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Old 12-06-2007, 10:01 AM   #751
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I'd suspect, TiVo will have a mode that will, when done with a recording, tell the headend to release the channel, if needed.
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Old 12-06-2007, 10:10 AM   #752
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Quote:
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I'd suspect, TiVo will have a mode that will, when done with a recording, tell the headend to release the channel, if needed.
Suggestions don't usually record continuously, though certainly there are such times that does happen. But the 30-minute buffer recording will affect how channel demand from SDV occurs since there's really no current "stop recording anything including the buffers" state for TiVo receivers. Standby mode could be used as one way of doing this, but of all the people I know using TiVo, I know no one who goes to the trouble of using standby mode, so statistically I'm not sure that'll help much.

The receiver does keep track of the last user interaction that occurred, so they may implement some sort of longer term stop-recording-any-buffers mode after sufficient time passes without user input... 6 or 12 hours, for instance. Much like happens now with cable's set-top boxes and how they spin down the hard drive after some extended inactivity.
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:28 AM   #753
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Perhaps one of the conditions associated with the agreement that resulted in the tuning resolver was that TiVo suggestions would be limited to non-SDV sources.
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:44 AM   #754
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What happens when the statistical gamble of SDV goes bad? Instead of getting the channel they are requesting, viewers get blocked. Sort of like being bumped from an over-sold airline flight.
People get bumped all of the time. It is a relatively high probability. It should be more analogous to not getting a land-line telephone call through which is very unlikely. Also, if I define a node to be 300 tuners and have 300 channels available, I can use SDV to offer an unlimited number of SDV video streams with 100% probability of success.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:48 PM   #755
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A box per QAM stream?

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People get bumped all of the time. It is a relatively high probability. It should be more analogous to not getting a land-line telephone call through which is very unlikely. Also, if I define a node to be 300 tuners and have 300 channels available, I can use SDV to offer an unlimited number of SDV video streams with 100% probability of success.
Yes, your suggestion is one way that SDV technology could be used. However that is not the economic model that motivates the cable companies. The values used in one of the experiments I cited included
334 set-top boxes in a node,
100 QAM streams, and
169 programs
so the potential for blocking was very real. If the cable companies had to reduce the number of set-top boxes per node to about 100, their costs would go up significantly. They don't like that.
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Old 12-06-2007, 03:09 PM   #756
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so the potential for blocking was very real.
On what do you base your suggestion that the potential is very real. Do you have any usage statistics or just a gut feel. I have seen real data suggesting that the tail of watched channels drops very quickly.

The http://www.motorola.com/mot/doc/6/6578_MotDoc.pdf white paper shows a generic version of the statistics graph. I don't have a more detailed version handy that is able to be posted on the internet.

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Old 12-06-2007, 03:23 PM   #757
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Does anybody know if Tulsa, OK has or is planning on rolling out SDV anytime soon? I'm just about to jump back onto a TiVo for the first time in about four years now the the HD is around $250.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:11 PM   #758
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I suspect that SDV schemes use a channel "lease" model, where the terminal asks for information for tuning a channel and the system returns something like "Requested channel XXX is in a transport stream on a QAM 256 carrier at frequency YYY as program PPP, guaranteed for for 10,800 seconds". So the terminal starts a timer and 3 hours later, if the tuner hasn't been tuned to something else, stops buffering the channel if it's a non-viewed tuner or if it is viewed, puts up a pop-up asking the user whether he wishes to continue watching, and if he responds, sends a request to renew. If the tuner is still in use recording, it automatically renews. If it doesn't renew, the network automatically rescinds the lease and decrements the channel's use-count, relinquishing the bandwidth for re-use when the count falls to zero.

Since the "are you still watching?" prompt is a bit awkward, the network should probably always make a lease granted that ends in the middle of primetime extended through the end of primetime.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:22 PM   #759
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The details of the leasing scheme is explained either earlier in the thread or in linked references earlier in the thread.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:28 PM   #760
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The details of the leasing scheme is explained either earlier in the thread or in linked references earlier in the thread.
We have discussed the concept of leasing channels somewhere in these forums, though I'm not sure that it was in this thread. Of course, it's all still speculation, since we don't have specifications of any of the SDV systems in use.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:35 PM   #761
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Thus a TiVo will create a much higher average demand on an SDV service than an average human viewer.
Note that it isn't average demand that matters, but peak demand. A box which is tuned to a switched channel at 3AM isn't a problem, since the bandwidth would otherwise be wasted.
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:32 PM   #762
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People get bumped all of the time. It is a relatively high probability. It should be more analogous to not getting a land-line telephone call through which is very unlikely.
Actually back in the day when most people used dial up modems, this started to become a problem because people would tie up the phones lines for hours or even days at a time.

