Comcast Customers Will Have to Wait to Get More HD Channels

by ARLnow.com March 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm 6,146 59 Comments

Update on 3/18/11 — The channels are now available.

In a mailing that went out last month, Comcast told Arlington County customers that they would be getting “The World of More” — the company’s phrase for a slew of additional high-definition channels — on March 15.

Alas, that date has come and gone and the channels are nowhere to be seen. In fact, the only noticeable change in the past two weeks is that customers can no longer receive basic cable channels without a digital converter.

We’ve been unable to get in touch with Comcast’s PR department, but Arlington County Cable Administrator Rob Billingsley says the company has told him that it will be at least a week until the first batch of new HD channels reaches local television sets.

March 24 is now the date when channels including Comedy Central HD, BET HD and truTV HD will be switched on. The lack of truTV in HD will be a big disappointment for college basketball fans — the channel will be airing nearly a dozen NCAA March Madness games this week, including two first-round games tonight.

Other HD channels are now scheduled to come online on April 7. Those channels — including ESPNews HD, Fox Business HD and IFC HD — were originally promised on March 15, as well.

Update on 3/17/11 — A Comcast rep says all HD channels that were originally scheduled to come online on March 15 will be available no later than March 24.

According to Billingsley, the company said they were delayed in turning off the analog cable channels earlier this month. By making those channels digital-only, Comcast freed up bandwidth for the HD channels. However, no formal explanation was given for why the HD channels were still delayed.

The confusion comes at a time when Comcast’s cable monopoly in Arlington is up for review. The Comcast franchise expires on June 30, 2013, and over the weekend the county board approved a resolution that will start an official evaluation of the company’s performance.

Billingsley says the review will likely consist of public hearings and surveys that will look at Comcast’s technology, performance and customer service. Our informal poll of satisfaction with Comcast revealed strong negative opinions about the company.

  • TryTheTacos

    Thanks! I went to change my Tivo Season Pass for Daily Show and Tosh.0 over to the HD channel yesterday – only they were nowhere to be found. Oh well – only a few more weeks and I get to tell Comcast to take this cable decoder card and shove it.

  • DT

    Just get FIOS and save yourself the hassle of waiting for Comcast to stop sucking.

    • artie fufkin

      If only my neighborhood actually had Fios.

      • bred

        FiOS is available to the high rise condo down my street (maybe 150 yards) but not for me in a townhome.

    • Northerner

      If only it were available to me… as far as I know, FIOS was supposed to be available to all Arlington County residents by 2010. But, not yet available in my neighborhood.

      • DDog

        No where around Columbia Pike and 7; wish there was competition for our service. Maybe things would be a bit cheaper.

    • Carmen

      I would if I could. It is not available in my building.

    • OX4

      I’m in a 3 year-old building in the R-B corridor and no FIOS in sight. Verizon Fail.

  • Just sayin’

    Time to get FIOS. I have to say, they kept all the news channels except MSNBC. I think it is a political plot. Why can’t I watch MSNBC without a converter? I can still watch FOX (not that I want to).

    • Curious

      Anyone know whether MSNBC will come back online in HD format in April?

  • Joe

    FIOS is no great shakes either. The Remote is f’n awful.

    • Westover

      Life is relative, and relative to Comcast, Fios ROCKS!

    • Sam

      The remote does suck, but only because whatever electronics they use in the remote does not debounce their buttons properly. You press the up button and it goes up 5 times.

      I don’t even use the remote anymore. Get the Fios Remote app if you have an iPod Touch or iPhone. It is 100 times better than their physical remote.

  • Travis

    Shocker, Comcast stinks!

  • D

    Everyone I know that has switched from Comcast to FIOS, Dish ect.. hates it – Comcast suxs but the grass is not always greener

    • Glebe Roader

      I switched to FIOS and really like it. When your remote starts going bad, just order a replacement for free.

    • AllenB

      Wow, and I’m the complete opposite. I have Fios and love it and everyone I know who has switched is very glad they did.

    • Burger

      I have DirecTV and it blows away Comcast and everyone else.

      • K

        I miss my DirecTV so much! Comcast just totally pales in comparison. I’d rather lose satellite during bad storms than just have crappy cable ALL THE TIME.

    • borf

      Just switched to FIOS and love it.

    • RosRes

      I think its luck of the draw. I have some neighbors who switched to FiOS seamlessly. On the other hand I had one neighbor who got royally f***ed by FiOS. It took them over a month to get her install right and she had NO Internet during that time.

