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31 May 2008 @ 05:53 pm
RCN redeems themselves to me  
RCN never replied to the email I sent them over a week ago. Seeing little other choice, I called them to cancel my Cable TV service last thursday. I was, after all, not actually receiving any service, and they appeared to be unable to respond to my inquiries.

After recounting all my troubles in response to the "Why do you want to cancel?" question, the rep apologized, put my on hold for a few minutes, and came back to offer to reduce my bill by $10/month to $95/mo, and include in that price an HD Cable Box.

I was completely astounded by the competency of this rep: she a) didn't argue with me and tell me it was actually the FCC's fault, b) knew what Firewire was and that cable boxes have Firewire ports, and c) knew enough to warn me that she was not sure whether the Firewire port would work or not, ("I know it's enabled in the DVR model but I'm not sure about this one").

Despite the uncertainty about whether Firewire would work or not, I agreed, and set an "install" date for them to drop off the box. So, they came yesterday and gave me a DCH-3200 (man...do cable boxes really need to be that big?). And when I hooked up the firewire cable, MythTV basically just worked. The only way it could have been simpler is if MythTV's manual had been updated to say that most of the junk they want you to do is actually completely unnecessary. Just make sure the kernel modules are loaded, the /dev/raw1394 entry has lax enough permissions, and run mythtv-setup. That's it.

So, while I'm now down from 2 tuners to 1, I still can use MythTV, and despite all odds, RCN has actually managed to redeem themselves to me. After my previous interactions with them, I never would have thought it possible. I'm still irritated that they've made these changes, made them without any notice to me (or any other customer as far as I know), and have terrible customer support, but not irritated enough to cancel my service.

At least until such a time as they start encrypting their Firewire output...all I can do is hope that won't happen anytime soon.

I still feel sorry for people with multiple TVs in their house, the loss of analog channels and encryption of digital channels is gonna hurt them a lot more...

BTW, an interesting post was made to the DSLReports' forum:

>>As of today May 6, 2008, we began encrypting some HD channels in the Massachusetts market and we will continue to do so until all channels are encrypted. This includes High Definition channels that weren't previously encrypted such as local stations. Note the schedule below:

On 05/06/08 we encrypted:
A&E HD Ch 184 , History Ch HD Ch 186, Animal Planet HD Ch 187, Travel Channel HD Ch 188 , FX HD Ch 189 , LMN HD Ch 190, TLC HD Ch 191 , CNN HD Ch 192 and Discovery HD Ch 193.

On 05/14/08 we will encrypt:
HGTV HD Ch182, Food Network HD Ch 181, TBS HD Ch 174 ,TNT HD Ch 173, Comcast Sp Net HD Ch 171,ESPN HD Ch 166 , ESPN 2 HD Ch 169 ,
WLVI HD Ch 156 and WSBK HD Ch 159

On 05/20/08 we will encrypt:
NESN HD Ch 170, ABC HD Ch 160, CBS HD Ch 161, NBC HD Ch 162, Fox HD Ch 163 and PBS HD Ch 164

How does this impact our customers?

* Anyone without an RCN cable box or CableCARD will no longer see these channels.

* Most RCN customers will not even notice a difference. If they have a digital converter or a CableCARD, they won't see any change.
* Customers that have QAM tuners that were picking up unencrypted digital channels without paying for them will no longer see the channels.
o QAM tuners allow the free reception of digital programming previously sent "in the clear" by RCN; however, most digital channels were always encoded because they are outside of the "basic cable" package.
o QAM tuners are only available on high-end HDTV's, and the customer had to know how to set up the tuner to receive these stations. Few people know how to do this, so the amount of customers impacted should be negligible.
o For now, this does not affect a cable ready TV receiving ANALOG cable signals. This is just HD channels. Analog channels will soon be eliminated as well, but that is a future phase; we will send out another notification when that occurs.

+ Beginning July 8, 2008 in Massachusetts; all analog channels except for a constant advertisement will be replaced by an all-digital line up enabling us to put together a great new channel lineup.
+ Customers must have a box on each television by their implementation date or they will lose programming.
+ For new customers, the first standard converter box is free. New customers will be charged $2.95 a month for additional standard converter boxes. Current customers with out any converter boxes, will receive the same pricing. The 1st box free and $2.95 for each additional box.
+ If current customers have a box (RDIGCNV), they will receive additional boxes at the price schedule they are on: $2.95/5.95 OR $4.95/7.95
+ Letters and voice-cast phone messages are directing customers to call a local number, 781-xxx-xxxx, for details.
+ Direct customers calling Customer Service to request a new converter or to swap a converter to the Local Office first
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(Anonymous) on June 9th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
RCN is still breaking the law if they implement this plan as specified
It is illegal for them to encrypt the must-carry stations, even if they give everyone unlimited STBs and "OpenCable" cards at no cost. So CBS, NBC, and PBS for instance may not be encrypted in the United States. You should report them to your local franchise regulator; if RCN does not remove the encryption immediately they can be kicked out of the region and may be forced to refund any fees charged for cable service since they first began illegally encrypting the must-carry stations. MythTV users have been successful in getting compliance with the law, sometimes within hours of reporting the crime to the local authorities.

Unfortunately, the FCC does allow the channels encrypted on May 6th to legally encrypted -- forcing you to buy or rent a cable industry approved set-top-box.
(Anonymous) on September 5th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
Re: RCN is still breaking the law if they implement this plan as specified
SO how do you find your franchise regulator? RCN is pulling the same crap here in Chicago. All I really watch is network TV, no time for much else. I thought it was illegal - according to antennaweb back in the day when I bought my TV that was supposed to be advanced and anticipate the switch to digital.
(Anonymous) on September 1st, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
* Customers that have QAM tuners that were picking up unencrypted digital channels without paying for them will no longer see the channels.


Yeaaaah actually my cable bill is about $100 a month, so don't tell me I wasn't paying for them. Complete scum bags. RCN was supposed to be my comcast savior. They were for about a month and now I'm right back where I was with comcast, only my internet goes out a lot more.
(Anonymous) on September 5th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
o QAM tuners are only available on high-end HDTV's, and the customer had to know how to set up the tuner to receive these stations. Few people know how to do this, so the amount of customers impacted should be negligible.


Or your TV could have just set it up automatically. I think this is RCN's way of getting back at Sony. But WTF? It's not like they're losing money on the deal, we're still paying to get the damn signal they're required to provide free for nothing.
(Anonymous) on October 7th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC)
law bending
I have RCN in Chicago (Zone 3), and it is unfortunately true that they're encrypting ALL HD content, including OTA stations. They only thing that can be received with QAM decoding is SD versions of some OTA stations. (really crappy looking i might add) I suspect that they think they can sidestep the FCC regulation by saying, "we provide the OTA stations in the clear." (just not in HD) They even 5C all the OTA HD through firewire as well. BULLSHIT!! I hate RCN even more than Charter or Comcast.