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Learning to Love the Cable Guy

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the big-hug dept.

291

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times and C|Net are reporting on new good will gestures from big cable companies. As service monopolies increasingly became the norm, quality of service began to decline across the board. Now, though, with a number of alternatives cropping up, cable companies are beginning to realize the need to ensure customers say with the often imposing service companies." From the article: "[As] service has improved slowly as satellite providers, upstart phone carriers and cell phone companies have provided attractive alternatives. And now that cable and phone companies are starting to sell similar bundles of phone, broadband Internet and television products--known in the industry as a triple play--they risk losing subscribers forever if they do not keep them happy."

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291 comments

How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991491)

I have a pretty spiffy DLP TV, and all I use it for is watching DVDs. I haven't bought any cable or satellite service because nobody will just sell me the channels I want, without insisting on bundling in all the bible-thumpers and home shopping network crap. It feels like getting spammed, and it just pisses me off.

I'm convinced that IPTV is the future, and that's mainly because the cable vendors SUCK.

-jcr

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991514)

Perhaps you should write a letter to the local cable TV service and tell them that. After all, if they really are concerned with making customers happy, your request does not sound like that big a burden to their system.

And frankly, I'd like that option too.

Since Verizon has been adding cable TV to their FioS service, it is looking like a much better alternative to Cablevision/Optimum Online. Verison's phone and internet is already available on FioS in my area, and as soon as TV is there I'm probably going to switch. Hooray for competition!
=Smidge=

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (3, Interesting)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991532)

I program out the channels I don't watch. Works kinda like adblock.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991578)

I program out the channels I don't watch. Works kinda like adblock.

You're still paying for them, though.

-jcr

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991607)

I program out the channels I don't watch. Works kinda like adblock.

You're still paying for them, though.


Probably not. The cable service probably would cost exactly the same with or without them. In fact, not including them might lose the cable companies some ad revenue and increase costs.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (5, Insightful)

Elminst (53259) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991656)

You do know the cable company is the middleman giving you TV, right?
The cable co is given a package of channels from the provider; the studios.
The studio says, if you want this "cool" channel, you have to take these "sucky" channels too.
If the cable co doesn't give you the sucky channels, the studio yanks their contract, and you don't get any channels.

So I assume from your post you'd be happy with an a-la-carte cable? Fine. You pay $5 and up for each of the channels you want (a common price point in most arguments). Pick your favorite 11 channels. Congrats. You are now paying MORE than I am with my 200 channels, non a la carte. But you have what YOU want, right?

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (5, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991796)

So I assume from your post you'd be happy with an a-la-carte cable? Fine. You pay $5 and up for each of the channels you want (a common price point in most arguments). Pick your favorite 11 channels. Congrats. You are now paying MORE than I am with my 200 channels, non a la carte. But you have what YOU want, right?

It's a common and completely arbitrary price point designed to advance a specific agenda, and even if it's accurate, it's an average. The problem is the cable companies have so long enjoyed monopoly status that they have no idea how to behave in a real market. In a real market that $5 price point may become $10 for the ESPN channels and $0.10 for the Pass-The-Loot channels - they may even pay you to watch it. Of course. with proper IPTV the cable companies will become what they deserve to be - providers of bandwidth - and the only people who matter in this arguement - the customers - will get everything better, cheaper and faster. But, first the FCC has to pull their collective head out and begin trying to enforce actual markets, without monopoly status, in all their domain.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991833)

> Pick your favorite 11 channels.

I don't have 11 favorite channels. I have two. (There were three before TechTV bit the dust.)

A la carte would be a nice option for people like me.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Informative)

jeaton (44965) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991662)

In the case of the shopping channels, most often you're not only not paying for them, the channel creator actually pays the cable company to carry the station. This is why the even the lowest tier offered by the cable company includes all of the shopping channels.

In addition, often times the content providers write into the cable companies contracts bundling requirements. For example, if a given tier includes ESPN, then it must also include ABC Family (not necessarily true for those exact two channels, but the idea is true). So in those cases, your cable company is contractually forbidden from selling you just one of the channels.

This comes up all of the time, and the situation hasn't changed.

Not just that... (4, Informative)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991875)

Cable companies must carry local stations. If the specific shopping network is over the air, the cable provider(in the US at least) must carry it.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

rmbzz (833101) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991872)

My complaint is the opposite. Why do they charge extra
for more channels?

It is not as if I have 200 channels instead of 100, I
am going to be watching TV twice as much.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991542)

I know one person whose sole source of television content is iTunes. It's exactly the video-on-demand we've all wanted for years. Pay for only the exact shows you want to see, and get a discount for buying a whole season. When enough content enters the on-demand services cable companies will likely see a massive drop in customers.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991594)

I know one person whose sole source of television content is iTunes.

The iTMS is about 30% or so of what I watch. The rest of it is movies either from local retailers or Amazon.

-jcr

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991753)

iTunes and Blockbuster.com are what I use, and it keeps me pretty entertained. I do have a Xbox and Xbox 360 as well, though, and of course World of Warcraft.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991596)

But see...to do that, they would have to encrypt all the channels in some way that only people who paid for them could view them...and then you'd need a box to decrypt them...and your box would have to be programmed by them individually for each person...and there aren't that many people that won't pay for cable because of this. They'd gain maybe 10 customers by doing this, but it'd probably be quite expensive for them, at least initially. No one cares. It's not worth the cost.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991643)

It isn't anywhere near as difficult as you're making it sound. In Australia we get to select what we want (Although I don't we get to select individual channels, but instead individual packages, which change once every now and then without a customer-noticable change to the settop box).

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (2, Interesting)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991658)

but it'd probably be quite expensive for them, at least initially.

The cable companies are already simulcasting several channels as both analog and digital to support "legacy" users who are using no set top box (ie, the analog tuner in your TV). The cable companies could drop these analog channels in many systems pretty much over night, but it would force all the users to either get a set top box for every TV, or go buy new TV's with digital tuners and cable card support. So the cost to this decision would go to the user, rather than the cable company.


I believe the plan is to make everything available in digital and gradually phase out the analog broadcasts to free up the spectrum. The last deadline I heard for analog consumer TV's I heard was 2008, but it either has been or will likely be extended.

