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CableCARD: TiVo Fights The Good Fight

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by sbiller, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. telemark

    telemark New Member

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    There is a waiver, let me find it.

    Maybe it's this one?
    http://www.lightreading.com/fcc-approves-dtas-from-moto-cisco-thomson-and-pace/d/d-id/670159

    Comcast always insisted these can't get the higher channels, but I eventually figured out what they're talking about. These boxes use an alternate DES encryption called Privacy Mode, so they must not be broadcasting all the channels that way. Maybe even doing it twice, once for cablecards and again for DTA's.

    Interesting perspective/predictions from 2008 about it:
    http://www.heavyreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=163600&site=cdn
     
  2. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    I think Comcast is being a bit misleading. My DTAs "cant" receive premium content, but its really b/c they want you to rent a digital box. The first day I plugged in the DTA it was receiving SD HBO, but as soon as it received a firmware update, those went away. BHN rep explained they "hot" / unconfigured out of the box, but once they receive their updates will only support basic digital tier. However, I am receiving the higher channels, including channels previously unavailable over analog, including HD versions.


    Edit, it could be that processors for conditional access has improved since Comcast started their digital rollout such that newer DTA models are able to support the same encryption. On the Cisco DTA, I think the only limitation is receiving any SDV content.
     
  3. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    There are no CableCards within Tuning Adapters. They do receive authorization and tiers and whatnot from the Conditional Access system, but I would assume they're exempt from requiring CableCards since they're used exclusively to support UDCPs and that there are no retail Tuning Adapters on the market. I think if you are going to complain that TAs don't have separable security you're starting to be unreasonable.

    I'm saying this in as respectful a way as possible, but it's obvious you have little to know knowledge as to how IP networks actually work. U-Verse is 100% IP based. Read up on multicast and you'll figure out how IP video distribution would work without using more bandwidth than QAM based video distribution. As a matter of fact, if the system is build appropriately, it could use drastically less bandwidth.
     
  4. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    I don't think you understand or realize the difference in how data transmits on a cable networks. You should spend a bit time reading about cable networks and multicast over QAM before making such an assertion. There's a load of info out there that explains exactly how multicast on DOCSIS works. DOCSIS is not the same as TCP/IP; you certainly should spend some time researching before posting based on your assumptions.
     
  5. telemark

    telemark New Member

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    Before we start arguing about 2 different devices...

    DTA's are not Tuning Adapters. DTA's are the new "cheapest" conceivable convertor box, Comcast for example, are giving out (they promised the FCC for free for a year or so) when they go all digital, and encrypt everything at the same time.

    The people on this thread know a lot about a lot of technology but I guess since everyone has TIvo's many were insulated from this migration debacle.
     
  6. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    I totally understand that DOCSIS isn't TCP/IP, because those are two different layers of the network stack. I really didn't mean to offend you, but it still seems like you don't know what you're talking about. I'm not a cable TV network engineer, but I do work in computer networking as a career.

    The entire reason an MSO would switch to IP-based video delivery would be to eliminate the old baseband/QAM encoded video distribution equipment. If they're going to build out the IP infrastructure to serve apps on devices such as iPads, Xboxes, and Rokus, why would they also maintain the old legacy equipment? What would be the advantage to a QAM-to-IP gateway that was mentioned before?

    Of course multicast on DOCSIS is different than multicast on Ethernet (which would be the appropriate level of comparison to DOCSIS, not TCP/IP, which are two distinct protocols at different levels of the network stack themselves), but the theory behind it would be the same. Implementation details aren't really important because they are not insurmountable problems. There's no reason that a DOCSIS-compliant cable modem couldn't join a multicast session upon the request of a network device in the home. AT&T has already solved this problem, the point at which it "splits" off into a dedicated line is just further up the chain at the DSLAM instead of at your modem.
     
