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Old 01-11-2012, 03:57 AM   #1291
Grunchie
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Motorola Tuning Adapter Dropping Signal

It's late, and I am wiped from dealing with this problem all day-but I had to post something before I hit the rack. Brand new Elite. Hellish time connecting, but was finally able to complete set-up after basically disconnecting everything from the Tivo except the coax feed. I have the feeling that the set-up was so hellish because of this stupid tuning adapter. Everything appeared to be working well, I was SO excited! Then...the little yellow light of death (the "YOD") began to flash on the front of the infernal Motorola adapter that TW Cable infected, I mean supplied, me with. Solid light good. Flasing light=YOD. I "recycled" the unit (which in this case basically means yanking the cord out, no switch) many, many times and have come to the conclusion that this does nothing at all. The brain-trust at TW Cable "re-authorized" (whatever the hell that means) 10 times. YOD. I recycled the Tivo, re-seated the cable card, burned incense, whispered incantations, spoke to Tivo tech support, was bumped up to "escalated tuning adapter support". I did it all. YOD. Off and on it goes. The thing starts communicating again when it decides to, regardless of what I do to it. YOD. It usually takes 5-10 minutes, then it just starts communicating again, the Tivo then lets me know that SURPRISE, I have a tuning adapter installed! This is happening twice an hour or so, and is happening now as I write. It nukes any and all recordings in the process. INFURIATING. They are sending out a service guy tomorrow to check the signal, etc., but I am not at all hopeful. The signal is just fine. I just think the technology sucks. I am going to see the YOD in my sleep. We'll see what magic the service guy performs, but I think I will spend the next several days hassling with the return of the Tivo and the refund of the lifetime license I bought. TW has absolutely no incintive to provide good tech or equipment or service in this case. FCC fines? Bah. This thing gets up and running and they lose the $22/Month I pay for the DVR and services for that one box. Multiply that by millions and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why they provide such crappy equipment and services in this case. I was a fool to think they would, because it is a "mandate" by the feds. Now I am paying for my foolishness. From the pages and pages of blogs on this issue, it is quite apparent that so are many others.
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:54 AM   #1292
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INFURIATING. They are sending out a service guy tomorrow to check the signal, etc., but I am not at all hopeful. The signal is just fine.
How do you know that? What is the RDC level?

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I just think the technology sucks.
No, but the TA was badly engineered.

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This thing gets up and running and they lose the $22/Month I pay for the DVR and services for that one box. Multiply that by millions and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why they provide such crappy equipment and services in this case.
No, but perhaps it does require something more than a fool to realize they are losing money on leasing that DVR, and multiplying that loss by millions doesn't make for a good incentive of anything.

There are not "millions and millions" of TiVo owners who are also TWC subs. *THAT* is why they have little incentive to bother with them.

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I was a fool to think they would, because it is a "mandate" by the feds. Now I am paying for my foolishness. From the pages and pages of blogs on this issue, it is quite apparent that so are many others.
Not so many. The TA is not stable, of that there is no question, but very few people are having intractable persistent issues.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:06 PM   #1293
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...they are losing money on leasing that DVR...
Just out of curiousity, how much per month for how long would one have to charge before one got back all of the wholesale price originally paid for that DVR, plus lost interest on the money spent on it?
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:25 PM   #1294
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Thanks for the help

I know the RDC level is fine because I have lived here 25 years and they have been out before, many times. They will check it again today. And today they will tell me it is fine. Again.

Of course they are not losing money by leasing the DVR. State your source. Flat-out wrong. And when DVR's come back, they are factory refurbished and sent out to the next subscriber. My source is a TW insider on this issue. Also, read my quote. Who said "Millyuns and Millyuns?" Not me, Carl Sagan, maybe. I said millions. Time Warner operates in 28 states and has 12 million subscribers, give or take (Source: CNET) You think it is out of the realm of possibility that there are a million or more DVR's out there? It's not just Tivo, there are a number of devices that require a cable card, and more coming to market every day.

Thanks for your support and suggestions and not just nit-picking. Really helpful.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:05 PM   #1295
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I'm with Grunchie... signal levels have, time and time again, proven to NOT be the cause but almost always are the cable co's first thing to blame and try to "fix".

