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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

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

  1. Oct 6, 2006 #781 of 9367
    richburr

    richburr New Member

    7
    0
    Sep 21, 2006
    Why would they need to send a tech if the problem is at the head end? I believe they should be able to initialize the card remotely. It may depend on your area, but I think they did that for me. It sounds to me like your problem should be able to be resolved over the phone, unless you think the card itself is bad.

    And while you complain about people not having it together, keep in mind that this is pretty new technology. The S3s are brand new. The subcontractor Comcast sent for my install had not even done a CableCard install in a TV, let alone an S3. We are pretty bleeding edge on this, which may require more patience in getting things working.

    Now that my problem was resolved, I am very happy with my S3. I have been recording and watching HD programming and it looks great. Last night I watch two episodes of Kidapped that I recorded -- one off of USA, that was not HD, and the following episode from NBC's HD channel. It was really impressive to switch to the HD version. I have a 42" Panasonic HDTV, and it looked great.

    I love my new HD content, and I can't imagine watching TV without a Tivo.


    Rich
     
  2. Oct 6, 2006 #782 of 9367
    jfh3

    jfh3 New Member

    4,469
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    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    That's Comcast's fault, not Tivo.

    Tivo is simply displaying the messages provided by the CableCARD and the software that the cable company uses. (Look at the message at the top of the Conditional Access screen).

    That Comcast can't get you to someone who understands the software that they run or how the CableCARDs that they are mandated to support isn't Tivo's fault.
     
  3. Oct 6, 2006 #783 of 9367
    jfh3

    jfh3 New Member

    4,469
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    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Your guess would be wrong. :)
     
  4. Oct 6, 2006 #784 of 9367
    tirofiban

    tirofiban New Member

    348
    0
    Feb 14, 2003
    PA
    Here's my Comcast Update:

    2 Cards Successfully installed on Monday and by Friday, Cable Card 1 is not working.

    Card 2 works great but Card 1 only seems to get the basic channels. Conditional Access says card 1 is not subscribed. Called comcast they resent a signal to the card and I rebooted the Tivo. Still no luck.

    I'm thinking I'll have to have them come and replace the card. That's less than 4 days of use. What's the deal with these cards?
     
  5. Oct 6, 2006 #785 of 9367
    FlippedBit

    FlippedBit New Member

    176
    0
    Dec 25, 2001
    Mountain...

    It is not in TiVo's best interest to trust the cable provider to know what to do. In TiVo's instructions they say "Call your cable provider to activate or initialize the card." A bit vague don't you think. There are actually several signals that the CP can send. I read in one post that there are five signals.

    RoyalCrap got past this problem and said that "The Comcast technician who was actually assigned to my case might have made a critical observation that made all of the difference. He noted that in addition to sending an "initialization" and a "hit" signal to the cards that the dispatcher should also send a "refresh" to the cards. All three signals might be required to get the box to work. I think order should be "initialization" -> "refresh" -> "hit"."

    Another guy mentions a "CCV Hit Action" is different than just a "Hit".

    But TiVo just says "activate or initialize". When an ignorant Comcast tech shows up that doesn't know what to do, then this vague statement might be leading to problems.

    I asked Comcast about doing an initialization and they told me they won't do it. They said they will only do a "Hit" and that their supervisors will not let them do an "Initialize".

    I think that TiVo could be much more specific and technical in their instructions. For example, they don't say what to do if the CableCard MMI screen never pops up.

    Comcast needs to do a better job of training but TiVo could do some things to help also. After all, it is their customers that are getting screwed.
     
  6. Oct 7, 2006 #786 of 9367
    keenanSR

    keenanSR Member TCF Club

    910
    2
    Oct 12, 2004
    Santa Rosa CA
    Think of the CableCARD slots in the S3 as a piece of Comcast equipment, because that's what it is. It's a encryption/decryption device designed by Cable Labs, a research and development organization that designs and specs how these devices are to work. All the S3 does is take the decrypted data stream and send it to the QAM tuner. It's the cable companies responsibility to make sure the CableCARD works properly so the stream is decrypted. All CableCARD devices are inspected and certified either by Cable labs themselves or by documentation from the equipment manufacturer than the device in questions meets and performs to the specs set out by Cable Labs, and Cable Labs signs off on it. TiVo provides in the box the very instructions needed to install the cards, I don't know what else they can really do.

    From your post,

    When an ignorant Comcast tech shows up that doesn't know what to do, then this vague statement might be leading to problems.

    That is the problem in a nutshell, the tech, and the people at the other, at the cableco office are "ignorant" in the respect they have not been trained how to implement and use CableCARDS.
     