That's the problem when a system isn't used the way it was designed to be used. SDV was designed to be used by humans who don't watch TV 24 hours a day. A TiVo basically does this and watches 2 channels at once to boot.
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:44 PM   #763
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Note that it isn't average demand that matters, but peak demand. A box which is tuned to a switched channel at 3AM isn't a problem, since the bandwidth would otherwise be wasted.
There's nothing stopping the box from sitting on a switched channel during a high peak demand time. If there are a bunch of TiVo's on a node and they are all tuned to a different SDV channel sometime during the day, the SDV channel pool could run out come prime-time even though no one is watching.

I would like to think that the tunable SDV frequencies could be adjusted to take into account high demand. For example borrowing an extra "channel" normally used for VOD and temporarily reassigning it for SDV. I'm not sure if that's possible with the current implementation though.
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:45 PM   #764
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SDV was designed to be used by humans who don't watch TV 24 hours a day. A TiVo basically does this and watches 2 channels at once to boot.
Humans don't watch television 24 hours a day, so if you take steps that prevent TiVo from doing it it won't affect humans.

Note that leased Cable DVRs are nearly as bad as TiVo; you can place them in a standby state that TiVo no longer seems to support, and some firmware will automatically stop buffering the non-viewed tuner if it's not used for a recording for a few hours to save wear and tear on the HDAs, but many people aren't going to bother to turn on standby mode.

Not to worry--use of bandwidth for channels tuned only by unviewed tuners can and will be remedied by schemes like channel leasing as I described a couple of posts back. SDV will work.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:02 PM   #765
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Not to worry--use of bandwidth for channels tuned only by unviewed tuners can and will be remedied by schemes like channel leasing as I described a couple of posts back. SDV will work.
The thing about leasing schemes for always connected/on devices is that there is normally one lease per device. For example, I'm not using my cable modem 24 hours a day, but when I go to use it I'm guaranteed to get an ip address from the DHCP server because there is enough ip addresses for all the modems in my area to be connected at the same time.

What you are talking about is a scheme where if a device is determined to not be in use, it's lease is revoked. This works fine until someone tunes a SDV channel and someone else who may be watching a channel but hasn't interacted with his TiVo for a while finds his lease revoked and he's staring at a black screen.

What it really comes down to, how much legroom the cable companies are willing to give when it comes to the amount of bandwidth they assign to SDV.

I'll give a good example. I used to work at a company where we all used Rational products on a server. The company paid for 30 licenses, figuring that there wouldn't be more than 30 people working with Rational at one time. There were more than 30 people at the company. Well it wasn't long before we started getting "out of license" errors when trying to use the software, even with a 60 minute lease timeout. It was obvious to everyone that more licenses were needed. Everyone except management who suggested that if we ran into this issue to go find someone with a lease who wasn't using the software and ask them to release their license. Needless to say productivity wasn't especially high as a result of this.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:08 PM   #766
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The odds may still work out OK as suggestions are generally recorded based on viewing habits and there's still a reasonable chance someone else needs the same station... might even be several other TiVo users on the node needing it for a suggestion.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:53 PM   #767
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The odds may still work out OK as suggestions are generally recorded based on viewing habits and there's still a reasonable chance someone else needs the same station... might even be several other TiVo users on the node needing it for a suggestion.
Unless someone has some really weird viewing habits or his TiVo thinks he does.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:55 PM   #768
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Unless someone has some really weird viewing habits or his TiVo thinks he does.
Wow... I can't believe that article is over 5 years old.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:02 PM   #769
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Usage statistics

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On what do you base your suggestion that the potential is very real. Do you have any usage statistics or just a gut feel. I have seen real data suggesting that the tail of watched channels drops very quickly.

The http://www.motorola.com/mot/doc/6/6578_MotDoc.pdf white paper shows a generic version of the statistics graph. I don't have a more detailed version handy that is able to be posted on the internet.
You are correct that the shape of tail is very important in how many channel requests are blocked. I used the values in my post above (169 channels, 334 tuners, 100 QAM streams) in a Monte Carlo simulation (with 1,000 trials). I used a Zipf law distribution for channel popularity with a power law slope of -1. The BigBand study (http://www.bigbandnet.com/index.php/...r_statswb.html) actually finds slopes of -0.64 to -0.74, which would make the tail longer, and make blockages more frequent. However I am not convinced by their fitting to the data, and I'm willing to assume a slope of -1 until better data shows up. The Motorola white paper you cited did not have any numbers on their graph of channel popularity, but it looked similar to a Zipf distribution.