And they do make more money on their own boxes (even only the additional services like PPV) so monthly revenue IS at least one reason why they don't like to support TA's.

The cable co's have had years and years and years - and a federal mandate - to get these working. The fact that they still work as poorly as they do speak volumes about the feds, the cable co's motivations, and the future of 3rd party DVRs.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:07 PM   #1296
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Thank you so much Chris. Well stated and thoughtful...
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:24 PM   #1297
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The TW guy is here right now. The signal at the device is +10db, it is rocking strong, as I already knew. +1db is acceptable according to my TW guy here. Now, replacing tuning adapter, cable card, tracing line back to source and checking the entire run.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:34 PM   #1298
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The TW guy is here right now. The signal at the device is +10db, it is rocking strong, as I already knew. +1db is acceptable according to my TW guy here. Now, replacing tuning adapter, cable card, tracing line back to source and checking the entire run.
In my experience as a former field tech who has assisted in more installs then I care to remember. There is such a thing as too much signal. It has been my experience that the best range for all the CC devices out there is to make sure the high and low bands are between +7 to -7 and the RDC should be between 35-55.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:54 PM   #1299
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Well, who knows? The new tuning adapter and card synced up, the line was checked (SNR, signal to noise ratio: 36. Very Clean, stong signal. But I knew that). Now time to observe. And now I have lots of partial recordings to watch, wait WHO was the KILLER? Argh! Maybe ME if this thing starts dropping again...

Cheers.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:57 PM   #1300
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By the way Denyi, thanks for the reply...if it starts dropping again, maybe we will take that into account. What is the cure for too strong a signal? Can they put a filter on it or something to bring it within range?
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:00 PM   #1301
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Also, is there a field that reports the RDC anywhere...?
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:06 PM   #1302
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....... Time Warner operates in 28 states and has 12 million subscribers, give or take (Source: CNET) You think it is out of the realm of possibility that there are a million or more DVR's out there? It's not just Tivo, there are a number of devices that require a cable card, and more coming to market every day.
.......
There definitely are NOT a million or more TiVo DVR's out there. There were 548,000 CableCARDs installed in retail devices (not just TiVo's) as of 9/30/11 (http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/docume...?id=7021712021). And TWC probably accounts for less then 25% of that number based on their cable subscriber market share (http://www.ncta.com/Stats/TopMSOs.aspx). Also not all of TWC's 12 million subscribers are digital subscribers, probably less than 80% of them.
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........The cable co's have had years and years and years - and a federal mandate - to get these working. The fact that they still work as poorly as they do speak volumes about the feds, the cable co's motivations, and the future of 3rd party DVRs.
That says it in a nutshell. Anyone who's been reading this forum for a while knows this to be true.
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In my experience as a former field tech who has assisted in more installs then I care to remember. There is such a thing as too much signal. It has been my experience that the best range for all the CC devices out there is to make sure the high and low bands are between +7 to -7 and the RDC should be between 35-55.
Although Grunchie's experience seems to indicate hot signal was not his primary problem, I would still agree that it is to be avoided. One theory is that long term exposure to hot signals will damage the automatic signal-limiting circuity in the TiVo's tuners.
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By the way Denyi, thanks for the reply...if it starts dropping again, maybe we will take that into account. What is the cure for too strong a signal? Can they put a filter on it or something to bring it within range?
Simple in-line attenuators costing only a few bucks will do it. Be sure they're rated for at least 1 GHz bandwith. A quality two-way splitter will give you a 3.5 dB attenuation.
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Also, is there a field that reports the RDC anywhere...?
Not sure about Motorola TA's but with the Cisco TA's the FDC and RDC levels and frequencies are reported on the first page of the TA diagnostics.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:46 PM   #1303
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Just out of curiousity, how much per month for how long would one have to charge before one got back all of the wholesale price originally paid for that DVR, plus lost interest on the money spent on it?
Just the hardware by itself costs them $450 - or at least it did 2 years ago, not including shipping or repairs. It also does not include the cost of the software. I don't know how much that costs them, but it is not trivial. I believe the nationwide pricing structure is $19.95 for the first DVR with the DVR tier and $9.95 for each additional DVR. Assuming the average sub gets two DVRs, a reasonable conservative number is probably $1200 on average for shipping, handling, and delivery with software for the pair. At $29.90 per month, that requires more than 40 months to amortize. I seriously doubt the average lifespan of a leased DVR is nearly four years. I know when I was working for a CATV company, the average lifespan of a converter was only about 18 months.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:00 PM   #1304
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I know the RDC level is fine because I have lived here 25 years
That means nothing whatsoever.

