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Old 07-17-2008, 02:29 PM   #5521
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Well, I hate for my first post on a board to be a rant, but here goes anyway...

Executive summary: Trying to get an M-card working in my new THD, and Comcast is as useless as ever...

- First visit, guy was three hours late on his three hour window, meaning I had been waiting for him for six hours. Installs cable card, gets some channels working, claims the others will kick in within 8 hours or so. I naively believe him.
- Next day, still no premium channels. I dig around in the cable card menus and find that the card is not even properly paired. My wife calls Comcast, wastes another hour on the phone, only to be told "we need to send a tech out again". A supervisor is supposed to call her back, but never does.
- Fast forward a couple days, tech shows up, saying things like "oh, a cable card, you're in for a ride", and "I don't know why they even use these things". And this one "Well, Edie is the only one on the head end who really knows how to make these things work, and she's on vacation for two weeks." He proceeds to spend three hours on the phone with them, manages to get the card paired, but still no copy protected channels are authorized. My wife calls the Tivo cable card hotline, and puts the tech on with them. This quickly degenerates into a useless pissing match about whose fault it is. After three hours, she's had enough and kicks the tech out.
- Another call to Comcast to try to speak with a manager gets another "we'll have someone call you back..."
- Although I am quite convinced the problem is solely with Comcast, Tivo's cable card hotline is, unfortunately, borderline useless as well. A second call to them was very short and ended with basically "well, we can't do anything for you". Might be true, but I thought the hotline was there to help work with the cable companies.

At this point, we're pretty much ready to cancel our cable service outright, box up the THD and take it back, and cancel the one non-lifetime Tivo account that we set up for it. Which really sucks, because we love Tivo (had them since the very first units were available like eight years ago...). But I'm having a hard time justifying paying for services when we're getting treated like this (especially given that other media options like Netflix, bittorrent and others pretty much just work).

Soooo.... If we decide to give it one last gasp, does anyone in the Potomac Falls, Virginia area have any suggestions as to who to call, what to say, or whatever to try and get this resolved?? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:29 AM   #5522
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Paste your rant on comcastmustdie.com with your account number, and wait for the phone call from Comcast Executive. Get the Philly Comcast Executive Support number and call them. Find your regional VP's phone number and call his office. Search for Comcast at consumerist.com to get some of these.

Don't take this lying down, it's entirely Comcast's fault. You're paying for the service and they're required to provide properly working Cablecards. End of story.
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:08 PM   #5523
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I actually had a fairly good experience with my Comcast M-card installation today in Chicago.

My only complaint was that the installer was about an hour late getting to my house. The one hiccup we did have was that the one of the letters in the CableCard serial number was an I, and both he and I thought it was a 1, but as soon as we got that settled everything worked without problems.
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:38 AM   #5524
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Comcast is starting to charge for cablecards. I just received my new bill and on top of the regular cable fee they billed the two cablecards for my Tivo HD as two additional outlet fee, or $5.10 x 2 for a total of $10.20 monthly. This seems wrong.

How much are comcast charging you?

If I unplug my TV and the set top box, TivoHD will be the only outlet and they should charge me for one additional cablecard = $1.79, right?

Also, is it possible to buy/own the cable card and pay a one-time fee? I don't see anyone selling cablecards, so I guess the answer is no. I don't have any premium channels, so the only use of the cable cards are to re-map the channel numbers (e.g. from 5.1 into 105 to match the program guide). Is there a way to do this re-mapping without renting a cablecard from comcast?

Last edited by Newbie : 07-20-2008 at 09:03 AM. Reason: add another question
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:51 PM   #5525
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What could cause a group of channels to stop working? I`m getting just a black screen, signal strength is good and no uncorrected/corrected errors in diagnostics. Also on the same outlet I have a SA 8300HD that gets these channels with no problems.

I called comcast and got them to hit the card with no effect. Restarted & power cycled the tivo with no effect either. These channels were working fine for a long time.

Channels are HD channels 283-285 & 288 (north west houston)
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:53 PM   #5526
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What could cause a group of channels to stop working? I`m getting just a black screen, signal strength is good and no uncorrected/corrected errors in diagnostics. Also on the same outlet I have a SA 8300HD that gets these channels with no problems.

I called comcast and got them to hit the card with no effect. Restarted & power cycled the tivo with no effect either. These channels were working fine for a long time.

Channels are HD channels 283-285 & 288 (north west houston)
Same here (NW Houston, near Cypress). Strangely enough 65 also isn't working, which I thought was an analog channel (but it's the SD equivalent to 283).

Last week some time they moved a bunch of channels from analog to digital. I am assuming they screwed up more than that.
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:34 PM   #5527
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Comcast is starting to charge for cablecards. I just received my new bill and on top of the regular cable fee they billed the two cablecards for my Tivo HD as two additional outlet fee, or $5.10 x 2 for a total of $10.20 monthly. This seems wrong.

