Has anyone heard a timeline for introduction of HDTV in the Atlanta area on AT&T Broadband? Per the new regulations, they are required to start offering channels in January 2003, but no one I have spoken to at AT&T appears to even knows what HDTV is, much less when/how it will be available.
With 7 OTA HDTV stations in Atlanta, I'm trying to decide whether I should buy a STB now or wait the next fews months (or years?) for HDTV over cable. Any suggestions?
Here's what I got from them:
> Luis: Thanks for your note. AT&T Broadband chose to roll out HDTV
> gradually across several markets, beginning in Seattle. Our current plans
> call for launching HBO, Showtime and WAGA-TV, FOX 5, in HDTV later this
> year. Early next year, we hope to have all of the local
> channels, plus some
> special HDTV content exclusive to our customers. Stay tuned. We
> should be
> announcing more details soon. You should be able to get the Dolby sound
> today using a new DCT converter box. You can stop by one of our Broadband
> Service Centers for more details. If you can give me your address, I can
> locate the store nearest you.
Welcome fellow Atlantians ;-). So, this drives me to a question that may need to be in one of the Hardware forums, but, here goes.
I assume that when ATT Broadband rolls out some limited HD over cable, I'm going to need some kind of set top box that has component out to drive my HDTV. Anybody know which box ATT plans on using? Sure would be nice if the box drives a SIMULTANEOUS SD output (composite or s-video) so I can dual feed to my HDTV and my TIVO.
It will probably be the sidecar decoder to start with and later on
the Motorola DCT5100 with the integrated decoder. My speculation
based on what other AT&T users are getting in Seattle and
I don't know about the dual feed though, but I certainly hope
we can do that. The box would have to tune two different
channels or downconvert the HD input in order to dual feed
both the HD output and the Svideo or composite.
How am I going to tell the replay tv to record golf central (channel
127 in digital) coming from the cable stb while I watch some
HD on HBO at the same time? It's going to be interesting.
When did you get your response from ATT Atlanta? I couldn't find anyone as recently as last week who would confirm, deny, or even acknowledge that HDTV existed! If they are starting to do limited HDTV this year they are running out of time. Do you know if there is a waiting/interested customer list that we can get our names on to be part of the initial roll-out?
I e-mailed Reg Griffin, the regional pr
person for Atlanta AT&T Broadband. Here is the pertinent part of his response:
Jon: Thanks for your note. Sounds like you are on top of your game and way ahead of most customers on the issue. All of your information here is
correct. We have provided little, if any, information on HDTV to our
frontline employees since contracts and agreements are still being
finalized, however, that is probably a mistake on our part. Our plans call for offering all local stations in HDTV format early next year. Much of this will coincide with our merger with Comcast. As you know, the number of customers with HDTV sets and the request for this service is still very limited, however, we are committed to being an industry leader, besting even satellite, in delivering this to you. Stay tuned. Thanks.
He confirmed Luis' information that HBO, Showtime, and Fox are the first channels that will be offered in HD (or in the case of Fox, "Fox Widescreen"), followed by all the other locals.
I have been contemplating going for an OTA HD STB, but I think this information will make me hold out through the holiday season and see what happens with cable.
Hehe, the info I posted came from Reg too. :-) I just didn't
want to post his name because I had not asked him if I could
One thing he says in the email he sent you is that "the number
of customers with HDTV sets and the request for this service
is still very limited ..." I'm so tired of this line. I guess we should
get as many people as we can to send him a note. :-)
BTW, I did call to ask for an stb with DD 5.1 outputs. It took the
CSR about 20 minutes to figure out what I was talking about but in
the end he came through. He said what I wanted was an
"L box", they didn't have any yet, but he was sending an
email to his supervisor who was supposed to call me on my
cell phone within 48 hours to arrange a time for somebody to
go to my house and replace the stb I had. He said that the
new STB would have to be "staged" for me, something he
didn't know what it meant. It's been 5 days now, and I
haven't heard anything yet.
I didn't believe there would be an issue with mentioning Reg, since his name and all his contact info are available on AT&T's website...
I think it would be a great idea to get as many people as possible to e-mail and ask about HDTV. It might show AT&T that there are a good number of people out their who would sign up for this service. But the fact is, although numbers are growing, it is still only a small percentage of the marketplace that actually has an HDTV-ready TV in their home. If cable companies would provide them some reason to invest in HDTV sets, those numbers would increase exponentially. Most people get TV service via cable providers, and many aren't going to make the effort to buy into satellite, so it's really up to cable to come through on HDTV.
I have also asked numerous times about getting a box with DD 5.1 out and s-video out (my DCT2000 box has a spot for s-video but there is a metal cover over it), but never had any luck. Which part of customer service helped you out, "Service and Repair" or "Change of Service"? If I'm going to have to get a new box when HD finally rolls out, I may just hold off and not deal with two days off work waiting for the cable installer to show up.
I called Service and Repair.
