I grew up in Phoenix—home of the massive telecommunications company, Cox Communications. When my family moved to Toledo, Ohio, in the late ’90s—those oh-so-awkward junior high years—I expected all of my TV channels to remain the same; I needed my MTV, after all. But lo and behold, all the channels were different, and local cable company Buckeye CableSystems was the one to blame. I couldn’t stay irked for long, though. The company, thankfully, offered higher-speed dial-up Internet services—a luxury unknown to some areas in that day. Not too many years after that, Buckeye’s services evolved into high-speed broadband Internet.
Even though I’ve since returned to the Valley of the Sun—an area dominated by telco titans Cox and CenturyLink—my family remains in Toledo, and I visit often, which means I need to remember my channel lineups. Now that I’ve been blogging for Telco Americana—and as a result, learning just how much of a foothold big telecommunications companies have on this country’s communication capabilities—it always amazes me that Buckeye CableSystems remains the incumbent phone, Internet, and cable company in northwest and north-central Ohio, which includes many small towns and rural communities. This region, unlike so many other areas of the Midwest, has refused to be swallowed up by the likes of Time Warner and Comcast. That’s why it pleases me to share a couple of recent developments for the telco:
Laptops, College Courses, and Wi-Fi—Oh My!
Buckeye has partnered with Toledo Public Schools to “provide free laptops and Internet access to a group of Woodward and Scott high school students to take online university courses,” according to the Toledo Blade. The purpose of the program is two-fold:
- To decrease the disparity in Internet access between lower income neighborhoods, like those home to Woodward and Scott high schools, and “more privileged” communities.
- To increase the number of Toledo Public School students enrolling in and completing college-level courses.
The program will award 25 students who have a 3.4 or higher grade-point average with laptops, Internet access, and enrollment into an online course at the University of Toledo. Learn more about the program here.
All Digital, All the Time
December should mark the completion of Buckeye’s all-digital switch. In October, the company started upgrading to an all-digital system. The switch will affect all customers, and once completed, the new system will provide viewers with “better picture and faster internet speeds,” explained the Telecompaper. There is a minor downside to this upgrade, though: Customers who plug their cable cords from a wall outlet directly into their TVs will no longer be able to use this method to watch cable TV. Instead, customers will need to use a converter box (i.e., cable box or DVR) or an HD DTA device, which converts “digital signals into a signal the TV can understand.” To combat this inconvenience, Buckeye will provide two free HD DTA devices to any customers who need them through the end of 2015. Personally, I’d go converter box, because as part of this all-digital upgrade, Buckeye also will offer a new multi-room DVR system that enables customers to record six shows at once and access that content on up to six TVs. Pretty nifty, huh?