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Thursday 16 December 2004

Telewest Cable - binning BT, SKY and going 'all in one' [Brit]

Yesterday morning, I finally binned both BT and SKY - opting instead for the total TV, broadband & phone package from Telewest.
I've been unhappy with SKY for some time, after all despite paying the top notch rate of £41 a month and having spent cumulative hours on the phone with their entire technical support staff, I've been without BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, ITV, ITV2 and twenty or so other channels for over a year. I'm quite aware of the problem of course - but despite me being within warranty they insisted that an engineer would cost £65 plus parts. Fuck that.
So, at 8.45am yesterday the cable guy turns up. I like a couple of other clannies have been on Telewest's uber broadband service (now running at 4MB downstream thankyouverymuch) for a good while and I'm impressed with them. Simply put, they shit on any other internet service provider I've ever been with.
First off, the telephone is costing me £25.00 a month - the price of which includes all calls at any time to any landline number in the UK (this excludes premium rate numbers as you'd expect). No peak hours or friends & family crap. Line rental is in there too. No hidden charges. Bosh - Telewest 1, BT 0. Calls to mobiles are extra, but since I would use my mobile for those calls anyhow, its a moot point.
Secondly, the cable TV. Now I've heard horror stories about cable or rather the quality of service. Complaints concerning heavy artifacting due to the compression used to squirt data down the cable line abound. I have to say however, that I've found no such issues - the picture, if anything, is actually sharper than SKY's - hell, the colour tone is visibly better. All the characters in one of my favourite shows - Navy NCIS - used to have orange skin on SKY. Now they've got proper skin tone. Bosh - Telewest 1, SKY 0.
More importantly, I get ALL the channels (admittedly Telewest only carry one God channel, SKY carries four) and its cheaper than SKY each month by over a fiver. I get all the regular channels, all the 'SKY' channels (but not Sky MIX, that comes next year) and SKY movies etc, for £35.60 a month. Bosh - Telewest 2, SKY 0.
Of course, the highlight of this whole episode was informing SKY that I wanted to cancel my subscription. After a twenty minute phonecall with the subscription handling lady where I kid you not she spent fifteen minutes slagging off the technology behind cable, I finally completed the exercise and stuck it to the man...
Still, I do now have a letter from SKY informing me that as a valued customer in the past, should I find myself unhappy with Telewest, I would be most welcome to go back to SKY. Let me get this straight; SKY are telling me that they are happy to take my cash again? Jeez, they need a letter full of bullshit for that? :)


  1. Telewest digital television is, like NTL's, quite notoriously bad quality. It's far worse than Sky. It's acceptable on the main channels, just about, but most are such low bandwidth they turn into a mosaic tornado at the slightest sign of movement.
    Don't believe me? Dial up Bravo.
    I really cannot think of why you've got different colours on Sky vs Telewest, I can only conclude it's something to do with the set top boxes you have. None of this compression stuff alters colours in a meaningful way. Telewest engineers do not actually know anything about RGB SCART at all. The boxes default to composite, which is - as anyone who has a games console will tell you - quite the worst way of teleporting a picture onto your television. You have to go into the Telewest STB settings and select RGB.
    I mention this because I actually tought the Telewest 'engineer' and his apprentice about this RGB stuff when they were at my place installing this stuff. Didn't stop him from fucking all the levels up and cocking up my cable modem which needed a repeat visit by some other half-trained monkey. The Sky 'engineer' I had, at least understood RGB SCART.
    Still, despite all of this, Telewest still rock. 4mb/384k upgrade when I got back from holidays. For free. They haven't even told me, as far as I can see, which seems a momentous marketing own goal but I'm still grateful. You realise this is the first upstream bandwidth upgrade I've had since broadband began in this country?

  2. been doing this since I settled down in london. My last two houses have been telewest TV, Phone and Internet :)
    Their International calls package is amazing, and since I have always lived with people from the other side of the planet - thats important!
    I never had a single problems with the TV serivce, all I watch are E4 for west wing and sopranos, random crap on the 2 history channels and sports for rugby and soccer. So I dont care really, I would love a Tivo/Sky+ solution, but cant be arsed looking into it :)
    I have a 1 meg line (thats now a 3 meg line, as they keep increasing the bandy!) with my 2 PC'S (and work laptop now and again) and the 3 girls all have laptops working off it. The one crap thing is you have to register the mac addresses of the machines accessing the internet, and there is a limit of 4 or something. But I just got a router (and a wireless router for the laptops - why I have 2, dont ask!), and bosh - I have one mac address and it acts as a DHCP server for the machines on the inside of my network.
    I would not move back to Sky, as I have had no problems at all with telewest. So I dont see the point, as its easy this way having the 3 bills in one :)

  3. Indeed, good on them for providing an integrated good-value service. I believe the Net gets cheaper when you have another service - which was what enticed me to move television to them. I regret that, but hey. We don't watch television much anyway so the cheapest solution is the most appropriate.

  4. Actually something has changed on telewest. It looks like the image quality has improved quite radically of late. It's gone from looking disgusting on my projector to looking quite reasonable. Like the bitrate has been upped a load. I haven't scoped out the AV forums to see if anyone else has noticed this, just reporting what I see.

  5. BBC News story about a TW PVR to rival Sky+. So now you record your duff quality programmes and watch them later! Wonder what the pricing model will be like.

  6. On the flipside, Telewest is also looking to introduce video-on-demand. That's a good idea too and, if the quality is up to scratch (which is questionable), then it might just be a good alternative to DVD rental too.