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Washington DC - Communications (Telephone, Internet, TV, Post)

There are seven television stations broadcasting in DC. 12 FM and AM radio stations are available in DC, and in the surrounding areas, many more are available.

For televised information about DC, OCT TV 16, made available by the DC government, provides information on education, healthcare, economic development, the arts and entertainment, and features Mayoral press conferences, policy statements and current discussions on the future of the new Washington. OCT TV 16 also has travel and tour information on DC.

Digital broadcasting will be implemented by February 2009 in DC. For expatriates moving to DC, ensure that your TV monitor is a digitally ready and you have a separate digital tuner set-up box, or you have a built-in digital tuner (integrated DTV). You will not be able to use your analog-based TV from 2009.

Most people in the US have cable or satellite service that offers up to 500 channels for television viewing. There are two options for cable television operators in DC: RCN and Comcast. RCN (call (800) 746-4726 for customer service) provides cable television, high-speed internet and phone services. Comcast (call (202) 635-5100 for customer service) provides cable television and high-speed internet services. There are two satellite television providers in DC: DIRECTTV Washington and DISH Washington.

Some UK expatriates find the choice of UK/European television content on American TV somewhat limited. The main UK-based television programs are sports-related (e.g. EPL, Championship and Rugby coverage) on premium channels (e.g. Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports, GolTV) but it is possible to get some BBC World Service news and some popular BBC entertainment shows on PBS.

Some communications companies offer bundled services – some offer cable television and internet services, while others offer internet and phone service, usually at better rates. Some companies offer just one service. The communications sector is competitive, with several operators to choose from. Check the yellow pages for listings and advertisements.

Verizon is a communications company that has packages for expatriates who are just interested to apply for just one of the four communication services (telephone / internet / cell phones / cable or satellite TV), Tel: (202) 954-6263, Mondays through Fridays, 8am to 6pm. For assistance in other languages, call (202) 954-6250 (Centro Hispano de Verizon), Mondays through Fridays 8am to 6pm and (888) 878-9188 for Chinese (Mondays through Fridays, 8am to 6pm). The full service menu is available at For technical support for FiOS and High Speed internet, call (888) 553-1555 (FiOS) or (800) 567-6789 (Internet). These lines are manned 24/7.

There are about 15 internet service providers for DC residents. A listing of their contact details, summary of rates, coverage and additional services is available from The Washington Post.

There are 9 cell (or mobile) phone service providers in DC (Alltel, AT&T, Cingular, Cricket, Nextel, Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon and Virgin Mobile). Verizon Wireless and Sprint use CDMA technology, which allows cell phones to roam on another network. AT&T, T-Mobile and Alltell use GSM technology, which is incompatible with Verizon's wireless infrastructure. Hence, cell phone reception on the metro may be affected. It is an offence to drive and use a cellular phone without a hands-free device. Cell phones can be rented from the airports upon arrival into DC.

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