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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

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

  1. drhankz

    drhankz New Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Don't you think it would have been easier to have a Tech Install it?
  2. alanronkin

    alanronkin New Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    What have been the experiences in the Boston area getting the M-Card installed. My THD is arriving today and the tech is coming tomorrow...
  3. drhankz

    drhankz New Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    I'm in Southern NH - I consider that greater Boston.

    I have 6 DVRs with CableCards.

    All my Comcast experiences have been PERFECT.
  4. bizzy

    bizzy New Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    If you request two s-cards and do not mention it's going in a single Tivo, you will most likely get charged an a/o fee for the second card.
  5. bholzm1

    bholzm1 New Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    There is hope after all! My TivoHD only took two truck rolls:

    Attempt #1: Had a knowledgable tech come out two weeks ago, and tried two M-cards (after relaying numerous horror stories of other installs to me). After calling in the card information, dispatch said the cards were flagged as stolen in the system (!) and could not be activated!

    Attempt #2: Had a not-as-knowledgable tech out today -- had done CableCard installs, but did not seem as comfortable with the process as the previous tech. We put the M-card in, and at first were only getting the analog channels. Dispatch sent a "hit" to the card, and a few minutes later all the encrypted channels were coming through properly. The tech was amazed and was out of there in under half an hour!

    He said the dispatcher that knows how to debug cablecard problems is "Vicky" -- so if you're in the area, make sure your tech calls her on your install.
  6. markandjenn

    markandjenn New Member

    Sep 21, 2003
    Is the second CableCARD in the TiVo HD an "additional outlet"?

    I have onlt 1 TiVo HD with 2 Single stream CableCARDs. I have three non-HD TiVos with no cable boxes. Comcast is treating each CableCARD as an outlet. I am not being charged for the first CC and Digital channels (as it is included with the Digital Package), but I am being charged for HD on the first CC. I am also being charged $1.50 for the second CC, $5.50 for digital and $6.95 for HD pn the second CC, which they consider a "second outlet" .

    Is that what should be done or is that wrong?
  7. pjbrownva

    pjbrownva New Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Actually, the amount of time for authorization depends on the brand of cable card. I read the Cable card trouble shooting guide on tivo.com,

    and in it they have a general trouble shooting section, as well as specific sub-sections for Motorola Cards and a different one for Scientific Atlanta Cards.

    On Tivo.com, Tivo states that once a motorola card is activated, that it has a full "channel Map" immediately. This means that once you get a Motorola card working, you have all of your channels at once.

    On the other hand, cards made by Scientific Atlanta behave differently... Once the Scientific Atlanta cards are paired and activated, the recieve many small messages that authorize one (or more?) channels at a time. Thus, on a Scientific Atlanta card, even when you are properly set up, access to the channels will slowly "trickle in" over time. The Tivo literature says to wait 20 minutes (or maybe they said 15) to have all of the channels activated.

    The comcast rep who I spoke to said that it sometimes happens very quickly, and that sometimes all of the channels don't start comming in until the next day -- he seemed fairly knowledgeable -- and I'm willing to believe the "up to a few hours" argument, but I'm skeptical about the "overnight" claims --- that's just my gut feeling.

    Anyway, to put all of this simply, if the cable company brings a cable card made by motorola, once they have it working, everything should work at once. Whereas, if you are given a card made by scientific atalanta, once it is set up and working, it is normal for the cannels to "trickle in" over time... the only question is how much time (tivo says 20 minutes -- my comcast rep said it can take a few hours or even over night).

    For any newbies--- please don't confuse this distincition of "Motorola" and "Scientific Atlanta" with "S-Cards" and "M-Cards" --- that's a whole different topic. The "S" and "M" in "S-Cards" and "M-cards" stand for "Single" and "Multi" and have nothing to do with what company actually makes the card.
  8. pjbrownva

    pjbrownva New Member

    Jan 18, 2008

    It's possilbe that the cards needed a firmware update (I don't know the specifics of your system), but the cable cards can (and sometimes do) recieve firmware updates automatically from the cable company. The support section on tivo.com makes mention that sometimes the card recieves a "firmware update" when it is first inserted into the tivo, and that you must wait for this complete (without removing the card) or you could prevent the card from working -- however, as one of the earlier posts said -- I also believe that the firmware in a cable card is set up for that card (and possibly for the particulars of your system too), but that they don't have different version of the firmware to use for different Television devices. (eg- Tivo HD doesn't have / require a special version of the cablecard firmware to work with the tivo).

