Comcast customers Jim Sabin and his wife, Mary, seasonal East Naples residents, weren't expecting a line at a local office.
"I think it's annoying," Mary Sabin said one morning in late October while waiting for her ticket number to be called. "I would rather be at the beach."
The couple was among more than a dozen customers eager to pick up their digital box who filled the additional cable office at Livingston and Pine Ridge roads. Comcast opened another office next door, 13040 Livingston Road, Suite 13, to accommodate more customers.
Letters sent to customers urge them to contact Comcast by Tuesday, Nov. 8, to get their equipment, so they don't miss out on any of their current channels. If customers don't have the updated equipment, they may lose some of their channels.
Comcast has made its new On Demand Online experience, known as Xfinity TV, available in Naples and Fort Myers at no additional cost to customers.
"This is a major upgrade of our system," said Bill Ferry, Comcast spokesman.
This upgrade enables Comcast to offer 47 new, high-definition channels, Ferry said. In addition, Comcast will add 15 new digital channels, two new 3D channels and double its Video On Demand choices, a statement said.
As part of the upgrade, Comcast will offer expanded basic channels (channels 22-76 in most areas) exclusively in a digital format, Ferry said.
Each household will be provided up to three complimentary digital adapters or two adapters for customers with a digital box. The equipment will provide clear, digital reception and sound on all channels, according to a statement.
Many of the customers already have the digital box, Ferry said. With the launch of Xfinity in the Naples area in September, Comcast increased the download speed of Performance Internet, its most popular service, from 8 megabits per second — or mbps — to 16 mbps. In addition, the upload speed went from 1 mbps to 2 mbps.
Comcast also launched its Extreme Internet service with speeds of up to 50 mbps. In the future, Comcast will offer high speed Internet service of more than 100 mbps, Ferry said.
The Internet speed upgrade was been completed for 350,000 customers in Lee and Collier counties during the summer months when seasonal residents were up North, said Barbara Hagen, Comcast West Florida market vice president and general manager.
The additional channels have not been completed market-wide, Hagen said.
"It is going to take us six additional month to complete this project, but by the end of 2011 the majority of Collier County will be completed," Hagen said.
It took Lee Watt about 20 minutes to get his digital transport adapter at the Comcast office on a recent morning.
"I'm an electrical engineer, I'm hoping I can get this installed completely," the 80-year-old Naples resident said. "They are asking too much of a person."
Instead of installing the new box himself, he said, he would have preferred to have the box installed by Comcast.
Some customers said Comcast should have increased its employees so the installation wait time would be shorter. Comcast officials could not say the average wait time is to have a worker install the box at a customer's home.
On average, customers receive the box shipped to their home in five days, Hagen said.
To make a smooth transition, Comcast officials say, they sent letters to customers' northern addresses so that they could take action before they returned to Southwest Florida for the season, Hagen said.
"Please read the important communication that we are sending to your home," she said
Not all customers are upset about the change to Xfinity.
Ray Carter of Naples waited about 25 minutes on a recent morning to get a new HD box.
"I think they did well considering the demand," Carter, 50, said.
Customers can have the digital adapters shipped to their home by calling (877) 634-4434 or visiting www.comcast.com/digitalnow.
Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/