Back with Time Warner (and Busted HD)

Y and I decided to drop Time Warner a few years ago to help save on our monthly bills and to reduce how much media we consumed while studying for our PhD exams. Now, we both have some breathing room and we can use TV, news, and movies in our respective research.

For Y, we were hopeful that we could get some Taiwanese tv channels into the house so that she could keep up with the conversation there regarding Chinese, Taiwanese, and American relations. Unfortunately, it seemed like Dish Network was the only option for that, and as I’ve written about before, we cannot get Dish Network at the house we currently live at due to tree cover.

We thought about it, and we decided that we would go back to Time Warner’s basic cable service with HD so that we could get some of the educational channels we lacked and news service channels we could not get by the aerial.

It was advantageous that school at Kent State was cancelled today, because our installation was also scheduled for today. An ernest installer named Dennis helped get the cable TV service setup after installing a new coax line and removing the band filter that they placed on the line when we only purchased their cable Internet service. We received a new Samsung cable receiver box for the service, and we have been back on cable TV service since around lunchtime.

Unfortunately, there is a problem. We receive standard definition (SD) stations without any trouble, but many high definition (HD) broadcasts of those SD stations are listed as “currently unavailable” and “try again later.” We pay for both versions of the channels, but we cannot access the better quality HD versions all of the time. We have tried going back to these channels or choosing to try again, with success about 1/10 of the time.

I have looked online [google search results here], and it seems like the problem lies in signal strength–particularly in the wires around the house and the intervention of splitters. It also doesn’t look like a problem that a vast majority of users encounter. Instead, it seems like a smaller percentage of customers who complain about this problem, and fewer still that actually get Time Warner to do anything about it.

Why can’t a company that reports profits and pays a dividend to shareholders about five days ago [read on the WSJ here], save a little bit of that money and invest it back into the company so that no one has these kinds of issues. It could mean that better equipment is required. It could mean that technicians are better trained to check for these problems during installation. It could mean doing away with service fee costs when the problem is one created or never resolved during installation. It could come in some other form, but however it manifests, the table should be turned back in favor of the customer rather than the shareholder. If all customers pay for a service, they should receive the full benefits covered by that service before dividends are paid in the other direction.

We have had issues with Time Warner’s service before [read here about our trouble with our Internet service], but those issues were resolved after repeatedly calling and IMing their customer service and spending more time than I believe we should chat or talk with them. I am going to go out and see if there are any egregious problems with the outside wiring when the weather is a little more merciful, but I am afraid that we will have to complain repeatedly until the Time Warner leviathan slowly moves.

Good Support Experience with Time Warner Cable

This morning, I woke up bright and early at 7:00am, because I had scheduled a TimeWarner Cable on-site service call.

A few weeks ago, Y and I began to notice slow Internet throughput especially during the evenings after a widespread outage in the Kent and Ravenna areas. This made watching streaming video on YouTube or Netflix nearly impossible or at best extremely frustrating as videos would start and stop intermittently.

I posted a comment on Twitter regarding this about a week ago, and I was quickly connected by the @TWCableHelp Twitter account for more info. This carried over into an exchange with their support desk by email in which I conducted ping and traceroute tests for a variety of websites. These didn’t indicate a single bad hop within or beyond the Road Runner network, so they called us (yes, they called us rather than me having to call them–5 stars for reaching out to this customer) for more tests that they conducted on their end while I ran tests on my end using As I had noticed on my own, verified the wildly fluctuating throughput and its extreme occasional lows (~0.75Mb/s). The support representative decided an on-site call might yield results, so we scheduled a time for this morning.

I was partially dreading this early morning meeting after having a migraine all day yesterday that kept me in bed most of the day. However, I got a good night’s sleep, and I felt back to normal when I woke up at 7:00 (partially thanks to Miao Miao investigating some newspapers).

This morning, Time Warner technician Mike called around 8:45 to let me know that he was on the way over to Y’s and my house. When he arrived, I showed him our setup, and the tests that I had run this morning with my MacBook directly connected to the cable modem. The fluctuations were evident even early in the morning. He was very friendly and informative–explaining his tests as he ran them on our cable line. Unfortunately, his tests didn’t indicate a problem with the frequencies involved in Time Warner Road Runner Internet service-only (we don’t have cable TV–I built an aerial for TV reception) over our line. However, he wanted to look at our exterior cable line to check for any problems.

He noticed that the line running from outside into the room with the cable modem had a 90 degree kink in it. Concerned about this, he replaced that line so that it wouldn’t have such a pronounced bend. He hooked everything back up and verified that the connection was working again. Mike did tell me that he had hoped that it was a frequency filter on the line that was out of date following a change to the different frequencies used by Time Warner cable TV and Road Runner Internet service. His tests however didn’t indicate that this was the case. He hoped that the line replacement would improve things, but he left open the possibility that the problem could be at the local trunk if it was a traffic issue. That would be a problem that would have to be resolved by the Road Runner network engineers.

I will continue to chart our connection speeds and service, and if it continues to run slow and fluctuate, I will contact Time Warner again. Considering their very positive response to this issue so far, I would expect them to eventually correct the problem if Mike’s work today didn’t completely resolve it.