  7. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    My main point before the personal attack was to call out the difference in managing multicast traffic on the wire for iptv. There is plenty enough public info on this from Cisco with regard to static channel bonding for high value iptv streams. IPTV traffic will have dedicated channels bonded for pushing out multicast to the CM / STB. More specifically, most operators would not set it up to travel in or with the same channels used for high-speed data (for QoS) to your PC even though they are both talking "IP". In this way, IPTV is distinguishable from HSD traffic.
     
  8. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    It may partially be the encryption mode, but another big reason is that the DTAs are one-way devices. They cannot view any switched channels, so I would imagine to keep it simple they just don't authorize any tiers on those devices that contain channels that aren't viewable on those devices.


    You're right, I misread one post and thought the discussion was about Tuning Adapters, not the Digital Transport Adapters. Ignore my previous post.

    I imagine the fact that they're designed for analog only customers, are one way devices, and most MSOs have committed to providing them for super cheap or free to customers is why the FCC let them get by with integrated security.
     
  9. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Again, it was not a personal attack. I know it sounded that way, but there are plenty of things that I am ignorant of. Maybe I was misinterpreting what you were trying to say but it wasn't making any sense.

    Also, of course it would be segregated traffic. Cable company provided telephone service is Voice over IP, but it is segregated from your commodity internet traffic that goes over your home network. It would be completely expected for them to handle video service over IP just like they handle PacketCable provided telephone service. On the other hand, it's also likely that there would be a way for "public" devices such as your Xbox to join those multicast sessions. How they handle that problem would be interesting. It could entirely be a gateway device, like a set top box, that is on both networks, or it could be logic in the modem that passes that traffic into your home LAN.
     
  10. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Cox Cable...
    Interesting, how I keep seeing reports (not just on TCF) about scrapped cable boxes that contain cablecards.

    I was watching "how to reclaim gold from electronics" type YouTube videos, and kept seeing cable boxes being featured, and they had CABLECARDs inside. Many of them do specify that you shouldn't be scrapping a cable box, unless it was part of legitimate scrap.

    Cox, in my market, deploys old boxes without cablecards, claiming that the rules don't apply to anything they can re-issue, or refurbish, only new boxes.

    What sucks about this, is it's near impossible to get a STB w/HDMI, as those had the cablecards, while the older ones w/o the card have DVI, at best.

    For a short time, right after the integration-ban, the cablecard w/HDMI boxes were all they were issuing. Now, I keep hearing "Yeah, those are hard to come by, so this is what you get". I keep asking for a STB, then refuse to accept, when they try to give me the old ones.

    I bring this up, when I see the topic come up, and nobody ever says whether this is them breaking the rules, exploiting a loophole, or acceptable. It sure would be nice to know if I'm wasting my time documenting every occasion I'm denied a non-integrated STB.

    It sure seems like I am, if there are so many non-integrated (separable cablecard) boxes being scrapped, including the cablecards inside...
     
  11. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    My perspective was how they'd implement the traffic efficiently given the shared bandwidth nature of cable lines. I'm sure you'll likely take exception to my analogy, but I see the cable network similar to a hub than a switch since everyone receives the same RF. Maybe that's why they call it a cable network "hub".

    It was my opinion that IPTV and HSD will be separate silos. If for no other reason but to prevent (screw?) access from non-STB. I made the comment for WRT an IP gateway for a TiVo because of this expectation. Additionally, I don't see cable requiring their customers to re-wire with Ethernet. My expectation is that new CPE will travel with built-in DOCSIS 3.0 modems to access the IPTV service groups. So CPE still receives QAM and require "tuners" for IP traffic now; how does that save any $$$???

    I don't see ipads, xboxes and rokus receiving any benefit. In fact the video bit rates pushed to the STB would choke such devices. I kind of doubt video distribution for these devices will change a whole lot from how its delivered today. However, I would like to be surprised.
     
  12. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    I think you're missing the forest for the trees.

    First off, iPads and Xboxes and Rokus would receive the *exact same bitstream* as the cable company's set top box. I'm not sure how the bitrates "pushed to the STB" would "choke" those third party devices. In an IP world, the set top box provided by the cable company would be indistinguishable from a device such as an Xbox. They're all just apps consuming IP video streams.


