Lately, RCN has been running commercials in the Brookline market that involve a guy coming on-screen and explaining ways that RCN feels people can get more out of their cable internet connections. The guy runs through the steps needed to complete some task that RCN has determined will make using a broadband connection better; the commercials are pretty hysterical, if only because they’re both totally low-rent and pathetically simple-minded. (And better yet, they’re about 50% louder than the content that precedes and follows them, meaning that the guy is always shouting at you.) You’d at least figure that RCN would use the opportunities to address the threats that today’s internet (and specifically broadband) users face — phishing attacks, viruses, port scanning and security exploitation — but in fact, you’d be wrong. The first commercial we saw involved the guy literally explaining — in as rapid-fire a way as posisble — how to set up Outlook Express for an RCN account; the next one actually walked people through power cycling their cable modems. (Shannon turned to me during the tenth or so time we’d seen the power-cycling commercial and asked, “Do you think RCN is aware that they’re the ones responsible for people having to power cycle their cable modems in the first place?” Alas, no, they’re totally unaware of that fact.)

I’m sure that the idea of RCN using its own television bandwidth in a combined effort to promote its service and educate its users looked great on paper, but on the implementation side, it’s pretty awful.