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Old 03-05-2012, 04:01 PM   #1
Thos19
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Buying Cablecards instead of renting them...

Hi,

I currently have to rent 2 cable cards from Verizon Fios at $3.99/mo each for my Tivo Series 3 (TCD648250B). I have seen on eBay, numerous vendors selling Motorola M-Cards for around $20 each, which would certainly be more cost effective for me in the long run.

The question is, would Fios ever allow this? Before I sit on hold with Verizon in hopes of asking the question who might even know what I am talking about, I figured I'd ask you guys: Has anyone out there ever bought 1 or 2 cable cards for use in their Series 3/4 units and were able to convince Verizon (or Comcast, I guess as well) to allow them to use them instead of renting? And if so, what brand and model cars did you use?

Thanks for your help,

Thos.
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Old 03-05-2012, 04:06 PM   #2
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In general the answer is "no you can not provide your own CableCARDs" since they want to always have the ability to ask for them back in an exchange, not to mention it's a bit of a nightmare from a support standpoint if you let folks bring their own.

There have been a few instances of smaller cable companies letting folks bring their own CableCARD in, but I've never heard of it in the larger organizations.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:23 PM   #3
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Cable providers won't activate a cablecard unless they provided it to you. There are no legitimate means by which consumers can purchase cablecards for use on any cable or FIOS system. The ones you see for sale on ebay are probably left over from installs where the owners simply neglected to turn them back into the cable company prior to changing their address so they're basically stolen. Providers already don't like the fact that they lose revenue by allowing you to use them instead of renting their cable boxes and DVRs. They're already taking a cut by renting cablecards for next to nothing.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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Cable providers won't activate a cablecard unless they provided it to you. There are no legitimate means by which consumers can purchase cablecards for use on any cable or FIOS system. The ones you see for sale on ebay are probably left over from installs where the owners simply neglected to turn them back into the cable company prior to changing their address so they're basically stolen. Providers already don't like the fact that they lose revenue by allowing you to use them instead of renting their cable boxes and DVRs. They're already taking a cut by renting cablecards for next to nothing.
As a rule of thumb, what you said is generally true. However, about 4 years ago, Metrocast (cable provider in Maine) sold me two cable cards for my S3 OLED for $150.00 each. At the time, the only option they had for cable cards was outright purchase, not monthly rental. The cost was completely offset by their "Dump the Dish" promotion at the time, as I previously had DTV. To this day, I still don't pay a monthly rental fee.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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Time to upgrade to TiVo Elite.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:55 PM   #6
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As a rule of thumb, what you said is generally true. However, about 4 years ago, Metrocast (cable provider in Maine) sold me two cable cards for my S3 OLED for $150.00 each. At the time, the only option they had for cable cards was outright purchase, not monthly rental. The cost was completely offset by their "Dump the Dish" promotion at the time, as I previously had DTV. To this day, I still don't pay a monthly rental fee.
Thus my comment of "some smaller cable companies" the larger folks would never do/allow it, the smaller local folks have done it only a few times.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:47 PM   #7
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Providers already don't like the fact that they lose revenue by allowing you to use them instead of renting their cable boxes and DVRs. They're already taking a cut by renting cablecards for next to nothing.
I'm getting the impression this is less and less true over time. CC support at Comcast has actually improved quite a bit over the last couple of years. Heck, last I heard, Comcast's even working on providing apps to stream Xfinity VOD to TiVos in the Bay area - talk about the crown jewels.

And why not? The truth is, TiVo customers, and now especially Premiere Elite customers, are far more heavily invested and so more loyal than customers renting crappy CableCo hardware month to month. And when it comes to profits, hardware rental is nothing compared to that $100+ monthly service fee. TiVo is CableCo's best friend - TiVotees can't use their precious little boxes w/satellite, and now with the Elite can't even tune in OTA.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:19 AM   #8
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It has improved only because they were ordered to improve.

"Deals" with operators seems to be growning, I'm positive it is not out of the goodness of their hearts. Either they are afraid of a lawsuit or think it can reduce cost/improve revenues somehow. It is certainly not due to Comcast having sudden love for TiVo users, we could still sell our units and go satellite or just move to OTA.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:45 AM   #9
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They're already taking a cut by renting cablecards for next to nothing.
Not necessarily. I pay $3.99/month for my cablecards but their settop digital converter box is only $4.99/month. Maybe that's a "loss leader" as well, but analog channels are available on my cable so the primary reason to have the box is to display the HD channels that I'm already paying extra for.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:20 PM   #10
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But I think the point still stands that you can only get cable cards from your cable provider. Almost always this means "rent", with a few exceptions as mentioned where the cable provider will sell them to you. Cable cards provide the decryption keys to the cable company's product, and it makes sense that they want to be the one providing the keys. Before, you had get the entire set-top box from the provider; the FCC changed that to be that only the security component (the cable cards) has to come from the provider.
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:09 AM   #11
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Cable cards provide the decryption keys to the cable company's product, and it makes sense that they want to be the one providing the keys.
That's not relevant. The keys are delivered continuously over the OOB carrier. They are not tied in any way to the CableCard.

