Charter's VOD Is DOA

7:00 AM -- The billboards around my 'hood are hard to miss. "Charter's got video on demand," they proclaim. All you need do, so they say, is tune to channel 999 and you can get your movies when you want them.

But tuning to channel 999 on a Friday or Saturday evening -- the time when most folks would generally be in the queue at Blockbuster or sitting through a bazillion advertisements in the cinema -- gets you a blue screen that states that Charter's video-on-demand is loading.

And so it loads for 15 to 20 minutes, until I get sick of it and change the channel.

This phenomenon has repeated itself for two weekends now. I've waited on hold for tech support during those times about the same number of minutes without speaking to anyone.

I've tried restarting the set-top box. I've double checked that all other set-top functions are working flawlessly. I've cursed. I've prayed. I've cursed while praying, which is pretty risqué, but I do live on the edge.

So what shall I try next? Is this a "there are too many people on my network" problem? Or is it a "Phil Harvey shouldn't be trusted with anything that runs on electricity" problem?

Any clue what I should do?

— Phil Harvey, Barely Managing Editor, Light Reading

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