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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

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

  1. Sep 25, 2006 #461 of 9367

    maharg18 Active Member

    Dec 3, 2002
    Chattanooga, TN
    Holy crap! After 6 days, 3 calls, 2 online chats, and 2 techs visiting my house, just as I was about to give up hope, I come home tonight to find both of my cards authorized and fully functional!! I am so shocked that they are working that I'm speechless. Apparently word of my problems got to someone who knows something and they took care of it. Amazing.
  2. Sep 25, 2006 #462 of 9367

    bruceoberg New Member

    Sep 25, 2006
    I picked up two CCs at the local Comcast office (94th st. in Seattle) and got a cooperative rep on the phone for activation. After a couple hiccups, both cards are apparently working in my (weaknee'd) S3. Yay for self-install!

    The rep did say that they didn't know what "pairing" meant yet, but that they would be getting a memo on it this week. So we just activated my cards without doing any pairing. Perhaps I won't have to pair at all?

    As others have noted, the key to the install is to use the "Test Channels" screen after the card has been signalled. This screen is one level up from all the "CableCARD status" screens. My second card only worked after signalling it three or four times.

    I found it very useful to be overly friendly with the rep. She had to put me on hold to ask someone a question and I cheerfully said "Sure! Take your time! I'm just glad I have someone who knows what questions to ask!". Later, when my second card didn't take, she was very patient and essentially let me control the debugging process (me: "let's ping it again" her: "ok"). I had convinced her we were working together and that made the whole thing less painful during the hiccups.

    It also seemed to help when I mentioned that I had read these forums and thus knew about some of the weirdnesses on the install (e.g. the ignorable 161-4 errors).
  3. Sep 25, 2006 #463 of 9367

    wackymann Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    Boston Area
    I'll second that request!! I've had a Comcast DVR ever since the 6208 was introduced way back when, and I think I have gone through my season pass setup at least 10 times since then (mostly due to bugs in their horrible firmware). It gets to be soooo tedious.

    I am scheduled to receive my first ever Tivo this week, and Comcast is scheduled to come install my cable cards next Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to it!! I'm going to keep my Moto3412 for a while, but I will probably turn it back in once I get used to the Tivo. I don't use PPV or OnDemand very much at all, so I can definitely live without them.
  4. Sep 25, 2006 #464 of 9367

    Gregor save the princess save the world

    Feb 18, 2002
    Actually if you sign up for KidZone, IIRC, there's some sort of weird SP saving karma....
  5. Sep 25, 2006 #465 of 9367

    HamDoc New Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    Hi all!
    Well, I have tried to comb thru all 16 pages of posts, and I couldn't find an answer. You may not be able to help. I had Comcast install both cards, but they insisted on installing both before calling to set up #1. I get regular channels and most OTA HD channels(except on 2 of them: I only get audio and my tv shows no video signal at all(not just the tivo gray screen like it usually does).) I also get TNTHD. NO premium or HD channels. We uninstalled the cards and reinstalled them. I still am having no luck. The local company knows very little about the Cablecards. Any suggestions for things I should tell them?

  6. Sep 25, 2006 #466 of 9367

    Gregor save the princess save the world

    Feb 18, 2002
    Yes, follow the instructions on the installer sheet. Have them install the #1 card (bottom slot) and get that working first, then work on #2.

    Check all connections to make sure an adequate signal strength is getting to the Tivo.

    You can also get a Tivo tech on the phone to talk to the cable tech if needed.
  7. Sep 25, 2006 #467 of 9367

    TostitoBandito Member

    Sep 17, 2006
    Bellevue, WA
    Got my Tivo in the mail today (finally, ordered on 9/12). Called Comcast and asked about getting cablecards. The guy said sure, and started about a $15.95 charge for the truck. I stopped him and asked if I could pick them up myself. He said sure. I drove over to the Comcast place in Redmond and asked for 2 cablecards. The lady there took a few seconds to record the serial numbers in my account, had me sign for them, and I was on my way. No charges for anything. Couldn't have been any smoother. This should work for anyone in the Seattle area.
  8. Sep 25, 2006 #468 of 9367

    jfh3 New Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    I swear, it's stories like these that make me think WE should be charging Comcast for the installations ... :)
  9. Sep 25, 2006 #469 of 9367

    jfh3 New Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Clueless CSR. Call back and talk to someone else. If that doesn't work, ask to be transfered to your local dispatch or field office.

    And if you get someone that spouts the "there's a memo" BS, have them send you a copy of the memo, since that will be helpful with you file a complaint with the FCC or local franchising authority.
  10. Sep 25, 2006 #470 of 9367

    jfh3 New Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Try calling back and ask for a cable card specialist - on the Motorola cards, the serial numbers start with letters (e.g. NG) - they need these to enter into their system. Then each card needs the host and data id (shown by the Tivo) to complete the pairing / authorization info. They don't "see" the host/data info - they have to enter it into the system.