Cable Card is the technology that will allow it all to happen, you will be able to bring along your own consumer set top or tuner and just plug in a unique card that will allow you to decode the channels you pay for. Even MS has a Cable Card license so even Media Center will be able to pull down all the channels you subscribe through the tuner rather than just analog channels before.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991728)

Unfortunately, last I heard a CableCard Media Center PC would require the entire system to be "certified", meaning that the appropriate CableCard-supporting tuner would not be available over standard retail channels.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991600)

I know how you feel. The over-the-air service in my area is terrible with all these Spanish-speaking channels coming in perfectly clear but all the English-speaking channels are snowed in like the North Pole. What's a poor, bible-thumping redneck supposed to do? :P

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991610)

What's a poor, bible-thumping redneck supposed to do?

Ummm, I'm gonna guess it's something involving some beer, a pickup, and a gun?

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

gameforge (965493) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991726)

> > What's a poor, bible-thumping redneck supposed to do?

> Ummm, I'm gonna guess it's something involving some beer, a pickup, and a gun?

So you think he's going to have sex or...?

Just kidding.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (3, Informative)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991612)

There have been some conflicting studies on this (search: cable la carte), but the cable companies say the end result is that it would end up costing you more money to select only the things you want. For example, cable companies get paid to carry the home shopping channel and if you drop it you will end up paying more for the other chans. Part of the problem also spawns from the fact that many channels are still analog and it would be pretty much impossible to exclude or include just some of the analog channels.


The cable companies _could_ make everything digital only over night but they risk bricking millions of TV's that have just analog tuners and no cable card support. I suspect that once analog channels go the way of the Dodo bird, a la cart programming will be a possibility, but at that point the broadcast flag could also become possible.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991635)

For example, cable companies get paid to carry the home shopping channel and if you drop it you will end up paying more for the other chans.

And the cable company making more money off of certain customers is a bad idea why? Look at what you wrote and tell me there's not something else going on, because if the alternative is more revenue then there's no economic benefit for the cable companies not to offer a la carte. Surely you're not suggesting they're holding it back as a favor to their customers' wallets, are you?

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991683)

I made another post here [slashdot.org] that may clear up the answer to that. The short answer is that if they stopped broadcasting all analog channels today they would brick millions of TV's in the short term and not many people would be happy about it.

(ps. this is because many people pipe the cable directly to a TV with an analog only tuner rather than first going through a set top box, TV's supporting cable card would also work, but few people currently have them)

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991701)

PSS. Also, by getting rid of the home shopping network and charging people more money the cable companies would make the same amount, but the consumer would spend more. Once the technology is there the option may eventually be available, though.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991783)

They've been offering tiered packages for a long time. There's no reason they couldn't offer a la carte analog service.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (2, Interesting)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991868)

There's no reason they couldn't offer a la carte analog service.


Here is one, how do they filter the analog channels you don't subscribe to at each home? The analog package "basic cable" tends to be all or nothing for a reason. When you get into digital channels they _can_ do a la carte (HBO, Showtime, playboy etc.) but they chose to offer non-premium digital channels in packages. They bundle digital channels in packages mostly for marketing and billing reasons, once the analog channels go away they may offer an all-out a la carte system but until then the cons outweigh the pro's.


The DBS carriers could probably do la cart as well, but also choose not to. If they ever did offer it, it would probably be by request-only, where they mail you a card with boxes to check off. Billing for the service would also be confusing because the per channel cost would probably be cheaper for 100 channels than it would be for 4 because they couldn't realistically make money charging you $2.50/month, combined with the fact that licensing fees are more expensive for certain channels than others. Would they start with a base price of like $20/mo? Do they waive it if you have more than a certain amount of channels selected? Figuring out the pricing structure would be outside the skill level of most consumers, and impractical to go over on the phone with a sales or billing agent. One thing to consider as well is that the channels you are least interested in tend to cost less, so not much money is saved by you getting rid of them.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991820)

TV's supporting cable card would also work, but few people currently have them


Not quite necessary. CableCard simply isn't needed if they trashed analog and tiered the digital channels so that they could filter the channels like they used to for lifeline/basic/etc. Many new (released this year) TVs today support unencrypted QAM, meaning that they will show unencrypted digital channels, and CableCard TVs should be able to show these channels. This includes the local channels in HD in most areas, and if they neglect to encrypt some other channels, you can get them as well.

CableCard 1.0 and/or unencrypted QAM aren't really the best solution, though. On clear QAM and AFAIK, on CableCard 1.0 as well, the channel numbers are the standard analog channel followed by the stream ID. This makes it so that HD channel 8 is channel 108-2. Showtime HD West and HBO HD West end up being like 113-7 and 113-62.

I believe that CableCard 2.0 will fix that and add a program guide, pay per view, and on demand service as well.

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991661)

Part of the problem also spawns from the fact that many channels are still analog and it would be pretty much impossible to exclude or include just some of the analog channels.

Bullshit. Australian cable companies have done this from year dot (I believe about 1997?). If they can do it (and they've only recently switched to digital) why can't America? Isn't Australia suppose to be less advanced then America?

Re:How about just letting me buy what I want? (1)

ytzombe (530215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991632)

Smart idea, won't happen though. Entertainment companies tell cable companies that if they want a hot channel then they have to take on 5 crappy channels along with it. I mean net neutrality to me is a more of an issue than what channels I want on my cable service.

Be careful what you wish for... (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991838)

buying cable or satellite a channel at a time might seem like a good idea, but its like buying an album on itunes 1 song at a time .99 cents sounds great till you see that the album is now 14 dollars rather than the $9 it costs at Best Buy. I have seen two implimentations of "ala-carte" programming in both cases less than 1/3rd of the channels included in the standard" digital tier ended up costing quite a bit more than just taking them all and not watching the channels you dont like.

It's possible that wouldn't work for our benefit (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991870)

I continue to read these comments about choosing which channels you pay for...and this weekend it hit me: nobody would have any channels that they liked if people only payed for the ones they wanted. There are far more people interested in ESPN than there are techies who like SciFi.

Too little, too late. (0, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991508)

Unfortunately for them, it's too late. There's a whole generation of people like me who have -zero- interest in TV of any kind, and probably never will again. There simply isn't anything on TV worth watching. Everything on TV (yes, including Discovery channel, History channel, etc.) all appeals to the lowest common denominator. Cable has completely failed to offer anything of any real interest from what I've seen. I only use a cell phone, and my business has a partial T-1. I haven't written a check to a cable company for about 10 years now, and I don't miss them one bit.