With these values, my simulation predicts that 22% of channel requests will be blocked. For the frequency of blocks to be less than 1%, 145 QAM streams would be required to deliver the 169 channels. Or, as noted above, if most of the tuners are off most of time, the situation is greatly improved.

In this analysis, it is very important to know the shape the curve of channel popularity. It's tempting to guess that it follows a Zipf law, because so many phenomena seem to look that way (http://www.nslij-genetics.org/wli/zipf/). But I have not seen published data adequate to support that. Perhaps the cable companies have good data? Or perhaps TiVo has good data on their user's viewing habits?

I would be very interested in knowing whether TiVo usage is like human usage. Or does the search capability of TiVo lead to more frequent recordings from "unusual" channels in the long tail?
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:08 PM   #770
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This works fine until someone tunes a SDV channel and someone else who may be watching a channel but hasn't interacted with his TiVo for a while finds his lease revoked and he's staring at a black screen.
And this is a problem...how??? TiVo can either be programmed to automatically revert to some known non-SDV channel or to display a "Please select a channel to watch" message. In the scheme that I described, this is only gonna happen for unused, unrecorded background tuners and for displayed foreground tuners where (1) an SDV channels was tuned, (2) the channel hasn't changed in a very long time and (3) there was a failure to respond to a pop-up "are you still watching this" query. In other words the lease was dropped because no one was watching or recording a tuned SDV service, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to happen. Hell, if someone touches the remote, it can automatically re-request the last channel tuned; the message can read "Standing by, please press INFO to view the last channel." When the user returns, it's quite possible that the lease count never reached zero and there are still others using it so it's still present in the same transport stream as the same program and can be brought back up instantly; if not and there's a couple of seconds wait then BFD.

No one requires that SDV be completely transparent. Access to another 100 HD channels should be worth a slight delay here and there.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:53 PM   #771
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I used the values in my post above (169 channels, 334 tuners, 100 QAM streams) in a Monte Carlo simulation (with 1,000 trials). ....

With these values, my simulation predicts that 22% of channel requests will be blocked.
You tossed out a lot of numbers and theorems but something must be wrong in your simulation because 22% blockage seems WAY off base. I'd have to study your model a bit to determine whether or not I put any faith into it.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:00 PM   #772
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Mel,
The BigBand simulation you hyperlinked found that
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We used the Zipf distribution to estimate the number of channels, K, required to accommodate at least 99.5% of total channel use. (Approx 140 STBs)
A 500-channel system is calculated to require 187 active streams
A 1000-channel system is calculated to require 276 active streams

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Old 12-06-2007, 08:03 PM   #773
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On what do you base your suggestion that the potential is very real. Do you have any usage statistics or just a gut feel. I have seen real data suggesting that the tail of watched channels drops very quickly.

The http://www.motorola.com/mot/doc/6/6578_MotDoc.pdf white paper shows a generic version of the statistics graph. I don't have a more detailed version handy that is able to be posted on the internet.

the neilson ratings make it pretty clear too for anyone looking for specifics- people can just look up the primetime ratings and it quickly becomes clear that beyond the top 20-30 channels the odds of anyone in a 500 home node wanting them drops off dramatically.

Granted that's national but I'd suspect that in any one neighborhood of 500 homes it would be similar- people tend to leave in clusters of similar cultures, socioeconomonics, lanuage, sports markets, etc ,etc

also once you go all digital or OCAP and allow SDV for tivo's and other DVR's (media center pc's). The only people left out would be early cablecard TV buyers and those numbers are tiny and the fraction of them that use cards is even tinier. You could in theory get to that point of 300 tuners per node and then go all SDV and allow unlimited. (statistically I'm sure you can be somehwat bigger then 300 homes)
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:05 PM   #774
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We have discussed the concept of leasing channels somewhere in these forums, though I'm not sure that it was in this thread. Of course, it's all still speculation, since we don't have specifications of any of the SDV systems in use.
I could be mistaken but I beleive on of the officail documents- either an FCC filing, or something like it specifically talkes about the leasing thing- or at least the fact that the dongle would need to 'give back' a channel after a certain period of time. I think it said tivo was to notify when 'done' or something and there was a discussion of if tivo would count suggestions as being done or not.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:07 PM   #775
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Note that it isn't average demand that matters, but peak demand. A box which is tuned to a switched channel at 3AM isn't a problem, since the bandwidth would otherwise be wasted.

and that peak time is called primetime and that's why the neilsen primetime ratings are a good place to look for the usage patterns that exist.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:10 PM   #776
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Actually back in the day when most people used dial up modems, this started to become a problem because people would tie up the phones lines for hours or even days at a time.