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and they have been out before, many times.
That doesn't mean much more.

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They will check it again today. And today they will tell me it is fine. Again.
Why don't you check it before they come? That way you know if they are lying.

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Of course they are not losing money by leasing the DVR. State your source.
I am in a related industry, and a couple of years ago, a friend of mine (a vendor to both TWC and to my company) quoted me the cost of a lot of 10,000 new Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVRs, without software. His selling price was $4,500,000.

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Flat-out wrong. And when DVR's come back, they are factory refurbished and sent out to the next subscriber.
They may be outsourcing now, I'll ask a friend who still works for them. I used to work for them, myself. When I did, they did all their own converter repair. The average life of a converter, including refurbishing, was 18 months. I seriously doubt the life of a DVR is more than 40 months. Certainly none of the DVRs TWC purchased back in 2007 are still operational, as they have all been replaced with CableCard models.

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I said millions. Time Warner operates in 28 states and has 12 million subscribers, give or take
Not even 0.1% of which are TiVo owners.

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(Source: CNET) You think it is out of the realm of possibility that there are a million or more DVR's out there? It's not just Tivo, there are a number of devices that require a cable card, and more coming to market every day.
It would be quite remarkable if I did not know this, since I own one, and have since 2005 (a Mitsubishi 62 inch DLP rear projection TV). I am the only one I know who does, however. Very few devices support CableCards. By far the largest percentage of those devices are TiVos. Less than 0.01% of TWC subs have a non-TiVo UDCP that makes use of a CableCard. Feel free to look up the reports yourself. They are posted on the web every quarter.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:24 PM   #1305
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I'm with Grunchie... signal levels have, time and time again, proven to NOT be the cause but almost always are the cable co's first thing to blame and try to "fix".
That is because it is appropriate. I worked for the CATV company as an engineer for 5 years, and I can tell you that more than 70% of the problems not caused by the customers themselves were level related. The percentage of return problems related to levels is even higher. Unless there is a specific symptom well known to have some other source, one is just wasting time until the levels are corrected.

This has been somewhat ameliorated by fiber delivery systems, but the RF spectrum still walks a fine line between excessive noise and excessive distortion. What's more, since the return amplifiers have no dynamic Automatic Gain Control, upstream levels can be particularly finicky, especially if the subscriber is close to a node and has multiple outlets.

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And they do make more money on their own boxes (even only the additional services like PPV) so monthly revenue IS at least one reason why they don't like to support TA's.
They do make money on IPPV and such services, but the only reason they do not make the same money on TiVos with TA is because of their policies. There is nothing physically or technically preventing a TA from providing IPPV. Your point is thus moot. The only reason they do not allow IPPV to be delivered by the TA is the very same reason they don't particularly want to support any 3rd party device.

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The cable co's have had years and years and years
Not "years and years". Take a look at the date on the first post in this thread. It was late February, 2009 when the first Cisco TAs were deployed, so just under 3 years.

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and a federal mandate - to get these working. The fact that they still work as poorly as they do speak volumes about the feds, the cable co's motivations
No one said they want to support them. They rather vehemently do not, but it has nothing to do with making money on their own DVRs. It has everything to do with their wanting to control every aspect of the subscriber's activities. Part of this is spawned by a near paranoia over service theft. Trust me, I used to have to deal with them, and they nearly have a heart attack at the thought of a single subscriber stealing basic cable.

