5 Things About Bell Fibe TV That Are Great/Suck

I recently switched from Bell TV (Satellite) to Bell Fibe TV in the hopes of reducing my bill and still retaining the programming that I’d like. I decided to write this post tonight because that decision has inadvertently caused me to miss watching the Senators game (but more on that later).

Bell has a real push on to get customers to move from satellite to a wired service. I imagine it  enables them to bundle additional services (internet, cellular) and to reduce the cost/complexity of installation.

After about 4 weeks on the service I have some strong thoughts. My installation was pretty smooth because I already had RG-6 going to each drop and opted for that instead of CAT-6. 

Here’s the good:

  1. Better Pricing – Hands down, Fibe is much better priced than satellite. The Better package gives me most of what I want. Because of the number of simultaneous programs that can be recorded (4 HD), timeshifting which is available in the Best package isn’t really necessary. As well, you don’t pay a silly surcharge for getting HD channels.
  2. Local Channels are HD – On satellite, the locals that were provided were mostly standard definition. With the ability to localize multicasts by city, this means that the local CBC affiliate is now HD for me. This is great for those nights when a Senators game is not the national broadcast on CBC. I used to have to rely on OTA (over-the-air) to get an HD signal.
  3. On Demand Programming – There is a ton of on-demand programming available, ranging from kids shows to episodes of current run shows that you may have missed recording.
  4. Consolidated PVR – This was the biggest selling point for me. One receiver acts as a PVR. All other remote receivers use that receiver to record programmes. The interface is pretty seamless and intuitive. It’s nice to start watching something on one TV, pause it and move to another.
  5. No Weather Dropouts – Very heavy snow or rainstorms would create outages with Bell TV. Usually they didn’t last long but did happen at inopportune times. It’s nice not having to worry about that anymore.

And then the complaints:

  1. Guide Sucks – The guide is horrible. It looks great, navigates quickly but ultimately is lousy. You cannot filter out all of the channels you are not subscribed to like you could with satellite. Satellite showed you the channel in a different colour, or you could hide unsubscribed channels altogether. Not so with Fibe. I guess they want you to see what you are missing so that you’ll be prompted to upgrade. Instead you have to go through the labourious task of setting up Favourites to only show channels you want… ONE AT A TIME. And all that sharing technology between the receivers? Not for the guide. You’ll need to go through that painful exercise for each one.
  2. No Sportsnet Senators channel – This is the one that prompted me to write tonight. Despite my research before switching services and confirmation from the Bell’s own site, the Sportsnet Senators channel which is used when Sens games are bumped (tonight in favour of the Jays home opener) is NOT available to Fibe customers. Well at least not in Ontario. I had this confirmed by Bell. Please lodge a complaint with them if you’d like to have this added as per their own site.
  3. Programming Timers – On satellite, any timer you set started a minute early and 2 or 3 minutes beyond the scheduled time by default. You can extend the timing on Fibe as well, but for EVERY programme you schedule as you set the recording. Doing this by default would make a lot more sense. I’ve missed the end of a few shows already because of this.
  4. No UHF Remote – A minor quibble, but the IR remote seems to require that you be directly facing the receiver. It doesn’t have much field of vision from an outside angle. The UHF remote with Bell TV is much better, even allowing you to put the receiver in a ventilated enclosure with no line of sight.
  5. Sacrifice of Internet Bandwidth – Again, this is a minor quibble. I had Fibe 25 internet service before adding television. The marketing material fails to inform you that you will be capped at 15 instead. It’s understandable that they want to reserve bandwidth for excellent TV performance, but they should be a little more forthcoming with that information.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the service, with the consolidated PVR trumping most issues. The good news for Bell is that most things on the complaint list can be fixed. It’s only software after all.