Friday, September 9, 2011

Why does it have to be this way? Or, a tale of 2 phone calls...

I have written for and about the cable industry for a number of years. I know many of the people in the industry well. I like you all as individuals. BUT, why oh why does every encounter with you as an industry leave me feeling so *disappointed*?

We are building a new house in Sanibel. My job today was to establish phone, Internet and TV service for our new house. Since we already have condos in Sanibel I am pretty familiar with the telco and cable company that service the area. My experience has taught me that the telco can't offer fast enough internet to satisy my needs. The cable provider can offer the triple play--but the island is subject to enough outages that I don't want to rely on cable for my primary telephone service. So, my solution was simple--telephone from the telco and Internet and cable from the cable guys.

Here's what happened. At the end of one phone call with the telco, I had an account number, a date for dialtone, an assigned phone number, information on what my billing date would be and what it would cost me. They also took the phone number of our contractor to reach on site for any unexpected problems in establishing service. By the way, I did not have to hold for more than a minute to get connected to a repl.

And the cable story? It started with a long wait on hold, followed by someone who wanted my address even though I said it was new construction. What a surprise--he couldn't find the house number in his database!! I was then told they would have to send someone out to verify that such a house actually exists and that they would call me back in around 4 days when they had verified that it does!!! I didn't even get to the point of any converstaion about what the offers might be, when I could get something established, etc. I had no record of my call--like a # that I could call back or something!! Just a promise of a call in four days.

Hey guys!*&* You surely can do better than that!

PS As I was writing this I got a phone call to ask about my satisfaction with the Comcast experience. You can image how my ratings looked....

Post post script: Maybe there is hope after all! Although they had told me it would take several days to get anything moving, I had a phone call shortly after the customer saifaction phone call. It was a tech telling me he would drive to Sanibel tomorrow and verify that there is really a house there.

Don't quite know what to make of it. Were they just underpromising and overdelivering as the tech said. Or did someone monitor the negative results?? Seems hard to believe that it could have been that quickly.

Oh well--maybe there is a Santa Claus. Let's see what happens next.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our holiday card

Tropical Wishes Christmas
Shop for elegant Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interactive TV -- Ya Gotta See It

Interactive TV? We know you've heard it a million times. And in the end, the consumers will decide what they want. But this time, the cable industry seems to be ready. We went to the most recent cable show in Washington, DC and interactivity was everywhere--from the suburban home at the Broadband Nation exhibit to myriad demos on the show floor.

The difference now is that MSOs, technology vendors and content providers are all rallying around tru2way, a common software platform for building interactive applications. With tru2way, creators of interactive services will be able to "write" an interactive application once and have it run on any cable system that supports the specification.

Tru2way requires a fairly powerful set top box. Since the deployment of this new infrastructure will take some time, the industry defined a simplified data format for interactive applications, called EBIF ( Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format ) that can run on legacy boxes with more limited resources.

We believe that writing about interactive apps is no substitute for seeing them in action, so we shot over an hour of video and edited it into 15 segments that we've posted on You Tube and embedded in our report. The video segments are about Panasonic's tru2way, ADBs set-back box, AMDOCS tru2way Service Activation, NDS tru2way Unified User Interface, Alticast, Integra5 MediaFriends, itaas, Zodiac Interactive, TAG Networks (see these at for tru2way. See also for EBIF appications inclduding Starz, Biap and ActiveVideo.

Will this time be the magic charm? The time may finally be right for couch potatoes to spend part of their time interacting and not just blobbing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Three Faces of "Digital"

The Digital Transition – What's All This "Digital" Stuff About?

There has been much confusion over the many things that are happening with respect to television when it comes to “digital” TV . This is entirely understandable since the word “digital” is being used to mean three different things. Here is a summary of the three meanings.

1. “US Digital Television Transition”: This relates to the way TV signals are broadcast over the air.

The US government decided to switch the way that free, over-the-air TV signals are broadcast from TV stations to TVs that receive their signals via antennas or “rabbit ears”. All TV stations now broadcast these over-the-air signals in a digital format, and the old analog format used for more than 60 years is being discontinued. The date for the government-mandated switchover had been set for February 17, 2009 but was recently extended to June 12, 2009.
a. Despite this date change, some broadcast stations have stuck with the earlier switch over date.
b. Consumers getting their TV signals from cable, satellite or telephone companies are not directly affected by this change. However, those service providers are making other changes that may result in changes in what a consumer receives.
c. Consumers without cable or satellite service can still receive TV over-the-air on their old analog sets by purchasing a converter box, for which the government has been issuing $40 credit coupons. The converter box decodes broadcast digital TV signals and converts them so they can be displayed on an analog TV set.

2. “Digital TV sets & HDTV sets”: This relates to the TV set itself.
“Digital” in front of the word TV (“DTV”) means that the TV set itself can process digital signals (ones and zeros). These sets provide better picture quality and can process additional information contained in the digital TV signal.

Nearly all digital TVs are high definition TVs (HDTVs) which means that they can display the highest-quality digital signals. These sets can display a wider picture (16x9 aspect ratio); all have built-in tuners to receive broadcast digital TV.

Some broadcast digital TV channels are in 16x9 “high definition” (HD) and others are in the familiar 4x3 “standard definition”. Digital TVs can display both types.

3. “Digital Cable Service”: This relates to cable companies using digital technology to provide many more TV channels in additional “digital service” tiers.
Cable companies have been making a gradual transition from analog to digital. Comcast’s “Digital” services currently include many analog channels, including the local broadcast stations that no longer broadcast analog signals. All cable operators have announced their intention to reduce the number of analog channels to make room for more HD channels.

Today’s digital TVs are not equipped to tune digital cable services directly – this requires a converter box from the cable provider. With a converter box, digital cable service can be received on both analog and digital TVs. If a consumer wants HD service from the cable provider, they are provided with a more powerful HDTV converter box and may need to subscribe to additional HDTV channels. Only a digital TV can display HD pictures.