Of course, that being said, people like me are a *tiny* minority. The masses are as dumb as ever and will continue to buy whatever cable companies throw at them. They just don't have the market that they could have if they actually tried to have content that appealed to people with an IQ of over 80.

Re:Too little, too late. (2, Insightful)

chevman (786211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991535)

I find this comment highly ironic considering your sig links to 'Loose Change'. Have you actually watched it? Is your link a joke? Calling it a documentary is like calling wikipedia the be all, end all, for accuracy.

Re:Too little, too late. (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991558)

Excuse me, sir, I believe you dropped your author's edition of Wittgenstein. You're welcome.

rj

Re:Too little, too late. (5, Insightful)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991591)

While I think you could tone down the "ignorant masses" routine, I agree with your overall point. As a kid, I did watch a lot of TV, I admit. But to be fair, I do remember growing up to watch cartoons like Muppet Babies, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, The Simpsons before it became Guest Cartoon Celebrity of the Week, etc.

But as I grew up, I just started to watch less and less. I'd occasionally find a show that was worth watching, but it was a rarity.

Now, well, I still watch some, but not really much. Mainly just Cartoon Network for certain anime shows, or something like The Venture Brothers. I'll often keep Comedy Central on just to listen to the Daily Show and Colbert Report as I do something else.

I don't know whether I've grown up (slightly) or if TV has just dumbed down (or both, or we've just become more aware of just how dumb it is), but it's hard to actually devote the effort to actually watch a show when you have better things to do with your spare time. Hell, even if it's just browsing forums for links to news articles or searching Wikipedia, I actually feel LESS insulted on the Internet than I do watching TV.

It's a rather round about way of me saying, basically, that Cable companies need to wake up and learn that they can't just overcharge people for the same crap year after year. It gets old, and some people, albeit maybe not the majority and not all at once, will find alternatives. "What do you mean if I just want 5 channels, I need to order another 45? No way." This is especially true since now even if you don't get a station for that one show you like, you can most likely just find it on YouTube or DVD.

So I just offer them this message: Stop overcharging and forcing people to buy things they don't want, or people will find alternatives, or even, gasp, go without!

Re:Too little, too late. (2, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991760)

I would really argue that TV used to be of much higher quality. There were once a number of TV shows on during any given season that I was quite interested in watching, and I don't think its just that I've gotten older. Going back as far as I can remember Cheers and Nightcourt were both worth watching, Quantum Leap was quite good, and that's also Star Trek: TNG era. Saturday Night Lives of that era (although I wasn't watching them then) were also of much higher quality than the ones today. The Saturday morning cartoons were honestly just of better quality than much of the crap produced today, and I don't think that's completely subjective. Then there was a time during the Nineties when there might have been one show on I cared about. Now there isn't a damn thing. It's all reality shows, make-overs, and "Let's screw up your neighbor's house" Remember when Discovery had interesting programming? Connections with James Burke, and other stuff? Now it's all make-overs, pregnancies, and wedding stories.

I really think its not that I just got older, or that I'm nostalgic for the shows of my youth. Shows had better writing, and *gasp* likeable characters compared to "Who wants to marry a midget?" I'd also argue that the continually dropping ratings every year tend to support my claim.

Re:Too little, too late. (2, Interesting)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991848)

I just wanted to make sure to avoid the trap of "Well, in MY day we knew how to _______! Unlike these damn kids today with their baggy pants and their rock and/or roll..." beliefs. As an example, a lot of people will say that there wasn't this many crap movies in theaters back in the 50's. But if that's true, where'd MST3K come from? As time goes on, people remember the awesome stuff (see, for example, the list I originally made), and the crap is forgotten as quickly as it came.

But on the other hand, I recently got my hands on Animaniacs vol. 1 on DVD and watched it all and realized it was even funnier than I remembered. It had a lot of the silly slapstick violence you had from any classic Looney Toons cartoon, but it also had jokes that were actually witty and actually required some knowledge of politics/religion/classic film/literature/etc. When I turn on Saturday morning cartoons now, all I see is overtly politically correct shows that just lack the same degree of intelligence. Not only that, but people STILL complain that cartoons are way too violent for little kids, but apparently forgotten just how violent and risque Looney Toons and Tom and Jerry were (In fact, watching some of these now, I notice they censored out jokes about suicide, blackface, etc.)

Network TV is pretty much the worst offender. All I ever see is the same old sitcoms, repackaged with fresher celebrity jokes. (We've moved on from Michael Jackson jokes to Tom Cruise, people!) News programs that have less news in them than what I can read on the back of a box of Froot Loops. Reality shows... let's not even go there. And let's not forget the commercials which insult your intelligence, treating you like a God damn child, with lies so obvious a 10 year old could see through them. As a side note, if I see a commercial for one more police/court drama show, I'm going to scream. Look, every network doesn't need 10 of their own versions of CSI.

I'm biased, I must admit, but this is essentially the reason I pretty much just leave my TV on Cartoon Network when I'm not using it to watch a DVD or play a console. It's the only station that still does come out with some pretty amazing stuff (it still has its fair share of crap, but that's to be expected). For a "kid's channel," The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy is more than a little morbid and adult, and late night action shows like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex actually make me feel like the writers aren't talking down to me to get that lowest common denominator.

Still, it makes me wonder if the young kids today are going to be having this same conversation in 20 years. "Boy, back when I was a kid, we had GOOD shows. I remember waking up 8am everyday to catch *Whatever the Hell FOX plays in the morning*, not like the trash you little brats watch on your smell-o-visions."

Too little, too late-It's a toss out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991845)

"So I just offer them this message: Stop overcharging and forcing people to buy things they don't want, or people will find alternatives, or even, gasp, go without!"

Hi! I'm a windows user and I've just thrown my computer out the Window.

Re:Too little, too late. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991601)

I was with you up to the last paragraph. There's no need to come across as an elitist dick.

I know plenty of very smart people (scientists, high-level civil servants etc.) who enjoy TV, even though I personally find very little of it worth watching. Brainless entertainment aids relaxation, provides conversation, or just plain alleviates loneliness - are you saying my grandmother (novelist, historian, honorary doctorate) has an IQ of 79? She can certainly write rings around you.

Re:Too little, too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991775)

Brainless entertainment does provide aid relaxation. However, up to what point should TV turn brainless? If everything you find on TV are brainless entertainment, it loses its power to really entertain. Brainless entertainment is very good in small number and uneffective in huge number. Considering the stream of brainless entertainment, including reality shows, maybe the point the parent post has made was about they're invading our minds and make us numb and dumb.

