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Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

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

  1. pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    Google 'separable security fcc'.

    Previously deployed boxes can have embedded security but new boxes must have separable security (e.g., a cableCard).

    http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/cable-tv/about-separable-security/
     
  2. jadziedzic

    jadziedzic Member

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    I think this excerpt from the last pricing sheet I received from Comcast (Boston region) may help explain Comcast's rationale on the "digital additional outlet" pricing. Under the "Basic and Digital Ancillary Services" section this item appears:

    Digital Additional Outlet Service Charge (per outlet)
    • With standard definition digital converter $9.95
    • With HD digital converter $9.95
    • With CableCARD $7.45 (footnote 14)
    Footnote 14 says "Includes a customer-owned video equipment credit. An additional charge will apply for additional CableCARDs in the same device." (that charge is $1.50 here).

    If the DAO service charge INCLUDES a digital converter then I am not being charged EXTRA to use my TiVo instead of Comcast's digital converter - I'm receiving a $2.50 per month customer-owned equipment credit when I use my TiVo in place of Comcast's box.

    A somewhat older price sheet that I found went into a bit more detail regarding the DAO service charge; it referred to it as a "Charge for digital content on additional outlets." When I spoke with a Comcast rep who called me after I filed an FCC complaint regarding the DAO service charge the "digital content" line was used several times during their explanation of the charge.

    As much as I detest the charge I think Comcast (in the Boston area) is carefully structuring their policy to comply with the letter of the FCC regulations. I do look forward to the day that TiVo starts to sell satellite boxes that can stream from an XL4 - I will say goodbye to the extra CableCARDs and DAO service charges.
     
  3. Jun 1, 2012 #8483 of 9367
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Well, that would be great if I had another cableCo in town, but I don't. I can get crappy sat service and even crappier U-Verse service, neither of which work with my Tivos or my WMC setup. I love Comcast reliability, channel selection, and pic quality, but I hate their billing practices. So I will not vote with my feet because the alternatives (to me) are even worse.
     
  4. Jun 1, 2012 #8484 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    So the situation is that you can receive some of the digital channels at multiple locations using a free or low cost DTA but if you want to receive all of the channels to which you are entitled at multiple locations, you have to pay an additional fee. How does that jibe with the following from the FCC website


     
  5. Jun 1, 2012 #8485 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    There's nothing in the FCC rules requiring free additional outlets. If someone who requires equipment from Comcast to view programming has to pay more for more than one outlet, the only thing the FCC requires is that a TiVo owner will pay less for an additional outlet than someone who rents a box. Which they do.
     
  6. Jun 1, 2012 #8486 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    Since you can get a portion of the digital channels at "additional outlets" using a free or low cost DTA, they are not charging for additional outlets - they are charging you to enable the reception of all of the channels to which your package entitles you at those outlets.
     
  7. Jun 1, 2012 #8487 of 9367
    ncfoster

    ncfoster Member

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    On any given individual concept, pdhenry/Comcast have a response to why it is ok, and not technically in violation of the FCC rules for Comcast to charge digital outlet fees for boxes that are not their own. However, when the entire picture is taken as a whole, it seems clear that the rules are NOT being followed.

    Comcast
    - Pay only for equipment you have: Comcast says you are not paying for equipment, but rather a digital outlet fee.

    - Accurate information on the rental cost of a CableCARD from your provider: Comcast says the information is accurate, because they are not charging you for the CableCARD per se, but rather the digital outlet fee.

    - Use your own set-top box without extra charge: Comcast says that you are not being charged "extra", because you are paying the same as other subscribers (or less if you get the credit).

    - Self-install your CableCARD: This one seems to not be as much of an issue as it used to be.

    - Receive the number of CableCARDs you request: Comcast says you can get as many as you want. They just reserve the right to charge you $8.95 or more for each one beyond the first one.

    - Receive a multi-stream CableCARD unless you request otherwise: Also seemingly not much of an issue these days, but important for other reasons laid out below.

    - Receive all “linear” channels in your subscription package: Comcast says that you can get them if you follow their rules. You also can get most of them through a DTA in SD, but not all of them, and not in HD.

    - Get accurate information about services available to CableCARD subscribers: This is more of a catch-all, it seems. If you accept Comcast's premise that their rates are permissible, one might say that they follow this rule.

    Take all of the above rights as a whole, however, and it is very clear that this is NOT how it was intended to work. De Facto, Comcast's policy is to charge a fee which is not close to the $2-4 rate suggested the usual rate on the FCC site, and call it something else. Although Comcast argues that the fee is for additional digital outlets, this premise is exceptionally tenuous for so many reasons:

    - CableCARDs are something that are necessitated by the nexus of the digital transition and consumer rights. They are intended as a step forward, not backward, allowing people to access high definition programming with their own equipment without being compelled to pay for the cable company's equipment.