    And yes, I understand how the HFC networks of MSOs work, and I do understand that it's a shared medium akin to an ethernet hub. However, in multicast that doesn't matter, and is in fact more efficient, since a multicast stream is only placed on the wire once. Then, when a device at your house wants to "subscribe" to that stream, your modem (or gateway or whatever) starts forwarding those packets to wherever they need to go. In an IP multicast world, each TV does not have a dedicated amount of bandwidth usage it is soaking up. This is exactly how U-Verse works, all the multicast streams being requested are sent only ONCE to the DSLAM, and when your set top requests a channel it is then forwarded to your house. Only one copy of ESPN goes to the point of distribution, not a copy for every TV trying to watch it.

    And finally, such a world would not require re-wiring with Ethernet. MoCA is more than sufficient for distributing IP-based video. The bitrates aren't going to change (in fact, they'll probably go down since that is a perfect time to switch to MPEG-4 or H.264 encoding). Coax is already used for IP networks every day.

    And I think you are confusing a couple of different issues and objectives to switching to IP distribution of video. Of course, there will still be DOCSIS modems/gateways that tune a QAM carrier. The point isn't to get rid of QAM modulation on the cable wire. The point is to combine the video distribution of their app ecosystem with the video distribution of their legacy baseband infrastructure.
     
  13. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    Dude, I don't know why you cant stop going personal. Oh I do, its the typical arrogance spewed from sysadmins suffering from delusions of grandeur. I'll pass on further exchange.
     
  14. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    If you take that personally, you are way too sensitive. It's a common figure of speech, and was not meant to mean you are a bad person, your argument just was a poor one.
     
  15. Bigg

    Bigg Active Member

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    The mobile devices couldn't reliably handle a nearly constant stream of multicast data. They need to be on bandwidth-adaptive unicast to work reliably.

    I don't see QAM going away. Few companies have even got to MPEG-4, which is easy compared to going IP. IP would require all new STBs, and some sort of transition period after every box supported IP where channels are moved from QAM to IP.

    Well actually, given the same codec, IP running over DOCSIS 3 and SDV would use almost exactly the same amount of bandwidth. Both get 38mbps per channel. If you're claiming huge bandwidth savings of IPTV over QAM256, you're looking at not transmitting channels that aren't in use, which is exactly what SDV already does with QAM256. Now DOCSIS 3.1 could theoretically get quite a bit more capacity, as it's using OFDMA rather than QAM256, which is the same change that is happening going from HSPA+ to LTE on the mobile side... However, we're now really out in dream land. MPEG-4 AVC has been out for 11 years, and few cable companies are using it much, if at all, and that's an easy change from MPEG-2...

    Migration debacle? More like a non-event except for some secondary TVs that people didn't use much anyways. It was easy when Comcast switched over, we got two DTAs, later migrated one TV to a box with WHDVR access, and later returned both DTAs when they started charging $2.50/mo for the DTAs. Now, everything is just digital. No need to even think about analog.

    Perfectly legal. HDMI and CableCard have nothing to do with each other, however, just by chance it sounds like they ordered a new line of boxes that happened to get both at the same time. I've seen HDMI boxes that don't have CableCards or MPEG-4 decoding capability.

    They can continue to use boxes purchased before the integration ban as long as they continue to function. They are required to give you a separate CableCard to work with your TiVo, but they are not required to give you a box with a CableCard in it.

    MoCA. They're already using MoCA for WHDVR functions. AT&T uses HPNA to transmit their IP data to their STBs, DirecTV uses DECA for streaming from the HR34/HR44 to the C31s. AT&T will let you use Ethernet, but it's certainly not recommended or required.

    They would likely have a gateway that received IPTV and then transmitted that via MoCA to the boxes. However, the whole IPTV thing makes no sense, as almost none of their existing equipment is IPTV capable.

