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After numerous delays, the Rancho Murieta Association expects to launch new digital and high-definition TV programming over its revamped cable system March 17, the Communications Committee said Wednesday.  At the same time, the committee will begin work on "Plan B" -- an alternative to the new system.

On Wednesday, the committee voted to offer residents a 60-day free trial for the services.  A brochure with a program line-up will be mailed to residents in advance of the launch.

General Manager David Stiffler told the committee the eight projects that upgraded the system with fiber-optic cable have been completed.

The process of fine-tuning the system that's followed has turned up sections of bad cable and discrepancies between what's in the plans and what's been built, according to Maintenance Manager Rod Hart.

"We still have some things to do, but it's going really well," he said. "The bulk of it's done and we're going to be continuing to fine-tune it."

Hart praised the crew that has worked on the project, saying of the cable technicians, "These guys will stick to a problem till they get it fixed."

At last month's committee meeting, Hart said fiber-optic cable segments increase bandwidth and reduce maintenance demands. The segments serve 250 customers, which will aid troubleshooting and maintenance and make problems "a lot easier to isolate and fix," he said.  

At this month's meeting, the committee discussed developing Plan B as an alternative to operating the cable system. "If six months, a year, two years from now we decide we're going to go out of business, how do we get out of it," said Committee chair Mel Standart in describing the board's objective in having a standby plan.

"This is not an easy task and the board is really asking the committee to take a very, very active role," said Stiffler. "... In the interim, we have the opportunity finally to prove our current system ... but we do in fact need to have a fallback position, a Plan B."

The committee also discussed the recent vote to make basic cable service voluntary instead of part of RMA monthly dues. "I think we know how many dishes we have," said committee member Justin Jordan, referring to more than 800 votes for voluntary participation, which was favored in the vote by an overwhelming margin.  Jordan proposed looking into "a lifeline service" that would provide a few channels at a reduced cost but still contribute to cable infrastructure.

"If in fact a decision does get made on opting out, it would need to be done sometime when the budget gets put together," Stiffler said.

Vicky Lentz's picture
Joined: 09/01/2007
Posts: 30
Post rating: 98

"I think we know how many

"I think we know how many dishes we have," said committee member Justin Jordan, referring to more than 800 votes for voluntary participation, which was favored in the vote by an overwhelming margin. "

They might want to rethink this.  Our rooftop voted YES and we do NOT have a dish.

Jeff Pealer's picture
Joined: 09/13/2007
Posts: 38
Post rating: 0

Yep, I voted YES, and no

Yep, I voted YES, and no dish either!

Cheryl Snook's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 43
Post rating: 50

Dish or No Dish

I, too, voted "yes," and there is no dish on the rooftop.

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

CATV Survey

We are another household that voted "Yes" for Freedom of Choice, yet do not have a dish. A simple additional question on the advisory ballot (Do you currently have a dish provider?) would have avoided all the (erroneous) guesstimating that the 800+ yes voters already had a dish. In actuality, our vote was to give us the chance to opt out and NOT double pay. Now it appears there will be more of a "waiting game;" however, no additional expenditures were described in rm.com's Communications Committee meeting coverage. Will more money be spent? How much? When?

Bobbi Belton

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
Post rating: 0

Illogical Conclusion

"I think we know how many dishes we have," said committee member Justin Jordan, referring to more than 800 votes for voluntary participation, which was favored in the vote by an overwhelming margin."

I also voted yes and I do not have a dish either. In fact, I collected most of the 540 signatures for the freedom of choice petition and can categorically state that whether or not you have a dish has nothing to do with this. This is about being forced to pay for a service, whether you want it or not, it's as simple as that. Jumping to a illogical conclusions is how we got here.

John T Weatherford

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Slimmed down voluntary basic

I am encouraged to read Justin's suggestion of slimming the basic tier down to essentials - if he's talking about a voluntary basic tier. RMA has unwisely burdened our involuntary "basic" with costly channels - Comcast/Kings and Golf immediately come to mind - which drives the cost of "basic" far higher than it needs to be.

With the introduction of these premium packages the marketing model changes dramatically. There are things in "basic" which don't have to be there and can be bumped up into the digital premium package, thus enabling RMA to offer a voluntary, basic basic tier to those who just want the locals and a few basic cable channels. By trimming out those unnecessary programming costs and shifting them up into the next tier RMA could offer voluntary basic at a modest cost. After all, they say they expect to reap big revenues from their upper tiers..

However, if Dave Stiffler is intimating that a decision on opting out would await the budget cycle, that is unacceptable. True, implementation might have to await the budget cycle so that the new budget can be structured around a self-supporting cable/broadband system which would stop slurping up members' dues. But given how fast things (don't) move around here, the decision to honor the membership's very clear call to make that transition must be made very, very soon.

I call upon each of our directors to declare at this next Board meeting whether they support transition to a voluntary cable system. I call upon them to agendize and act upon the immediate development of a revised cable business plan which would be entirely voluntary and fee-based rather than dues-dependent. The final decision to implement such a plan no doubt must await its preparation for consideration. The preparation of that plan, for the Board's and members' evaluation, must begin forthwith.

The members expect action on their call for change, and expect this month the significant response from the board to that overwhelming vote which the Board was unable or unwilling to express at the last Board meeting. The time to dither is behind us. It is time for each director to stand up and be counted. That plan must be ready for implementation in next year's budget. If the Board does not take firm steps at this month's meeting toward planning for implementation of Freedom Of Choice, it will be difficult not to conclude that the old "delay and it will go away" game is being played again.

Andy Keyes's picture
Joined: 08/22/2007
Posts: 289
Post rating: 120

Finally some headway

Lets see if the actions in a few weeks meet the advertised commitments.  I think we heard this was going to happen over a year ago.  The critical path of this project has caused it to be in the spotlight make no mistake of that. Plan B still doesnt exist so I dont believe anything anyone says until its in print. 

Wyatt Gaylor's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007
Posts: 63
Post rating: 46

March 17th

It's March 17th, did anyone get a brochure or information regarding the new services? I would sure like to know more about this "wonderful" new service but even the website does not have any information on prices or such.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Hop in the Wayback Machine

with this November 2006 article about how these products were going to roll out in January 2007: http://www.ranchomurieta.com/localnews/cabletv112806.html

I believe they're very close, and Lord knows everybody involved has been trying their darndest to make it happen. But the repeatedly erroneous predictions are not very confidence-inspiring as to the pot of gold allegedly awaiting us, are they?

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