See the Comcast FAQ at http://www.comcast.com/Customers/Faq...s.ashx?Id=2651
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:53 AM   #5528
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Seattle M Card Install Experience

Quick report on getting a new Tivo HD set up with a Multi-channel cable card in Seattle.

Generally the experience has been quite good thus far.

1) Picked up M card at local cable store (N Seattle, 94th & Aurora). No hassles, CSRs seemed well versed in the drill. I was told they only carry M cards at this point. Motorola card.
2) Followed guidance on printed in-box literature. Guided setup prior to cable card install, made sure I had software updates before installing card.
3) Installed card, followed prompts to pairing screen
4) Called Comcast. Time to first CSR: < 30 seconds. Said I was installing cable card in an HD Tivo, needed to pair it.
5) Transfer to 2nd (technical support) CSR. Time to answer: < 10 seconds. She seemed very knowledgeable, quite friendly. She asked to the relevant ID info from the screen. Got it paired in a couple of minutes, and stayed on the line while I checked that all the channels I expected were available. She had me check a couple of representative channels first.
6) Everything Just Worked. Total time of M card install was maybe 5 minutes.

New bill indicates that they're charging me $1.79/month for "TiVo Series 3-cable Card" which, as it is the only cable card or device of any sort they've provided, seems incorrect per their (disavowed legally, I'm sure) FAQ. Guess I'll follow up on that today.

Have to say I've been pleasantly surprised with the whole process.

Not so much pleased with the constant freezing of playback I experienced while watching my first Formula One race in HD last night, but that's a topic for another very long thread . . .

[update] Called Comcast RE: $1.79 fee for first card. Exceedingly pleasant CSR agreed that I shouldn't be charged for 1 card and removed the charge. Total time of call (including navigating the phone tree): < 5 minutes.
-jam

Last edited by mollman : 07-21-2008 at 11:30 AM. Reason: New information
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:23 PM   #5529
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And I've been told by Comcast locally (area supervisor) and by Executive Support that you MUST be charged the fee for the M-card, even though there's only one card in the box. I was told by the Exec Support rep (who helped me through my install mess) that he had escalated the question higher up and that the answer was that if they didn't charge for the card, it would not work. I didn't fight it since in the ATL it's only $1.50/mo, but it does show up on the bill as two separate charges - Cablecard $0.00 and 2nd Cablecard $1.50.
Very strange, but they were adamant that removing the 2nd card charge would disable my access.
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:36 PM   #5530
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[update] Called Comcast RE: $1.79 fee for first card. Exceedingly pleasant CSR agreed that I shouldn't be charged for 1 card and removed the charge. Total time of call (including navigating the phone tree): < 5 minutes.
-jam
Are you still getting the premium channels after she removed the charge from your account?
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:37 PM   #5531
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Very strange, but they were adamant that removing the 2nd card charge would disable my access.
Comcast has several different billing systems, and the billing system is the key to the cablecard authoriztion system. On some of their systems I'm sure that what she told you is true.
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:53 PM   #5532
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Are you still getting the premium channels after she removed the charge from your account?
We don't subscribe to any premium channels (we have the Digital Starter package), so no.

We'll see if I have *any* channels when I get home, I guess ;-)
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Old 07-21-2008, 07:49 PM   #5533
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I believe a charge for an M-card is correct.

There are two types of cable cards, Multi-stream cards (M-card) and Single-Stream cards (S-card). Since your Tivo is dual-tuner, you need either two S-cards, or one M-card in order for both tuners to work. Comcast's policy is to let you have one S-card for free, and to charge a nominal fee ($1.00-$2.00) for a second S-card. Since the M-card does the same job as two S-cards, you should still be charged the fee, since it is the same as having two S-cards.
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:57 PM   #5534
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Not according to the comcast reps I talked to. Before I got my M-Card, I asked that very question. They said the first card is always free on the account, and the 2nd one is 1.50$ more. So they told me simply that if I use 2 S-Cards, I get a 1.50$ extra charge, but if I get the single M-Card it's free since it's the first and only card.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:35 PM   #5535
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Kudos to Tivo Support

So I have had similar frustrations getting my Comcast cablecards to work properly in the HD Tivo.

Had several long calls with Comcast - after the second call, the single multi-stream card appeared to have been paired and activated & I was receiving channels.

Unfortunately, I soon found that I could only view channels 1-99.

Couple of days later I gave Tivo Support a call and they were really responsive - I provided them with data from my diagnostic/status screens & they confirmed that in fact the card still had not been activated by Comcast... the guy from Tivo suggested that we get on a 3 way conference call with Comcast to make sure that the card was activated properly - he initiated the call to Comcast, did all the talking and everything was working fine in about 10 mins.

