I've just had a guy knocking at my door from NTL. Apparently NTL has been bought out by Richard Branson, who is looking to inject a wad of cash in getting things up to speed. (Update: Googling about a little, it seems that this is fairly old news, and that Branson isn't the sole shareholder, he's the majority shareholder, owning 14%)
I said the following:
- Customer Service (historically shoddy)
- Bit Rate seems to be reduced of late, even on popular channels (the last few episodes of 'The West Wing' suffered from colour banding).
- The 'guide' sucks. It also blows. It's slow and only has three days of programmes.
- There is only a single tuner in the digibox, so we can't watch one thing and record another. Fortunately with 'second chances' and +1 services, this is rarely a massive issue.
- There is no harddrive. This means that:
- The guide cannot be cached, which in turn uses bandwidth, reducing speed, and also reducing bandwidth available for channels
- Programmes cannot be recorded 'in the box' (as with Sky+)
- Problems with internet connectivity, I diagnosed a problem, had the diagnosis confirmed and it's still not fixed.
I was told that Branson would be putting in some serious money (bless his little red socks), and that they were surveying to find out what was needed. I was told that a HD box would be announced in the next few months, which would have a hard drive in it. (I don't care about HD (High Definition), I replied, once you have DVD quality my eyes cannot see the further improvements - what I want is reliability and responsiveness of service - there is no point in HD if the system can't take the current bit rate).
With NTL I remain a little sceptical about their getting their act together for historical reasons, however, if true - fantastic.