    Regarding the s-card vs m-card info, here's what the support section on tivo.com has to say:

    M-Card Support

    Some cable operators are deploying M-Cards™ (multi-stream CableCARDs) into the field. An M-Card is a CableCARD that is capable of running in either single-stream mode (supports one tuner) or multi-stream mode (single card can support multiple tuners). Both the Series3 HD DVR and TiVo HD DVR have M-Card support. For further information, see below.


    Series 3 HD (My note -- here they are refferring to the expensive unit. The one that was originally about $800).

    Currently, the Series3 HD DVR will support M-Cards in single-stream mode, which means that the DVR requires two (2) CableCARDs to run in dual-tuner mode. The DVR must also be running software version 8.0.1c or later. (S-Cards are supported in all software versions.) Your Series3 HD DVR may have shipped with an earlier version of the software installed. The software will be updated automatically, but not until the DVR completes Guided Setup for the first time, and then downloads and indexes the full 14 days of Guide data immediately after Guided Setup.

    To ensure that your CableCARD installation runs smoothly, we recommend that you complete Guided Setup on your Series3 HD DVR before the installer arrives to install the CableCARDs. If you perform Guided Setup at least two days before your installation appointment, your DVR will update to the latest software automatically and will be ready to run either S-Cards or M-Cards.
    If you perform Guided Setup on the day of the appointment, you should check your software version and, if necessary, force a software update. For more information, go to Software Version Troubleshooting.

    We are exploring support of M-Cards in multi-stream mode for the Series3 HD DVR.

    You can perform Guided Setup even if you don’t have cable service yet. For instructions, go to Running Guided Setup (Series3 and TiVo HD DVRs).

    - - - --
    Tivo HD (My Note - here they are referring to the less expensive unit... the one that currently sells for about $280).

    The TiVo HD DVR supports multi-stream mode for M-Cards. This means that the TiVo HD DVR requires only one (1) M-Card to receive two digital cable channels at once.

    (My note: This unit can also support S-Cards, but if you get S-Cards, you will need two (2) S-Cards to support two digital cable channels at once).


    I hope this is helpful to anyone who has a question re: S-Cards vs M-Cards.
  9. pjbrownva

    pjbrownva New Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    I got CableCards installed on Sunday, and had everything working by Monday evening... Not "perfect", but definitely not too bad. Anyway, here's my story.

    I had been told that there were no cable cards available for Arlington and Alexandria, VA so I asked the rep to please check to see when they expected to have more cards available (this was about two weeks ago).

    She told me that they were expecting some cards to arrive on Saturday, so I scheduled an appt for an install on Sunday (I figured I'd allow a day to make sure that the cards would be available when my installer tried to pick them up).

    After reading the forum, I came to the same conclusion that Krazi Joe suggests... that I shouldn't even mention Tivo to the phone-rep, because it could just lead to confusion or mis-information. So I asked the CSR to set up an appointment for Sunday, and I told her to indicate that I need to have cable cards for two different devices installed (I have two of the TivoHD units -- that's why I said two different devices) and I asked her to add a notation to the work order that I needed a total of four cable cards, or if the installer had "multistream" cards available, that I only needed two of the multistream cards instead.

    I also asked her to note that "the customer would prefer 2 multistream cards, if they are available". (Remember... I have 2 tivo HD's, so I needed cards for both units).

    Anyway, come Sunday morning, the installer called (my wife answered) and told us that they had no cable cards -- bummer, I thought -- here we go...

    A few hours later, a lady called from Comcast and said that they were mistaken. She said that they really *did* have cards available, and she asked if I still wanted the installer to come by-- (Any guesses as to my answer?) :D

    When the Tech arrived, that's when I told him that the install was for a Tivo (actually two Tivos), and I asked him if he had installed cards in a Tivo before. (He said yes)... and when I asked if they were M-Cards or S-Cards, he said that they were brand new M-Cards... and that they were only getting M-Cards now.

    He seemed competent (he certainly wasn't clueless) and he went to work, using his cell-phone "push-to-talk" to call in the required info to his dispatcher.

