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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

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

  1. cluelesspa

    cluelesspa New Member

    Jun 19, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    you must have a second HD tuner box where they are charging you less... you get the first $1.99 of either a HD box or your first Tuner Card (or first half of M Card) from what I understand.
  2. MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

    Jan 17, 2002
    I have 2 M-Cards in my S3 and the only Comcast charge I have is a $5.99 a month "digital access fee." I didn't even have an install charge over the normal minimum $28.99 for a pre-wired house, even though the installer ran a new buried drop and due to their SNAFUs was on my job, including running for another card, for 5 hours.

    They did charge me 2 x $16.99 for "Activate Existing Outlet," but I called and got credited for that. Effectively I have only one pre-wired outlet, which you get for the normal install. I use another outlet for an analog connect but the outlet was already in place.
  3. stewc

    stewc New Member

    Feb 28, 2003
    Seattle, Boston
    Overall I was pleased (relieved) with my Comcast install of M-card this week. Despite CSR telling me I could pick up card myself, it does still require a truck roll here.

    Installer arrived with two M-cards (one for backup), and had done it enough times that he had his own superstitions -- ie, wouldn't put the card all the way in until he had ATS (Advanced Tech Support) on the phone. And my only complaint is that this installer had to wait 20 mins on hold to get ATS so that they could push the code -- this is process efficiency?

    Had to reboot the Tivo to get through the test channels part -- we (me, installer and ATS) were about to get frustrated and then, poof, all channels were there!

    Received the "161-38" error several times in first 24 hrs, not since. After a horrible experience with the Comcast Tivo, I've got my fingers crossed for the TivoHD.
  4. diceman719

    diceman719 New Member

    May 19, 2006
    I got a M-Card for my TivoHD here in the Stuart area.
    It costs me $1.50/month.

    If you have an S3, you do need 2 cards, though...
  5. RayZorFist

    RayZorFist New Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    I figured I would weigh in with my recent experience with Comcast in the Minneapolis area.

    I'm normally pretty critical of the company and the lack of support and customer service I have experienced over the years.

    I called the 800 number to set up the appointment for the cable cards. The rep knew about Tivo and the cable cards and had things set up ready to go.

    Nick, the installer, arrived within the designated time slot. He was very courteous and patient with my pestering questions. :) He said he had done this quite a few other times.

    He knew his way around the Tivo (he said he has a series 2 at home) and had the process under way quickly.

    He said that Comcast has been working with Tivo and they determined that the best method was to use a Multi AND a Single card combined. He explained something about the multi card using a transmit channel to try and receive if there was only one card and that it worked better if they had both kinds of cards. He said the Tivo would use both cards for receiving even though there was a multi card installed. He certainly seemed to know his stuff.

    He got the first card initialized in a few minutes. The channels tested out. He then installed the second card and that took a bit longer to get initialized. He said the head end needed to do very specific work to initialize the cards properly and in the right order because of the multi and single cards. It took them a few extra minutes on the second card. Once the second card was initialized he tested those channels and I thought that would be the end of it but he wanted me to re-run the guided setup while he was there to make sure everything worked.

    That process took as long or longer than his setup. Once Tivo finished the guided setup he verified everything was working he left.

    Total time took about an hour from start to finish with about half that time waiting for Tivo to finish the guided setup.

    Thumbs up for Nick and Comcast.:up:

    Now I'm watching the Food channel in HD. Damn, I'm hungry. :D
  6. jrm01

    jrm01 New Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    Glad everything worked out for you. However, if you have the TiVo HD (not the S3) it is not using the second card if the first is truly an m-card. You can verify this on the diagnostic screens.