Re:Too little, too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991603)

That's absolutely right.
And let me tell you, this is the same everywhere, worldwide...
I live in Argentina, and I can see television channels from all over the world, and they all suck!
100 channels to choose from and nothing to see!

Trash tv is the norm. Reallity shows (the same format repeated a thousand times in every market, in their own language), shows where people go to psico analize themseves in front of the audience, at least ten different shows for redecorating you living-room, and the list goes on...

The worst thing is that there's no chance to see a real political debate, or a real news report that criticizes the corporate powers that rule our lives.

Everything is targeted to the mass, the dumber the better.
The curious thing is that never in mankind history we had as much information as we enjoy today, but no one seems to learn anything.

Re:Too little, too late. (1)

trinity_definitely (944591) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991646)

There simply isn't anything on TV worth watching. Everything on TV (yes, including Discovery channel, History channel, etc.) all appeals to the lowest common denominator.


I think the only shows worth watching nowadays are 30 Days and Mythbusters.

Re:Too little, too late. (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991733)

I would agree that cable doesn't have anything worth watching. even basic has about 40-60% fluff... golf channel? Two shop at homes, about six holy rollers that I've blocked using my remote...

a la cart is the way to go, I would be happy with a couple of local network stations, some news channels, and about 5 others.

I find myself watching more entertaining stuff on the net and pbs - which I can get HD over the air for free. Now that DSL speeds are >1MB/1MB for $25/month - I'm dropping cable. I seriously don't need 8mb/256k from asshats like charter.

Re:Too little, too late. (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991755)

Let me begin with the classic "Me too."

Actually, I am seeing a lot more people dump paid TV. Usually it happens with a move... For some reason, they can't get cable before move in, and after a while they don't bother. The best thing, out of all of this, however, is that now there is true competition on TV, phone, and net. Since price is about the same, and the product is a commodity, service will have to improve. Content, on the other hand, seems to be falling in all mediums.

Cox cable (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991509)

Cox cable [cox.com] in Hampton Roads has lost me as a customer forever. The inability to provide a reliable broadband connection just screwed the deal. I liked the speed, but over a 6 month span, 50% uptime just didn't make it. VerizonDSL, while slower, is vastly more reliable.
As soon as feasible, dropping the cable TV and going to satellite.

Re:Cox cable (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991543)

Cox cable in Hampton Roads has lost me as a customer forever. The inability to provide a reliable broadband connection just screwed the deal.
Did Cox attempt to do anything to fix it? About 6 months after I moved house, my cable Internet connection (Comcast) became very unreliable. I had moved less than one mile, so it was clearly a local problem (the cable Internet was rock solid at the old house). The cable company sent someone out and he found that the original installer had put a curve in the cable with too small a radius. He re-profiled the bend in the cable and my Internet connection has been solid ever since.

Re:Cox cable (2, Interesting)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991573)

I'm with Charter Cable in the DFW area in Texas. Up to now they've been great, but lately my BF2 and CS:S pings to a Dallas server are getting bad. During the day they are 30ms, and at night around 275 which is getting me kicked for lag. Plus my connection speed is only about 3/4 what i'm paying for. I'm about to phone up with a complaint, but wanted to document my problems properly before I did. I just know I'll need about 1 hr free while they make me go through all the BS of checking all my settings etc..

Should I phone the service desk, or write them a letter? What result should I ask for?

how to skip their BS (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991653)

I called our cable company, Insight over a lag issue and was given the BS run-arround and said flat out NO, your problem, fix it! they said they wouldnt help unless I plaid ball with their BS so I hung up and called back. I got the same rep so in stead of just jumping in, I said "I am a private network consultant calling on Mr. (my last name)s behalf, here is the problem..." she sent a sync signall to the modem and it fixed it.

Re:Cox cable (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991608)

Did Cox attempt to do anything to fix it? About 6 months after I moved house, my cable Internet connection (Comcast) became very unreliable.

Daily calls to the help desk, elevated to the supervisor, elevated to his supervisor. One time, I had a fleet of trucks outside. Everything from the box at the curb, all the way to my monitor, was replaced. I had the private cellphone number to at least two service techs.And yes, it was the neighborhood, and not my specific house.
The problem appeared to be a repeater or switch somewhere upstream. During the winter, it was so bad and so regular, I could predict the signal dropoff time to within 1/2 hour, based on the outside temp.
Whatever they did, nothing worked. All I wanted was a reliable signal. For whatever reason, they couldn't provide it.

Re:Cox cable (3, Interesting)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991641)

During the winter, it was so bad and so regular, I could predict the signal dropoff time to within 1/2 hour, based on the outside temp.

Soudns almost exactly like a problem I had with Comcast when I first moved into my house. The previous owners used a dish for TV, and since the house is just out of DSL range I have to assume they used dialup for an internet connection. That's relevant because when I moved in I switched everything over to cable (cable TV, cable internet, screw the phone line). During the day, the cable connection was rock solid. Which was useless to me, since I work during the day. During the night, the cable internet connection (but not TV!) would go out as it cooled down. After 8 tech visits, three cable modems, and four months a tech finally thought to check the line at the street. Turns out there was some water damage (rust!) that caused an intermittent connection. During the warm day it would expand just enough to make a connection, but at night as it cooled down the connection would go away. Apparently it still made enough of a connection for TV to get through, but not for internet. A minute later, he had repaired the connection and left, and I haven't had problems since. This was during the spring, so I can just imagine how bad it would've gotten if they hadn't found the problem by winter.

Temperature-related issues like this can be very hard to diagnose, specifically because the techs will never come out at night. If the issue is caused by cooling temperatures at night and the techs come at 10 in the morning, of course the problem's not going to reproduce. I just had to keep getting them to send out techs until I got one that actually knew a thing or two.

In your case, the damage may have been farther up the line, especially if the entire neighborhood had the same problem. In that case, the only thing you can do is to get your neighbors to call in and complain as well. It's like a power outage. If only one person calls in, they're not going to do anything. If three people call in, they might be able to triangulate the position of the problem and think about fixing it. If hundreds of people call in, they know they have a problem and a tech will be immediately dispatched. So, when you have problems like this, call! And get your neighbors to call! If you don't, the service company isn't going to give a crap because you're not making any noise.