  7. Oct 7, 2006 #787 of 9367
    fergiej

    fergiej More hair, less 30lb

    2,004
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    Oct 9, 2002
    Atlanta
    My techs are here right now. One has done this before a couple of times (YAY!). One card seems to be bad so he has a spare. Still didn't work. We swapped the cards and all the host data came up...back in a few...

    edit: 1 hour later. Everything is perfect. Reran guided setup and I appear to have everything I'm supposed to. These were brand spanking new CC's. One was bad and the replacement didn't work either until we swapped slots. It took a little longer to get the info, but it did finally work.

    Add one success case to the list! For now...:)
     
  8. Oct 7, 2006 #788 of 9367
    FlippedBit

    FlippedBit New Member

    176
    0
    Dec 25, 2001
    Mountain...
    What I'm really trying to say is that TiVo has a lot to lose if a high percentage of S3 installs don't go well. On the other hand, the cable providers didn't perceive the economic benefit in advance to be prepaired for cable cards but they don't stand to lose as much as a result. The cable provider's ignorance is going to hurt TiVo more than themselves. I agree that it is the cable providers responsibility to know how to install cable cards but how does this fact guarantee success for TiVo? I think that the economics of the situations implies that TiVo shoud be taking the lead on improving the success rate of S3 installs. Leaving it up to Comcast because it is their job, is like shooting yourself in the foot to spite your face.

    Time will tell. Negative reactions will prompt both TiVo and Comcast to step it up:

    1) A significant number of S3 units get returned because Comcast couldn't get them to work. (Bad for TiVo)

    2) The amount of time the Comcast is spending on S3 installs becomes significant. (Bad for Comcast)

    3) Potential customers hear about the S3 install issues and decide to delay purchase. (Bad for TiVo)

    4) Comcast puts a moratorium on new S3 installs. (Bad for Tivo)

    5) TiVo sues Comcast for not installing CableCards. (Bad for Comcast and TiVo)

    6) Comcast and Tivo each lose several million in revenue and expenses because of the botched rollout of the S3. (Bad for TiVo, no big deal for Comcast)



    One thing TiVo could have done is put an installation Video on their support page showing a realtime successful install. Also troubleshooting documentation for the relatively small number of failure scenarios describing what went wrong and how to fix it. These things would not cost TiVo much and could help prevent a potentially costly backlash.
     
  9. Oct 7, 2006 #789 of 9367
    popcult

    popcult New Member

    15
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    Oct 6, 2006
    Yesterday I called Comcast here in Jersey City, NJ to schedule a Cablecard installation; here's my experience so far: The first CSR I spoke to was very nice but gave me a lot of misinformation, namely she said I'd have to pay $10.95 for the second cable card. After telling her that there should either be no charge or a nominal one for the second CC, she seemed a bit confused. Still very nice, she offered to check with her supervisor and/or a technician to see what the real deal was, then call me back later on in the day. That was about 9am. At 4pm I still hadn't heard back from her so decided to call 800-COMCAST again. Got a different CSR who was just as cordial and slightly more informed. She quoted me no charge for the first CC and $6.95/month for the second, which I assume is what is the correct going rate for people on this message board thread (east coast Comcast subscribers at least)? The CSR put me on hold for about 10 minutes because she couldn't figure out the proper way to enter in two CableCards on one outlet into my account on their computers. She had to call a supervisor who remotely entered in the proper codes. Judging from the testimony on this thread, I think my adventures with getting these cards is just beginning. The technician is scheduled to come a week from today (not because there's a backlog: my S3 unit isn't here yet; it's supposed to arrive sometime next week) so I'll keep you posted on my progress.
     
  10. Oct 7, 2006 #790 of 9367
    jcddc

    jcddc New Member

    24
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    Sep 20, 2006
    I had a very good install experience with Comcast yesterday. The technician, Tony, was a nice guy and very thorough. He had installed cards in his first TiVo the day before. He arrived within the 9-12 window. He first tied off an unused outlet to help boost the signal strength. The first card installed without problems--we received the benign 161-4 error, and then the channels came in. The second card was bad. Apparently the main office was reluctant to give out extra cards, so he had to use cards he had been reserving for a subsequent order. Not counting the outlet tie-off time, installation time was about an hour.

    Everything has worked fine in the day since then. I'm very pleased with the TiVo so far. The picture quality for even the non-HD channels seem better. I'll update if I experience problems in the future.
     
  11. Oct 7, 2006 #791 of 9367
    redandgray

    redandgray New Member

    4
    0
    Sep 28, 2006
    Lexington, MA
    I had a Comcast contractor show up this Saturday morning with (exactly) two Motorola CableCards. The first one went in smoothly and seemed to work just fine. The second one did not work, and showed error 161-1. The Comcast guy had absolutely no clue what this meant, nor did I -- until I googled it later. So, we swapped cards and slots and rebooted for a while and concluded that it was a bad CableCard. Based on the later google search, I learned that if you have a brand new TiVo, you should assume that error 161-1 means a bad CableCard, not a problem with your TiVo.

