Hey Sasha! Long time no hear.
Unfortunately, there is not much news to report on the Brambleton HDTV situation. The only change from my January 28 post is that Gatehouse Networks is once again showing WUSA (CBS) on channel 92, bringing the HDTV channel count to a whopping three stations (WUSA, WRC and WJLA). All three channels are cablecast with unscrambled QAM modulation, which means that most existing OTA HD tuners won't work. I don't know of anyone who has gone out and bought a $500 QAM box for three measly stations... what's the point? All three are easily pulled in with a cheap DTC-100 and a pair of wabbit ears.
There is still no word on when we will be getting more channels, a QAM STB, or a DVR. Gatehouse's Jack Buckhorn keeps gamely showing up at our monthly Technology Club meetings, but he always reports the same thing, that more channels and gear will be offered "sometime this fall". I was hoping the FCC April 1 firewire deadline would speed things up... this is the text of Code of Federal Regulations Title 47, Part 76, Section 640:
(4) Cable operators shall:
(i) Effective April 1, 2004, upon request of a customer, replace any leased high definition set-top box, which does not include a functional IEEE 1394 interface, with one that includes a functional IEEE 1394 interface or upgrade the customer's set-top box by download or other means to ensure that the IEEE 1394 interface is functional.
Unfortunately, the key here is that Gatehouse isn't leasing anything
to us right now. They are calling the three HD channels that they're offering right now a free "promotion" (and only viewable if you go out and buy your own QAM HD box), so it is their position that they are exempt from Title 47.
So that's where things stand right now... only three local HDTV channels that aren't viewable by 99% of Brambleton residents. Whoopie.