Let’s Talk About Video

Several months ago S&T embarked on upgrading the delivery of video across all of the communities we serve.  This upgrade consisted of several equipment upgrades in our network and upgrades to the equipment that each of you has at your residence or place of business.  I won’t bore you on all of the changes that we did in our headend; rather I’d like to focus on the changes we made to our equipment that you have in your home.

As a point of reference, let’s take a trip in the way back machine to a time where our cellular phones were carried around in a bag.  Those were the good old days of analog delivery of cellular phone service and even in the most remote parts of the country, you could generally establish a call.  Now, if you were lucky enough to get a call established, you or the person you were talking to could maybe hear every seventh static filled word.  As technology progressed and the demands of users increased, it became necessary to change from an analog to a digital delivery.  This change ushered in a wide array of advancements in cellular technology and changed the usage habits of cellular customers.  The changes that the cellular industry went through are similar in nature to the changes that S&T implemented several months ago.

The benefit of those changes are:

  1. The launch of 13 additional HD Channels, including Fox News, TLC, NBC Sports and Discovery just to name a few.
  2. Music Choice channels were included in all tiers of service
  3. Set Top Box (STB) Upgrades Allowed for:
    1. Watch one channel – record five other channels
    2. 200+ Hours of HD Recording // 1000 Hours of SD Recording
    3. Whole Home DVR
    4. Out-of-Home Streaming
    5. Interactive Program Guide available on all devices
    6. Built-in over the top programming access such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube
    7. Compact design

Often times in life we are forced to make concessions to be able to achieve our goals.  In an effort to be fully transparent here are few things that S&T needed to do in order to provide our customers with some of the items above.

  1. The providers that we purchase content required us to encrypt our channels.  What does that mean to you?  It meant that every TV needed to have a STB to decrypt that signal.  For those of you who were customers prior to conversion, we provide two boxes for free for two years.  Additional boxes start at $4.00 per month.
  2. Some of our channels are transmitted as an MP4 signal which means the old STB’s will not receive the signal.
  3. Our premium TiVO box requires a High-Speed Internet connection. To ensure that all customers had access to a DVR, we also introduced a DVR that didn’t require High-Speed Internet.

Perhaps the biggest challenge that we have faced since the upgrade is the aged wiring in our customer’s houses.  Most of the wiring is original to the structure and may have been patched throughout the house to accommodate additional TV’s.  As more information is delivered to equipment, it is imperative that the signal is free of errors and within the threshold of the equipment.  Over the last several months we have reported an uptick in video trouble tickets and there appears to be a trend of older wiring, splitters, and amplifiers inside the houses.  Any one of these issues can impact the service and cause interruptions.

That isn’t to say there haven’t been additional issues with service delivery over the last several months, because there has.  We have been on the receiving end of some very powerful thunderstorms, fiber cuts, and equipment failures all of which have impacted service delivery.  Each time an event occurs, we review the outage and analyze if there are steps that we can take to mitigate future outages.  Occasionally, we do find a way to improve our service delivery and we are quick to implement those solutions.  However; many of the outages occur outside of our control and we have little impact on recovery time.

Finally, we are committed to ensuring that each of our customers finds value in the product that they receive from S&T.  We value each of our customers and would appreciate the timely reporting of any service interruption. The more reports we have of issues, the quicker we can act to restore services to the impacted areas.  Our 24.7.365 helpdesk can solve the vast majority of your issues and if necessary will escalate tickets to the appropriate personnel.