I decided to try to get the Svideo/DD5.1 box now since I would need that box anyway if we get the sidecar decoder. I don't know if I'm going to get it though but at least I can start poking the system with the hope that it would wake up sooner. For instance, I know now that at least two CSRs have had somebody asking for DD5.1/S video and HDTV.
My interest is not as much in actually getting the DD5.1 box but in raising their awareness of the demand. And who knows, maybe they'll get me in some kind of beta program if they decided to do something like that.
That's a really good point about needing the upgraded box if they go the sidecar route as opposed to the DCT5100. I was looking at Motorola's website and they've also got a DCT5200 in production that has HDTV and a PVR, but no mention of whether the PVR will also time-shift HD material.
In my e-mails and calls I've also asked that it be noted in my file that I would like to participate in any beta testing they may do. Somehow, I don't think it's likely that it will amount to much, but you never can tell...
Here's something interesting that was posted over on the Atlanta HDTV Yahoo group:
"Get this - in the DC metro area, digital cable (is it comcast?) is offering a
free *hd* digital cable receiver to use for anyone who has an hdtv and wants
their service. Plus, his apt. building gives out free local and movie channels
(i.e., hbo and showtime) so now he has an HDTV and he's getting a receiver and
free programming without an antenna or a dish.
he got his box yesterday and it is most definitely an HD receiver."
I wonder if we could hope for something like this after the AT&T - Comcast merger actually gets going. Comcast seems to be ahead of AT&T as far as having a workable structure, service provider agreements, and now price structure. It would really help digital cable and HDTV if one came hand in hand with the other.
I had called AT&T a few days ago because I was hoping to exchange my dig cable box for something that had S-video on it. Some of the Motorola boxes are being recalled and I was going to use this as an excuse. My call revealed a couple of things. One is that the people answering the phones have no idea what HDTV is, let alone when new STB's are coming out or what S-video and optical outputs are. Second, all the dig cable boxes are the same and there is nothing as of yet that can offer S-video or DD output.
I'm surprised to hear that AT&T is so optimistic about their feed but I'm pessimistic myself. I just bought the Samsung T-165 to get HD OTA. There's a $50 rebate if you get an antenna installed as well.
If you get an updated cable box, please post here or on the Yahoo group.
Ask for an "L box". That's that what they know as the new Moto box that has the DD 5.1 and S video outputs. If they still don't get it, send them the email from Reg. That will make them go to their sups.
Remember that AT&T's HITS (Headend In The Sky) is the main source of DD 5.1 for almost everybody, cable and DBS.
I just picked up the DD5.1/S-Video box up here in Lansing. When we got cable installed, the tech did not know that he was supposed to install it. He also didn't know what it was. When I talked to customer service, they said I could just go to the office and pick one up.
The service rep in the office had no clue what I was asking for, but she found it. She didn't know anything about HDTV.
Well, I called AT&T back today, approx 1 wk since my last call. This time, interestingly, the lady I spoke with knew exactly what the S-video box was and has scheduled someone to come out and install it in 2 days. Even more interesting is the fact they knew I called about this 1 week ago but couldn't figure out why the sales rep at that time was so clueless. She never heard of an "L-box".
This lady, who was quite helpful, told me they do plan on transitioning to HDTV asap but that is pending on the merger with Comcast. So my advice for anyone in the Atlanta area who wants to upgrade their dig cable box is keep calling service & repair until you get someone who knows WTF they're talking about.
The local NBC morning news had a quick story this morning announcing the merger of AT&T Broadband and Comcast. They suggested that channel lineups are going to change as a result, but no timetable was given for any changes.
Based on what srayan heard in his last call to customer service, and the fact that local news actually did a story on it, they must have ironed out most of the merger issues. Maybe we will see some HDTV over cable in Atlanta by the end of the year!
I called in to AT&T customer service again today and I guess it pays to be persistent. Now that the merger is public, AT&T customer service reps are saying that HDTV channels and boxes will be available in January 2003, with built-in PVR functions as an option. If they are still using Motorola boxes, then the basic HDTV box will be the DCT 5100 (http://broadband.motorola.com/catalo...?ProductID=179
), and the PVR box is the 5200 (http://broadband.motorola.com/catalo...?ProductID=178
No word on what channels they'll have in HD to start, or pricing. The CSR did say that they are already testing HD STBs in the Atlanta warehouse, so the cable lines may already be carrying HD signals. I asked if they are going to do a beta-test with customers but she didn't know. In any event, all good news...
Over at the Atlanta HDTV Yahoo group, they've got a good discussion going on, which started based on the thread here. Rather than repost all those messages, anyone who is interested call follow this link:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ahdtv/messages
Please post any new information as you get it. It seems like the Customer Service Rep. responses vary day-to-day.
I called yesterday to find out about the DD 5.1 box. The CSR did not know what I was talking about but after dumping all the info I had, he went to the sup. The answer was that they are not giving those boxes anymore because they are now testing the 5100s. Could be good news if I believed it. :-)
At least it seems that something is going on. I'll call again Friday.