    Also, did he mention anything about SDV? Comcast announced on July 2 that they would deploy SDV in Minneapolis in the near future.
  7. dwit

    dwit Active Member

    May 4, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I agree that if that m/s card duo was for a Tivo HD, someone was sold a bill of goods. Hope you don't have to pay much extra for the additional s card.
  8. SGR215

    SGR215 New Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    Comcast can't get my Mcard activated either. I've had four installs and numerous phone calls and all resort in them giving up. When they attempt to get the cable card paired it gives them a protocol I/O error. The cable card gets all analog channels yet nothing encrypted. From what I read this is what that means:

    "The CableCARDs did not receive the proper activation signals to provision a UDCP (unidirectional digital cable products) device. DVRs leased by cable providers are two-way and use CableCARDs that receive extensive pre-provisioning at the warehouse. Because so much of the information normally sent during activation has already been programmed into these CableCARDs, they require a different activation protocol than CableCARDs that are installed in devices such as TiVo DVRs and CableCARD-ready HDTVs. If the headend sends the wrong activation signal, your CableCARDs do not receive enough information to activate, or will activate enough to get a channel map, but no EMMs. The result is that you will be able to view only analog and unencrypted digital channels."

    I've tried to explain this to Comcast yet no one appears to listen. The latest rep even resorted in hanging up on me! Just for the record, I'm always respectful and patient with these people so that wasn't the problem. I've got another tech coming out on Tuesday but I'm afraid he'll simply give up too. A rep over at DSLReports has told me that the only way this can be fixed is via a Comcast engineer fixing the problem but I have no idea how to get Comcast to contact one. Anyone have any ideas on how I can get this resolved? :mad:
  9. CEPBoston

    CEPBoston New Member

    Jul 28, 2008

    I'm having a similar issue in Boston on a Tivo Series 3 w/two Motorola M cards. They were working fine, then went dead on 7/1.

    Comcast has been here 4 times since then, and we've swapped SN and Host ID's multiple times by phone.

    The cards appear successfully paired to me and Comcast. But, out of the 100+ channel Boston Comcast lineup only 10 channels appear.

    These channels appear to be random (lowest 97 - WGBH, highest 851 HD, no locals or premium.)

    Signal is 95-100 for the 10 that work, 0 for the rest.

    Seems like head end messages (EMM) are growing.

    The only common denominator for working channels is that CCI: is 0x00 for all 10.

    VAL: shows V for the 10 that work, ? for the others (w/ no CCI info available).

    Baffled. Would certainly appreciate any ideas to make our next ComCast visit (in August - ack) go better.

    Thx in advance, CEP:confused:
  10. SGR215

    SGR215 New Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    Let me know if you get it fixed CEPBoston.

    I've actually tried numerous routes to get it fixed and so far things look promising for tech visit tomorrow. I contacted "Frank" at We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com and he had executive complaints contact me. I wasn't around to pickup the phone when they called but they left a message stating they spoke to the lead supervisor of the tech scheduled to visit tomorrow and informed him what to do to resolve the issue when the tech arrives. We'll see if it actually gets resolved though.

    I also had a rep who was nice enough to email me a screen shot of the error they get when they attempt to pair my cablecard. Here is a censored version of it for those wondering what the reps see:


    Apparently this issue is beyond the techs, reps or dispatches head and needs the assistance of a Comcast engineer to get it resolved. If this gets resolved I'll try to find out what exactly was done and post it here.
  11. SGR215

    SGR215 New Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    Thanks to Frank at the email listed above I got a real Comcast tech today, not a subcontractor, who actually took the time to get my cable card working properly. I'm not exactly sure what causes this error but it only took this tech a few minutes to get it solved. He also solved my low signal issues and even organized my setup a little better. (I've got six total outlets so that's a major thing in itself) Although he said he wasn't too sure what exactly his supervisor did he explained to me about how subcontractors generally don't care about doing a good job but rather doing several jobs as fast as possible. They get paid by the job, not by the hour. The only thing they care about is getting your signature so they get paid. The end result obviously being rushed, incorrectly done installs. Cable cards sometimes take time to get them to activate and obviously time is a subcontractors worst enemy.
  12. MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

    Jan 17, 2002
    THERE'S the problem! Those poor dudes are using Internet Explorer. :D
  13. SGR215

    SGR215 New Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    LOL... I couldn't help but think the same thing when he sent me the SS. I felt like saying "Did you try it in Firefox?" :p
  14. mikedarn

    mikedarn New Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    I just got an HD-Tivo and Comcast (San Jose,CA area) set up with a Motorola M-card today. It works beautifully except a gray screen happens every 30 minutes or so on the HD channels. My signal is very strong, the installer attached a 10db attenuator and the strength is between 93-100.