    While we were waiting for his dispatcher to give us the thumbs up on the first card, I suggested that we go to the other room, and put the card into the second unit... just to get the ball rolling... and have him call in that card as well.

    Anyway, on the first unit, we were able to get analog channels -- and the re-broadcast HD channels, but not any of the premium or digital channels. The rep told me that it was done, and that I would have to wait a while (possibly over night) and the other channels would come in.

    I was ready (I had printed out two copies of the guide from Tivo.com titled "Troubleshooting CableCARD Activation and Channel Issues") so I pulled it out and asked him if he could help me make sure that we checked everything that was suggested in the guide.

    I took the lead on this (I don't think the Tech would have... but with my gentle-but-firm insistence, he agreed to stay while I checked it out).

    After checking out different things listed in the guide, it seemed like the section on "CableCARD is Missing Channels" was my problem. From looking at the diagnostic screens on the Tivo and the screen prints in the guide, I determined that my cable card was made by Scientific Atlanta.
    After checking the section that applies to all cable cards (and finding nothing that helped my problem) I moved on to the section that is specific to Scientific Atlanta cablecards, and read that:

    "Scientific Atlanta CableCARDs do not have the ability to display all authorized channels immediately after activation, which can make it appear that activation was NOT successful, when in fact it was. As soon as the CableCARD is activated, it begins to receive a stream of EMMs (Entitlement Management Messages). These messages authorize the CableCARD to decrypt specific sets of channels, based on the cable services that have been paid for"

    Although my cablecard diagnostic and information screens were different from the screen prints in the tivo trouble shooting guide, I was still able to find a screen with a reference to the number of "EMMs" that had been recieved, and it was zero, so the tech said... see... it will come in later or maybe tomorrow.

    Being the type of PITA (pain-in-the-A##) that I am, I wanted a little more confirmation. Back on the screen that spoke about "copy protection (cp)" I saw that "Auth Status" said "Waiting for CP Auth" -- and that the trouble guide told me that this means that the card had not been "paired" with Tivo, meaning that it had not been told that it is OK to display any channels that are copy protected.

    Ah haa.... ! I tried to convince the rep that this "waiting for CP Auth" message was a bad sign, and that even if or when the card recieved "EMMs" to tell it that I was authorized to view certain channels, that I still would be out-of-luck because without having recieved a CP Auth, the card still wouldn't let me see anything that is copy protected.

    We went around a few times on this, but at my insistance, I finally convinced him to call his dispatcher to request that he verify that the card info and my cable package info were properly entered into the comcast system and to ask that the dispatcher send or resend the authorization for Copy protection.

    Verifying the setup went OK... and we were told that everything is correct, but it didn't seem like my request to authorize the card to handle copy protection was being understood. Since this request seemed to be causing confusion, I finally asked the installer to forget that part, and just ask the dispatcher to "hit the card again."

    Sure enough, a few minutes later, I was able to see "CP Auth Recieved". It still took about 10 minutes before I was able to tune in any of the premium channels... and it was only one channel at that... but once I got one channel, I decided to believe the rep that the others would come in over time (it took about a half hour or more, but finally they all DID come in).

    The second Tivo was a different story... it showed that it had recieved the CP authorization, but the EMMs (which were shown on a different screen) were listed as zero. I insisted that the installer stay until I could get 1 premium channel, or at the very least until we could see that the EMM count was no longer at zero... but after repeated checks... and about 15 min or so, the EMMs were still being listed at zero.

    At my urging, he called in for another hit on the card... and after a few minutes the EMMs went up to a low number (about 4, I think). He was satisfied (I wasn't) but he said he had left another job to come to me, and that he need to get back to the other job (he did get several calls from this person, and I was there as he was assuring them that he WOULD come back). He said that there was nothing more he could do, and that it should be working by tomorrow, but even if it wasn't that I needed to call comcast to have a CSR fix it... that he had checked everything from his end, and that if it didn't work, it was really something that the CSR would have to fix in the system that they use -- At my request, he did agree to leave me his cell phone number, and we agreed that he would leave, but that I could call for help if I needed it... and that he would assist by calling in hits / confirming that the numbers were correct, etc if and as needed --that seemed fair to me-- plus, I wasn't sure what else he could do if he actually came back to my house in person, so I figured I would save him the trip -- I did, however call his cell phone so that he had my name and number on his caller ID, and I made him promise to answer my calls (even if he was busy)... and that in return he could leave and I would try to prevent him from having to come back to my house.

