University Park cable TV upgrades include more channels, HD options

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The on-campus cable TV service upgrade to an all-digital signal began Wednesday, Aug. 13. The entire process will span several days as different buildings are upgraded to the new service. The upgraded service will provide an expanded channel lineup with an increase in the number of high-definition (HD) channels, including 95 HD channels, 120 standard definition channels and 50 digital music channels.

Due to the change, faculty and staff are reminded that older televisions without digital tuners will no longer be able to receive the cable TV content and may need to be replaced. Check the specifications from the TV, DVR or conversion box tuner manufacturer to determine if it includes the required QAM tuner. Once your building is upgraded to the new service, you will need to run a channel scan on your TV to recognize the new channels.

Cable TV service upgrade FAQs

What equipment do I need to receive the cable TV service?

The new University Park campus cable TV service delivers all content in a digital format and requires a television set, DVR or conversion box tuner capable of receiving a digital clear QAM signal. To receive HD channels, you need a HD-compatible TV.

If you already have a TV connected to our system you can test your equipment by running an automatic channel scan to verify what channels are recognized.

You may also check the specifications form your TV manufacturer to determine if it includes the required tuner. There are several types of digital tuners in the United States and not all will work with campus cable TV service.

-- NTSC Tuner: not compatible

-- ATSC Tuner: not compatible

-- QAM Tuner: compatible and required

Some less expensive TVs sometimes come with a lower quality QAM tuner that may be unable to pick up all the digital channels. Users with less expensive brands such as Dynex and Insignia reported these types of problems.

You can purchase an external QAM tuner conversion box, but it must be a conversion box that is compatible. NTSC and ATSC conversion boxes are not compatible. In some cases it may be less expensive to just replace the entire TV. The following tuners have compatible QAM tuners that have been tested with the campus cable TV system:

-- ChannelMaster CM-7001

-- FireBird DCT210

We compiled the following information about television compatibility and provide this list as an informal reference for newer devices. This information was compiled from external sources and is not intended to be complete. The University cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. You should verify the specifications when you make a purchase.

-- Dynex: Only limited models have a QAM tuner

-- Insignia: Only limited models have a QAM tuner

-- LG: Most models since 2007 have a QAM tuner

-- Samsung: All models since 2009 have a QAM tuner (fifth digit of model number must be B or a letter beyond B in the alphabet)

-- Sony: Most models since 2007 have a QAM tuner

-- Sylvania: Do not appear to have QAM tuners

-- Toshiba: Most models since 2007 have a QAM tuner

-- Visio: Recent models have a QAM tuner

Please report any inaccurate information in this list via email to Auxiliary & Business Services IT Support at        

How do I program my TV to be able to see all the channels being offered?

The procedure for setting up your TV to recognize the new signals (channel scan) will be different based on the manufacturer and TV model. Please refer to your TV's manual for instructions. In general, the procedure is as follows:

Run an automatic channel scan for cable channels. The scan may take a few minutes as the TV looks for all available signals. Once it's done, your TV should recognize all the content provided by Penn State that your TV is capable of receiving. You can then tune to the channels just like any other channel. Remember, the specific procedure may vary by TV manufacturer and model, and you may have to refer to your TV's instruction manual. 

What are sub-channels?

Multiple digital TV signals can be squeezed into the same bandwidth space as a single analog channel -- splitting what was one channel into several. Digital tuners see these extra channels as sub-channels, such as 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, etc. You can tune to sub-channels just as you would tune to a normal channel.

My television does not appear to be working properly. What should I do?

Before you call for repairs, check the following:

No picture or sound?

Plug a light into the receptacle to check for electrical service. If the light doesn’t work, contact your local building facility coordinator or maintenance staff. If the light works, the problem is in your TV set. 

Poor reception?

Do you have a snowy, fuzzy or distorted screen? Check the cable connection. If this doesn't work, try the TV in another location If it doesn't work in he other location, the problem is in your TV set. If the TV works in the other location, try the following: Take the TV cable from the other location and try it at your location. If the TV works with the new cable, replace your cable. If the TV still doesn't work, contact the Telecommunications and Networking Services Network Operations Center (TNC NOC) at 814-865-4662 or  

Note: If it is determined the problem is in your TV set, there may be a charge for a service call.

Sometimes the broadcast on an HD channel looks more like a standard definition channel. Why is this?

Some networks may show classic content that was originally only recorded in a standard definition format. That means that even though you are watching an HD signal, the original content was only standard definition. 

I don’t have a TV with the required digital or HD tuner. Will I still be able to see all the channels?

You will need a TV, DVR or conversion box tuner with a digital QAM tuner to receive the service. Please see information above in the section, “What equipment do I need to receive the cable TV service?”

Last Updated August 18, 2014