    My gray screen picture:

    If I go to signal strength menu during the gray screen, the video appears perfectly with full strength:

    Cable card channel test also shows the video perfectly:

    But the cable card diagnostics reports "Tuner 0: Current Tuning Status: Not tuned: Wrong card state"

    So if the signal strength test can display the channel video perfectly and the cable card test can display the channel, why is it gray in the tivo live tv?

    Switching channels a few times fixes the cable card state and brings the video back in live tv. But of course that means most recordings will be missing half the content.

    What could put the cable card in the wrong state every 1/2 hour or so? I have no idea if this is a tivo problem or comcast or a communication issue between the two. Thankfully I still have my direct tv tivo going as a backup!

    Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!
  15. jaybroni

    jaybroni New Member

    Jun 22, 2008
    In the cable card diagnostics, what does it say below tuner 0?
    For your setup with an M-Card, you should have diagnostics for two tuners, in the diagnostic screen they are called tuner 0 (which you showed) and tuner 1. If your M-Card isn't set up properly, or isn't working properly, you will get no data for one tuner (in this case tuner 0) and should get normal data for the other. That may be why you get grey screens sometimes, just because you are watching from the tuner that isn't working properly.

    Of course, it may be a different problem entirely.;)
  16. Aug 2, 2008 #5556 of 9367

    spriggan New Member

    Aug 1, 2008
    Hardware: TiVo Series 3 HD
    Sofware Ver: 9.4-01-2-648

    Day 1: Before Comcast tech showed up, I sat up the TiVo. It was working perfectly with analog. The tech showed up. As soon as he entered my house, he made a phone call. I over-heard it was his first time installing CableCards. When he was done with the phone, I told him the only thing he needs to do is insert CableCards. He said that the TiVo is connected to a cable that was not supplied by Comcast, so he needs to disconnect everything and change them all. I asked him not to do that, but I let him since he told me that if I would not let him, then I must reschedule for tomorrow. While he was connecting the cables, he got confused (my TV set is rather complicated). He was treating the TiVo like their digital box. TiVo has no coaxial output, thus nothing showed up on the TV. The tech got rude. He did not connect all the cables back as it was, and he just left without scheduling for another tech to come out. I called the 317-872-2225, which is on my Comcast bill and suppose to be the local comcast #. I never ever gotten any local customer service persons by calling the local # but National Call Center. Anyway, I scheduled another appointment for tomorrow.

    Day 2: Different tech showed up around 11 AM with only 1 M-Card. The tech asked me if the TiVo was ready to go. I told him that the tech from yesterday disconnected everything, and I left it alone. He immediately start connecting the cables. Once he was done connecting, he insered the M-Card in the slot 1 of the TiVo. He called the office giving Host ID, DATA and CableCard S/N. The TiVo gave "Accuiring Channel" screen. The tech told me it could take up to 4 hr before I could use TiVo. While on wait, I asked him that I thought this model requires 2 CableCards to do dual tuning. He said that the card is M-Card, so I don't need another one. We waited for 2 - 3 min. Since there was nothing he could do while waiting, he asked me if it was OK for him to leave. He gave me his cell # which he used to call the main office. I waited...after an hour or so, I noticed the tech connected the cable to "Antenna" coaxial instead of "Cable" coaxial on the TiVo. I yanked the power cable off the TiVo, then reconnected the cable. I called the tech around 3 PM. He said that he will be back today to fix everything including installation of a second cable card. 5 PM, the tech had not shown up. I called the local Comcast #. The lady I spoke with assured me he'll be back today before 7 PM, which is the closing time. I waited until 7:30 PM to call the Comcast back. This lady I spoke with, she didn't know much about the CableCards, however, she listened about the validation, etc. She got the CableCard working!!!