    After about 2 hrs, still nothing, so I phoned and asked him to confirm that that the numbers were all correct (I verified with him, and he verified with his dispatcher, and everything was OK), and a new hit didn't fix it either... so I decided to wait "over night" as the installer had suggested.

    About noon the next day (Monday), it still wasn't much better. Analog and rebroadcast HD were OK, and I had started getting ONE premium channel, but nothing else (I had also restarted the tivo a few times on both Sunday and Monday).

    The EMM count was up to about 15, but I still had only one digital channel.
    I called comcast, and the CSR said that he was "resending" some information to the box, and he told me that it should work in a while. I was skeptical, and figured that I'd need to call back schedule another service call, to let THEM
    figure out how to fix it.

    After about 40 mins... nothing! and the EMM's hadn't changed.
    I restarted the unit, and left it alone for several hours.

    When I came back to check it, the EMMs were at zero now, but I was getting a few more channels. Over the next several hours all of the channels came in, even though the EMMs continued to say zero. I can only guess that the EMMs had come in before I restarted the unit, and that (for some reason) it still took several hours for all of the channels to start working.

    Anyway... that's my experience. It took a while, but at least I'm up and running.

    Good luck to all.

    (P.S. -- I kept my HD cable boxes... because I wanted to be sure that I would get to see the superbowl in HD... with or without TIVO. Now that everything works, I'll need to return the boxes and get them taken off of my bill!!).
  10. alanronkin

    alanronkin New Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    Thank you all for all of your help. Does anyone know the "latest version" of the software? I did a guided setup last night and I want to make sure I am up to date. I am hoping that they come with the right card.
  11. logicman1

    logicman1 New Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    Latest firmware version is 9.2a. If you still have an older version, force Tivo to connect and it should pull down the latest version. You may have to do this a couple of times.
  12. pmc501

    pmc501 New Member

    Jan 15, 2008
    I've been trying to get Comcast to come out and do the card install on my THD for aproximately 6 weeks now. I'll spare everyone the entire saga and hit the high points.

    For the longest time Comcast would allow me to schedule an appointment. Unfortunately, each and every one of them were canceled due to the cards being out of stock. A few weeks ago I started getting a different response from the CSR people. They ask me if the cards are for a Tivo box and which one. When I tell them it's for a Tivo HD, they tell me that the Scientific Atlanta cards they have (M-Type) are incompatible. When I ask them to clarify why they are incompatible I'm told that it's a firmware issue with the SA cards. Comcast claims that they have a ticket working with the SA Tech folks but there is no resolution in sight.

    Now my question to you, kind forum goers, is if any of you have heard this before? It sounded like complete BS to me so I immediately called Tivo to see if they were aware of any issues with Scientific Atlanta cards. The kind rep at Tivo told me they were not aware of such an issue.

    I've been calling Comcast about once a week now trying to get ANY type of card to no avail. It's gotten to the point where they pretty much told me, "don't call us, we'll call you". I am at my wit's end. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions they can offer me?
  13. ninjadvr

    ninjadvr New Member

    Aug 18, 2005
    Summary - I have an appointment (Arlington VA) for a cablecard (x2 in my case for a Seires3) install tomorrow, Saturday 6-9am. The warehouse has cards NOW. I'll believe it when I see it, but hopefully the wait is over!

    As many here, I've been trying to get 2 cablecards installed for my Series3 for many weeks now. I had an appointment last Monday - cancelled by tech due to no CCs. They rescheduled it for last night 6-9pm but nobody turned up. I spoke to the contractor directly during the day yesterday who had promised to help and they checked and said no CCs at warehouse but they'd try and find some, and that they hadn't picked up my 2nd appointment (They - Randall Communications, were one of several contracters comcast use in the area). So I was pretty sure nobody was coming.