    The bitrates wouldn't choke an iPad per se, as it would likely be something like 6-8mbps MPEG-4, however, it wouldn't be practical for use on consumer devices, as the bandwidth isn't consistent enough, so unicast streams that are bandwidth-adaptive would still need to be used...
     
  16. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    multicast isn't inherently more data. yes, a mobile device like an iPhone would likely get a lower bandwidth stream, but it could still be multicast. and the more likely scenario of a roku or an xbox in the home would get the same bandwidth stream that the set tops get.

    Moving to MPEG-4 requires all new boxes, too. We're rapidly approaching the point that the old, antiquated networks need to be replaced. Why would they replace them with the same thing instead of the newest technology? And many, many cable companies including Comcast and TWC have publicly stated that IP distribution of video is the end goal. It's not a debate, it will happen. The only question is how long it's going to take. And, germane to us TiVo customers, how open the system will be.

    My claim of bandwidth savings had nothing to do with the modulation of the RF carrier on the wire. It had to do with the fact that you'd be effectively 100% "SDV" (although not using any of the current SDV infrastructure) as well as the fact that, since you'd have to replace all set tops and all encoders and all modulators, you would move to MPEG-4/h.264 or even HEVC/h.265. From a purely like for like situation where the same bitrate, same codecs, and same number of streams were sent you'd actually increase bandwidth ever so slightly since every packet would be encapsulated in an IP frame.

    Except that the bandwidth would be consistent since it would be delivered over the private side of the IP network, not via your generic commodity internet connection. And, there's no reason that lower bitrate streams could not be sent to smaller devices. Consolidation of streams is only part of it. Consolidation of the backend infrastructure is a *major* part of it. They're already duplicating streams, so if even if they still duplicate streams to TVs and iPhones, at least if they're coming out of the same encoders and servers, they've still saved a ton of money and complexity in the network
     
  17. jwbelcher

    jwbelcher New Member

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    I can understand using MoCA. It just how does it get deployed. It seems strange to think they'll issue a MoCA set-top + gateway device. It seems cleaner in the WHDVR model where the modem is coupled with the STB. Maybe we'll see something more like a Roamio + Mini construct (or Genie or Hopper); with the main unit providing the gateway.

    WRT MPEG4, I just haven't seen bit rates yet. With MPEG2 they're pushing out 40,000Kbps VBR; I expected something equally ludicrous when moving to MPEG4. If you look at the iPad spec sheet they're only listing support up to 2.5 Mbps.
     
  18. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Uh, no cable system is pushing 40mbps on any channel at all. ATSC delivered digital video is only ~19mbps, and the channels you get from the cable company are compressed beyond that. When I was fooling around with my HDHomeRun, I didn't see very many above 10mbps, and those were ESPN and HBO.
     
  19. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Yeah most cable MPEG-2 is between 12-15Mbps. The ones that use H.264 go down to 8-10Mbps
     
  20. telemark

    telemark New Member

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    Even though your household was not greatly affected didn't mean a significant number of persons were not affected.

    There was a significant amount of consumer equipment that depended on Clear QAM which basic cable always had. Boxee's, Simple.TV's, SiliconDust, HDTV's with built in tuners. This isn't old stuff but were >$100 devices still being sold as brand new, that became paper weights overnight and unilaterally.

    The DTA's that were given out for compensation were SD and Analog output. These are not a proper substitute except for 4:3 SD TV's, and nor even compatible with most these things.

    Comcast promised to have the mitigation devices (I don't mean the SD DTA's here) ready before starting encryption but a) didn't actually give them out b) stopped promising to give them out when the FCC relaxed the rules after the encryption already started c) what they were offering did not actually interoperate because it added a new to the scene, DTCP-IP requirement.

    Those may sound like uncommon devices but this is exactly what the integration ban was for, to encourage a market for CE consumer electronics. And the cable company did and got exactly what they wanted, customers who wanted HD on secondary TV's better start paying for a box.
     

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