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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

Kshitij_Kumar 12/5/2012 | 3:02:48 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA You're welcome, Phil.

One thing to note is that the intro "barker" channel is typically a broadcast channel, so even if you were hitting congestion, you should at least see the VOD introduction screen. Of course, every VOD system is different. So, yes - do try it at 7:00AM, or from a different STB! And let us know the outcome.

Regarding the TellyTopia plug - startup founders have to be shameless - lots of fun! ;-)
ernieJohnston 12/5/2012 | 3:02:49 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Phil,
I had a similar situation when I used a Digital Satellite coax splitter instead of one for cable. Some ports wouldn't work with the STB. Since I didn't have a way to profile that splitter, it was just easier to buy a new one.
If that's not the problem, try using it at 7AM to see if it's a capacity issue. CU Ltr, eJ
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:50 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA re: "but the STB is either not tuning to the correct channel... or the return path isn't getting your messages to the VOD system, or you're not getting authenticated."

Excellent post. You've at least narrowed it down to three things I can include in a note to Charter. (Talking to the hold music doesn't do much for me.)

And you worked in a plug for TellyTopia, too. Slick indeed.
Kshitij_Kumar 12/5/2012 | 3:02:51 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Phil,

I'd suggest it's just teething troubles. Hang in there. You gotta ask a Cable guy, you know? :-)

When you tune to Channel 999, I'm thinking what's actually happening is that an application is starting up on your STB, and the app tells the STB to tune to the EIA (the part of the spectrum it's expecting the VOD Barker channel to come at).

It seems you're seeing the message from the application ("VOD is loading") but the STB is either not tuning to the correct channel so you would see the Barker, or the return path isn't getting your messages to the VOD system, or you're not getting authenticated.

Of course, when Charter starts using TellyTopia, such issues will be a thing of the past!

;-)

Meanwhile, I'll ask someone at Charter to help.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:51 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA re: "Go buy a shovel and a ladder and string a cable through the ROWs to your own video server residing in your own NOC. In other words, compete, compete! compete!! Jeez, I thought this was obvious ;-)"

Sounds great. Would you like to be my first investor?
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:51 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Re: "Get a life ? Get a hobby ?"

My hobby is watching stuff on TV. I know that makes me a man at odds with convention, but I'm content to pursue my craft, if you will, in solitude.

As soon as the VOD starts working again.

ph
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:52 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA re: "Stop paying $100 a month plus for TV ?"

Uh, I don't.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:02:55 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA It's a free world. Stop complaining. Go buy a shovel and a ladder and string a cable through the ROWs to your own video server residing in your own NOC. In other words, compete, compete! compete!! Jeez, I thought this was obvious ;-)

roybean 12/5/2012 | 3:02:55 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Get a life ?

Get a hobby ?

Get a girlfriend / boyfriend, whatever your style is.

Stop paying $100 a month plus for TV ?
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:58 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA That's a happy hour stop. Not a place I'm going to spend all evening.

ph
Raymond McConville 12/5/2012 | 3:02:58 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Phil, what are you doing at home on a Friday night anyway? Shouldn't you be here:

http://www.lightreading.com/bl...

Ryan Lawler 12/5/2012 | 3:02:59 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Um, find a new service provider?
Ryan Lawler 12/5/2012 | 3:02:59 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA Um, find a new service provider?
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:02:59 PM
re: Charter's VOD Is DOA I'd rather not.

Switching providers is a colossal pain in the ass.

And this seems like something that should be known/fixable, given the billboards and all the advertising surrounding VOD.
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