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and the future of 3rd party DVRs.
'Looking brighter and brighter, to me. Resurrect this thread in 3 years, and we'll see.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:47 PM   #1306
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The TW guy is here right now. The signal at the device is +10db
That's too high, although I doubt it is causing any issues with the TA. The TA is essentially immune to downstream issues. If there are downstream issues, they will usually show up on both SDV and linear channels, not just SDV channels. (It's also actually meaningless: dB is not a measure of signal level. It is a measure of attenuation. Signal levels on a CATV system are typically measured in dBmV. People do, however, insist on "abbreviating" "dBmV" or "dBm" to "dB". It is not an abbreviation, though. They are three distinctly different things.)

If he told you "the signal is +10dBmV", then he almost surely lied. It is rather rare for the rf spectrum to be flat at the receiver. Near the node or amp, there will be a tilt of nearly 9dB, with the highest frequency channels being up to 9dB hotter than the lowest frequency channels. At the far end of the CATV line, furthest away from the node or amp, the lowest frequency channels may be as much as 10dB higher in level than the highest frequency channels. At the back of the set, it may even be a bit more. Only customers near the middle of the feeder will have levels that are flat within 1 dB.

If the lowest level channel is +10 dBmV, then I suspect the system may be improperly balanced, although this is by mo means certain. It depends upon the system topology (including the house) and the design specs. If no linear channels are giving you trouble, then I would not tend to think it an issue, however. Without being there and observing myself, it is hard to say.

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it is rocking strong, as I already knew. +1db is acceptable according to my TW guy here.
That's actually rather hot, at least if the entire spectrum is +1dBmv (not +1dB) or more. OTOH, fiber based systems are somewhat less susceptible than pure aluminum systems to distortion from higher signal levels, and most TWC systems are 750 MHz, which means they can get away with slightly higher levels, still.

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Now, replacing tuning adapter, cable card, tracing line back to source and checking the entire run.
Nothing you ( or evidently he) reported is at all likely to be related to a TA issue, and if downstream levels are good at your receiver, then there is little or no point in checking any downstream levels back towards the headend. Since the problem is limited to your TA, there is little point in checking anything related to downstream levels, and certainly nothing along the way toward the headend. If it is an upstream problem, then the place to check is on your TiVo, which I suggested you do and you ignored.

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Old 01-11-2012, 10:59 PM   #1307
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In my experience as a former field tech who has assisted in more installs then I care to remember. There is such a thing as too much signal.
Actually, it is one of the most common problems. Almost all distortion above engineered specs is caused by high levels. A bad amplifier can do it, and on very rare occasions oxidation of the aluminum conductors can actually produce distortion, but both are unusual sources for distortion.

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It has been my experience that the best range for all the CC devices out there is to make sure the high and low bands are between +7 to -7
That's actually a bit on the high side, especially for an 860 MHz or 1GHz system.

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and the RDC should be between 35-55.
Well, unless the TA is malfunctioning, a low RDC doesn't really suggest a problem, at least not for the customer in question, but it would be fairly difficult to come up with a customer whose return feed only needs to be +35dBmV at the TA. Someone at the very end of a very long feeder with only 1 outlet might manage it. If the RDC is over 52, though, and the customer has 4 or fewer outlets, a +52 dBmV RDC is rather high, and may suggest a problem. I have 8 outlets and am rather close to a node, yet my RDC is only +49 dBmV.
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:32 PM   #1308
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...........Not even 0.1% of which are TiVo owners.
.............
Wrong by a huge factor! No need to exagerate to make the point it's a tiny fraction. The true number is somewhere between 0.5% and 1.0%. See the numbers and links in my post #1302 in this thread.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:12 AM   #1309
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Wrong by a huge factor! No need to exagerate to make the point it's a tiny fraction. The true number is somewhere between 0.5% and 1.0%. See the numbers and links in my post #1302 in this thread.
Yeah, I did. Time Warner has roughly 14,000,000 subsribers, and according to the document you posted, they have 53,500 CableCard subscribers. That is 0.38% Some number of those are Moxis or CabelCard TVs, although I suspect less than 10% The actual number is clearly lower than 0.38%, but by how much I don't know for certain. 0.1% may be a low estimate, but not "a huge factor". It's not even a half an order of magnitude. OTOH, the number of TiVos would have to be higher by far more than an order of magnitude before the CATV companies would be sanguine about supporting them. I do also have to question their report. Charter is reporting about 43% of their deployed CableCards are S-Cards, while TWC claims considerably less than 27% of their CableCard deployments are S-Cards, by extrapolation from their numbers.

