But I continue to believe that the local branch of Time Warner Cable is trying to make amends for the appalling transition it forced subscribers to go through when it merged three O.C. cable systems together last year. Darryl Ryan, the company’s new regional director of media relations, always returns my phone calls and e-mails, even if it’s not the response people want to hear. And did you see this? Fred Stefany, the president of the regional office, responded to reader comments this morning.
Time Warner is watching and, hopefully, listening, to what you all have to say.
As some readers — OK, maybe 2 — mentioned, Time Warner still provides an OK service. So, let me count it up, without being too sarcastic: What has Time Warner done for its customers this year?
1. New HD channels: About a dozen new HD channels just showed up on my TV in the past week, including CNBC HD, Travel HD and the Science Channel HD. This is in addition to about a dozen that popped up over the summer (FoodTV HD, CNNHD, Disney HD, Discovery HD …) I don’t get 50, as the company said Orange County subscribers would by the end of the year. But I’m close: I get 49! But this is only in Huntington Beach. Other cities may not be so lucky.
On the other hand, Tustin and Costa Mesa customers should be at 85 HD channels by the end of the year (that’s tomorrow!). Time Warner started rolling out these HD channels in Costa Mesa and Tustin on Dec. 17: Planet Green HD 453, The Weather Channel HD 454, Bio HD 457, Toon Disney HD 461, Cartoon Network HD 462, ESPNU HD 467, Speed HD 468, The Tennis Channel HD 473, Lifetime Movie Network HD 475, Hallmark Movie Channel HD 476, HBO East HD 481, Cinemax East HD 482, Showtime East HD 483, The Movie Channel West HD 484, Starz East HD 485, INDemand Sports HD 1 732, and INDemand Sports HD 2 733. (Compton, Athens, Inglewood, South Los Angeles and Carson Harbor areas are also getting these channels.)
Keep in mind, other TV companies offer many more HD channels: DirecTV offers 130 HD channels, Verizon’s FiOS TV has at least 104 HD channels, Cox Cable’s O.C. customers have 51 HD channels, DishNetwork has 60 HD channels, and AT&T’s U-verse has around 75.
2. Coming in January: Customers with a Scientific Atlanta digital box will get new software to make the service more interactive, such as integrated caller ID. Telephone customers will see the caller’s phone number pop up on screen. Eventually, you will be able to do things like order pizza from your TV. Time Warner started rolling this feature out earlier this year. I didn’t even realize O.C. doesn’t get this since this service has been available in other parts of the country for years.
Time Warner is also updating the look of the program guide. Not a big deal, but here are some images (click image for larger view):
3. New On-demand channels: Sopresa On Demand, FEARnet On Demand, ESPN Deportes On Demand, History On Demand, Futbol Mania On Demand, Shalom On Demand, HD Showcase On Demand and “more.”
4. Faster Internet: ‘Turbo’ Internet customers started getting 15 Mbps download speeds earlier this month, with “PowerBoost” bursts of up to 20 Mbps when you need that extra oomph (downloading large files). While appreciated, I should also point out that this still puts Time Warner in 4th place when it comes to fastest Internet service in Orange County. Verizon’s FiOS Internet is 50 Mbps, Cox Cable’s Premier package is 20 Mbps and AT&T’s U-verse service is 18 Mbps. However, not all services are available in all of Orange County.
Apparently, users also got more mailboxes and online storage this year:
So … according to my earlier report, Time Warner still plans to add three other interesting features sometime next year: “Switched Digital,” “Start Over” and “Look Back.” The first one will take the least popular channels, like some foreign-language channels, and turn those into on-demand viewing. That releases space on the TV pipe so Time Warner can offer more channels. The other two are DVR-related features, allowing people to watch a show they forgot to record. Read more about those at “Time Warner Cable’s new features finally coming to O.C.”
More Time Warner stories: