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AFN’s planned move to high definition will mean costlier decoders

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — American Forces Network decoders will soon go high definition and increase in price.

The move to high definition follows the recent conversion from analog television to digital television in the States, which provides the capability for high-definition decoders, said Scott Stover, plans and policy officer for American Forces Radio and Television Service headquarters.

Production of the older Cisco model D9835 satellite receiver/decoder was recently discontinued by the manufacturer to make way for the high-definition D9865, Stover said.

And once the older model is gone from Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Navy Exchange Service stocks, anyone who wants a decoder will have to shell out $379. The discontinued model costs $289.

AFN has funding to switch over to high definition in fiscal 2012, and it is safe to say the transition will begin then, Stover said. The switch to digital and high definition is a lengthy and complicated process and involves replacing nearly 150,000 standard-definition-only receiver/decoders worldwide, he said.

"DOD wants to provide plenty of (notice) time so people know it’s coming," Stover said.

Spots on AFN are planned in the coming weeks to make the public aware of the new decoders, and there have been very few complaints about the price increase, he said.

The $90 increase in price for the new decoders is not a money-maker for AAFES, exchange officials said.

Most of the cost of the new decoder comes from the D9865 being a pricier model, but AAFES does mark up the manufacturer’s price by about 7 percent to cover stocking and transporting the devices from the maker to the exchanges, AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said in an e-mail.

AAFES estimates that it will sell 30,000 decoders in the next three years based on historical trends, Anstey said. It sold 70,000 decoders in the past six years.


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