A story yesterday about cable television incorrectly listed the basic monthly subscription price for Cable TV Montgomery. The price is $21.78. (Published 6/22/90)
Most District residents should have access to cable television by next spring, which would be on schedule according to the original 1986 plan but more than a year behind the more optimistic projections of last year, the cable company said.
Wiring for cable television has been installed in more than 80 percent of the city, said Tyrone Brown, District Cablevision president and general manager. The cable company expects to finish wiring the entire District by April 1991.
In the last 18 months, the number of Cablevision subscribers has increased from 36,000 to 56,000.
Brown, who became general manager in November, said recent changes in the managerial staff will allow the company to provide better service.
In particular, he said, a restructuring of customer service operations has improved the company's speed in answering customer service calls.
"It's a lot better than it used to be," said Percy Battle, the Southeast Washington man who was the first D.C. resident to receive cable service, back in 1986. "They used to have a number that was always busy. Now there are people there to answer the phone."
Battle, who lives on Chicago Street in Anacostia, said he is satisfied with Cablevision's service, but added that he finds it quite costly. He pays nearly $40 a month for his service, which includes the Disney Channel and some premium movie channels.
Cablevision's basic monthly rate has increased since 1987 from $15 to $18.95.
"It's worth it to me, but it may not be for other people," Battle said. "I get it because my grandchildren like to watch a lot of the channels."
District Cablevision's prices range from $18.95 for the basic service to $32.95 for the basic service plus Showtime and Home Box Office and $36.40 for the addition of the Disney Channel.
Although Cablevision has raised its prices twice in two years, the company is less expensive than some suburban cable companies. The basic subscription price for Media General Cable of Fairfax is $21.95. The price of a similar service from Cable TV Montgomery is $24.95.
Cablevision is focusing on wiring the Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, Kalorama, Mount Pleasant and Adams-Morgan neighborhoods. The company is continuing to finish up in other areas that already have been partially wired.
The company expects to begin wiring in Georgetown by next week and will continue to concentrate there through the summer and fall, Brown said. Construction in Southwest areas of the city should begin in August. Foggy Bottom will be the last residential area to receive cable, with installation beginning by the end of the year.
In January 1989, Cablevision predicted that all District residents would have access to cable television by the end of the year.
But Brown said there have been unexpected delays: difficulties in wiring older neighborhoods, discussions with the phone company about what type of cable to use, a freak storm last June that damaged wiring, and protests about the appearance of the outdoor cable boxes.
Installation in the city's older neighborhoods, such as Georgetown, is expected to be more difficult because the cables will run through antiquated conduits.
Modern conduits are made of durable steel or plastic. In Georgetown, workers have come across older conduits made of wood.
District Cablevision's strategy was to move first into areas with easy access to utility poles, avoiding underground work. Television wires follow the telephone lines, which are primarily underground in the older neighborhoods.
Discussions between Cablevision and Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. over the type of cable to use caused a "significant delay" in construction in the spring and summer of 1989, Brown said. C&P denies that these discussions resulted in a delay.
Cablevision says it wanted to use a technologically advanced fiber optic cable instead of coaxial cable, as originally planned. "Fiber optic cable transmits more channels in a smaller distribution line," Brown said. In most cases, C&P is using coaxial cable, in accordance with the contract.