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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by amjustice, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. mpbandit

    mpbandit New Member

    1
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    Oct 15, 2007
    After reading all the other posts in this thread (well, most of them), I wanted to share my success story.

    I was pretty nervous about getting my cable cards installed into my Tivo HD, but I finally made the call and got my install scheduled. I made sure to mention to the person on the phone that I wanted M-Cards and although he didn't know what those were exactly, he said he'd put that on the order.

    The day of the install came (I was also getting Digital Voice added, so that meant swapping out my old cable modem with their new one) and I asked if he had S-Cards or M-Cards.

    Surprisingly, the installer didn't know what an M-Card was either, but wouldn't you know, he stopped by their warehouse (Comcast in my area contracts out their installs) and picked up *4* M-Cards. I was pretty pleased to see all of those. :)

    The installer said he's never done a Tivo setup before, just some cable-card ready TV's, so we got out the Tivo instructions and followed it... inserted the card, he called it in and had them hit the card. I did end up having to reboot my Tivo and because we hadn't finished swapping out my cable modem yet, running the guided setup had to be delayed until Internet was back online because once you start guided setup, apparently you can't exit out of it... even after restarting the Tivo it still bugs you to run the setup. And you apparently MUST have Internet or phone available during the setup so it can contact Tivo. With both my Internet *and* phone unavailable during the Digital Voice setup, we had to go finish that part, then come back and finish the setup, and 20 minutes later (ugh...) it finished.

    At that point, everything was groovy... channels were all online on both tuners, great signal, no problem. I was pleasantly surprised it went so well and I only wish I'd waited to re-run the guided setup until after I'd verified the cable-card was okay. But I made sure the installer stuck around until it was done just to make sure we didn't have a bad card or anything.

    By the way, he knew all about the problems of having cable modems and cable cards show up in the right order on the provider side of things and said that wouldn't be a problem, so the reports of problems with that have apparently filtered through and made it all the way down the line, no problems there.

    Oh, and after getting my new cable modem, my Internet speeds are SIGNIFICANTLY higher! My old one was one I purchased myself and was 3-4 years old and only supported DOCSIS 2.0 (maybe not even that, but I think it did)... the new one should support up to DOCSIS 3.0 and who knows, maybe Comcast in my area (Pierce County, Washington state) is using it. All I know is, I was getting speeds up to 20 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, whereas previously I could maybe get 8 M down, 384 K up. :)
     
  2. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

    51
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    May 9, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Howdy! I've got Comcast in the District, and while they did allow me to pick up the cards at the office, nobody on the phone was able to activate them, despite multiple rounds of CSR phone tag.

    Eventually I got fed up and refused to deal with anyone but the system manager. It took a truck roll and the lead technician to call their headend and speak with a lady named Marcia (apparently the only one who knows how to send the authorization signals down the line) to get it working.

    Your best bet is probably just to have a technician come and install the cards, and even then it's a crapshoot.
     
  3. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

    51
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    May 9, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Greetings, all.

    It appears to be common practice of Comcast of the District of Columbia not to pair CableCards with hosts, at least in TiVo units. This hasn't been a problem up until now, as they pass all of their digitals with the CCI byte of 0x00; at least up until Friday when A&E HD went to 0x02.

    This is pretty obviously a slip-up on their part, and will hopefully be fixed soon, but I was wondering if anyone has had any luck getting their cards paired with their units after the initial install? I'd rather not have to deal with this problem every time one of their headend monkeys flips the wrong switch.

    I did a quick search on the thread, but there's so much information here that it's getting to be a bit much to dig through.

    Thanks!

    John
     
  4. bguzik

    bguzik Barry R. Guzik

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    Jan 6, 2002
    McMurray, PA
    You are mistaken about the new modem. There are NO DOCSIS 3.0 modems available yet. CableLab's is JUST now supposed to be starting the first DOCSIS 3.0 certification wave. The first fully certified DOCSIS 3.0 CPE devices won't be available until next year. (Trust me, I absolutely know of what I speak...)