    Comcast does not issue "extra" cards to their installers, so he had to drive back to the warehouse to get another one, only to learn that the warehouse closes at noon on Saturday. DOH! He then had to bring the broken card back to me. Apparently, I have to babysit the dead card until we can try a substitute on Tuesday (Monday being Columbus Day).

    Exploring further with the one working CableCard, I found that I'm not getting authorization for premium HD channels, while non-premium HD channels work fine. So, it looks like Comcast is about 40% of the way to success at my house after their first visit.

    Comcast is only hurting itself by being so stingy with the CableCards. They're going to be logging a lot of unnecessary miles and hours swapping out flakey CableCards until they figure this out. Maybe they could spring for their own TiVo S3 and try the cards out in the office before they drive out??? Nah, that would be too easy.

    And then I wonder, why can't we just go and buy our own CableCards at Circuit City or CableCards4U? Begging Comcast to provide me with sub-standard hardware whenever they can fit it into their schedule is incredibily annoying. It is also a throwback in consumer relations. Maybe some of you can remember when Ma Bell owned every home telephone? Now Comcast has resurrected that same service model, an idea that was discarded almost 50 years ago.
     
  12. Oct 7, 2006 #792 of 9367
    prcannel

    prcannel New Member

    1
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    Oct 7, 2006
    I received my S3 from TIVO about 2 weeks ago and it worked flawlessly out of the box with basic cable. I waited a week and a half for Comcast to bring the Cable Cards. I called at least 4 times and got, I'm not kidding, 4 DIFFERENT ANSWERS, from the different Comcast reps about fees, who could install them, if I could or couldn't pick them up, etc. If you can think of 4 different answers for each of these questions just plug them in. It was that blatent. The installer arrived late, around 7PM and was here for 2 HOURS. He also was on the phone with the "Activation Team". He also spoke to at least 4 different reps. As I sit here the cards are partially working. The TIVO Tech actually HUNG UP ON ME; he offered no help and kept saying to read TIVO's faq sheet (which does not have enough info and is almost worthless). It was classic finger pointing between the 2 companies. It was a horrible experience overall. Only the HD digital channels and basic cable are working today (I sent the guy home; I'm going to figure this out from here!). Premium Analog Channels have NO SOUND. Premium digital Channels have NO SIGNAL AT ALL. But the HD output from the S3 is flawless.
     
  13. Oct 7, 2006 #793 of 9367
    bicker

    bicker bUU

    10,382
    43
    Nov 9, 2003
    Georgia
    I think you stole my installer. Our installer said he was called in late to handle me because my original installer got bogged down. Our guy had never done a CableCard install, and said no one at his company knew much about it. I got 161-4 for both cards, but both have a set of random channels missing. They guy couldn't do anything else for me, and told me to call Comcast if it was still broken tomorrow.
     
  14. Oct 7, 2006 #794 of 9367
    EvanAdams

    EvanAdams New Member

    5
    0
    Oct 7, 2006
    I have a happy story to report. I had a Comcast appt from 8-10am yesterday to install a HD set-top box and cable cards for our Series 3. BillShannon and I are good friends (post #690) and I was watching his struggles with great anticipation.

    To top it off, we were scheduled to go to Game 3 of the Oakland/Minnesota playoff series and would be leaving no later than noon, so there was no head room for 4 hours of experimenting.

    We were prepared for the worst.

    The Comcast guy came by at 8:30! I asked if he had done any Tivo cable card installs -- "No, there's just one guy in our office who has done one of them, so I chatted with him for awhile". That wasn't especially confidence building.

    I handed him the TiVo instructions. He was pleased to get them, immediately read them and said "oh, they say to do one card at time. The guy in the office said to do them both at the same time. Good thing I read these.".

    He brought two cable cards, a blue Motorola one and a red Comcast one (manufactured by Motorola).

    He installs the first one, calls the office to activate it, we get the 161-4 and then everything is working. I think he was as surprised as I was!

    We start on the second one. Got some funky error messages mentioning "pod:///ps/ps failed". It gets activated, we get the 161-4 and then it, too, is working.

    During this, I had been controlling the TiVo and he was installing the cards and calling the office. He asks me to go back and walk through the steps with him so he can learn how it all works.

    He was done and left by 9:30. We went to the A's game, the A's won the series against Minnesota. All in all, it was a very good day.

    It seems as if Comcast is (slowly) figuring out how it all works.
     
  15. Oct 7, 2006 #795 of 9367
    vukicevic

    vukicevic New Member

    4
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    Sep 28, 2006
    So I've got the installer here, who's never done this before; this is in Mountain View, in the SF bay area. He has two cablecards with him, and he started jamming both of them in at once.. I convinced him to follow the instructions and we started out with the bottom one. He called his dispatcher and gave them the ID that he had already written down from the cablecard that's in the unit -- but didn't give them the Data or any other info from the TiVo's Pairing screen. We're now "waiting", for what I don't know. Any ideas what I should be asking him? We seem to have a language barrier issue as well..