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Before, you had get the entire set-top box from the provider; the FCC changed that to be that only the security component (the cable cards) has to come from the provider.
It doesn't "have to" in the sense of it being an FCC regulation, or any thing like that, but since a CableCard from one CATV company typically won't work on another CATV system, one "has to" get them from one's provider or they are liable not to work. Not only will a Motorola CableCard not work with a Cisco headend, a Motorola CableCard from one system may not work with another Motorola system with different software.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:23 PM   #12
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Metrocast (cable provider in Maine) sold me two cable cards for my S3 OLED for $150.00 each.
I'm glad this person was able to purchase cards and thereby save on the obscene monthly charges. Frontier FiOS charges me $4 each per month, no way to buy one.

But, just so we're clear, a $150 purchase price is also far beyond obscene. I'm surprised they're allowed to get away with it, since the FCC purportedly has regulations that say these cards must be priced reasonably (I'm handwaving because I don't have the regs in front of me).

How do I know that's too much? Because I have a 2009 price list from my local Comcast company that says that there's a $30 charge for an unreturned Motorola CableCARD.

Interestingly enough, Comcast was probably embarrassed by the low purchase price of something they were renting for $1.79 per month. Because by 2010 their price list stopped showing the cost of unreturned equipment, and simply said "UNRETURNED EQUIPMENT CHARGES Equal to the Replacement Cost".
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:29 PM   #13
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But, just so we're clear, a $150 purchase price is also far beyond obscene. I'm surprised they're allowed to get away with it, since the FCC purportedly has regulations that say these cards must be priced reasonably (I'm handwaving because I don't have the regs in front of me).

How do I know that's too much? Because I have a 2009 price list from my local Comcast company that says that there's a $30 charge for an unreturned Motorola CableCARD.
I understand your logic, but from an end user point of view, that would be 37.5 months to break even, assuming that they will indeed register the card and you can use it however you want. Just like tivo lifetime service, it's a gamble, but that kind of gamble I would take.. (and I say that as someone who so far 'lost' the gamble on a S3.. Well, I had about 4 years, and I keep intending on trying to fix it.. but since I lost a DRIVE also, I'm wishy washy about that.)
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:35 PM   #14
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In general the answer is "no you can not provide your own CableCARDs" since they want to always have the ability to ask for them back in an exchange, not to mention it's a bit of a nightmare from a support standpoint if you let folks bring their own.

There have been a few instances of smaller cable companies letting folks bring their own CableCARD in, but I've never heard of it in the larger organizations.
Why would letting people own their cablecards be any harder than cable modems? They just need serial numbers and MAC addresses, they could tie down the CC to the MAC address of the TV, TIVO,etc or are you saying the CC needs to be preprogramed by each Cable operator?

Cablecards rental fees can get really high if you have a clp of first Series3 and a clp of Series 4. I don't see why the don't sell them, they can't be used without cable and they have control of the card. Win Win.

This is the only reason I don't have Verizon $3.99 -$4.99 CCs Thats $20.00 - $25.00 a month or $240-$300 a year just to put ch's in the right order. Thats a car note!!!

I would rather pay a one time fee , maybe $75.00 -$100.00 per card.
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:21 AM   #15
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Why would letting people own their cablecards be any harder than cable modems? They just need serial numbers and MAC addresses, they could tie down the CC to the MAC address of the TV, TIVO,etc or are you saying the CC needs to be preprogramed by each Cable operator?
There's more to it than that, they also need to be the correct brand since the different cable companies use different head end hardware. It's not as simple as recording a MAC.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:22 AM   #16
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There's more to it than that, they also need to be the correct brand since the different cable companies use different head end hardware. It's not as simple as recording a MAC.
Thanks, for the info
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:36 PM   #17
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There's more to it than that, they also need to be the correct brand since the different cable companies use different head end hardware. It's not as simple as recording a MAC.
Though to be nitpicky, aren't there only 2 different brands of cable cards, and more than that different types of cable modems? (I don't mean just brands, but I mean different specs, e.g. I don't know if there are any cable modems you can buy that support 'digital voice'..)
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:00 PM   #18
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Though to be nitpicky, aren't there only 2 different brands of cable cards, and more than that different types of cable modems? (I don't mean just brands, but I mean different specs, e.g. I don't know if there are any cable modems you can buy that support 'digital voice'..)
2 major brands, 2 different types, and the fact you need a certain revision of firmware, I know they can upgrade firmware via hit, but I don't know if they can downgrade the same way. I see this being a nightmare for so many reasons in support.

