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QAM mapping letter campaign (HD w/o cablecard)

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by smbaker, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. Aug 16, 2007 #1 of 2121
    smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

    20,625
    134
    May 24, 2003
    Is there any interest in starting an informal letter-writing campaign to Tivo requesting QAM-mapping features? If they are to be convinced to implement this feature, then it may need some demonstation that there is a demand.

    For those unfamiliar with the problem:

    US cable service includes digital HD network programming as part of "basic cable" service by FCC mandate. The cable companies are required to pass this programming unencrypted, which means it does not require a cablecard to receive these network HD channels. The Tivo HD and S3 have the ability to discover and tune these channels without the need for a cablecard. The Tivo HD lacks the ability to associate guide data with these channels, thus rendering the Tivo functionality back down to the level of a 1980's VCR when attempting to use these HD channels. Tivo's policy is that you must have cablecards to associate guide data with digital channels. For many of us, acquiring cablecards requires us to pay a hefty additional upgrade to "digital cable", a hefty installation fee, and monthly rental fees on the cablecards themselves....

    The Fix:

    There are many possible solutions. The QAM channels include a PSIP header that usually has a channel number. In my case, the channels show up with the same channel number as my OTA HD stations, but the Tivo is still unable to associate guide data with them. Thus, in many cases a mapping function could be automatic. In other cases, a manual mapping function may be necessary.

    For example, the user could go into the channel list, pick out a QAM HD channel, click some "associate guide data" link, and associate guide data with the channel. Alternatively some other have suggested mapping channel numbers rather than guide data. For example, the QAM HD channel could be manually mapped to the cableco's digital cable channel number for that channel.

    IMO (and this is just my opinion), this is a simple feature to implement. Most of functionality is already there, it just needs a user interface. Tivo could do it if they thought the demand great enough.

    Here is a suggested sample letter:

    ----------------

    Dear Tivo,

    I am a cable subscriber that is considering upgrading my standard Tivos to HD or S3 models. However, I only subscribe to basic cable and do not have a cablecard. My basic cable includes the four major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) in digital HD by FCC mandate. I am able to tune these channels with my digital TV. Your Tivo HD and S3 models are also able to tune these channels, but with reduced functionality. The Tivo HD is unable to associate guide data with these channels, severely reducing the utility of the Tivo HD. In order to obtain cablecards, I would have to upgrade to a more costly package from my cable company that incurs additional installation and significant monthly fees and cablecard rental fees. As I primarily intend to use the Tivo HD to view the local networks (which are already included in digital HD as part of my basic cable service), I cannot justify the additional expense.

    Please consider adding a feature to associate guide data with unencrypted QAM channels. This feature is commonly referred to as QAM-mapping by the community, and is available on some competing DVRs. If the Tivo HD or S3 supported this feature, then I would upgrade my remaining Tivos to HD models.

    Thank You

    ------

    Suggestions/edits are welcome to the letter. In fact each person's letter should be slightly different, so as not to be sending form letters. If you could include details such as how many Tivos you would buy and how much extra the cable company wants to charge you for cablecards, that would be good.

    As far as where to send the letter, the best I can come up with is using the contactus page at http://www.tivo.com/abouttivo/contactus/index.html. There is a "feature ideas" link. If you are an shareholder, then you might want to try the investor relations email (after all you own the company!)
     
  2. Aug 16, 2007 #2 of 2121
    SugarBowl

    SugarBowl Member

    793
    1
    Jan 4, 2007
    Cary, NC
    Sure you get the networks in QAM from your cable company, but have you called your cable company and asked them for a list of the clear QAM channels that they provide? Is it posted on their website?
     
  3. Aug 16, 2007 #3 of 2121
    rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

    7,061
    1
    Sep 21, 2004
    That would be the whole point of QAM mapping.
     
  4. Aug 16, 2007 #4 of 2121
    SugarBowl

    SugarBowl Member

    793
    1
    Jan 4, 2007
    Cary, NC
    But it is a cable company problem, not Tivo.
     
  5. Aug 16, 2007 #5 of 2121
    jfh3

    jfh3 New Member

    4,469
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    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    And, even if you had the assignments, you couldn't do anything with them, other than tune the stations manually.

    The whole point of QAM mapping support is to be able to use all the Tivo scheduling features with QAM channels.

    This is absolutely a Tivo problem.
     
  6. Aug 16, 2007 #6 of 2121
    rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

    7,061
    1
    Sep 21, 2004
    No, the cable company has solved it with cablecards. That is not what the original poster is even talking about.
     
  7. Aug 16, 2007 #7 of 2121
    DUDE_NJX

    DUDE_NJX Well-Known Member

    11,752
    37
    Feb 12, 2003
    I would definitely get another Tivo HD if it worked that way! :up:
     
  8. Aug 16, 2007 #8 of 2121
    smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

    20,625
    134
    May 24, 2003
    I only want the networks. Sure, the others (Discovery, etc) might be nice. The cableco is not required to give me those extra digital networks, but they are required by the FCC to give me the four local networks.

    As far as the cableco websites (comcast in particular), IMO they go to great lengths to obfuscate the channel lineups. I never knew I was entitled to receive the HD networks until I did a channel scan and further research in these forums. The only thing I found on comcast's website was a $5 "hd package" they wanted to sell me, and I think that was on top of the upgrade fees for 'digital' cable.
     
  9. Aug 16, 2007 #9 of 2121
    smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

    20,625
    134
    May 24, 2003
    I'd say it's the cable company's *fault*, but it's Tivo's *problem*.

