The ABC's of RCN

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Last week, cable operator RCN touted the launch of its new interactive program guide, which offers subscribers in Boston; New York; eastern Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago "enhanced search" and "easy-to-use advanced control over their digital entertainment and services."

Well, not all subscribers.

Turns out a handful of RCN customers rely on outdated remote controls that don’t have the A, B and C buttons required to browse programs by theme or search for titles. RCN mailed brochures alerting customers to the switch, but no mention was made of a potentially obsolete remote.

RCN head of programming Lynn Buening says that, since the number of affected customers was so small—less than 1% of RCN’s 418,000 subscribers—the operator decided to leave it up to them to complain when they found the new guide to be somewhat less than intuitive.

"If the number had been more significant, we would have notified customers via mail," says Buening.

There is an older version of the guide that will work with "non-A,B,C" remotes, says Dan Ward, VP of marketing and sales at Aptiv Digital, which supplied the guide. But RCN chose
to go with the newer version across the board, those one-percenters be damned.

Apparently, Aptiv had to move quickly. After RCN declined to renew its contract with previous guide supplier Gemstar-TV Guide, Aptiv rolled out the new one in just a few weeks.

Says Ward, "It was a rather abrupt installation."

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