    Likely, your old modem was operating in DOCSIS 1.0 or DOCSIS 1.1 mode. The new modem they gave is likely a DOCSIS 2.0 modem that is fully supported by their systems. While DOCSIS 2.0 versus DOCSIS 1.1 can help with throughput, the fact is there is NO difference in the physical layer plant capability for the downstream throughput between the two. The max modulation for downstream is still 256QAM over a 6MHz wide channel. That translates to about 37Mbps usable capability for the Downstream.

    However, on the Upstream, DOCSIS 2.0 can offer significant physical layer improvement...actually up to three times (3x) the throughput of a DOCSIS 1.0/1.1 plant. Under DOCSIS 1.0/1.1, the max Upstream throughput is about 9Mbps or so (16QAM @3.2MHz Channel Width) For DOCSIS 2.0, the operator can go to 64QAM @ 6.4MHz Channel width, with a throughput yield of somewhere about 27Mbps.

    Keep in mind that all this is shared by everybody on the node. In addition, the modem caps are placed on your device via a configuration file it downloads at boot time. So, you likely got a new modem configuration file when you got the new modem.

    DOCSIS 3.0 will bring channel boding (logical) on both Downstream & Upstream when it arrives. That means that (likely) the DOCSIS 3.0 modems will have multiple tuners in them. It will be great when it becomes available, and absolutely give the Operators the physical capacity to compete with FiOS. But, like I said, it won't be available until sometime next year on the CPE side. Then, the Operator will still need to upgrade their Network Infrastructure to support it (CMTS, provisioning) Because of the "Capital" intensive nature of such upgrades, it's anybody's guess how soon we'll see it become ubiquitous...

    Barry
     
  5. tj722

    tj722 Gagdet Geek

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    Feb 15, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I (finally) got my M-Card working on Comcast DC. The "lead tech" had to come out and do it with seemingly everyone from tech support on the phone. Total install time was several hours over two days, and I still don't think they knew exactly what they did to make things work.

    Anyway, I checked A&EHD, and of course had the same problem you have now. I told the tech about the CCI byte on A&EHD and he said he'd pass it to "management." This might take more calls.

    This has GOT to be made more easier... Why can't there be an online interface to pair CableCARDS?? I think half of the problem with me was that the techs would mis-hear ID information as they read them over their Nextel phones and thus type in the wrong numbers..... :mad:
     
  6. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

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    May 9, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Did Mike come out? He's such a nice guy, it's a shame they don't train their techs well enough. At least he wants to make sure the job gets done right.

    Comcast would do well to have an online interface (or hell, a phone IVR at this point) to configure and pair these things.

    I've thought about trying to get the DC Gov't involved, but they barely were able to get me a service credit for a botched digital voice install, I doubt they'd be able to get their heads around something technical. :eek:

    I'll e-mail the system manager tonight. I just want my damn card paired with the TiVo so they can set that CCI byte to whatever their heart desires (well, as long as it's not "Copy Never") and it won't affect me.
     
  7. tj722

    tj722 Gagdet Geek

    111
    0
    Feb 15, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Yep, it was Mike. :) He was a nice guy, very persistent with the techs on the phone. He let me "drive" the TiVo since I was much quicker at navigating the various menus. :)

    It is amazing that DC has a pretty advanced cable system yet only a few people seem to know what they are doing!

    I don't really understand what you mean by "pairing the card with the TiVo". Isn't it paired when you are able to access your premium channels? (If the answer is in another thread, kindly point it out.) I'm worried about them doing any more fiddling with my account. :(
     
  8. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

    51
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    May 9, 2005
    Washington, DC
    I could dig through and find it, but it's easier to steal from Crutchfield.com :)

    What they don't tell you there is that the re-encryption process is actually optional and only invoked when the card is paired with the host and the CCI byte is set to something other than 0x00 (Copy Freely). If the host and the card aren't paired, the card won't pass the re-encryption key to the host, and even if you're authorized for the channel, you won't be able to view it.