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Old 01-12-2012, 07:02 AM   #1310
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Having long experience dealing with the Tuning Adapter and Time Warner I've noticed that tuning failures are affected by the number of people on the system changing channels and watching TV. This may seem obvious but during the summer I didn't suffer failures very often. When the new shows started coming back in the fall, the tuning failures began again. By tuning failures, I'm talking about scheduling a recording or having a season pass on a Switched Digital Video channel not recording or resulting in a blank recording.

If this sort of thing never happened, I'd be fine with the hassle of a tuning adapter. I've noticed that if you schedule a recording online at Tivo.com this somehow affects the Tuning Adapter or possibly the Tivo or cable card(s) and you'll get a lot of tuning failures unless you reset the Tuning Adapter. Haven't read about anyone else with this problem, but it's reproducible for me.

So in my opinion the problem could be fixed in software by the cable company - whatever software handles SDV allocations (Big Band Networks) or by Tivo programming around the cable software inadequacies with error checking and retune requests rather than recording a blank or not recording at all.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:07 AM   #1311
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Question for the TA experts - from my Diagnostics screen:

Tuner: 747.000 MHZ
FDC: 74.000 MHZ
RDC: 23.500 MHZ
Tuner: 6 dBmV
FDC: 0 dBmV
RDC: 40 dBmV
Tuner: 0/sec (avg)
FDC: 0/sec (avg)
RDC: 703 uSec


Anything wrong here? Anything a service call might help?
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:24 AM   #1312
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In my view... the signal is hot... +6 is a lot. My preference would be something closer to -2 or -3. But... you also have tilt with 0dBmv FDC (low frequency) and +6 dBmv high frequency.

Are you using the 'pass thru' from TA to TiVo? The Cisco TA is reported to have gain which puts even more signal into the TiVo...

If it were me, I would split before the TA and drive the TA from one side of the split and the TiVo from the other with a 3dB attenuator in the side that drives the TiVo.... but thats me.

Do you have an amp involved? It would seem to get those numbers you would have to?
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:20 AM   #1313
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In my view... the signal is hot... +6 is a lot. My preference would be something closer to -2 or -3. But... you also have tilt with 0dBmv FDC (low frequency) and +6 dBmv high frequency.

Are you using the 'pass thru' from TA to TiVo? The Cisco TA is reported to have gain which puts even more signal into the TiVo...

If it were me, I would split before the TA and drive the TA from one side of the split and the TiVo from the other with a 3dB attenuator in the side that drives the TiVo.... but thats me.

Do you have an amp involved? It would seem to get those numbers you would have to?
I am using the pass thru from the TA to the Tivo - no amp. I have a splitter and an attenuator as you describe... The numbers that changed are:

Tuner: 3 dBmV
FDC: -1 dBmV
RDC: 43 dBmV

All the other numbers unchanged

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Old 01-12-2012, 10:35 AM   #1314
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I am using the pass thru from the TA to the Tivo - no amp. I have a splitter and an attenuator as you describe... The numbers that changed are:

Tuner: 3 dBmV
FDC: -1 dBmV
RDC: 43 dBmV

All the other numbers unchanged
Those numbers look perfect to me.

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Old 01-12-2012, 12:11 PM   #1315
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Yeah, I did. Time Warner has roughly 14,000,000 subsribers, and according to the document you posted, they have 53,500 CableCard subscribers. That is 0.38% Some number of those are Moxis or CabelCard TVs, although I suspect less than 10% The actual number is clearly lower than 0.38%, but by how much I don't know for certain. 0.1% may be a low estimate, but not "a huge factor". It's not even a half an order of magnitude. OTOH, the number of TiVos would have to be higher by far more than an order of magnitude before the CATV companies would be sanguine about supporting them. I do also have to question their report. Charter is reporting about 43% of their deployed CableCards are S-Cards, while TWC claims considerably less than 27% of their CableCard deployments are S-Cards, by extrapolation from their numbers.
I can't find the basis for claiming 14M TWC subscribers. The number given in the NCTA data I linked is a little over 12M. This translates to 0.44% using CableCARDs. Even after reducing this to account for non-Tivo devices the result is 3 or 4 times the 0.1% you threw out. I agree that it's too small to give TiVo owners any clout with TWC, but picking a number out of thin air to make that point is still not justifiable. It tends to undermiine the credibility of the many other facts you post.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:29 PM   #1316
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They may be outsourcing now, I'll ask a friend who still works for them. I used to work for them, myself. When I did, they did all their own converter repair. The average life of a converter, including refurbishing, was 18 months. I seriously doubt the life of a DVR is more than 40 months. Certainly none of the DVRs TWC purchased back in 2007 are still operational, as they have all been replaced with CableCard models.
That's it?! That hardware is shotty, then. I've had my Series3 since the first month or so that they were available at retail (fall of 2006, I believe) and it still works flawlessly. That's 60+ months.

