While I dig pay television content and broadband, I can’t say I always dig the cable company. Historically, I haven’t had the greatest experiences with things like billing or installs. Those installs, in particular, have been a recurring pain point. With a 25% no-show rate, the possibly high contractor who had to be escorted out after getting aggressive, his replacement drilling through the wall as intended and continuing on into our dresser as not intended, having to call the franchising authority to encourage Comcast to locate CableCARDs, etc.
So, upon making the move from DC’s Maryland suburbs to the Virginia equivalent I flirted with the idea of giving up cable. Well, most cable. Since dissembling the home theater and selling my place in 2005, we’ve lived like gypsys… and our new rental community bundles basic cable into our monthly fees (for $45). I figured SD CNN would satisfy Melissa and I’d get my fix of HD video over-the-air and via Netflix. Unfortunately, given the construction of our building or our location, I haven’t been able to tune a single major network OTA (WJLA and WUSA haven’t helped the situation) using several indoor antennas and tuning devices. Combined with Verizon raising their FiOS Internet fees, I pretty much had to re-up with cable (we face east and north – no satellite options available).
As if CableCARDs weren’t complex enough to implement with Comcast, Cox Communications here in Virginia utilizes SDV – so TiVo owners also require fugly “tuning adapters” mated to their units via coax and USB to handle switched programming. (Some of my thoughts on the industry cluster here.) At least they’re provided free, although commentary on the TiVo Community indicates reboots are periodically required to keep everything synced up and that they may unintentionally inject copy protection flags – limiting the usefulness of multi-room viewing and TiVoToGo.
Bottom line, after an 8 hour ordeal yesterday, I’m up and running on 3 CableCARDs, 2 tuning adapters, and a cable modem. Cox HD looks great and we may receive even more channels than Comcast. Plus, broadband speeds are very good (see pic below) on the mid-tier package which runs $38ish/mo. All I need now is some sort of stand or entertainment center to house the living room plasma.
For the complete blow by blow of how the install process played out, here’s a capture of my Twitter feed:
- 3 CableCARDs, 2 tuning adapters, and 1 modem scheduled for install tomorrow, 10-12. I’ll surely tweet Cox’s performance.
- Why is QVC selling Christmas lights this morning? And why am I even channel surfing QVC?
- I have no idea where my new cable operator puts channels? Waiting for the installer with CableCARDs this AM. We shall see…
- Yep, Cox installers suck as bad as Comcast. Received a voicemail on my work line that no one’s home, call to reschedule. BS.
- After 30 minutes with three phone reps, they’ll try again after 1PM.
- I just turned off Google Voice’s requirement to announce your name to prevent further confusion of/by the cable guy. *shakes head*
- Oh, and I offered to pick up the three CableCARDs. But apparently installing them is highly technical and requires a home visit. Uh-huh.
- With a $30 per television CableCARD “installation” fee, I’d rather sit on hold to activate them myself.
- I hooked up the cable modem while installer wrestles CableCARDs and tuning adapters. Going on 2+ hrs.
- There’s gotta be a better way.
- Success. Finally. I need a beer.
- Glorious, glorious HD. How I missed you. Cox’s Internet speeds are solid, too. Getting 25+ down on the $38/mo plan. Why’d FiOS raise rates?