The expanded cable package that students have received for free since October has lasted for more than a month past its previously stated expiration date, but it will likely come to an end within a few weeks, Yale Information Technology Services officials said Wednesday.
When Comcast initially provided free access to the extra channels to avoid temporarily depriving students of news stations guaranteed by Yale’s basic cable package during the company’s channel remapping, officials said the complementary service would end by December. But technical aspects of the remapping took longer than expected, Director of ITS Network Services Joseph Paolillo said. Students will continue to receive the “expanded basic” cable channels — including Comedy Central, ESPN and MTV — until Comcast finishes reprogramming.
Though the company will likely complete its work within a few weeks, the University may pressure Comcast to delay reprogramming so that students will not be inconvenienced by any disruption in the channels, Paolillo said.
“We’re working with them to get back to the basic service while retaining the news channels,” he said. “We want to make sure this is done with least impact or interruption to the student service.”
It was with this sentiment that the University protested when Comcast prepared to remap its channel lineup last fall. Instead of temporarily losing access to basic cable channels, including CNN, Yale officials successfully negotiated the extended cable lineup for all campus dormitories.
Paolillo said he might push for a delay until summer if the service interruption was deemed significant enough, but Comcast representatives said the company does not expect any interruption to last more than one night.
Students will continue to receive free extended cable in the meantime, Comcast spokesman Rob Wilson said.
“Students are still enjoying the expanded basic channels as we complete some technical steps within our network,” he said. “We’re working closely with the school on the timing [of the reprogramming] and when it’s going to be convenient.”
Some students said they were annoyed by the delay in reprogramming because they had paid for extended cable last semester, before learning of the free service, and would have cancelled earlier had they known the deal with Comcast would last so long.
“It was bad luck for us, since we bought the cable four days before the whole campus got it free,” Jonathan Connolly ’08 said. “We’re paying for nothing.”
Paolillo said one student reported to the University that he called Comcast and received credit for the money he paid while the service was available for free. Wilson was unable to confirm whether Comcast is willing to offer such credit as a matter of policy, but he said students should remember that Comcast had only provided the free services in order to protect its customers’ news channels.
“It was a customer-friendly initiative to help those students who were losing channels,” he said. “Whenever we have a situation that results in changes for our customers, we take steps to make that transition as smooth as possible.”
Students who have benefited from the free cable said they have enjoyed it while it has lasted.
Matt DeSalvo ’08 said he enjoyed the new programming that extended service offers, but does not plan to pay for it once it expires.
“I’ve definitely appreciated the free cable while it’s been here,” he said. “I’ve watched the first few episodes of ‘CSI’ and I thought it was not bad, but there wasn’t anything I really got into.”
Comcast is remapping the channels as part of a statewide effort to standardize its stations. The new lineup will group similar stations, such as news or sports networks, in consecutive channels.