Essex students are test-market for new tube technology
By Brendan Howe
Residents of Essex Hall are now wired and ready to participate in a project that will bring a new era of television to London and the rest of the country.
For the first time in Canada, digital cable has been hooked up as a test pilot project. The service, offered by Bell TotalVision, became available Sept. 1, when residents moved into Essex Hall and it is scheduled to be available in other parts of London at the end of the month.
"Students were excited about trying out the new system," said David Weir, regional director of multi-media marketing for Bell TotalVision.
Bell offers a similar channel lineup compared with other cable companies, he said, adding the picture and sound quality are much better with the TotalVision service.
The service provides unique features such as an interactive programming guide which enables users to search programs in a variety of ways. Viewers can order movies directly through the television and can be alerted by the system when their favorite program is on. These extra features are presently not hooked up but are scheduled to be available by the end of the month.
"It gives the viewer much more control over what they're watching," Weir said. "If they want to watch Seinfeld all they have to do is type it in and the system will display when it is playing and what channel it's on."
Some students have yet to be convinced of the benefits of the new cable system. "I don't know what the difference is. The only difference I see is that channels don't come in as quickly as other cable systems," said Essex resident Jeff Shinehoff.
He explained because of the digital lines, channel surfers have to wait a few moments longer until the resolution clears. Fellow resident Charis Johnson said it is a bit of a pain waiting to change channels but she doesn't mind because it's free.
Susan Grindrod, senior director of housing and food services, explained they were approached by Bell and asked if Essex could be used as a test pilot project. Housing services pays similar per-unit cable rates at Essex to those paid at other Western residences for the Rogers Cable service, she said.
TotalVision plans to extend its test pilot to Repentigmy, a small town just outside of Montréal. As well, another area in northwest London bordered by Richmond St., Hyde Park, Windermere and Fanshawe Park roads will be added at the end of September.
In addition, this area will have access through the cable lines to a high- speed Internet connection which is 1,000 times faster than the highest speed conventional dial-up modem.
The rest of London and Canada will have to wait until the conclusion of the two-year pilot project to see if TotalVision will be available to them.