That's the problem when a system isn't used the way it was designed to be used. SDV was designed to be used by humans who don't watch TV 24 hours a day. A TiVo basically does this and watches 2 channels at once to boot.
SDV isn't really about the fact that everyone isn't watching all the time- it's that even during peak demand the majority of channels are hardly being watched- so you can leverage that.

Even if Tivo's run suggestionms 24/7 on 2 tuners the fact that suggestions record some statiistic version of what people most like to watch means the tivo tuners as a whole will still likely be tuned to the same 30-50 channels that get the majority of viewing.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:10 PM   #777
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and that peak time is called primetime and that's why the neilsen primetime ratings are a good place to look for the usage patterns that exist.
Depends on how you define peak. Primetime would likely have the most common viewing pattern and thus the fewest number of unique channels. Alternatively, off hours would likely have the most likelyhood of having strange (?) channels being watched.

I'd love to get the raw data and plot the usage curves dynamically over time (like a moving weather radar map).
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:12 PM   #778
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You are correct that the shape of tail is very important in how many channel requests are blocked. I used the values in my post above (169 channels, 334 tuners, 100 QAM streams) in a Monte Carlo simulation (with 1,000 trials). I used a Zipf law distribution for channel popularity with a power law slope of -1. The BigBand study (http://www.bigbandnet.com/index.php/...r_statswb.html) actually finds slopes of -0.64 to -0.74, which would make the tail longer, and make blockages more frequent. However I am not convinced by their fitting to the data, and I'm willing to assume a slope of -1 until better data shows up. The Motorola white paper you cited did not have any numbers on their graph of channel popularity, but it looked similar to a Zipf distribution.

With these values, my simulation predicts that 22% of channel requests will be blocked. For the frequency of blocks to be less than 1%, 145 QAM streams would be required to deliver the 169 channels. Or, as noted above, if most of the tuners are off most of time, the situation is greatly improved.

In this analysis, it is very important to know the shape the curve of channel popularity. It's tempting to guess that it follows a Zipf law, because so many phenomena seem to look that way (http://www.nslij-genetics.org/wli/zipf/). But I have not seen published data adequate to support that. Perhaps the cable companies have good data? Or perhaps TiVo has good data on their user's viewing habits?

I would be very interested in knowing whether TiVo usage is like human usage. Or does the search capability of TiVo lead to more frequent recordings from "unusual" channels in the long tail?

wow you seem to be really well versed in the math- can you try to find some ratings data and plug that in to your model- I'd love to see real world data plugged it.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:18 PM   #779
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obviously i think the statistics work for the vast majority of cases.

BUT- someone pointed something out in another thread- a close to real world situation that could completely upend the apple cart.

what happens when windows media center pc's get upgraded with the patch for the dongle? And 2 guys on the block decide to have a testosterone battle over who has the best windows DVR- one makes an 6 tuner dvr and the other makes an 8. Now what if those 2 guys are oddballs and watch lots of stuff out in the tail? They rob 14 slots from everyone else or like 10% of the needed slots. THat can get ugly.

if the tivo nero pc software thing turns out to be cool- I just might be one of the oddballs on the block building the silly sized pc dvr...
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:41 AM   #780
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You tossed out a lot of numbers and theorems but something must be wrong in your simulation because 22% blockage seems WAY off base. I'd have to study your model a bit to determine whether or not I put any faith into it.
Yes, I would agree the 22% blockage seems very high. This blockage results from the assumption that all 334 set-top boxes are turned on at the same time. The BigBand study found that only about 1/4 of the set-top boxes on a node were on at any moment (in trial A, this is 150 boxes out of 603 installed). If I rerun my simulation with only 150 tuners turned on, the blockage drops to less than 1%. This takes us back to the point in my previous posting: if TiVo never turns off (or releases its channels), it could have a severe impact on SDV performance.

I apologize to other readers for all the mathematics in these postings. Perhaps I can summarize my key points:

- SDV is a complicated statistical game that trades off cost (to the cable company) and quality of service (to the consumer).

- Designing and managing SDV systems will be complex.

- If they are not careful, cable companies could get this very wrong.

- SDV depends upon patterns of consumer behavior that are uncertain and subject to change.

- The performance of SDV will be altered by new consumer-side technologies, including the TiVo dongle.
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