Re:Cox cable (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991682)

During the night, the cable internet connection (but not TV!) would go out as it cooled down. After 8 tech visits, three cable modems, and four months a tech finally thought to check the line at the street.

Precisely. I had a tech visit almost weekly. One evening, I'm on the phone with the helpdesk guy, and I told him "The signal will drop offline sometime in the next 20 minutes." And about 15 mins later...poof, no connection. After 6 months of me doing their troubleshooting, I gave up and went to Verizon.

"Can I help you?"
"Yes..I'd like to report my daily internet outage."

Re:Cox cable (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991700)

The amplifier off the node is bad. The winter drops are a sure sign.

Re:Cox cable (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991773)

The amplifier off the node is bad. The winter drops are a sure sign.

Right. And that's what I told them, time and time again. But for whatever reason, they seemed not able to, or not interested enough, to fix it. I could not continue to pay for a service that I was getting only 50% of the time. One time, I asked the tech guy..."If you can home every day, and there was a 50/50 chance of your lights not working, you'd be pretty pissed, right? Or every morning when you took a shower, there was a 50/50 chance it would be a cold shower, you'd yell and rant until it was fixed, right? Well...that's where I am with you guys."

Re:Cox cable (1)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991631)

I can't speak for the grandparent, but I have VerizonDSL right now and I would personally like to murder them. I'm not very knowledgable on the subject of wires, but we have friends and family who work on the lines in our area, and they openly admit that the wires themselves are ancient, and decades past the date they should have been replaced, but Verizon doesn't want to invest in that because within another decade they'll be replacing it with Fiber Optic Cable, so in the meantime, we're prone to random outages, with no warning, and it gets extremely frustrating.

Cox cable-Broadband: Cable vs DSL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991793)

I thought about getting DSL, but just got through reading all the fine print. They make you take "inside wiring" insurance even if you rent your place. Charges and fees out the wazzoo. Increase cost after the introductory period. And I believe you have to commit to a contract. We may complain about cable , but they're the easiest to get installed, and the easiest to disconnect. Plus they're faster.

I can save at least $30 a month going to dish (2, Interesting)

georgeha (43752) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991517)

and the quality off cable is not great, even digital cable ( I hate having them have to reset the cable box to get the digital cables). It will take a lot for me to stay on cable when I can save a bit by switching.

A shame cable's fixed costs are so much higher than sucking a signal down from the sky, I don't see how they'll compete on price.

Screw cable (4, Informative)

spectral (158121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991518)

Perhaps when the local cable company decides to stop having arbitrary, confusing, and most importantly secretive policies about what I'm allowed to do with their service and what I'm not allowed to do, I'll believe this, but they don't want me on their network since I actually use it.

Case in point: recently they upgraded my service from 10mbit / 2mbit to 15mbit / 2mbit. To do this, they had an unannounced, planned outage for 6 hours starting at midnight on a Friday night. I called and had to talk to someone before I could even verify that my service was interrupted, the person said that it was their policy to not announce these things since security systems might rely on the cable connection, and they wouldn't want potential thiefs to know when to strike. Oh, and even if they DID announce them, no one would listen (if it was on a web page) and they might not have the $(cable_company)'s email account so they couldn't use that either. Great, so now I can't find another way to protect my home (if my security system uses the cable internet / phone service), way to go guys.

The worse one though: If I use "more than my reasonable amount" of upstream bandwidth, I'll have said bandwidth capped to 20kbyte/s. I've had this happen to me, I called and they said they'd reply to this issue within 24-48 hours. 117 hours later (and three phone calls from me counting the first) they called me back and said that they sell "burst, not stream". They couldn't explain that any better, but said that long connections were against the rules and that games like World of Warcraft (I asked specifically) were ways to get capped. I apparently need to take a break every so often or else I'll have my connection throttled?

A friend has it happen to him, he actually got numbers out of the person. Outgoing connections (wtf?) can't last more than 20 minutes or else risk being capped, so he set his bittorrenting (probably not at all legal either ;)) to account for this. Every 20 minutes it'd take a 10 minute break. Yep, capped again within two days.

Screw cable, when they pull crap like this.. Now if only DSL here in America (Fairfield County, Connecticut especially..) didn't suck.

Re:Screw cable (3, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991663)

I would have your contract with them checked and maybe even run it through a lawyer. I am looking into sattelite myself because I can't get DSL or Cable here and in those contracts it states exactly when I would get capped (after x-amount of Gbytes/hour for x-amount of continuous hours) and to what rate it would get capped to (64kbit/s). I calculated it and it would mean that I can stream constantly (24/7) 256 kb/s down while my line is actually 10M bursting. If I put this in an ever-adapting rate-limiting script I can actually get continuous broadband.

Re:Screw cable (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991729)

I haven't had any major trouble with Comcast in my area, only the television channel cutting out for a few seconds once in a while. I still refuse to deal with Verizon. I had Verizon DSL for a few months one summer. When I moved in and set up my computers, I couldn't figure out why nobody could get to my web server, until people mentioned that Verizon tends to block ports, such as 80. I called their tech support twice, and both times they assured me that they don't block any ports. Unless I can get a written guarantee that no ports will be blocked, I don't care how fast Verizon's fiber is.

Re:Screw cable (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991842)

Sounds like your cable company sucks. Here we can get higher latency/slightly jittery std cable (5/384) at $45/mo, or business cable (7/1) at $80/mo at a residence location.

or we can get low-latency (ping times 17ms to some locations) DSL at $28 for the highest tier (6/768).

Neither have transfer limits/quotas/throttling. I haven't checked but I believe there are competing DSL carriers on many exchanges as well. They are reliable in my area, and usually send out a technician the next day if you have a problem.

Speaking of Happy... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991533)

NTL in the UK have started airing lots more on demand stuff, from recent tv episodes (from the BBC) to entertainment and series.
Some are pay per item (similar prices to itunes) but theres a lot thats free.
Its like having a PVR in the box and is very cool (try pressing your on demand button)

*i know that sounds like an advert, but its the first new feature I've seen in a while.

And this just proves it. (3, Interesting)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991549)

This is pretty much proof that having an effective monopoly is bad for customer service. As long as they thought that they had their customer base by the short and curleys they did whatever they wanted -- but now that the possibility of competition is cropping up, they're starting to play nice.

I think that the same can be extrapolated for Microsoft, don't you?

Duopolies may not help (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991709)

Maybe some cable companies are talking about providing better service and maybe a few are actually doing it.