    - Given that you are entitled to a Multi-stream card, you are entitled to MORE THAN ONE TUNER! The number of tuners that could be on that device could be at least 6 to my knowledge with an HDhomerun Prime 6 tuner model, at least 4 on a single CableCARD, as on the Tivo Premiere XL. In almost all cases, modern devices will have at least 2 tuners. This point is critical, as it means by definition that a "digital outlet" is NOT equivalent to a tuner (or even 2), and neither is it equivalent to televisions or other devices that are capable of viewing digital programming in your home. Therefore, there is only one other remaining possibility as to what a digital outlet IS...the number of devices a consumer has that are capable of receiving all linear digital programming from the cable provider, regardless of what the device does with it. In other words, consumers are being charged a per-device charge, regardless of whether that device is the cable company's device, and it is separate from any explicit charges delineated on the rate sheets as being actual CableCARD fees. This is outright deception. The fact that someone with their own equipment is charged LESS per digital outlet, due to the credit, DOES NOT CHANGE the fact that the consumer IS paying to use their own equipment on a per-device basis.

    -The previous point is only underscored by the fact that television providers pay for the content on a per-household basis, not a per-screen/per-tuner/per-person, etc. basis. The cable company CANNOT tie this charge back to any legitimate cost on their own end without acknowledging explicitly that they are charging for their "hassle" and "support" of the cable card process in general, which is not something they are entitled to do. Is CableCARD a burden on the cable companies? Sure, but it was mandated. Can the cable companies charge for the CableCARDs they provide? Yes, but they must charge uniformly, with proper disclosures, and by acknowledging what they are charging for!

    - Unlike the analog realm, where the digital transition was mandated by the government to reclaim spectrum, the digital cable transition is all about the cable companies' self-interest in maximizing the number and quality of channels provided and reducing their costs. Once again, they could cash-in even more if the FCC had not mandated CableCARDs at all, but they did. And this was done for the CONSUMER'S benefit. By charging consumers to use their own equipment, as they could do to gain additional "analog outlets", before the analog channels went away, they are doing the exact opposite, by making a cash-grab that has no correlation to any services provided by the cable company (see above, unless they admit it is because they find CableCARDs annoying). To the extent that you want to get even as many channels as the DTAs are capable of providing, you HAVE to pay the digital outlet fee (on anything beyond the first outlet), which amounts to the consumer paying extra for utilizing the capabilities of the device that THEY purchased.

    Obviously, this is a rant, and obviously I am not hitting every point, but I just cannot see how anyone can defend this practice as a whole.
     
  8. Jun 1, 2012 #8488 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    tl; dr.

    But all I'm doing is observing that the cost of renting multiple cablecards (for multiple TVs) is comparable, and favorable, to the only other method of receiving HD digital content from comcast at multiple TVs, which is by renting two or more boxes. When taken in that context, I didn't consider it unreasonable.

    I didn't intend to imply any defense of Comcast charging for multiple cable boxes in a household, but there you are - you're renting multiple boxes. I don't have a strong opinion about their ability to prevent you from viewing most of your channels without needing to rent equipment from Comcast, but I'll observe that DirecTV and Dish also seem to have significant ber-box charges built into their rates, at least when I was looking into dumping Comcast a month or so ago.

    I think I've been clear enough that, due what I think is CSRs' inabilty to properly bill my account as Comcast would intend, I actually pay less for two outlets than I would for one - I get $2.50 in Customer-owned equipment discounts for each of two TiVos but I only pay $1.50 for the second setup. This persists even though the Limited Basic tier I'm on doesn't include any "free" Comcast equipment baked into the rate. So maybe I ddon't have enough of a dog in this hunt to have the spitting passion y'all seem to have about the matter.

    When I decided Comcast was getting too much of my money I looked into dropping them and going OTA with Cable Internet only. Thanks to those wonderful skilled CSRs and their power over the billing system, I now have Limited Basic plus internet for less than the cost of internet without Cable TV (because they charge more for unbundled Internet access, these two options normally price within about 3 or 4 dollars of each other anyway).
     
  9. Jun 1, 2012 #8489 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    IMNSHO, Comcast is in violation of FCC regulations one way or another. Either the $7.45 net a month is a CableCARD rental fee and the quoted fee of $0 is a lie OR they are charging an additional fee to enable access to all of the channels in your package.
     
  10. Jun 1, 2012 #8490 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    But isn't the additional fee rule in regards to a cable card user vs. a Comcast box user? You don't see it that way, but I read it to mean that Comcast can't charge you more than they charge someone who uses a Comcast set-top box.