    As a consumer, I would like the Tivo to work (with full functionality) on the channels that I pay for and am entitled to receive. Of course, Tivo can punt on the issue by requiring cablecards, but they are missing out on market share by doing so.
     
  10. Aug 16, 2007 #10 of 2121
    bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
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    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    Some cable companies already use PSIP to remap their QAM channels to the correct cable channels. On those systems, you get guide data with the Tivo on all your unencrypted QAM channels.

    If you want this problem fixed, convince your cable company to add PSIP information to remap QAM channels to the appropriate number in their digital lineup.
     
  11. Aug 16, 2007 #11 of 2121
    vstone

    vstone New Member

    1,235
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    May 11, 2002
    Martinsville...
    Actually if he gets, say channel 7.1 over cable as 7.1, the cable company is actually passing it on per CFR (ie doing what they are supposed to be doing).
     
  12. Aug 16, 2007 #12 of 2121
    vstone

    vstone New Member

    1,235
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    May 11, 2002
    Martinsville...
    Actually some did and apparently still are populating PSIP with the number corresponding to their published channel lineup. Unfortunately, the at not what the ATSC specs tell them to do.
     
  13. Aug 16, 2007 #13 of 2121
    JJ

    JJ TiVoPlantation Owner

    357
    0
    Jul 14, 2000
    Land of...
    PSIP
    data is only required for the 'big 4' networks? This would explain how Comcast tends to play 'hide and seek' moving the other local broadcast/digital channels. TiVo should look at how Microsoft (can't believe I'm saying this) allows channels to be remapped in Media Center. You need this locally to remap WUPA to RF43 from the RF69 the guide data believes it to be. Microsoft also lets you assign the programming data to the channel you created. Simple and elegant solution I would have expected from TiVo, not Microsoft...
     
  14. Aug 16, 2007 #14 of 2121
    smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

    20,625
    134
    May 24, 2003
    What would be the cableco's incentive to do this when they can instead force their customers to upgrade to a 'digital' package, add a HD package, and rent cablecards instead? From the cableco perspective, incorrect channel numbers are not a problem, but a feature.

    Furthermore, I think the specs say the cablecos have to pass the channel number that the broadcaster places in the PSIP, at least for the networks. In my case, this is one of those rare things that is working as expected -- for example NBC comes across as 16.1 which is the correct OTA channel number. The Tivo will NOT supply guide data for this channel.

    Having the cablecos override the channel numbers the networks put in the PSIP is clearly not the right thing to do; it will only lead to more obfuscation of channel numbers by the cable companies. The cable companies do not want it to be convenient for you to get the big 4 networks in HD, as they would much rather charge for a digital cable package + HD package.
     
  15. Aug 16, 2007 #15 of 2121
    Saxion

    Saxion Substantive Member

    485
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    Sep 17, 2006
    San Diego
    That's certainly the intent of the FCC regulations. However, the specific reg is poorly written and says only that the PSIP channel number data has to be present...it doesn't specifically say it couldn't be modified by the cable company. It's one of those ridiculous loopholes that only a lawyer could love...

    You are also correct that the cable company does not have any incentive to repopulate the PSIP channel data with their own channel assignments, and in fact has a financial incentive not to do this. I think that's why it's extremely rare to find a cable market that does this (is Austin TX the only one?).

    The vast majority of cable plants adhere to the spirit of the FCC regs and pass the PSIP data as received from the broadcaster. Given that...it is certainly TiVo's "fault" that TiVo owners can't make use of those channels.
     
  16. Aug 16, 2007 #16 of 2121
    Saxion

    Saxion Substantive Member

    485
    0
    Sep 17, 2006
    San Diego
    I'd encourage people to write letters to one or more of the following people (postal letters carry a lot more weight than email). Concise and respectful is the best method. :)

    Mr. Brian Lanier
    Vice President for Software Development, Consumer Products Division

    Mr. Todd Juenger
    Vice President and General Manager, Audience Research and Measurement

    Ms. Margret Schmidt
    Vice President for User Experience Design & Research

    Mr. Jim Denney
    Vice President for Product Marketing

    Each of the above at:

    TiVo, Inc.
    2160 Gold Street
    P.O. Box 2160
    Alviso, CA 95002
     
  17. Aug 16, 2007 #17 of 2121
    lessd

    lessd Active Member

    7,736
    10
    Jan 23, 2005
    CT
    TiVo get their guide data from a 3rd party provider, the cable co do not have any published data on the clear QAM channels in their lineup, TiVo needs an automatic system to keep downloading this data so i do not see this as an easy problem for TiVo to solve as many of you think. If the cable co gave out the QAM data then the problem would be easy to address for TiVo. This is just my opinion.
     
  18. Aug 16, 2007 #18 of 2121
    rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

    7,061
    1
    Sep 21, 2004
    Didn't the Sony box solve this with a simple mapping feature?
     
  19. Aug 16, 2007 #19 of 2121
    bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    0
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    Yes, the Sony let you set a network affiliation for a particular QAM channel. Of course, whenever your cable provider changed their QAM channels -- some do it rarely and others do it more frequently -- recordings were from the wrong channel.
     
  20. Aug 16, 2007 #20 of 2121
    JJ

    JJ TiVoPlantation Owner

    357
    0
    Jul 14, 2000
    Land of...
    If these channels
    are indeed 'echoes' of the broadcast channels as the FCC intended, TiVo already has the data. Allowing customers to manually connect the broadcast channel with the information already available to TiVo as OTA data.

    Missing data for an obscure cable company weather channel won't bother me in the least. Just let me tune to it without data and record 30 minute blocks if I choose to record something.

    The will to crawl out of the cable companies bed and do something for thier customers is something TiVo can do, if they choose to...
     

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