Students get a peek at cable via computer

Jeff Stone

When Communications Residential College resident Matt Purcell signed onto a new television system via his ethernet connection, he said he was disappointed to see the poor picture quality.

But in the end, he decided it was still better than nothing.

“It is still worth it to pay for cable (next year) despite the fact that it is not the best quality,” said Purcell, a Medill freshman.

Purcell was one of about 800 Northwestern students living in CRC, Bobb Hall, McCulloch Hall and International Studies Residential College who were guinea pigs in an experiment that eventually will bring cable channels to dorm rooms.

NU’s Board of Trustees have officially approved the plan in which students living in dorms will pay $121.20 a year for the cable via NU’s ethernet service.

Information Technology equipped the dorms with ABC, NBC, Fox and WGN this quarter to work out any kinks before Fall Quarter’s unveiling of the cable plan, which will include about 21 total channels.

Wendy Woodward, associate director of technology support services, said the trial run is off to a good start. Ayers College of Commerce and Industry and 1835 Hinman could receive the service as early as Thursday if the test goes well or Monday at the latest, she said.

Some students envied their neighbors.

“I think all dorms should be allowed to participate in the test run,” said Medill freshman Christina Harsanyi, an Elder Hall resident. “It is only fair that everyone gets access to the cable.”

Although students took an interest in the cable, some said they were disappointed with the selection of channels and quality of the picture. Others complained about a time delay in comparison with traditional television reception.

“It’s all right, considering they are only offering basic channels – there isn’t much difference,” Purcell said. “It’s awkward watching TV on the computer.”

Residents of CRC and ISRC received e-mails on their dorm listservs Monday about the cable, but students in Bobb and McCulloch halls only received fliers in their mailboxes.

Many Bobb and McCulloch residents said the fliers weren’t enough to let them know what was going on. One Bobb resident wasn’t impressed with the television service once he got it to work.

“Every other school gets crystal-clear channels, including state schools,” said Chuck Perrin, a Weinberg freshman. “We go to a private school and pay a lot of tuition. TV is a basic luxury.”

To access the cable, students in the four test dorms can go to www.nutv.northwestern.edu.