    E.g., "No service fee shall be imposed on a subscriber for support of a subscriber-provided device that is not assessed on subscriber use of an operator-provided device."
     
  11. Jun 1, 2012 #8491 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    You're ignoring the fact that you can access some of the digital channels using a free (up to 2) or inexpensive ($1.99/mo) DTA. Comcast's position becomes even less tenable if they begin encrypting everything and eliminate all of their clear QAM channels so that you will need a CableCARD to get anything or rendering your TiVo practically useless by adding a DTA.

    Comcast is engaging in a pattern of deceptive and fraudulent behavior. Do you really think that CSRs come up with the obviously false statements they utter ("Digital cable migration was mandated by the Government", "The charge is for the CableCARD") on their own?

    The fact is that Comcast is attempting to leverage their digital migration to re-instate the long defunct charge per outlet.
     
  12. Jun 2, 2012 #8492 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    Yeah, the DTA is an outlier. If you say "I want to get the same channels with my TiVo that you would give me with a DTA, so don't charge me any more than you charge a DTA user" you might have difficulty.
    Occam's razor would suggest that poorly trained reps are as likely or more likely than a vast conspiracy.

    My second cable card has always reduced the total price of my subscription so if Comcast is training their reps to be evil it hasn't sunken in to all of them. Maybe that's why I'm more willing to believe ineptitude is the root cause.

    When I look at this I see poor CSR training (as well as a total reliance on the CSR to get the billing right, which they can't do if they're not trained) rather than a conspiracy:

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Jun 2, 2012 #8493 of 9367
    ncfoster

    ncfoster Member

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    I don't think a corporate decision to maximize profits in an ethically questionable way in any way implies there is a conspiracy involved.

    Yes, if I had a bill that looked like that, I probably wouldn't complain either. I wouldn't defend Comcast as much as you have, but I wouldn't complain.
     
  14. Jun 2, 2012 #8494 of 9367
    unitron

    unitron Active Member

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  15. Jun 2, 2012 #8495 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
  16. Jun 2, 2012 #8496 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    You keep taking one piece of the structure and spinning it to Comcast's benefit. Taken as a whole, they are in violation of the relevant FCC regulations.

    Who said anything about a "vast conspiracy"? I've never worn a pink dress in my entire life.:cool: I don't think poor training alone can explain multiple CSRs using the same false statements. Maybe the CEO was overheard by some overeager subordinate to remark: "Will no one rid me of these meddlesome customers?"

    Comcast is responsible for properly training their employees and for the actions of those employees. It may not be a conspiracy, vast or otherwise. At the very least, we have a case of "willful ignorance".

    Overall, you sound like a lawyer, vying for a gig defending Comcast against a possible class action suit.
     
  17. Jun 2, 2012 #8497 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    Pshaw.

    and no doubt you'd like to be the named party in that suit.

    When you say "Comcast is engaging in a pattern of deceptive and fraudulent behavior. Do you really think that CSRs come up with the obviously false statements they utter" what do you mean, if not that the CSRs' supervision is colluding to feed the CSRs erroneous data and/or encouraging them to lie? Isn't that a conspiracy?
     
  18. Jun 2, 2012 #8498 of 9367
    pdhenry

    pdhenry Safety Pin

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    So what programming tier provides exactly the channels that the DTA provides? It looks like Digital Starter minus a bunch of HD channels. How do you go about requesting that, exactly? Does Comcast differentiate HD-inclusive vs. SD-only subtiers? I've only had HD with a TiVo...
     
  19. Jun 2, 2012 #8499 of 9367
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Active Member

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    John's...
    Wasn't intended as a complimant.

    :eek:GHOD NO. The only winners in a class action suit of this nature are the lawyers - on both sides.
     
  20. Jun 2, 2012 #8500 of 9367
    buscuitboy

    buscuitboy New Member

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    Well, ask & you shall receive cause it looks like Comcast is gonna start encrypting EVERYTHING. I JUST got a letter from Xfinity/Comcast informing me that as of June 26th, 2012, Comcast equipment will be needed for ALL TVs no matter what package you subscribe to. Even local basic (ch2-30) will require either a cable card, DTA or digital box.

    Due to Comcast's shenanigans for billing cable cards, I was thinking of using a 3rd Series3 TiVo I have (w/ lifetime) with no cable cards at all. Was gonna stick it in the basement & just use it to record the straight basic local/HD cable channels. Then MRV material to one of my two Premieres on the main level of my house over my home network. Therefore, the way I see it, I'm gonna HAVE to at least get 1 cable card for my TiVo S3 to make it functional AT ALL.

    Comcast is making it harder and harder for me to want to stay with them. I might have to SERIOUSLY start thinking about going to a straight antenna for my TiVos along with Netflix. This latest move is really pissing me off & making me get to the boiling point.
     

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