    If they don't have the cablecards attached to your account (e.g. the serial numbers), you can read them host / data info and they can send hits to the card until they are blue in the face and the cards won't work.
  11. Sep 25, 2006 #471 of 9367

    ThreeSoFar FourNow...WaitFive

    May 24, 2002
    I suggested that. They insisted on rolling a truck.

    Didn't think to yank out the cards--figured anything visible there would be ont he screen as well....
  12. Sep 25, 2006 #472 of 9367

    jfh3 New Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    LOL! They insist on rolling a truck because the guy in the back office can't read his computer screen ... :confused:

    The serial number is on the card itself. If the installer didn't write this down and/or give it to the person on the other end of the phone, you will have to pull the cards to get it.

    The host / data info is visible from the CableCARD diag screens.
  13. Sep 25, 2006 #473 of 9367

    HD_Dude I Want HD in my Car

    Sep 11, 2006
    Washington, DC
    I'm in Montgomery County Maryland...and even though I had a looooong session with Comcast installing the CC's in the S3, I had none of the "sorry we don't work with these Tivo things" issues.

    They came immediately after I called and requested install on two cablecards. Never asked "for what."

    Tech said he'd never seen one of the S3's before...not surprising since I bought it on Day One and he was here on Day Two.

    Normal amount of 'what was that number?' chatter between the tech and the Comcast HQ...took a few hours for both CC's to be 'seen' by the main office. But the tech was great...even ran a new line from the pole to maximize signal strength.

    Finally I had to do a system reset on the S3, and immediately, it all worked perfectly.

    But...no hassles, no nonsense about unsupported hardware, just a friendly, "let's make it work" attitude.

    I am amazed and furious about the other people around the country who have experienced roadblocks in the installation of CableCards in DVR's.

    I'm wondering, since here in DC about half the people work for the Federal Government...whether Comcast doesn't DARE throw up roadblocks to something that's legal...

    Of course, Comcast here is also VERY motivated to provide quality customer support, since Verizon FIOS and the county have come to terms...basically, if Montgomery County lets in FIOS TV, Verizon will drop its federal lawsuit against the county, charging they're blocking access to the service.

    If they're successful, my next project will be re-fitting the S3 for FIOS.

    Remember, we are not thieves. We are early adopters. The CableCard law was passed, and we are on the cutting edge of people who are putting that law to use.

    Anyone who blocks us? THEY are the criminals...not us.
  14. Sep 26, 2006 #474 of 9367
    Brad Porter

    Brad Porter New Member

    Sep 25, 2006
    Longtime lurker, new S3 owner... here's the tally so far.

    My initial call to 1-800-COMCAST went fairly well, considering that I was placed on hold a few times for over ten minutes while the CSR tracked down the info she needed for setting up a Series 3. Apparently she had recently received an e-mail about how to handle those calls and I was the first one to test her. The appointment was successfully booked for setup with 2 cards without me having to emphasize that.

    In the meantime, I had the box all set up with the analog feed and had done the channel scan to find all the QAM channels. Manual recordings on the high-def network channels enabled me to not miss any of the premiering shows in Hi-Def while waiting for a Cablecard. The only real bug I identified during that period was that switching from the menu system to an analog recording or a live TV channel tuned to an analog feed resulted in muted audio until I toggled the inputs on my pre-amplifier (Outlaw 990) and had it reacquire the input. This is an annoyance that I expect I may have to live with on a limited basis since I'm moving all the analog recordings to the Series 1 TiVo.

    So today my appointment was schedule for 3 to 5 PM. At around quarter to 5 I get "the call" that there weren't any cards available up here in Boulder and the tech would need to drive back to Denver to get them and would be late - was that OK? Fine by me... I later heard the tech saying to the person on the other end of the phone that he had misread the work order and left without the cards earlier that day. Around 6 or so the tech calls and starts asking for directions to my place. I came to understand that he doesn't usually service Boulder and his map stinks. No problem. These are small things that don't really bother me.

    I handed him the instructions from TiVo, and he wasn't hesitant to inform me that he had received zero training in Cablecard installation and this was his first attempt to install one. I had this thread open on my laptop and I was scanning the posts for useful directions just in case things took a bad turn.

    We put the first card in. TiVo recognized it as expected and the Host ID and Data ID were collected and reported back to the main office. We went to the Test Channels screen and watched the wheel spin for 10 minutes before it quit and said it couldn't tune any channels. The main office person volunteered their help and it was obvious to me that they were reading from the same instruction sheet from TiVo that I had given the tech. We ejected the Cablecard, rebooted the TiVo, reinserted the card, and tried again. We still got the Blue Screen of Impatient Yearning until it faulted. At this point I asked for him to try the other card.