This was SO... much better than having another 3 calls and a couple of tech visits from Comcast - if you are having problems getting your card(s) paired/activated properly (and your issue is not an intermittent one) I would highly suggest contacting Tivo and involving them in any subsequent discussions with Comcast.

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Old 07-23-2008, 12:01 PM   #5536
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We don't subscribe to any premium channels (we have the Digital Starter package), so no.

We'll see if I have *any* channels when I get home, I guess ;-)
Has anyone else in the Seattle area gotten M cards in their Tivo3? Currently I have two S cards (paying $1.79 monthly for the card) and would like to replace them with one M card if I can be sure it would work and would save me the $1.79 fee. However, I dread the activation process; not all comcast technicians are well trained on new hardware.

I have the digital basic package which includes many channels above 99.
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Old 07-23-2008, 12:22 PM   #5537
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Has anyone else in the Seattle area gotten M cards in their Tivo3? Currently I have two S cards (paying $1.79 monthly for the card) and would like to replace them with one M card if I can be sure it would work and would save me the $1.79 fee. However, I dread the activation process; not all comcast technicians are well trained on new hardware.
Hi Newbie! As far as I know, the S3 only supports single-stream cards. Even if you get M-cards from ComCast, the S3 will still require 2 of them. Only the TiVoHD supports dual-tuner functionality with a single M-card.
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Old 07-24-2008, 06:39 AM   #5538
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Hi Newbie! As far as I know, the S3 only supports single-stream cards. Even if you get M-cards from ComCast, the S3 will still require 2 of them. Only the TiVoHD supports dual-tuner functionality with a single M-card.
Kenny is correct... it operates the M-Cards in Single tuner mode. so the Series 3 HD requires 2 Cards no matter what... also most of Comcast charges the M-Card as one S Card and one FREE S Card.
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:04 PM   #5539
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My comcast cablecard experience

Install was scheduled for yesterday 8/23/08 between 4 and 7 pm.
Normall comcast calls the day before any of my appointments to confirm and they also promise their techs will call before arriving on site. No call previous day and tech arrives at 4:30 without call. Wife calls and lets me know they are there. I rush home, takes about 10 mins.

By the time I get home, I find the tech on the phone with another tech trying to figure out how to install the cablecard, thankfully he brought an M-card for my TiVoHD, Motorola mcard btw. Tech hangs up phone 5 mins later and finally acknowledges me. First thing he says is why would you by this piece of garbage, our DVR's are so much better, mind you I could barely understand him. He says they've sent a hit 3 times to the card but it's not working, it must be this TiVo box is bad, then he tries to run guided setup over without being able to see any of the channels in the test channel function. I finally got through to him that guided setup was my gig, his was to make sure I could get the channels.

So he decides to test my signal, he pulls the TiVo out and unscrews the cable connection, and at the same time he yanks the eSATA cable from the back so the TiVo instantly restarts, again he blames the TiVo for being broken. I plug the eSATA back in and reboot it. Signal is perfect he says.

TiVo finishes restarting about 7 mins later. He calls again and rereads them the info from the pairing screen. They send another "hit" to the card. Then he exits the cablecard menu and starts directly typing in the channel numbers and everything seems to work.

So, I get rid of this guy as fast as I can before he tries to convince me his DVR is better then mine, even though I told him I went through 4 of his DVR's in 6 months from them failing, yet have never had an issue with a TiVo.

I go through guided setup and everything seems fine. So I wait a bit and all of a sudden it pops an error message 161-38 and I loose all my cablecard functionality. I go into the cable card menu and can't find anything wrong but I have no channels in the test channels again. I try again and they magically appear. Same thing happens 2 more times last night within about 2 hours. Now so far everything has been fine. Hopefully that error does not come back like others have reported.
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Old 07-25-2008, 01:14 PM   #5540
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HAs anyone been able to get an M card in the old Adelphia territory like South Florida? I'm tired of paying two digital fees, two HD fees for the same TV. I was told I needed to do it for each card.
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Old 07-26-2008, 05:51 AM   #5541
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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.
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Old 07-26-2008, 02:40 PM   #5542
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Kenny is correct... it operates the M-Cards in Single tuner mode. so the Series 3 HD requires 2 Cards no matter what... also most of Comcast charges the M-Card as one S Card and one FREE S Card.
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.
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:10 PM   #5543
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another successful Comcast card install in 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.
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:45 AM   #5544
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HAs anyone been able to get an M card in the old Adelphia territory like South Florida? I'm tired of paying two digital fees, two HD fees for the same TV. I was told I needed to do it for each card.
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...
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Old 07-27-2008, 12:58 PM   #5545
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Big Grin Good experience

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.

Now I'm watching the Food channel in HD. Damn, I'm hungry.
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:11 PM   #5546
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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.
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:31 PM   #5547
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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.
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:19 PM   #5548
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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?
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:02 PM   #5549
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SGR,

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
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:30 PM   #5550
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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.
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