Friday, May 28, 2010

Time Warner Experience #twcny #tivo

After reading all the reports of problems and phone calls to Time Warner, I expected to have lots of trouble with my new tuning adapter.

What is a tuning adapter?
Let's start with why I need a tuning adapter...
  • Cable technology can only deliver a certain number of channels on the coax line.
  • Old analog channels take up the most room and luckily those are slowly going away.
  • Even still, the number of channels they offer these days exceeds the maximum number that the cable can support.
  • There are many ways to solve this problem, and Time Warner chose to go with a technology called "Switched Digital Video" or SDV (SDV means the channel you are getting down the line "Switches" when you change the channel).
  • In other words, the cable company only sends a limited number of channels down the line.
  • When you change the channel, you might be "requesting" a different set of channels be sent down the line.
That "request" makes SDV a two-way system.
My TiVo Premiere only supports one-way communication, and therefore CANNOT send the necessary request to the cable company. In order for my TiVo Premiere to request the channel, it needs a tuning adapter. The tuning adapter plugs into the TiVo with a USB cable. Of course the coax from the cable company also goes through the tuning adapter and then to the TiVo. When I change the channel with my TiVo, it tells the tuning adapter what channel I want and the tuning adapter sends the necessary request to the cable company.

I have read lots of horror stories about Time Warner resetting something every month. That was causing customers in certain locations to lose all their SDV channels. Those customers would have to call and have them essentially re-activate the equipment every month.
I've also heard similar stories about the initial setup of the tuning adapter. Installers would have to come out and try many different adapters before they would get one to work, etc, etc.

I had to order a tuning adapter from Time Warner Central New York (#TWCNY) because they don't have any on hand. This was my fist signal that things were going to get difficult. Exactly one week from the date I ordered the tuning adapter, I still hadn't received my tuning adapter. I was planning on driving to my local Time Warner office to see if they had any information about my order.
To my surprise, the tuning adapter was waiting for me at the doorstep.

I immediately brought the box inside and opened it up. Not only did it contain EXACT instructions to install the adapter myself, but it also had a very accurate description of why I needed one with my new TiVo (I say accurate because I've read many articles about the topic.)

I followed the directions and plugged everything in. After a little while (probably 30 seconds, but it seemed like an hour), I noticed the green light was still flashing on the tuning adapter. I ran the diagnostics that TiVo provides and it said I didn't have any channels.

I reluctantly called the 800 number that was listed in the instructions, fully expecting to have to order another one or jump through hoops for hours. The representative on the phone said he saw that the tuning adapter was active and authorized on my account already. I suggested that maybe I need to reboot the TiVo.

He agreed and when the TiVo finished booting, I immediately had ALL of the channels coming in for the first time! That was WAY easier than I thought it would be!

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