Meanwhile, my dad is still on dialup even though he can get competing broadband from his phone company and his cable company. The problem is how to decide, because he can't figure out which he loathes more. If either shows glimmers of decent service he'll probably sign up.

Re:Duopolies may not help (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991766)

Adam Smith's Open Market [bcgreen.com] consisted of many small businesses. Heavy market concentration and massive economies of scale -- while good for big business wasn't part of his vision. Supposedly (I'm not a Smith scholar), he considered big business to be no better than big government. Personally, I consider big business worse than big government, since big government at least has some modicum of public mediation built into it in the form of elections. A big-business monopoly or cartel, on the other hand, only answers to it's own greed.

Re:And this just proves it. (1)

nexarias (944986) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991774)

It's not a logical necessity that monopolies are bad for service, or that even competition is good for customer service. Say in a competitive 4-10 player market, it is still possible for the companies set up a (silent) cartel limiting customer service such that they keep their costs down and offer a uniformly bad customer service to consumers. Of course, this is unlikely.


My concern is that it's rather obvious that good customer service is a solid strategy for gaining and RETAINING customers, but companies choose not to do so.. why? I think profit scrimping is one thing, but the other would be the demands of the quarterly-based postings of the earnings of companies. Strategies are now geared for the short-term, and CEOs or whatever people making the decisions squeeze as much as they can and make a name and buck for themselves.

Cable blows (5, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991561)

Ever do a comparison between cable and satellite? The quality is like night and day. Comcast and Adelphia both have lots of pixelation and the first 80 channels are still analog feeds. They are grainy as hell and one with Adelphia had permanent ghosting from the local UHF channel. Flipping through channels on cable takes longer for the picture to fill in compared to satellite. My parents had a cable modem and it was fine for a few years and then they had tons of disconnects and signal problems. The final straw was the bill increasing $10 in one month. I got them DSL and called to cancel the cable modem. I told them going up $10 was my reason for cancelling. The guy told me it was because we were now on the "silver" plan. I told him it was the same thing as before but under a new name and just cost $10 more. Then he tried telling me their cost for ESPN went up 500%. Well make an ESPN package then, when was the last time you watched a major sporting event on ESPN? Never. Ooops sorry for the rant :)

Re:Cable blows (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991651)

That really depends on who the providers are. I hardly ever remember my cable going out, yet people I talk to with satellite often have it lose signal, even with just cloud cover. Plus, sometimes having the first 80 channels in analog is a nice thing. Because you can split the cable and record stuff on your old VCR while watching something else, without getting a PVR. Oh, and analog often looks better than digital (cable or satellite) due to the compression. As long as there isn't any interfering broadcast channels (which are few and far between) where I am, I'd much rather have digital cable.

Re:Cable blows (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991749)

I have. I dropped Dish network a couple of months after I started because they didn't carry local channels in HD. The cost to purchase and install an antenna (on a 30 foot pole -- that's what I get for living in a tree-lined area) far exceeded the cancellation charges Dish charged.

Comcast's video quality is pretty terrible, but at least I get marginally high-definition content without having a gigantic antenna on top of my home.

Re:Cable blows (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991767)

I got Comcast a few months ago, and they just tried the ESPN line with me. Funny thing is, I signed up with a fixed rate one year contract. They also raised my Broadband costs ~2.5x after 3 months and claimed it wasn't under the contract.

Needless to say, I'll be canceling after the 1 year. I probably don't have the money or the time to take them to Civil Court to have them ruled in default. Not to mention the possibility of ending up with something "accidentally" on my credit report.

Oh, and FYI about the cable modem issue. My parents and I (seperately, with different cable providers, I don't live with them) had this problem with a PCX2200 model modem. Turned out it was the modem failing both times. I actually got mad and ripped the modem's secure torx case open (It was mine, not rented) and discovered the solid state electronics inside where making a rather annoying screeching/keening noise regardless of if it was pluged in to the data wires or not.

Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (3, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991581)

When you set up appointments for our cable guy to come fix something, the company will only narrow down "when will he appear" to one day. Can you imagine a dentist working that way? "Come any time during the day for a tooth cleaning". Yeah right. Is the service this abominably bad, where they even refuse to make timely appointments, elsewhere?

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (2)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991673)

When you set up appointments for our cable guy to come fix something, the company will only narrow down "when will he appear" to one day. Can you imagine a dentist working that way? "Come any time during the day for a tooth cleaning". Yeah right. Is the service this abominably bad, where they even refuse to make timely appointments, elsewhere?

Most companies will narrow it down to a 4 hour window. They can't be 100% exact because the tech has other appointments during the day and there's no way to know what will be wrong at one of the other appointments. It could be a 5 minute in-and-out with a new STB or modem, or it could be a multi-hour troubleshooting job. As well, you have to take travel into account. If the previous appointment is all the way across town and it takes a bit longer than expected, the tech is going to show up late for his appointment with you. (BTW, I'm not apologizing for them. Even a 4 hour window sucks, but you have to understand the reasons for it)

That said, most places will allow you to specify a two hour time window if you can get one of the first appointments of the day. For example, a normal window might be 8am to 12pm, but you can request 8am to 10am and they might be able to accomodate. Also, you can request that the tech call you when he's on his way to your appointment. That way you can still try to get some work done during the day, and only leave for home when the tech says he's on his way.

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (1)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991881)

I dispatch for Comcast out of the Metro Boston area. We do 2 hour time frames. 4 if we need to force something in that we don't have quota open for(ie, no dial tones, no pictures, no block syncs).

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (2, Interesting)

netnomad (824114) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991674)

When I moved into this house, I made an appointment with Rogers (up here in Canada) to come and do an install at the house. As is their advertised policy they gave me a "three hour window" and said they would be there. I took the day off work. I sat here. They didn't show. Three hours after the window and still no cable installer.

I called them. Politely. They said they were coming.

An hour later I called them again, slightly irritated. They said they were coming.

A half hour later I called them and let loose the damnation of hell. In ten minutes the area supervisor was in my driveway with "presents" under his arm. A digital box for upstairs and a new (faster) cable modem for half price (and the service for the same price I was paying). For about a month I was singing their praises.

Mid last year they had a promotion where current satellite customers could trade in their equipment and get a free PVR. I've been a customer of theirs for ten years or more. I don't have a freaking PVR. I called them up and explained that when I switched "this" house it had been from satellite to cable and because of my long-standing account with them I would appreciate it they would even give me a DISCOUNT on a PVR. I was basically told to sit on it and rotate.

Last month I noticed my speed increased and my bandwidth cap increased. I thought "YAY!" Then a month later I get a letter from them in the mail telling me that if I wanted to KEEP the new speed and the new bandwidth cap I would have to pay them more money otherwise they would happily revert me to what I had before for the same price. But the KICKER is that they billed this price increase as the result of an increase in expenses. So if it costs more to operate my service, why can you still afford to give me the SAME service I had for the SAME price if I choose to go back?

Up here in Ontario it's either Rogers or Bell. And as far as I'm concerned they're both a pack of untrustworthy a*******.

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (1)

Buddy_DoQ (922706) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991675)

If they insist on giving you the run-around in this regard, just tell them in no uncertain terms that they will come at: (insert best time for you,) or you'll switch to satellite, and will recommend the same for your friends and family. They tend to see it your way after that, it's worked for me in the past.

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (2, Informative)

pixelite (20946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991708)

i work for a cable company as a service tech, and i can assure you that we have set time frames, within a two hour time frame, for appointments. During the summer, we also have all day appointments to accomodate our customers that need service sooner than we have available appointments. i think that is a reasonable way of handling service calls considering houw busy we get in the summer

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (2, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991740)

And if you ran a cable company, your techs would be right on time. Even if they spent the last 30 minutes re-running a cable for a customer they didn't anticipate doing it for. Somehow, they would still arrive on time.

Or maybe you'll allot a 2hr time period to every service call. That way, techs that got done in 10 minutes have a 210 minute window for downtime. In which case they can drive back to your office with mileage being low on a truck, and gas being $3/gallon. Or maybe he can just take a break, you still pay him though. Or maybe it took 2.5 hours on the job because had to re-run the entire house for the customer. What then?

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991758)

i am a cable tech, and i will explain why we have such large time periods. We go to 10 or 12 stops a day, and we don't know anything about the houses we go to other than what services we're supposed to set up, there aren't any comments about the quality of wiring in your house, what kind of signal levels we should expect to see in that part of the system. we get nothing, so a job that on paper looks like it might take 20 min. could take up to 3 or 4 hours to do. so it just isn't possible to give customers a definite time frame because there just isn't enough man power to have scheduled times like that. there's no way, you'd be having to wait 2 to 3 weeks to get any service changes rather than the day or two it takes now, plus we'd be working more overtime, so your install charges would be drastically higher, which there is nothing you can complaign about on that, considering that most phone companies will charge you over $80 to just enter your home, at least that's how it is here.

Re:Is the cable service TERRIBLE everywhere? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991810)

TWC gave me a 2 hour window -- 4 to 6 pm -- last time I had to deal with them. 3 hours before that window started, they called and asked if they could come early. So they did.

Back in my day... (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991584)

Eeeeh, When I were a lad, we had wires coming in to our houses, and down those wires they pumped cheap TV. Nothing but rubbish it were.

That were in the days before bitTorrent and MythTV mind, things were very different back then.

Fu**ing Adelphia and the Lies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991592)

So please.. where are the other services? I know this is New Hampshire... but cable company's need to realize that monopoles don't mean the people in the area like you. But we have no choice. Getting nice now won't save you.

FOR EXAMPLE: IF I DIDN'T LIVE IN THIS APTARTMENT, I'D USE SATTILITE!!

But the absurdity of the lies of how great the service is and what they can provide... well shove that adelphia advantage up your fat corporate asses.

---Posted Anonymous for Obvious Reasons

Getting Fed Up with Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991618)

They want you to take half a day off from work to have cable hooked up, even if the house/apartment is already wired.

My cable bill has doubled in the last ten years. DOUBLED. No new service. Just more money.

obligatory (1, Funny)

faolan_devyn_aodfin (981785) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991624)

GIT R DONE!

Larry is unique among cable guys (1, Interesting)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991639)

"GIT R DONE!"
BR. Larry, with his can-do-and-do-it-quickly attitude is rather unique among cable guys. I remember 15 calls over much of a year to get the cable company to BURY the cable that snaked over the surface of the front lawn. The calls were always answered with "We'll do it by Friday".

Fu**ing Adelpha and the Lies (Fixed Post) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991628)

(Fucking Timer)
Keeping us happy? WTF... Maybe I missed something! Up here you have... Adelphia... a total suckfest of anything they do. Half the time the damn digital boxes do not work (you shouldn't use scientific Atlanta boxes). The digital service hangs and shudders. Our DVR box has been replaced 5 times. The "high - speed cable is more like 28.8 than even ISDN and there tech support is something reminicant of the social support networks setup at Auschwitz for the jews, with only half the intelligence. And how about the the "credits" they give you on your bills for the time there service is down?

There infrastructure is insufficient for providing the services they promise, and then lie about it to your face. Just this month the cable guy has been to my place 3 times. And each time... it was my fault. The wires were "wrong", i have the wrong splitters (that they provided me and charge me 7.95 a month for), and the boxes have weak signals (three feet from the wall).

So please.. where are the other services? I know this is New Hampshire... but cable company's need to realize that monopoles don't mean the people in the area like you. But we have no choice. Getting nice now won't save you.

FOR EXAMPLE: IF I DIDN'T LIVE IN THIS APTARTMENT, I'D USE SATTILITE!!

But the absurdity of the lies of how great the service is and what they can provide... well shove that adelphia advantage up your fat corporate asses.

---Posted Anonymous for Obvious Reasons

Re:Fu**ing Adelpha and the Lies (Fixed Post) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15991664)

---Posted Anonymous for Obvious Reasons

I wouldn't want to attach my name to such a rambling, incoherent post either. Oh wait, you did!

Re:Fu**ing Adelpha and the Lies (Fixed Post) (2, Interesting)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991832)

TWC provided us with the proper splitters and a two-way amplifier..for free.

I have a SA 8300HD (running the Passport OS, which is supposed to work better than Scientific Atlanta's SARA OS).

In nearly three months of having the box, it's only crashed 3-4 times total -- and never when I was actually watching something (only when I was wasting my times on the stupid card games or surfing channels).

They recently updated the firmware to support the eSATA port as well.