    Day 3: The same tech guy showed up around 3:30 PM. He brought the second Motorola M-Card. He asked me what's the problem. I told him one of the problem (premium channel) is solved. What I need now is the second digital tuner/CableCard working. He reported the Card S/N, DATA and Host ID of the 2nd CableCard back to the main office. He was using the Push-to-Talk of the phone feature, I heard everything what the office said. It'll be ready in 5 min. The tech did not wait for 5 min. to check channels. It appeared all were working. One tuner showing HBO and another showing Encore. Sweet, it's woking!!! The tech left. I do not know how long it took, but one of the tuner stopped working. I could not watch any channels. All of the channels were grey. The second CableCard somehow stopped working. I went into the "Conditional Access" to check what's happening. Con: Yes, Val:?, CP: Enabled, Auth: MP for the 2nd CableCard, and Con: Yes, Val:V, CP: Disabled, Auth: S for the 1st CableCard. By looking at those, these told me the Comcast Main office send wrong signal to the second CableCard: the card was sat up to use multi-stream instead of single-stream. I called TiVo before I called Comcast. We got into a 3-way calling. We swapped the CableCards because TiVo lady said that CableCard slot 2 might be broken or the CableCard #2 is bad. After pairing without new DATA, slot 2 worked without problem. This told there was nothing wrong with the TiVo. The slot 1 wasn't working and Auth: was showing MP like when this card was in the slot 2. The Comcast lady said that it is not possible to modify the signal to make the Auth: S from Auth: MP. I was so frustrated because I know Comcast can. Oh, while on this 3-way calling, we discovered that CableCard #1 had Firmware 613 and CableCard #2 had firmware 516. TiVo lady and I asked if it's possible for her to send new firmware. She said she cannot do anything about the firmware, and it is not possible to send the firmware to the CableCard. I know Comcast can, and I just hang up on both TiVo and Comcast. I called the Comcast back. I explained the situation. CableCard #2 is having a multi-signal configuration, etc. She said that she was going to perform "signal boostl" or something like that. I have a Comcast digital box as well, and it all the sudden got restarted. She told me to wait for 45 min. or so then restart the TiVo. I did. Once the TiVo restarted, I went into the CableCard setting section. Both of the CableCard now had the same firmware: 613, Con:Yes, Val:?, CP: Enabled, Auth: S. She fixed the damn Auth:MP, which was supposely impossible to do remotely. Great! I can watch everything except premium channels because I lost the validation/pairing. I called the Comcast back telling them I have no premium channels. The lady supposely sent a signal. I waited for 45 min., then restarted the TiVo. Val: was still ? meaning both of the CableCards were not pairing. I called the TiVo back. The guy told me to put the channels on the premium, then read the status of the CableCards. On both of the cards, Con:Yes, Val:?, CP: Enabled, Auth: CAD on the premium channels. For normal channels, Con: Yes, Val:?, CP: Disabled, Auth: S. We tried to do 3-way calling with the Comcast again. We waited for the Comcast for about 20 min...I somehow got disconnected from the TiVo on the phone. Never heard from the TiVo. I call the Comcast back....I still have no premium channels....

    I talked with at least 10 Comcast people. I've written only some names. These people were not helpful at all.

    JC in Indianapolis = kept saying to send tech back. I asked for the manager. He refused to let me talk to the manager. He refused to pair the CableCard. The only local person that I could speak with.

    Lensy in Kansas City = the same as above.

    David in Kansas City = the same as above.

    Karen in Missouri = the same as above.
  17. Aug 2, 2008 #5557 of 9367

    cluelesspa New Member

    Jun 19, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    ouch .... I say your only recourse is to do like i did and DRIVE yourself at 8 am or when ever they open to your LOCAL office. then ask for the tech that knows about Cable card installs.
  18. Aug 2, 2008 #5558 of 9367

