It was the heart of the Angel’s final playoff game Monday night. Thousands of fans were glued to their television screens, watching every pitch of an epic matchup, when the images and voices suddenly began to scramble, becoming more and more intermittent by the minute until it was impossible to see what was going on.
The much maligned Time Warner Cable customer service department was flooded with angry phone calls, but a message told customers that their calls were futile because the company has no control over the problem.
The city’s cable provider says the problems were caused by a phenomenon known as “solar interference,” which happens twice a year for about a week each time.
This week is one of those times, and the company predicts that sporadic problems might persist until Monday.
“It peaks then it subsides over time, and gradually the interference will decrease until it completely goes away,” said Time Warner regional Vice President Kristy Hennessey.
Hennessey said that engineers are expecting that peak to have occurred Wednesday, so service should improve for the next four or five days.
Before Time Warner cornered the market on providing cable for Costa Mesa, Comcast used to provide the city with cable service.
In fact, Time Warner took over Comcast’s Southern California operations, and since the transition many people have complained about their service, prompting the city to have public meetings with a Time Warner representative and even look over a copy of a lawsuit filed by Los Angeles earlier this year claiming that the company’s service is unacceptable.
The problem with solar interference is not unique to Time Warner, though, said Comcast spokesman Bryan Byrd.
Other cable providers and even satellite television companies such as DISH Network and DIRECTV experience the same issues because they all use satellites to transmit messages, and the communication between satellites is interrupted by the sun’s position.
“It’s an issue at certain times of year, and this is one of those times,” Byrd said.
The interference affects different channels at different times, Hennessey said.
For instance, some residents who were watching the HD offering of the Angels game didn’t notice any negative effects.
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