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TWC transitioning three HD channels in Albany to SDV, CableCARD users out of luck

Darren Murph

Uh oh, here we go again. Earlier this month, we heard a chorus of complaints from CableCARD Bright House customers that had four of their HD channels snatched out from under them, and now it looks like Time Warner Cable subscribers in Albany, New York will soon be dealing with the same. According to a recent note sent out to CableCARD users, the carrier plans to start delivering TBS HD, A&E HD and Universal HD via switched digital video (SDV) on March 18th. Considering that we're still waiting for support for SDV on CableCARD devices, TWC is advising these users to come on in and join the dark side -- er, pick up one of its own HD set-top-boxes that can handle two-way services (which SDV is). So, here's your options: concede and pick up a box (if only temporarily) from TWC, or stick with your CableCARD setup and go without this trio. Check the full letter after the jump. [Disclosure: Engadget is part of the Time Warner family]

[Thanks, Mark P.]

February 13, 2008

Dear Valued Customer,

Time Warner Cable would like to thank you for choosing us to be your video provider. Below you will find important information regarding upcoming changes that will affect your ability to access certain channels on your one-way CabIeCARD-equipped retail device.

The current generation of CableCARD-compatible devices sold at retail, known as Unidirectional Digital Cable Products ("UDCPs") or Digital Cable Ready devices, only allow you to access our "one-way" services. in order to access On Demand programming, the Interactive Program Guide, switched digital video ("SDV"). and other "two-way" services, you must use digital cable equipment that includes two-way capabilities, such as a TWC-provided set-top box.

SDV is a particularly exciting technological breakthrough that makes it possible for us to offer many additional services, including new HD channels and HD versions of popular existing channels, to all of our customers. In fact, we recently launched several new services in your area using SDV - services that many of you, because you also use a digital cable set-top box with two-way capabilities, currently enjoy. SDV allows us to provide these additional services while continuing to offer existing services because channels delivered using SDV are only transmitted over the cable system on an "as needed" basis. As a result, SDV uses system capacity, or bandwidth, more efficiently than the traditional, "always on" method. However, in order to launch all the new services our customers want, we must first migrate some existing services to SDV in order to make additional bandwidth available.

Starting on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008, Time Warner Cable will begin providing a number of our existing channels via SDV. The list is as follows:

TBS HD (channel 1805)
A&E HD (channel 1838)
Universal HD (channel 1860)

Once these channels become two-way services, they no longer will be accessible on UDCPs, which lack the necessary interactive capabilities to request that a channel be made available. This means you will need digital cable equipment with two-way capabilities to view them, just as you need such equipment to access the other interactive services that we offer. In addition, you should be aware that in the future other channels currently accessible on a UDCP may be migrated to SDV, and new services will be launched using that two-way technology. Time Warner Cable digital cable set-top boxes provide the capability to view two-way services. in addition, in the future, we expect that devices available for purchase at retail will enable access to the two-way services that we provide.

If you would like to obtain equipment from Time Warner Cable that provides access to two-way services, we offer many attractive pricing plans that include such devices, which we'd be happy to review with you. Please contact us at 866-321-2225 to discuss these options or if you have any questions.

We thank you again for your patronage.
Time Warner Cable of Albany

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