This is the second in a 3-part series of posts. Read the first at “Time Warner still cleaning up cable merger mess in O.C.” and third part at “Time Warner’s new HD channels and why Costa Mesa, Tustin get them first.“
Fred Stefany told me about these new features that are coming soon to Orange County residents:
Faster Internet - High-speed Internet users will see an increase in speeds, from 6 megabits per second to 10 Mbps by June 2009.
PowerBoost - Similar to what Cox already offers its customers, PowerBoost takes underutilized Internet capacity and gives high-speed Internet customers an extra burst of speed when they need it like when they’re downloading files. Speeds will be up to 22 megabits per second.
More phone features – With the equipment upgrades next summer, customers will be able to get caller ID on the TV, a feature already available in other Time Warner territories. An international plan is also in the works: 1,000 minutes for $19/month to more than 100 countries.
More HD channels: Stefany says HD is a priority. Most areas should have 50 HD channels by the end of the year. Certain cities, like Costa Mesa, will have 65 and up to 85 next year. The company is aiming for 100 HD channels in every city. I’ll mention specifics on this in a separate post.
“Start Over” and “Look Back”: Coming in mid-2009, these two services that let you watch shows you missed or forgot to record. Start Over lets a viewer who starts watching a TV show after it’s already started to restart the same show. Look Back offers on-demand access to TV shows from the past 24 to 48 hours. Time Warner mentioned this service to us before but it was delayed while they got permission from the TV companies to rebroadcast the shows. Right now, 28 networks have agreed to allow Time Warner to offer this feature but viewers won’t be allowed to fast-forward the shows.
Switched Digital: Since the cable pipe can only hold a limited number of channels, Stefany plans to take the 50 least popular ones and offer them on-demand through a technology called Switched Digital. That opens up space in the pipe for more HD channels and other features. If you’re a fan of one of these unpopular channels, you shouldn’t see any difference. You’ll still go to that channel and the service will instantly contact the on-demand center for the broadcast. While Time Warner customers in other parts of the country have cried foul because this means you can’t use a TiVo with ‘switched’ channels, Stefany says that channels in O.C. will be the 50 least popular ones. Switched Digital is expected to go live after the new video-on-demand service is upgraded sometime next year.