Both AT&T and Comcast now have links on their website regarding the merger. Nothing definite on timetable for new HDTV services (only a promise not to remove HDTV from any existing markets and a generic statement about continuing to expand HDTV service). In another question on the Transition FAQ, Comcast states that no changes will be seen until early 2003 that affect programming and price structure. Looks like there won't be HDTV for Christmas
Originally posted by jdp_atlLooks like there won't be HDTV for Christmas ...
I would be extremely surprised if we get HDTV on cable in January. Experience says March.
It's official, the CSRs say Comcast when you call. But aside from the new name, they're still saying the same thing. Late December/early January for HDTV service.
lcaamano, I'm sorry to say that I agree with you...this will get pushed back, but I hope not as late as March!
:-) The record will be here, where we can search back on this thread. I hope we don't laugh at my optimism.
I had cable service/repair come out to my house to add another outlet in the guest bedroom and was asking them about HD service. Both technicians who were there had seen a demo this morning of HBO-HD, SHO-HD, and Fox (the first channels being offered). Plans are to add ABC in time for the Superbowl and then the rest of the local channels in the spring.
They said that the DCT 5100 is the box, but they're not in yet and most likely won't be until late December/January. They may begin taking orders in mid-December for service calls later that month. HD transmission will officially begin on December 9, but it will be impossible to get a box for that day.
It seems it's about time to start calling every other day to ask for the 5100.
Check out this thread on the forum if you'd like to learn a little more about the Motorola DTC-5100 (if that turns out to the be the box of choice for AT&T here in Atlanta.http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...torola+dtc5100
When you call, make sure you tell them that what we want is the 5200 with firewire, DVI connectors, and a large hard drive for HD recording. Also, make sure they record that. The original DCT2200 could've had S-video and DD 5.1 from the beginning if only they had known people wanted those features. So, it would be a good idea if we start asking for 5200 w/firewire and DVI right away.
Yes, wishful thinking I know but the baby that doesn't cry doesn't get any food.
I called today. I said "Hello, I'd like to upgrade my STB to an HDTV capable STB."
She said, "Hold on, I don't know if we have those yet." She came back pretty quickly and said "uhhm, yes, the installation is $50 but you have to call Moving & Change. The phone number is xxx, they will help you."
Well, of course I didn't believe that. I said thanks and then called the other number.
Me: "Hello, I'd like to change one of my ..."
She: "Uhmm, let me check"
She: "No, we don't have those yet."
Me: "Do you know when they'll be available. I just want to know when to call back."
She: "Oh, I can write it down in your account so we call you when they are available. What's your primary phone number?"
Of course I don't believe any of that. I'll call again Friday and then next Tuesday, and so on.
PS, they now say "Comcast formerly AT&T Broadband" in their messages.
I called myself this morning... same story that Luis has heard. I talked to CSRs in account change (678-545-MOVE), repair (678-545-7372), and new service (678-545-2289).
Each CSR said that they heard it was coming, but did not have any dates or idea as to the process to sign-up for service.
The repair rep did say that when the system rolls out that the installer would "come out and connect the box to your TV, surround sound and setup your VCR and DVD player." I don't know if that scares anyone else, but I think I'll be there when they come...
This message was on the AtlantaDTV.org digest from Yahoo yesterday, so we are getting closer for sure...
Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 23:43:13 -0000
Subject: AT&T Broadband HDTV Testing
Apparently AT&T Broadband HAS indeed started testing HDTV. Now
listed in the program guide of my digital cable box are Showtime-HD
and HBO-HD on channels 880 and 890. The Showtime channel says "call
to subscribe" (obviously not true yet) and the HBO channel has a
solid black picture, but it DOES have audio.
I would really like to have these channels sometime this month or
I am also getting HBO-HD and Showtime-HD on channels 880 and 890. I figured that I would give it one more shot and called the number that comes up prompting you to order Showtime-HD. The CSR didn't know anything about this (of course) so she checked with a supervisor.
The supervisor also didn't know, but they were guessing that Comcast was doing this as part of a test of the existing cable infrastructure, and also to determine market interest in HD by seeing how many people called up to order Showtime-HD! I indicated (nicely) that this was not the best way to figure out interest (who randomly checks the 800 numbered channels?), and it's unfair to the consumer to offer something and then say it's not available yet and they don't know when it will be (but they were guessing (again!) January).
I told the supervisor that there are HDTV interest groups in Atlanta (I mentioned the Yahoo group by name) and that they should contact them to get a better sense of numbers for early adopters of HDTV. I'm fairly certain that it won't amount to anything.
On a related note, does anyone who is getting channel 880 and 890 have a Mits or Hitachi with a built-in HDTV tuner or promise module? If these test signals for HBO and Showtime are unencrypted QAM, they should be able to pick them up. Normally, I would think they would be encrypted, but we are getting audio on HBO-HD, so it's worth a shot...
Please post your findings here. Thanks,