  • Michael

    There was another noticeable change. We received our annual rate hike notice this week. So Comcast can proudly say they cost more than FiOS and have fewer channels in HD (and will still have fewer channels in HD after they add the new channels.) Truly Comcastic.

    • Erin

      threaten to switch to FIOS and they give you the FIOS rate… works everytime.

  • Dbag

    My favorite part is that you can never speak directly to a Comcast representative from Arlington that knows what’s going on. It’s always directed to some call center where they have no clue about anything.

  • Kabletown

    I have to wonder if I’ll even be able to receive these new HD channels. Currently my HD NBC, CBS, and now TBS get pixel-ated and are unwatchable. When I asked them to fix it, they had no idea how to. Then they said they needed to dig underneath my condo building. Then they never followed through. They finally agreed to not charge me for my HD service, but then decided that the problem was fixed. I’ve still got an coaxial cable in my backyard from when an incompetent technician tried to fix the problem.

  • Kabletown

    I’ve had both FIOS and Comcast. FIOS is much better. Plus the cable box isn’t run by 1989 Atari technology.

    • Overgrown Bush

      The wonderful Atari 2600 was introduced in 1977.

  • G

    Thanks for posting this… I had a sneaking suspicion that the channels wouldn’t be working by their deadline.

  • Comcast charges .25 a month for the remote. Seriously! A quarter. I also got charged on my recent charge of $1.99 for continuing my contract 6 more months.

    • NPGMBR

      Wow do they really? I didn’t know that!

    • DDog

      Those nickels and dimes really add up for comcast…..give them an inch and they will take a dollar…..

  • Westover

    Turned in my boxes this morning, we are a Fios family now! And very happy with it!

    • Pray they actually scanned them as they came in. My credit has a ding due to the imbeciles. Have been trying to resolve it for over a year. “We don’t know where the boxes are.” Cost me $1k in additional financing when I bought a car a few months back.

  • Paco

    Dump ’em all. You can find almost everything on the Interwebs and the free public airwaves actually offer some decent stuff on those extra digital channels that showed up last year. (OK, go to a bar to watch sports or try the radio).

    Checkout the Mhz Networks. We’re one of the few areas in the United States that gets al Jazeera English. Their coverage of Egypt last month was fantastic and NHK is on there too for tsunami coverage. That’s REAL public television. All free.

    And there are now two free channels in this area showing great old reruns like “Leave It to Beaver” and Three Stooges movies. I can’t believe people pay buckets of money every month to companies like Comcast and Verizon, which treat customers with such contempt.

    • Westover

      to each his own, Paco. We enjoy the programing and convenience that we get from cable tv at our house. Would need to pay for an internet connection anyhow and the TV is practically thrown in for free these days with Fios.

    • Burger

      Wow! that is awesome. “Leave It to Beaver” and the “Three Stooges” all I get are 500 channels of TV that was filmed in the last 10 years. Let me know when they get Three’s a Crowd, not Three’s Company which was highly overrated compared to the underrated Three’s a Crowd and I’ll quickly dump that stupid DTV box in the trash.

      You are similar to a friend I have the works off of the web mostly for sports and then gets PO when a game isn’t available over the web or is delayed. I remind him it is quite easy to go pay money – I know that is awful to say because the company is providing a service – to actually get the game on the TV.

      • Jimmy Jazz

        Dang, Burger. You are sooooooo right. I better sign up immediately to pay a bunch of clueless, greedy corporations $40, $70, $100 every month for the right to watch Glenn Beck, “Jersey Shore” and Home Shopping Network. I’m ashamed to have missed such brilliant, current cable/satellite/FiOs offerings.

        • Rick

          the S should be capitalized

        • borf

          Wow, a fight over whether to pay for junk or get even worse junk for free.

      • Oracle

        How much do those 500 channels cost each month and how many do you actually watch? GameShow Network? The Soap Opera Channel?

    • R.Griffon


      I stopped actively watching TV a few years ago and I’ve never been happier. But I have a Roku box for the rest of the family, with a Netflix subscription for movies and Hulu Plus for the wife who still watches some primetime. Totals maybe $20/mo.

      But I’ve yet to really see anything current that makes me want to watch. To each their own, but I’d much rather use that $$ for something more enjoyable.

      +1 on Al Jazeera as well. I started following them online during the upheaval in the mideast, and the stark contrast between their stout coverage of real topics and the drivel of US corporate media is disgraceful. They’re my new go-to.

