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Students Enjoy Cablevision, But Face Technical Problems

By Eric Richard
Contributing Editor

About 400 students have already subscribed to the expanded cable lineup which started last Monday, according to Continental Cablevision. While many subscribers enjoy the wider selection of channels, some students still report problems receiving the stations they ordered.

"I think that the new service is working out great," said Randall W. Winchester, facilities coordinator for MIT Telecommunications Systems. "For a majority of the people, things are working fine."

"We are getting a very good response to cable from students, as well as fraternities and the academic offices," said Anthony Price, marketing manager for Continental Cablevision. He added that many students have been pleased by the picture quality.

But Winchester added that repair calls to MIT Cable have been coming in more quickly than he anticipated. "I think people are jumping the gun a little and are expecting it to work immediately," Winchester said. "They get impatient for service to start."

The new cable service began last week. Continental had planned to start service weeks ago, but Price decided to wait until all students were in their permanent rooms before offering service, Winchester said.

Students report a variety of errors including poor reception, incorrect channel mappings, incomplete services, and completely blank pictures. Both Price and Winchester said that most of the problems should be solved in a week.

"I have been having problems [since I subscribed]," said Abiyu Diro '95, a Burton House resident who subscribed over a week ago. "I haven't been getting channels that I should be and getting others I didn't mean to."

"So far [cable] has been a pain," said Saul Muccitelli G, cable representative for Alpha Tau Omega. "Last Thursday, it went out. It is back up now, but reception is bad."

Shannon L. Anderson '95 said she has not been getting service at all since she subscribed.

Many people had problems with the converter box that provides access to cable. Some students received the wrong channels or none at all, Price said. Students who disconnected malfunctioning converters or who did not attach them immediately added to the confusion.

Continental fixes some of the converter problems be sending television signals to the box. The signals reprogram the box. Disconnected converters will not be reprogrammed and problems will continue.

Price recommended that students should always keep their converters hooked up at all times, especially if they are experiencing problems.

Students enjoy new selection

While some students are experiencing problems, most are pleased by the expanded lineup.

"We were really excited about getting it," said John G. McCandless '94 of Theta Delta Chi. While McCandless said that the system "is not that robust," he said that people enjoy MTV and the movie channels.

Even people who are currently experiencing troubles were hopeful for what cable has to offer. "It will be nice to have a variety of things to watch," said Diro. "There wasn't that much to watch before."

Anderson concurred, "When I do watch television, I want to be able to watch the things I like."

Under the new service, students living on campus are able to subscribe to the full lineup that Continental offers. The basic subscription includes Cable News Network, MTV, ESPN, Arts and Entertainment Network, C-SPAN, and several other cable stations, in addition to the channels already offered through MIT Cable.

Students also have the option of subscribing to Home Box Office, Showtime, Cinemax, the Movie Channel, New England Sports Network, or the Sportschannel.

Price also noted that fraternities have been enjoying the new service. Continental had originally planned to offer converters only for their main lounges at a business rate. But since some fraternities have run cables to individual rooms, Continental has been able to sell to these students at the room rate.

Currently, Kappa Sigma, ATO, TDC, and Delta Psi have either subscribed to Continental as a house or have individuals with subscriptions. Phi Beta Epsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon also plan to subscribe.