    spriggan New Member

    Aug 1, 2008
    Day 4: After having a cup of coffee, I started the day with calling Tivo. Brian took my call. He said that their system is updating, so he could not obtain any customer information. I did not explain what happened in Day 2 and Day 3. I told him that I have no access to the premium channels, and DATA IDs of the CableCards changed because the cards were swapped. 3-way calling with Comcast began. Renne in Chicago took our call. We explained to her that CableCards need to be paired. I gave her new DATA ID for the CableCard 1. She admitted that she did not know much about CableCards. But, we could navigate her to pair the cards. She said that when she entered the new DATA ID, the Comcast system did not let her over-write the old DATA ID. She said that she had to e-mail someone (either her supervisor or dispatcher...can't remember), and I had to wait about 20 min. to get some kind of confirmation. She said that she'd call me back. Because of this 20 min. wait, we all hang up. I took a dog out. When I came back in the house, there was an automatic message from Comcast on my answering machine. I immediately checked the TiVo while entering 1-888-731-1371, which was specified in the message. TiVo's "Conditional Access" for the CableCard 1 showed Val:V. I thought, is this for real? Is it really working? I tuned to HBO, BAM! HBO is channel 301 in my area, and "Conditional Access" on this channel had Con: Yes, Val:V 0x0C, CP: Enabled, Auth: S, CCI: 0x02. Although I was excited, I was also dissapointed because I understand CP: Enabled means Copy Protection is on. I assumed I could not record HBO on my TiVo like Comcast's DVR (more on this later). Lisa in Indiana took my call. I explained to her that CableCard 1 now works perfectly thanks to Renne (I did not mention about the DVR of the premium channels because what matters the most is just to view the premiums). The next problem is CableCard 2. I gave her the new DATA ID for the CableCard 2. She was able to over-write the old DATA ID immediately. Within a min., BAM! CableCard 2 had the same "Conditional Access" codes as the CableCard 1 (Con: Yes, Val:V 0x0C, CP: Enabled, Auth: S, CCI: 0x02). I thanked Lisa for fixing the problem, and hanged up the phone. I wasn't expecting to digitally record Premium channels because of the CP: Enabled, but I tried. It records! (I'm guessing CCI 0x02 tells how many times I can copy???) I only tried 2 channels to record (301 and 302 which are different variants of HBO), so I need to check other premium, sports package and HD channels. While I was checking the DVR of TiVo, Renne called back (so the automatic Comcast message was not from her). I explained the situation & told her everything works. Lisa took care of the CableCard 2. She told me that dispatcher had to over-write the old DATA ID on the CableCard 1 for her. I praised her for what she had done.

    After reading a lot of posts on this forum, I found my story is essentially a verification of the problems/suspicion/advice of others.

    One of the finding today was from Brian. He said that what Comast send to pair the CableCards is DATA ID. It makes sense if DAC uses Host ID and Card S/N to generate a DATA ID. If this is the case, DAC hashes--nothing more.

    Hopefully, my information help others who are having problems with the Comcast's CableCard installation on the S3.
  19. Aug 4, 2008 #5559 of 9367

    eht123 New Member

    Jul 17, 2008
    Follow up on my post from last week:

    The TivoHD is finally working. In addition to the above, this took:

    - a letter to Comcast's vice president of customer support.
    - at least half a dozen phone calls with an "executive support" rep who, although basically useless herself, does appear to have had some influence in scheduling the tech who finally fixed things.
    - two attempts at getting someone useful via the online chat support (no dice...)
    - two more random phone calls on our part in the hopes of just getting lucky and getting someone with a clue. (no luck...)
    - countless wasted hours and frustration on our part.

    Last Friday brings yet another truck roll and another m-card from a tech who finally appeared to know what he was doing. According to him, a bunch of the cards they had were actually bad. Anyway, he swapped it out for a new one, and within a reasonably short time, everything was working as it's supposed to. Oddly, the conditional access screen indicates Val: ?, which should indicate the card is not paired. But the Auth: MP error is fixed, showing Auth: S now, and we get all channels on both tuners. So I'm not inclined to mess with it at the moment, even though I fully expect it means something will stop working in a day or two...

    Oh, and we got a $50 credit for our trouble... :mad:
  20. Aug 4, 2008 #5560 of 9367

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    I don't believe that any of their cards are 'bad', just that they're purposely clueless about how to properly initialize them for the Tivo.

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