    Edit: to make it even better, the dispatcher just yelled at him to stop conacting him and that he will call him back when he can...

    Edit#2: Well, I let the installer go -- he certainly wasn't going to solve any problems. He spoke to someone other than the dispatcher (I didn't understand the conversation), and then told me that he guarantees that it will work, it can just take up to 3 hours with the new tivo. I said that's not what I've heard, but I'm willing to give it a try -- figuring that I can just call comcast directly and find someone on the phone who knows what's going on. We tried swapping cards and everything, and he said just put the second card in and let it sit.

    The only number that he gave his dispatcher was the serial number of both cablecards (printed on the cards themselves, not showed anywhere on the Pairing screen). I guess Comcast could have this keyed to the unit address in some database, and they might ignore pairing entirely, but that seems unlikely. Time to dig up a phone number of the CableCard department...

    Edit#3: Well, they've rehit the cards a number of times, though the person I spoke to said that they are not authorized to send any other signals to the card (I specifically asked if he could do a cold initiate). My conditional access screen (Motorola 4.21 cards) says MISSING_PROGRAM_REKEY for both cards -- I basically have access to all basic cable and non-encrypted HD channels, but nothing encrypted (whether SD or HD). Another tech is coming out on Monday.
     
  16. Oct 7, 2006 #796 of 9367
    fergiej

    fergiej More hair, less 30lb

    2,004
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    Oct 9, 2002
    Atlanta
    To follow up on some comments I had from my 2 techs today. The office here in North Atlanta received in a very large batch of brand new CC's last week. He had a few orders for about 5 or 6 and they just went ahead and gave him a case. Not sure how many it is, but it's more than 12. I was his 4th S3 install in 2 weeks. The first one was smooth as glass. He was in and out in about 30 minutes. The other 2 were not quite as smooth but eventually worked fine. All of the Comcast techs at this location have been quite thoroughly briefed on the S3. Not all have performed one. This was the other tech's first one today. She tagged along because they thought that it was going to be a TiVo install. They were both quite excited about it. See my post above for the details. It went quite well.

    I asked if he had seen the TiVo install sheet we got and he said yes. TiVo had sent these to Comcast. Not sure how it was distributed, but he saw a stack of them at the shop. What he was frustrated about though was the lack of communication and knowledge of teh CSR's. But, it's nothing new.

    I think the word is getting out there. We were all pretty much guinea pigs but I think the process is getting better based on my experience. I hope the other cable companies start getting it all together soon.
     
  17. Oct 7, 2006 #797 of 9367
    ssvp

    ssvp New Member

    3
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    Oct 7, 2006
    So I am a comcast customer out of the Puyallup, Wa office.. I have had 7 3412's in the last month and finally using a 6412 with DVI/HDMI Convertor.. Yeck..

    So I wanna take the plunge to the 300 hour TIVO device.. But a few questions first. I apologize if this should be posted elsewhere, but I use Comcast..:) So here goes:

    1. What are the main disadvantages of not using Comcast DVR Service and turning the box in? I assume one thing is OnDemand is no longer available, which isn't a big deal.
    2. What is the overall feeling of Microsoft Guide(Comcast WA State) and the TIVO Guide? I've never used TIVO but from hearing things, it sounds like it will actually record all your shows when you expect them too..Unlike the current comcast product.

    Basically, anything I should be aware of before dropping the cash and making the switch?

    P.S. TV is a HDMI Input Samsung 1080i and my audio is current Optical/TOSLink out from my DVR to receiver..

    I appreciate your help and comments in advance.

    Patrick.
     
  18. Oct 7, 2006 #798 of 9367
    Gregor

    Gregor Active Member

    46,743
    14
    Feb 18, 2002
    1. No OnDemand isn't a huge deal.

    2. I had the 6412 with Motorola software and it was terrible. Missed shows, and recording shows from the SD channel when the HD channel was available. Clunky interface and the DVR would freeze up and then process 5-10 button presses all at once. The 6412 puts off a *tremendous* amount of heat.

    3. The cable card installs have been spotty to be generous. Many have gone very smoothly, some folks have had several visits before getting this to work correctly. The CC install is probably the worst thing to get thru.

    Welcome (in advance) to the Tivolution!
     
  19. Oct 7, 2006 #799 of 9367
    ssvp

    ssvp New Member

    3
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    Oct 7, 2006
    I suppose my last question is does it work with Comcast HD?
     
  20. Oct 7, 2006 #800 of 9367
    jfh3

    jfh3 New Member

    4,469
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    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Of course, that was part of the design.
     

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