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No one said they want to support them. They rather vehemently do not, but it has nothing to do with making money on their own DVRs. It has everything to do with their wanting to control every aspect of the subscriber's activities.
And why do they want to control all aspects? So they can sell you more - and more profitable - services.

(not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with that, there's not, they are a business)
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:05 PM   #1317
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That's it?! That hardware is shotty, then. I've had my Series3 since the first month or so that they were available at retail (fall of 2006, I believe) and it still works flawlessly. That's 60+ months.



And why do they want to control all aspects? So they can sell you more - and more profitable - services.

(not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with that, there's not, they are a business)


By having a cable card device, you're not doing PPV or OD. This deprives TWC of a very lucrative revenue stream.

Last edited by jiffyspam : 01-12-2012 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:29 PM   #1318
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I can't find the basis for claiming 14M TWC subscribers. The number given in the NCTA data I linked is a little over 12M. This translates to 0.44% using CableCARDs. Even after reducing this to account for non-Tivo devices the result is 3 or 4 times the 0.1% you threw out. I agree that it's too small to give TiVo owners any clout with TWC, but picking a number out of thin air to make that point is still not justifiable. It tends to undermiine the credibility of the many other facts you post.
It means the difference between 99.5% of subscribers using TWC leased gear, and 99.9%. The difference is completely insignificant. Muiltiply the number by a factor of ten, and it makes for 97% or so of the boxes being leased, and the number of TiVos is still insignificant. Only if the number of TiVos increased by a factor of 100 or substantially more would the percentage of subs using the TiVo be high enough to warrant TWC's interest in the platform. The difference between 0.1% and 0.5% is trifling. It's nothing even remotely like a "huge factor".
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:46 PM   #1319
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That's it?! That hardware is shotty, then. I've had my Series3 since the first month or so that they were available at retail (fall of 2006, I believe) and it still works flawlessly. That's 60+ months.
Yes, but you own it, and it cost you a pretty penny. That means you are likely to be careful with it. This is definitely not the case with leased equipment on average. I've seen leased devices come back in dozens of pieces, drowned in body fluids, burned, crushed, and shot with a bullet. A fair number come back in excellent shape, but quite a few never come back in at all. Many people move and just take their DVR with them, probably out of spite. Many get stolen in burglaries, or are destroyed by file, flood, earthquake, or lightning. You are also missing the point that they are compelled to continually upgrade their equipment. I imagine few, if any, CATV systems still use the 8300HD any longer, for example. Most have upgraded to the 8300HDC.

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And why do they want to control all aspects? So they can sell you more - and more profitable - services.
There is an aspect of that in the mix, but it's not the major incentive. Just look at the tru2way spec. Most of the policies therein - and indeed all the most unacceptable ones - have no potential for additional profit for them. In fact, they promise to cost them more money in development, but they are intended to be more secure for them and to present fewer engineering and maintenance issues for them.

Again, if greater revenue were the only intent, then they would not by policy refuse to support VOD and IPPV on TA enabled devices. It is 100% by policy, not by any technical limitations that VOD and IPPV are not supported with the TA.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:49 PM   #1320
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By having a cable card device, you're not doing PPV or OD. This deprives TWC of a very lucrative revenue stream.
No, TWC deprives TWC of a very lucrative revenue stream. It's entirely a matter of choice for them.
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