I also can see plenty of reasons the providers are being antsy since they do not want to sell the key to the kingdom, they don't sell cable boxes either, they want to be able to rescind the device at any time. I'm not saying they're right, but I can see the reasons they want to not sell you the key.
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:16 PM   #19
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Though to be nitpicky, aren't there only 2 different brands of cable cards, and more than that different types of cable modems? (I don't mean just brands, but I mean different specs, e.g. I don't know if there are any cable modems you can buy that support 'digital voice'..)
You know I didn't caught that answer right, I know you have to buy the same brand and type CC the head end would be using but why would that be so hard??? So I may have been right it is just mac address and serial numbers?


Motorola & Scientific Atlanta are the biggest mfg

I was thinking the head end did a pre -program for their area.
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Old 03-28-2012, 09:38 AM   #20
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I just wanted to throw my 2 cents into this discussion, if you will allow me. I read all through this thread and didn't see any reference to what I'm adding, sooo.....

You only need a CC if you want to receive the digital or HD channels from your provider.

I have Bright House Networks whose parent company is Time Warner, I believe. Through them, if I have digital service on 1 TV (which I do with a TivoHD DVR), they allow free SD service on up to 2 other TVs. My Living Room has digital...hence I need the CC...but my Bedroom--which also has a TivoHD DVR--has SD service but I am not required to have a CC for it as I only receive channels 2-100. I got an amazing deal on the 2nd DVR when my series 2 had a nervous breakdown and committed hari-kari :P

I just wanted to put this in the thread for anybody that ---like me--straddles the HD and SD worlds.

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:06 PM   #21
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Why did you write that in italics?

So you're claiming you still get 100 ANALOG channels? You're lucky, IMHO. (Yes, I'm one of the few people who *like* analog channels, even though I admit the picture quality on the digital channels is far better WHEN it works.. but even relatively rare digital artifacts bug the heck out of me.)
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Old 08-07-2012, 02:32 PM   #22
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So has anyone asked Verizon if they can bring their own cable cards and avoid the rental fees?
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:09 PM   #23
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Why did you write that in italics?

So you're claiming you still get 100 ANALOG channels? You're lucky, IMHO. (Yes, I'm one of the few people who *like* analog channels, even though I admit the picture quality on the digital channels is far better WHEN it works.. but even relatively rare digital artifacts bug the heck out of me.)
Lucky? JMO but NOT. Cable companies which got rid of analog did so in order to increase the number of HD digital channels.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:43 AM   #24
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Cable Cards Ripoff

This whole topic makes me angry. The providers are abusing their customers and the customer has no choice. If you are going to rent a $30 piece of equipment to your customer, there should be a ceiling. Even if it was 3 years it would be more fair but to continuously charge and not give your customers any other option (regardless of provider - because no providers sell them direct) is wrong and needs to change. I have two and have been paying for two for 7+ years.

On a related note, what also gets me mad is how a provider (Veizon FIOS) can charge $6.99 for a second "Virtual Phone Number" or "Distinctive Ring" for a fax machine. That is a joke and way off topic but it's wrong.
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Old 12-16-2012, 03:23 PM   #25
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The providers are abusing their customers and the customer has no choice.
While I don't disagree with your original point; you have the choice to not use the service.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:26 PM   #26
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While I don't disagree with your original point; you have the choice to not use the service.
In my neighborhood the choice is Time-Warner or do without cable, because they've got a monopoly on burying cable or stringing it on phone poles in this area.

Obviously the electrical company and telephone company can use the same rights of way for their wires (and were doing so before cable TV came along), but they don't offer television channels.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:48 AM   #27
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Or... you can opt to not subscribe to cable.

TV isn't a necessity. You can choose to use "rabbit ears" and watch OTA TV. You can use digital services like Netflix, iTunes, Hulu and Amazon to watch your favorite series - perhaps with a slight delay. And your favorite TV series end up on DVD soon enough. And hell, today you can watch all these things on your big screen by using a small box that costs less than one month of cable.

Maybe 10 years ago there wasn't much of an option, but these days... (and yes, cable companies are suffering revenue wise - the internet has curtailed their earnings of "adult content" channels).
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:15 AM   #28
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This topic reminds me, I have a cablecard sitting on a table that I'm paying $2 a month for. I need to bring it back to the cable company. I wonder if they can make returning a cablecard as much "fun" as having it installed.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:46 AM   #29
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Or... you can opt to not subscribe to cable.

TV isn't a necessity. You can choose to use "rabbit ears" and watch OTA TV. You can use digital services like Netflix, iTunes, Hulu and Amazon to watch your favorite series - perhaps with a slight delay. And your favorite TV series end up on DVD soon enough. And hell, today you can watch all these things on your big screen by using a small box that costs less than one month of cable.

Maybe 10 years ago there wasn't much of an option, but these days... (and yes, cable companies are suffering revenue wise - the internet has curtailed their earnings of "adult content" channels).
And from whom do I get this wonderful fast high bandwidth internet service?

And around here, rabbit ears don't cut it, I'll need to put our "out of service the last 25 or 30 years" antenna mast back up.
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