Thursday, January 04, 2007

And We Are Here To Help

Montgomery County's MFP committee will be holding a quarterly hearing on the county's cable franchisees. This will be the first meeting with Verizon as an official franchisee. Are we still in the honeymoon? We'll find out. February 5 at 9am on the 7th floor of the Council Office building.

My guess is that the honeymoon is still on (and the council has its hands full of other problems) but I've heard a lot of complaints from people waiting to get fiber and not understanding that, well, it takes time. And Verizon, despite wanting to roll out service as quickly as possible, has plenty of time built into the franchise. Please calm down folks!

I've got my own problems. I've become dismayed to find - as I had feared all along - that I cannot get any kind of device with which I can readily schedule recordings of FIOS TV on my computer. I really don't want to get a separate DVR and display. Might I end up with FIOS for internet and Comcast for TV? Egad. And please don't tell me the quality of FIOS TV is so much better. Or that it costs more this way. I accept this. Or do I. This is so frustrating.

Volunteers Wanted

The County is looking for citizen volunteers to serve on the Telecommunications Advisory Committee (TAC). This committee advises the County Executive and County Council. Well that was always the theory anyway. Very little advising has taken place in the years that I've been observing the committee. For example, the TAC was not invited to any of the Verizon negotations or strategy sessions held by the Executive.

Just about everyone involved shares some of the blame for lack of communication. (Well, the council wasn't invited either so I can't blame them too much.) I've explained the problems several times before so I won't repeat them again. (Browse the archives.) Hopefully, new members will be more informed and willing to work. And perhaps the new Executive will be more interested in the committee's opinions.

There are five openings on the committee. Four members are eligible to apply for a second term. But I would assume that most of them won't.

If you have any questions about the committee, please post them here and I'll answer them. And attend the meetings to see what goes on. Hmm, looks like the Cable Office hasn't been updating their online calendar. Sigh. Assuming they stick to the usual schedule (3rd Wednesday of each month), the next TAC meeting should be January 17, 2007. However, I see the official solicitation for new members says that meetings are on the "forth (sic) Wednesday evening of each month." A new strategy to keep attendance down?

Incidentally, if you'd like to serve on another committee, here's the full list of openings. Hmm, I just tried clicking on it and got Windows NT Error number 2 occurred. (And I know it's not my computer since I'm not using Windows!) Maybe you'll have better luck.


Anonymous said...

You have me concerned, Mr. Libes. Yesterday I took the leap and signed up for FiOS TV. I already have the lines installed, so it should be a relatively painless install.

However, your comment about lack of recording support for your computer is of concern to me. As is the lack of mention of Cable Card anywhere on the Verizon web site. I currently use cable card with my TV but am willing to give that up with a dual tuner STB, which verizon will be delivering.

If you're unable to record anything from the verizon cables onto your computer with a standard DVR interface, then I'll likely have a problem with the kitchen TV for which I have no interest in renting a gigantic converter box.

I was also looking forward to integrating a PC based (Mac) dvr solution at some point in the future.

I want Verizon to do well so badly, perhaps I've been blinded by Comcast's incompetence. It's less expensive. Perhaps I'm getting what I pay for with Comcast? Don't tell me it's so!!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Libes, why-oh-why don't you be the one to volunteer to serve on any of these committees? You're usually there. You always alert and explain to us what is going on - even when it is incomprehensible, or comprehensible and frustrating.
Your informative blogs indicate that you're a natural for this job! It may be stressful for you, but rejoice knowing that you single-handedly would create stress for them. At the very least, keep them on their toes. Or at the very, very least, cause them to update their online calendar.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hey Don, ("rai", forgot my password)

I had FiOS TV installed a few days ago. The tech said that a cable card is available, at least through VZ. He wasn't clear on cost. Otherwise, I don't expect to see PC compatible TV tuners any time soon. You'll have to use the STB as a tuner and set the PC tuner to channel 3. (And 'yes', the picture quality is better than Comcast's. At least compared with the Comcast analog, limited service.) BTW, the 'buzz' is that Comcast and other cable providers will eventually go towards the VZ digital channel allocation method to use the cable bandwidth more efficiently. So, using Comcast to keep PC compatibility may have numbered days, as well.

OH, if you look on DSL Reports, there's a forum comment re: using an RF remote control to use a remoted STB (ie for rob f's out of the kitchen situation).

Note that without an STB, you'll only be able to receive the 'analog' channels, which equates to the 'local' channels available for the basic $12.95 price.

Also, the remote control being delivered does not have a page up/down button for scrolling through the channel menu. Some Comcast remotes seem to be compatible with the FIOS STB, though.

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Anonymous said...

Rob F: Verizon does have information on their website about cable cards. From the main Verizon site, Click on Entertainment, then on FiOS TV, then on Customer Support, then on FAQs

Anonymous said...

I'm served by the BTHSMDBD (Bradley Blvd. and 7 Locks Rod) wire center. Does anybody have any good info on when this wire center will be lit for TV? It already as Fiber. I've had FIOS internet since Dec. 2005.