    Everything went the same until the Test Channels stage. We got the 161-4 error which I was very pleased to see. A few minutes later we were cycling through all of the channels and seeing a successful setup for that card. I'm scheduled for another visit on Wednesday to get the second card installed. I don't know what the issue was with the first card and I've only seen one other post with similar unresolved installation problems. Until Wednesday I'm in single tuner mode.

    The invoice says both cards are free. He didn't quote me a fee for the install, nor is there anything on the invoice. Time (and my next bill) will tell as to whether this remains true, but with as much as I'm paying them each month I think I've earned a little VIP treatment.

    I restarted guided set-up and had it hang twice. There's a point where it's identifying which cable lineup I have and it tunes to a channel and asks me to confirm what is airing there. It tuned to MTV, and then it gave me the neverending "Please Wait" clock after I acknowledged this. For the next 40 minutes I was stuck watching some unbearable tripe called "Next" with an unresponsive box (all remote presses got "bonged"). I finally yanked the plug and tried again. The second time I hit the acknowledge button before it could perform the channel change to MTV. It then sat there for 90 minutes or so on a black screen with the "Please Wait" signal. Once I felt that it wasn't actually doing some background indexing chore I yanked the plug and started over again. This time I made sure to test the channels on the cablecard during the setup and I also told it to quiz me with a channel other than MTV. After confirming the USA network it popped back into the menu system and completed the guided setup in a few minutes. I don't know what went wrong the first two times, but please don't ever make me watch "Next" ever again.

    Lessons so far:

    1. If at all possible, request that they bring more than 2 cards in case there are problems with any of them. Otherwise somebody is making a second trip.

    2. Have patience. It takes a few minutes for the screens to pop up in each step of the instruction sheet. What seems like quiet failure is really just a slow interface.

    3. Arm yourself with knowledge from this thread before they show up. You may have to supply more tech support for the install than you would like.

    Final note: The young lady on the authorization end of the phone said "I hate these TiVos" when the whole authorization process started. I don't know if she knew that the tech had her on speakerphone, but I may not have been the first person asking her to do her job this week. I don't have any grief to give to the tech for being inexperienced. He was happy to interact with me during the setup and apologetic about the delay and the first card not working. I'll repost on my experience with whoever shows up on Wednesday.

    PS. This Series 3 is pretty f'ing awesome. Thanks TiVo.

  15. Sep 26, 2006 #475 of 9367

    ac3dd New Member

    Mar 2, 2002
    CableCards can't be purchased separately from the cable company and then called in or brought to them for activation?

    It's a big loophole in the law if the cable company is the only source of cards. They can then charge what they want like the $10/month per card examples mentioned in this thread, which would make the cards de facto unavailable to most people.
  16. Sep 26, 2006 #476 of 9367

    ac3dd New Member

    Mar 2, 2002
    Now I am a guy who actually does want PPV in addition to the TiVo S3 ... anybody else here done that? How did that work out? Did you just run a splitter to the separate cable box?

    I don't need the PPV in HD, since it would be mainly for fights or other special events where I'm more concerned about the content than the picture quality. But I'd still want it in HD if it came at no additional cost.
  17. Sep 26, 2006 #477 of 9367

    bicker bUU

    Nov 9, 2003
    A loophole so large that it was clearly left in deliberately. While we'd all like to think that these regulations were put in place solely to address our own personal concerns, in reality, they often have little to do with specific personal concerns, and typically represent a compromise between conflicting considerations.
  18. Sep 26, 2006 #478 of 9367

    sinanju Active Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    IIRC, a nominal rental fee is part of the CableCARD law. That's why you see folks reporting that they are being charged anywhere from $0-$few for them.
  19. Sep 26, 2006 #479 of 9367

    geekmedic TiVo Fanatic TCF Club

    Apr 4, 2003
    Atlanta, GA USA
    The CableCARD must come from your cable company. You can't purchase it elsewhere. The reason is the CableCARD is programmed with the cable company's encryption algorithm. In fact, if the cable company uses different encryption algorithms or keys in each market, then you can't just move from market to market without getting new CableCARDs.
  20. Sep 26, 2006 #480 of 9367

    jay_man2 jay_man-also TCF Club

    Sep 14, 2003
    I just used a splitter to split the signal to 3 outputs - 1 to the TiVo, one to a set top box, and one to the TV. I then have the set top box into Component 1 on the TV, TiVo into Component 2 and HDMI on the TV, and RF directly into the TV. No problem. I also run the audio out in a similar fashion. I use the TV speakers for TV audio, the Cable-SAT input on my stereo for the set top box audio, and the TV input on my stereo for the TiVo audio.

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