channels is more than the $32 charged by Time Warner in west Pasco.

FSN customers who want to avoid the $5 box rental fee for digital can stick with their old analog cable service at no extra charge. For the average television owner, picture quality is about the same for both technologies.

"That's the beauty of digital," McQuaid said. "If you don't want that in your home, it's not there."