Englewood, Colo. -- Customers who tried to sign up for or
change their "TCI Digital Cable" service faced a 16-hour lag last Monday, when a
software snag in the MSO's Littleton, Colo.-based uplink center botched up the
authorization and control system.
A new sign-on to Tele-Communications Inc.'s digital-cable
service in the San Francisco Bay area said a TCI installer came to his home, disconnected
the analog set-top, connected the digital set-top and hooked up all of the appropriate
in-home wiring, only to discover that that digital feed wasn't working.
"They held my TV captive, and I was forced to read on
Monday night," quipped the customer, who asked to remain nameless.
Neither TCI nor its National Digital Television Center was
to blame for the problem, which has been corrected, TCI spokeswoman LaRae Marsik said.
That's because TCI and its Headend in the Sky service, which is operated out of the NDTC,
sold the conditional-access and control portion of the service to General Instrument Corp.
earlier this year.
Marsik said the 16-hour glitch only affected new digital
customers or those who wanted to change their grade of service.
David Robinson, vice president and general manager of GI's
digital-video business unit, confirmed the glitch, explaining that a Hewlett-Packard Co.
line card in GI's set-top-control system failed. The failure corrupted part of a database,
which had to be rebuilt before new service installs or service changes could take effect.
"Obviously, losing a day of installs at today's rapid
pace is not a good thing," Robinson lamented, adding that the system was
"designed for a graceful failure," as the entire HITS service didn't go down.