Mediacom Communications has put nearly 30,000 digital terminal adapters (DTAs) into the hands of subscribers in a seven-county area of southwest Georgia ahead of an all-digital project that will kick off Tuesday.

Mediacom started converting its analog channels to digital several years ago, but the Georgia project will mark the first time that all of the channels have been converted to digital in a large system, according to a company spokesman. Previous projects kept the first 15-to-20 channels in analog and then moved the rest to digital to reclaim the bandwidth.

By going to an all-digital lineup, cable operators can offer more HD channels and faster DOCSIS 3.0 speeds with the additional bandwidth that becomes available. Mediacom will add more than a dozen HD channels to its lineup when the upgrade is completed at end of this month. 

Mediacom is offering the DTAs on a lease free basis through Oct. 31, 2014, or for a longer term depending on a customer’s service level. Mediacom is using a mix of DTAs, both SD and HD versions, from Technicolor, Pace and Arris/Motorola. 

“Customers have been responding to this change in a very positive way. We continue to make digital adapters available at our Americus and Albany offices, and by offering free shipping to customer homes,” said Phil Skinner, Mediacom’s area operations director. “One of the immediate benefits from this digital upgrade will be an 18-percent boost in the number of high-definition channels offered on our lineup,”

“We’re using a three-step process to phase-in the change in a way that gives customers visual cues when the changes occur over the next three weeks. It isn’t until the final phase on October 29 that analog reception will go away for local broadcast stations and ESPN. This schedule sequence is planned in a way to give customers even more time to make the conversion.”

When the first step takes effect on Monday, 10 popular cable channels will be viewable only on televisions connected to a digital adapter or digital cable box. Those channels include Discovery, Hallmark, Food Network and Nickelodeon.

The second phase will convert 11 more channels to a digital-only format on Oct. 22, and the remaining basic and expanded lineup of channels 2 through 79 will convert on Oct.  29. Channels will maintain their current numerical locations.

Previous Mediacom digital conversion projects have taken place in the following systems: Alabama/Florida, Cedar Rapids/Iowa, Des Moines and the Quad cities,