      • Rick

        I’m sure your kids love not being able to watch what all their friends are watching

        • R.Griffon

          They don’t seem to mind at all, and really just don’t expect it to be turned on. But then again we tend to spend quality time with them rather than use the TV as a babysitter, so your mileage may vary.

    • TXtoVA

      +1 for Al Jazeera English, which is on 457 for FIOS customers. AJE has fantastic international news. Also, CNN International is a nice plus on FIOS (105), which is not on Comcast

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Why did they decide to encrypt the Weather Channel – seems to me this has more public value, that would be helpful in some of the disaster senarios.

  • 1234

    Fios is great until it isn’t — channels dropped, service goes out, bill is wrong and then you have to face the HELL that is Fios customer service. It is absolute agony.

  • Elizabeth

    FIOS also does not have that many HD channels, and won’t be adding any in the foreseeable future. Apparently they are out of bandwidth/space/something like that. FIOS also does not like addressing this issue to their customers. Ever. This is especially awesome because Comcast is not an option for me–they couldn’t get a strong enough signal to my house which makes watching HD very difficult. ARG!

    I just want to watch Doctor Who in HD. Frownie emoticon.

  • Just Me

    I am very happy with FIOS, I have been using Verizon for my internet, land line and cell for many years so now cable, its all on one bill.

  • DirecTV

    Nobody’s mentioned DirecTV, is that any better? If so what do you do about internet?

    • CW2

      DirecTV is my choice for TV, and especially good for sports fans. I use Verizon FIOS for internet only (which is blazing fast.) I pay more than most, but I’m happy with my service and offerings.

  • idi Amin Dada

    It’s a toss-up. I’ve had both Comcast and FiOS and they really aren’t that different. Verizon is the worse when it comes to adding fees, service charges, access charges, etc. to your bill. But at least with FiOS my cable doesn’t go out all the time like it did with Comcast.

  • George

    I spoke to three different people at their 1-800 no. on the evening of the 15. The first two had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did the third, but she at least asked around and came back with the March 24 roll-out date. When Today at the Comcast office on Wilson Blvd. the folks at the counter were helpful but also had no idea what I was talking about until one went on-line and found a mention of the March 24 date. Meanwhile, channel 999, advertised as the “system information” channel just plugs the NHL Network. No update of this or any other useful info.

  • John Andre

    Still waiting for Weather Channel HD on 815. Nothing yet!!!

    Other than this snafu, Comcast Triple Play service is fine though somewhat pricey. Don’t know if FIOS is avaialble yet in my neighborhood. It might be interesting if the County Board could allow competition among Comcast, Cox [already available a few blocks from me in Fairfax County], FIOS, RCN and both satellite services. My condo would have to install dishes for the satellite services; that’s why we don’t have them. We might already have FIOS in Columbia Heights West.

  • AbeFroman

    After the birth of my son, the happiest day of the last 5 years was day I told Comcast to stick it. I had nearly identical internet speed with a 3MB DSL line than I did with a Comcast cable modem and I have had fewer service disruptions with Directv (including weather related outages) than I did with Crapcast.

    The best part … Not only did I not pay my last 2 bills with Comcast, I got them to refund 2 months of service through my BBB complaint.

  • GMo

    After having used Cox, Comcast, and FiOS I personally felt that FiOS is the best service but worst customer service. Comcast and Cox service both blow and neither has very good customer service but still better than Verizon.

    Please keep us posted on public hearings! I’m sick of this cable monopoly b-s and fully intend to make my voice heard.

    I left cable over a year ago and have not looked back. Over the air HD is pretty good even with the fact that my walls are plaster and I live between two hills. Xbox/Netflix and Hulu do the job just fine, while many other networks put their shows on their websites now as well.

  • cj

    One big problem with Verizon is that they try hard to change your phone line to FIOS even when you don’t order that. And the FIOS phone requires power or a battery that lasts just a few hours. Call me a luddite if you wish, but I still like having a land line that works even — especially — during long power outages. So I’ll keep my copper wires.

    • Suburban Not Urban


  • Mick Way

    I’ve had both and am with FiOS now. Internet is super smooth. Comcast internet used to flake at least twice a month (usually on a Saturday afternoon). FiOS has been 100% reliable.

    One drawback I can see is there is no FiOS office you can drop by to swap equipment. This became clear recently as FiOS offered me a “free” dvr upgrade for only a small $35 shipping fee.

    Other one is the backpack sized box they installed in my basement that houses the customer premises electronics and the UPS unit.

    Thanks, no.

  • Josh

    the new HD channels are working…


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