    Since Comcast DC usually passes the CCI byte 0x00, even with the premiums, we are able to tune them with unpaired cards. When they change the CCI byte to anything else--by accident or to enforce copy restrictions--the cards need to be paired for us to be able to decode the channels. 'Tis a pain.

    Edited to add... Pairing should be quick and painless (just two more umpteen-digit values to read to the CSR), but for some reason the front-line CSRs can't change the host or data values on your account. I tried multiple times. They can see the fields, even input data into them, but when they try to save they get an access denied error. Apparently it can only be done by the people on the other end of those magical Nextels.
     
  9. CharlesH

    CharlesH Member

    1,061
    1
    Aug 29, 2002
    Sacramento...
    The cards need to be told which channels they are authorized to decrypt, and that doesn't depend on the device they are in. But they have to be paired properly to deal with copy-protected content. Pairing includes numbers identifying the particular host device (e.g., TiVo), so paring will be broken if a card is moved to a another device (or even different slot in the same device). Some cable systems use copy protection, others don't, and what channels they apply it to varies (copy protection is SUPPOSED to be at the content owner's direction). The way it often works is that premium channels have the copy protection on them, but there is no inherent connection between "premium channel" and "copy protected". You can only see channels for which your card is authorized, AND, if copy protection is applied to that channel, the pairing is properly configured.
     
  10. tj722

    tj722 Gagdet Geek

    111
    0
    Feb 15, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Hmmm... The tech did tell the "magic Nextel" the numbers in the Host ID and the Data fields. Don't know exactly what they did with them.

    That's interesting about the CCI byte... I know that with the Motorola box, the firewire out would not let me copy any shows from a portion of the channels (HBOHD was "Copy Freely" but FOXHD was "Copy Once" - according to the DVHS vid capture program on the Mac), but that might be yet an additional piece of data for restricting copying.
     
  11. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

    51
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    May 9, 2005
    Washington, DC
    He may have said them, but whether they input them (or saved them) is another story altogether :) If tuning to channel 223 brings up the CableCARD information screen, I'd be willing to bet that they're not paired.

    I'm not sure if CCI and 5C are controlled by the same flags. There are so damn many layers of DRM at this point that I can't keep them all straight.
     
  12. bernard2

    bernard2 Bernard

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    Oct 15, 2007
    Jupiter, FL
    I bought a Tivo HD a little over a week ago and then ordered Cablecard(s) from Comcast ... two Comcast visits later, it is working well (with two S-cards since they didn't have any M-card). Then I asked Comcast about pricing.

    Before Tivo, I had an Comcast / Scientific Atlanta HD cable-box (no DVR), and it was costing me $5.50 (first outlet) + $6.95 (HDTV) per month ($12.45 total). (I don't subscribe to any premium channel or service).

    Now, after returning the SA box, and talking to the local Comcast pricing expert, I am going to pay (just for this Tivo HD box with two S-cards):
    - $5.50 (first outlet)
    - $6.95 (HDTV service)
    - $6.50 (second outlet for second cablecard)
    - $6.95 (HDTV service for second outlet)
    - $2.00 (second cablecard)
    --------
    $27.90 per month

    This is of course ridiculous, but I wasn't able to convince this local "pricing expert" that I should pay only:
    - $5.50 (first outlet)
    - $2.00 (second cable card)
    --------
    $7.50 per month

    In particular, in all the local pricing brochures, HDTV ($6.95) is only listed under equipment. There is no "HDTV service" line anywhere.

    What do you recommend I do next?

    If it's really $27.90 per month in Comcast fees, I'd be better off returning my Tivo HD (and service) and getting Comcast's own HD/DVR equipment and service.

