Monday, June 23, 2008

TV in Rochester

Over The Air (OTA):The Rochester area is an interesting place for Over The Air (OTA) reception. The city is within range of four different market areas:

-Rochester, MN/Austin, MN/Mason City, IA. All the towers for this market are about 35-50mi south to southwest of Rochester.

-LaCrosse, WI. The two towers are about 65 miles east of the city.

-The Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) All stations are on two towers, both of which are 75mi Northwest of Roch, and one station is in about the same direction at 110 miles (generally unwatchable).

-Eau Clare, WI/Chippewa Falls, WI/Menominee, WI. These channels are about 70-85+ miles depending on the tower, and are located northeast of us.

Because of the cities' bowl shape and elevation changes of 300 feet in some locations, reception can really change. In some locations, it's really only practical to get R/A/Mc Stations, while other locations have a clear line of sight to all available markets.

To get a fairly accurate prediction of what stations are available at your location, try TV Fool. Be sure to save your pre and post-transition digital predictions, and print them out for your own personal reference. If you ever ask for reception help on a message board (such as the AVS Forum), they'll need your TV Fool predictions, so it's a good thing to have then handy.

There is a sizable community of local viewers at The AVS Forum's Rochester, MN - HDTV Thread (hit the last page link).

I highly recommend you join us over there at the AVS Forum. There's plenty of information on local Over The Air (OTA) setups, digital cable and information on blackout restrictions and other local issues pertaining to Direct TV and Dish Network. It's certainly worth the price of admission (free registration).

Cable: The city is served exclusively by Charter Communications. The lineup and service is pretty average. The lineup, especially for Digital OTA channels is pretty mediocre, but the network channel lineup is about average. As with most cable companies, the first 70some channels in their lineup are completely analog, so even though you might have a digital cable box, only the channels above the 70s are digital.

-Cable Internet: Charter's internet is pretty good. There are few restrictions (no mysterious bandwidth caps or BitTorrent blocking that you get with some bigger companies). In most cases, you can get the speed advertised in the package you paid for.

Author's note: When downloading off a good server, I get the full 5Mb/s I paid for! Charter also offers 10Mbps and 16Mbps packages.

Author's note: Charter advertises "up to 10 e-mail accounts." While they indeed work, the web interface is terrible and storage is pretty limited. I'd recommend one just get a Gmail account instead.

-Charter Telephone: Charter also offers a VoIP service.

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