    Anyway, I called the Mannasas, VA Call Center directly today to see if I could get any movement there. The CSR said he thought they'd get some in so I could set up an appointment early next week. I said, "Hmmm...OK fine, but please call through to the warehouse(s) to double-check on CC availablity" He did, and came back to me and said they have CCs now...so I have an appointment tomorrow (Sat) 6-9am, and the job spec says specifically 2 CableCards, regardless of M-type or S-type for a Series3 TIVO unit (Series3 needs a card, any card in each slot 1 & 2 both running in singlestream mode). I was told they are generally Scientific Atlanta cards, which makes sense because Arlington VA comcast boxes are only SA. I've just been stressing I need two cards regardless. Hopefully I'll post "SUCCESS" tomorrow. :D:up:
  14. ninjadvr

    ninjadvr New Member

    Aug 18, 2005
    I would take no notice of the "dont' call us, we'll call you" line, and politely but firmly keep calling everyone (CSR, contractor or whoever you have a number for) because on one level, they'll try and clear your job because you are persistant and on another level, it appears to be partly based on luck of when cablecards come into stock at the warehouses, so if you call daily then if they do have them in, you can schedule an appointment ASAP and snatch up the cards.
  15. Krandor

    Krandor Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    I wanted to post my positive Comcast cablecard experience in Alpharetta (subburb of Atllanta). I bought a Tivo HD last weekend and on Monday setup an appointment. I used the online "live chat" feature and the first rep said she couldn't get it entered in, but they transferred me to somebody else who got me setup. Due to the M-Card, S-Card thing, I just told them I needed 2 cards and I'd figure it out with the tech when he got here.

    Tech showed up ontime, had an M-Card. Said he had done these before. Put it in, called somebody on the nextel radio and gave them all the info and I was up and running in about 20 minutes. Quick easy and simple with no problems at all Got Lost recorded in HD last night which was awesome.
  16. miah

    miah New Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    I just picked up a Tivo HD tonight, and called Comcast to setup an appointment. The person I talked to told me I could pickup the cablecard at one of their stores and install it myself. This seems very different than what I've read everywhere. I haven't read all 170 pages of this thread, but has anybody else heard this?
  17. dswallow

    dswallow Save the Moderatоr TCF Club

    Dec 3, 2000
    That option has been available in a handful of markets, but generally tends to be a misinformed claim by many CSRs who say that. Maybe you can find a direct number for one of the store locations to get a more accurate answer before traveling to one.
  18. Bruce24

    Bruce24 New Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    I'm in Brookline MA and had the same experience with an installer today. He knew what he was doing and installed a single MCard, made a call to give them some numbers, made sure HBO worked and left telling me to rerun setup to get all the new channels into the guide.

  19. JohnBigboote

    JohnBigboote New Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    I'm not sure - I did have to upgrade, but I was coming from just standard analog cable with no cable boxes.
  20. ninjadvr

    ninjadvr New Member

    Aug 18, 2005
    CableCards, first they have 'em, then they don't, then they have 'em again:eek:

    I was assured Friday afternoon, that they finally had two cablecards for me (Series3) and would install 6-9am this morning (Sat). I moved my Series3 into my living room at 2 am after returning home...and got woke up at 7 am with a phone call from a casual sounding tech saying they had no cablecards :mad: so I get a call back from (this time a Comcast supervisor called Drake who I remember dealing with early last year on my initial comcast install). He says he'll put aside cards when they come in. He just called me and said he has two M-cards and will bring them Tuesday 6-9am personally to install them.

    I was being told by them that one M-type cablecard would work (NOT THE CASE), but I seemed to have convinced them I need two. I have a case number with TIVO and a number I can call when the tech/supervisor comes if there are any problems. Basically they are just getting M-type cards in these days.

    The key to tell them is that (in my case Scientific Atlanta) M-type cards have to operate in single-stream mode, one in slot 1 and one in slot 2. And, they have to be paired. As long as that is conveyed to them before they call through to the office to activate the cards (and they follow Tivo's instructions) it should work. The Tivo rep told me to make sure also that all the channels come through. That may take a little while with SA cards since as another poster said, unlike Motorola cards, the channels don't all come through at once.

    Anyway, this is getting beyond ridiculous, but hopefully Tuesday will bring success. Tuesday because they have nobody left that can come over today, and the supervisor keeping hold of my cards is off Monday, so Tuesday it is. :rolleyes:

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