    Thanks,
    Bernard
     
  13. wdwms

    wdwms New Member

    181
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    Jan 10, 2003
    FYI, i figured i'd add something to this thread... Comcast has now been at my house for 8 hours trying to get 1 cable card installed. Oh wait, no, thats now 3 cable cards because we had to take out an M-card from the S3 to put in the Tivo HD since they forgot to bring more M-cards...

    8 hours and counting.. the fun keeps on going.. FYI its almost 9pm here where I am..

    And yes, the S3 was working fine until they played switcheroo... there are 8 cards at my house at the moment and no one can get anything working..
     
  14. jonglee

    jonglee New Member

    29
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    Dec 16, 2002
    after reading through the Seattle posts here, I went to the north Seattle office today Monday at 4:30pm. there were 3 comcast reps and 3 customers so virtually no line.

    i asked for 2 m-card cablecards for my hdtivo and may return the second if i dont use it. it took the lady about 2 minutes to process them. she said that i'd have to pay $1.79/mo until i returned the second one. figured that one might be bad and didn't want to have go to back and forth. plus, i'm going to return the comcast box anyway.

    so pretty painless experience so far. just waiting for my hdtivo to arrive now.

    thanks for all the great info here.
     
  15. Joybob

    Joybob New Member

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    Oct 2, 2007
    Dude, $1.79? I get charged 9 bucks for mine!

    Can we start a thread listing what companies charge for cablecards?
     
  16. bguzik

    bguzik Barry R. Guzik

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    Jan 6, 2002
    McMurray, PA
    Here's the link:

    http://www.comcast.com/Customers/FAQ/FaqDetails.ashx?Id=2651

    This was posted way earlier in the thread, but may it's time to post it again...

    Oh, when you get grief after referencing what it says to the Comcast Rep, you can just point them to it...

    Aside from the disclaimer at the bottom...

    Barry
     
  17. jase12

    jase12 New Member

    1
    0
    Oct 15, 2007
    Hey everyone. First time long time. I am hoping and would greatly appreciate any help anyone could provide to my problem.

    I have a TivoHD and went to the Comcast office here in Augusta, Ga. and picked up 2 S-Cards (M-Cards were not available). Got home and went through the routine setup, following the instructions to a T. Called Comcast, they activated both cards and stated they were getting signals from both cards. However, everytime I get on Live TV, the screen is grey, no channels will be displayed. It will have the channel lineups and what is supposed to be playing on that channel but will not show any video.

    I do not know if this will help but when testing channels in the Decoder options, it will only let me access or "test" channel 92, and still gets no video. Will not let me test any other channel. When I go into diagnostics mode, both Tuners say "Not Tuned: Wrong Card State." But towards the bottom both cable cards say operating normally. Also at the bottom both cable cards are getting signal locks. I also checked the OOB and the number rises when exiting and re-entering network setup so according to Tivo Troubleshooting it is receiving data.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated please. I will be up in the wee hours of the night trying to get my Tivo. Thanks for the help! :)
     
  18. sonpham

    sonpham New Member

    43
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    Nov 5, 2003
    San...
    Does anyone in San Francisco have an M-card installed in their Tivo HD? I have an appointment for an install later this month. The CSR mentioned that the M-cards were not available in my area, so I just wanted to be sure. We're in the Mission if it helps.

    Thanks
     
  19. missdona

    missdona New Member

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    Apr 19, 2004
    Had my cable card installed yesterday in Bergen Co. NJ. Roy the tech did a bang-up job, was totally familiar with the TiVoHD and navigated the install like a champ. The longest part was him waiting on hold with Dispatch to do the activation.

    No charge for the install and no charge for the cable card on my monthly bill.
     
  20. limiter

    limiter New Member

    5
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    Oct 8, 2007
    My first cablecard is free, and the second is $1.50 per month. I have a Comcast HD box still so my $7 HD charge is probably rolled into that which is maybe why you are being charged $9?
     

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