Service Providers (4, Insightful)

selex (551564) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991690)

I had Verizon for years, but I pretty much had to have them. There are 2 local cable companies in my area, but neither had 2-way cable going to my house. So it was get the phone and the cable service, or just get DSL from Verizon who already supplied my phoneline. Now there are numerous other ISP with DSL, but you need to get a Verizon line, because they are all subcontracted for the fibers. So I told everyone to just forget the alternative and just go with Verizon. You only had to call Verizon, not the Cable company and then Verizon. It ended up being cheaper anyhow. Then the cable companies got moving (and so did I), and now I have 2-way cable and no phone. Its more then Verizon DSL, but now Verizon doesn't offer DSL in my area. I don't have the outages I used to have with DSL, and the cable company is there that day to fix the line if there is a problem. The cable company is one of the oldest anywhere, but its small and has good customer service.

So what has been bothering me about this whole thing? I want the service, and I don't care what the infrastructure looks like. I want to connect to the internet really fast. So I don't care if its DSL or Cable. I always thought there was a better way to deal with the infrastructure, but all I could ever come up with was government run telecommunication lines, kind of like the national roadways. A system not owned by a company, and one which any service provider could use. The problem being this smacks of communism/socialism, and even beyond the political ideals we all know what the roadways look like. I don't know what a pothole looks like on the internet, but its probably got Paris Hilton in it. The government, without another competitor, will probably take forever to fix the problems, and never completely fix it right which returns me to the previous problem.

So what are we left with? I guess I'll stick with my 2-way cable until something better comes along, because at least its better then dial-up. One day everything will be wireless and million little bits will be whizzing by my head, and give me a tumor.

Selex

Re:Service Providers (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991798)

A bit of a pick-and-tangent, but I've heard (granted, it might have been on an "Ask Slashdot", so take with salt as necessary) that going with a reseller actually can get you better service. When you call Verizon to get a physical fix, you're just some goob, but if your phone company (reseller) calls Verizon, they have the pull and the internal know-how to get things done.

(Me? I've had TDS Metrocom for phone and DSL for about three years running, and I can't recommend them enough. Some of the most intelligent and helpful phone support people I've ever dealt with.)

Chip Douglas Not Amused. (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991698)

Making friends with the cable guy [imdb.com]...

On one hand, he should be able to tell you about all that high tech stuff: "The future is now! Soon every American home will integrate their television, phone and computer. You'll be able to visit the Louvre on one channel, or watch female wrestling on another. You can do your shopping at home, or play Mortal Kombat with a friend from Vietnam. There's no end to the possibilities!"

On the other hand, he might show you the evils of all his years of TV watching and have an emotional breakdown: "You were never there for me were you mother? You expected Mike and Carol Brady to raise me! I'm the bastard son of Claire Huxtable! I am a Lost Cunningham! I learned the facts of life from watching The Facts of Life! Oh God!"

there are problems (1)

crashelite (882844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991761)

I do admit that cable does have its ups and its downs at times, but concidering the # of Redbacks that go down and the constant instability of the ATM cloud DSL has a ways to go before i am a coustomer. although they do seem to have a way better ability to monitor and trouble shoot a network connection from their tech support office then a cable does. the new DSL modems with built in routers are even more advanced and in my opinion is way better then what is comming outta sientific-atlanta's labs. at least on the modem side.

Bundling doesn't work (1)

wonkobeeblebrox (983151) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991778)

I see the basic problem with bundling being that it does not work, because you end up buying more than you want to. (Like those sales in the grocery store where you can get each yogurt for 40 cents if you agree to buy 20 of them at a time...)

For me (all taxes, fees, etc included - none are 'introductory' level prices):
Monthly Dish network- all digital "Top 60" with HD pack on 2 TVs: $50
Monthly House phone service and DSL high speed internet thru Qwest: $48
Monthly Wireless phone (for emergencies) thru Virgin: $5/mo (really, one $15 "top up" every 90 days)

Apples to apples- None of the bundling packages with Cox or Qwest/DirectTV out by me come anywhere close to what I can make separately...

My two cents regarding this (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991822)

If television and communication companies want to keep their customers, here is what I think they need to reflect on.

1) I am sick and tired of poor quality television on cable. If I understand how it works, analog would be a better quality picture than digital. When digital loses some info, it really messes up the screen. This happens to much and makes me yearn for yesteryear's age of television.

2) Two tier pricing system based on the customer's income. The rising cost of these packages needs to be offset for those who are low income. These companies need to consider giving discounts to low income households for the cost of telephone (VOIP) and Internet service. I mean, come on. If water companies have a special rate for low income families, why can't communication companies do the same? I consider communication, i.e. phone and Internet, to be a bit on the necessity side of things as it would be so hard to live without. (Job applications tend to require phone access for example.)

3) Some cable companies, well, one, which I won't name, need to stop cutting off Internet access to their customers to work on it WITHOUT prior notice. People get sick and tired of having it cut off when they are either gaming or surfing the web. One hour notice would be fine. A simple automated phone call the night before would do it. At the very least, reimburse the customers one free day for each 24 hours or less it goes out without warning.

Re:My two cents regarding this (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991851)

1) I am sick and tired of poor quality television on cable. If I understand how it works, analog would be a better quality picture than digital. When digital loses some info, it really messes up the screen. This happens to much and makes me yearn for yesteryear's age of television.


Digital television looks worse than a strong analog signal simply because of the low bitrate compression they use. I don't have issues with signal quality on my connection, and analog TV looks better than the digital channels unless the signal is being deinterlaced poorly. (if only the DVR would record the analog channels instead of the digital simulcasts...)

Too late. (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991826)

I might have picked up cable for IP service, but Comcast would only sell IP service as an extra along with TV service, so I got DSL instead. My broadcast reception totally sucks, and I might have gotten cable to remedy that... but my local TV news is a travesty and I can't bear to watch it anyway. I might have picked up cable to get just the SciFi channel and a maybe a couple others, but the cable company didn't want to sell me only the channels I'm interested in and the packages were too expensive.

The only shows I want to watch are available on iTunes or - eventually - on DVD. I don't need my channels a la carte any more, because now I can get my shows a la carte. Each full season of the shows I want to watch costs me the about the same, if not less than, a month's cable bill.

So screw you, Comcast. You missed your chance. If you'd given me channels a la carte a few years ago, I might have bought and been a loyal customer. Now, it's too late. I doubt I'll ever get cable.

Was I the only one who found this intro strange? (1)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 7 years ago | (#15991850)

The sight of burly installers in dainty slip-ons might induce snickers.

Um... What was this writer thinking the cable companies were going to do to attract business?
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