Tag Archives: cable

Verizon FIOS in Brooklyn

I was out walking around in Park Slope the other day and I noticed a huge group of people loitering on the sidewalk handing out flyers.  Generally, I try to avoid these things as I get annoyed very quickly with people wasting my time.  These people were dressed as the Verizon network people, wearing white coveralls and hard hats.  I went over towards them, and they promptly handed me a flyer explaining the benefits of FIOS over Cable.

I agree with these things.  I would get FIOS right now — IF IT WAS AVAILABLE!!!  Verizon has been advertising for over a year now that FIOS is available in New York City.  From what I can tell, its available in a very very limited amount of areas.

So, why is this group of 100-150 people being paid to advertise a service in a neighborhood that it doesn’t exist?  Wouldn’t it make much more sense to pay the technicians to install the hardware to make FIOS work in Park Slope?

This was a bit annoying to me, and really makes me question the logic of marketing.  I do call once a month and ask when I can get FIOS, and generally I am told the same, “Soon, we are working on it” canned statement.

Annoyances aside, I still will get FIOS the day it is available — but for a different reason than you might think.  Of course I am interested in the fast internet speeds, but it is the TV service that I am more interested in.  For one, I am anxiously awaiting the ability to watch NFL network again.  When I lived in Canada this channel was included in basic cable, and it was watched by my girlfriend and my self MOST of the time in football season.  I caught her watching it all by herself a few times actually — even when I was not home.  Secondly, because the Scientific Atlanta 8300HDC is such a piece of junk (crashes at minimum one per week) I looked into what box Verizon uses.  It seems that it uses the Motorola box, which has proven much more stable in my experiences.

Regardless, I will not be holding my breath for the service to be available any time soon.

Time Warner Cable Complaints


I have some real complaints about Time Warner Cable. I could go on and on, but I think I am going to vent today on one item in particular. The 8300HDC cable box.

Firstly, I should point out that this box is made by Scientific Atlanta (Cisco). I am not sure of the details of the hardware and software relationship, but my guess is that with proper software support the box would work just fine. This, sadly as anyone who has this box knows, is not the case.

This box seemingly is everything you would want in a cable box. It has dual tuners and can record HD and SD video. It also supports the addition of an external hard drive for increased storage. I have not tried this yet, so I am unsure if the external HDD is supported in the sofware provided by Time Warner Cable. At first inspection, it seems to be a perfectly capable cable tuner.

This is where the illusion ends. The 8300HDC crashes all the time. Most often when it is recording HD streams (one of the main advertised functions of the box). Also, the box tends to reboot itself at least once a week. When it reboots, it does not turn itself back on, so my windows media center is unable to record anything. This provides me with alot of long all black avis with no sound. There is nothing I can do about this as I contacted Time Warner and was told that with DIGITAL cable this behavior was perfectly normal. They stressed the digital. This makes zero sense to me, but displays their blatant disrespect for their customers intelligence.

Aside from crashing, another complaint is that the firewire port seems to be disabled. I have no way to test this for sure, but after trying channel changing via FireSTB to no avail, I have given up. Previously, I had FireSTB working on a Motorola DCT-6200 with no problems at all. Again, I have no way to test this for sure but when I asked Time Warner they told me the firewire port is unsupported.

Due to this frustration, I decided to dump the 8300HDC and opt for a HD Tivo instead. The HD tivo gets great reviews and is continuously praised on a number of podcasts including CNET’s Buzz Out Loud. I went to Amazon.com and bought one. When it was delivered to me, I plugged it in and tested it out on analog cable only (more on this later). The box worked very well. I only wish that I could have actually used it.

I called Time Warner Cable and asked the tech if they had cable cards for use in Tivo. She replied that they did and that I could pick one up at the local Time Warner Office. I also asked if they had the dual tuner cards just like the one that is currently in the 8300HDC for rent. I was told yes, and that I could get that at the local office. I proceeded to the local office. I explained my situation with the box and the crashing and that I wanted a cable card for my new Tivo. The clerk had no idea what a cable card was, but offered me a new 8300HDC in exchange. I proceeded to show the clerk the card in the box, and asked if I could just have that one as it was exactly what I wanted. She said she would check. Another guy came back and said that there are no dual tuner cable cards and that I could only have one single tuner card. After some arguing, I was ready to get my 2 single tuner cable cards installed by a tech 30 days later. Then they told me the price differential. It was going to cost me $30 more per month for the cable cards and I was going to have to pay the tech $50 to plug the cards in to my Tivo. I was confused. I already had the 8300HDC WITH a dual tuner cable card inside of it for $30 less than what I would get less equipment for?!?! I questioned this, and it was explained to me that the cable box was part of my package deal, and by not having the box, I was breaking my package. I would thus have to pay more.

This seems like a scam to me. But who am I to complain to the cable company, they obviously do not care what I think. So, I took their offer of an exchange of the 8300HDC and went home. I boxed up my HD Tivo and sent it back to Amazon.com. Amazon.com is great by the way. They paid for shipping both ways, and I greatly appreciate this type of customer service. Time Warner Cable could really learn something from Amazon.com regarding customer service.

Now one more thing. Why is it that I am forced to have this box at all. QAM delivers digital cable very nicely with no box at all. My TVs all support QAM as well as the tuners in my computer. QAM works great, supports HD and Dolby Digital and takes much bandwidth than analog signals. Why is Time Warner cable not supporting QAM. I understand they dont want to put premium channels on QAM. I am ok with this. But why not ESPN, Food Network, HGTV and other channels that are included in basic cable? Is it becasue they are scamming us into thinking we have to have a cable box, and that if we want to watch tv in more than one room they can collect a rental fee per television? I think so. Marketing people are so transparent. Again, a scam in my opinion.

I assume that FIOS does not support QAM either, but as soon as it is available in Brooklyn, I am switching to FIOS. When you couple the fast internet speeds with the hassles and the blatant disrespect for my intelligence by Time Warner, I feel it is time to fire Time Warner as my cable privider. Bad Time Warner, Bad.