Cablecard issues with Tivo HD are a myth

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by captain_video, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. captain_video

    captain_video Member

    Feb 28, 2002


    I just had my 2nd S3 Tivo set up by a Verizon tech today so I thought I'd pick his brain on the whole cablecard issue while he was here. I asked him how many bad cards he had run into when setting up S3 Tivos and Tivo HDs and he said he had never encountered a bad card. He did say that Tivos were sometimes picky as to which cards will function with that particular unit. He also said that if a card wouldn't work in one Tivo it would usually work fine in the next installation. He said he has yet to encounter a card that would not work in any unit. I believe they use Motorola cards in my area (Howard County, MD). I know the first S3 has Moto cards but I didn't see what he installed in the new one.

    I also asked him if he had encountered any problems with setting up the Tivo HD as compared with the S3. He said that he actually had better luck with the Tivo HD. I could tell he had done Tivo HDs before because the first thing he did was look for the cablecard slots on the front of the box. He said most installations only took about 15 minutes on average except for one. The owner hadn't gone through guided setup yet so it ended up taking about two hours to complete the entire process.

    FYI - my appointment was scheduled for the slot between 8AM and 12 noon. My doorbell rang at 8AM on the dot. My install took about 20 minutes but it would have taken less time had the Tivo not hung up while configuring the 2nd card. We had to reboot the box but everything came up fine after it booted and both cards were configured properly. Of the two S3 Tivos I've had set up, all four cablecards have worked with no problems.

    For those of you that have been sitting on the fence with regards to the Tivo HD because of the reported cablecard issues, set your mind at ease and go for it. If the cablecards won't work then don't get upset. Your Tivo HD is just being finnicky about the cards it wants to mate with.
  2. dig_duggler

    dig_duggler Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    Ah, generalizations based on a sample size of one and the knowledge of one tech in one specific area working for one company are always wise (this, of course, goes both ways). Some are having smooth installs, some aren't. It's probably going to remain that way (although IMO fault mostly lies with the cable provider).
  3. captain_video

    captain_video Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    I find it interesting that you blame the cable provider. If the techs aren't properly trained to perform a cablecard install I'd agree with you but that doesn't appear to be the case. I have talked with several techs on the subject of Tivos and cable cards but the one that came today was the first one I talked with at length on the subject.

    Tivo has apparently acknowledged a problem with the SA cards so I don't see how that's a problem with the cable companies. They don't make the cards and the cards that are provided to them should work in any consumer product designed to accept them. If something doesn't work then it's either a bad design in the card or the product that's supposed to be able to use it.

    I'm not saying that all cablecards are going to work because there will no doubt be a few bad apples in the batch. You may think I'm making generalizations but I'm basing it on information I got from the horse's mouth. Most people here are basing their complaints on a single Tivo installation whereas the tech I spoke with has done numerous installs and not just mine. I've been impressed with each and every Verizon tech they've sent to my house so far. They all appear to be quite competent, experienced, and very knowledgeable about the equipment they work with. I can't say the same for the ones DirecTV sent to do my DTivo installs.
  4. bdlucas

    bdlucas Right side up again.

    Feb 15, 2004
    When my tech installed the cablecards the first thing he did was to update the cablecard firmware. I asked if he had had problems and he mumbled something about "this might not even work; there are so many different firmware versions". Admittedly that was based mostly on Series3 experience - this was I believe his first Tivo HD.

    Reading between the lines, I have to wonder if the variety of experiences with cablecard problems arent' due to different firmware versions with different bugs, on the cablecard and/or the TiVo itself. Just a hunch.
  5. dig_duggler

    dig_duggler Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL


    I'm glad you had a good experience, but the horse's mouth is still just a tech in one area. It doesn't really speak to how other company's train their employees, or the quality of their services. Techs and customer support represent a company and often hold the company's interests above truth. I know the techs in my market (Birmingham, AL) admitted they hated cablecards and that "they didn't work well". Depends on where you are. It seems from the plethora of stories posted here over the year that faulty generally fell with the provider not knowing, or not caring how to provide support for the customer. I know it was that way in my instance initially as well as a friend of mine in Virginia. But this in anecdotal evidence again. It worked well for you, it doesn't go so smoothly for others. And when it does not go smoothly, it is extremely aggravating, time consuming, and an expensive (from the hardware investment, to the time you must get off work and not get paid in order to attempt to fix the issue) problem that usually involves both companies (Tivo and the provider) blaming each other with the consumer left in between.

    Edit: This is a bit too doom and gloom - problems seem to be in the minority of users and I don't mean to indicate otherwise. But when it goes bad, it can be very disappointing and frustrating. I simply seek to present an alternative viewpoint to the OP's insinuation that the problems with cablecards and installations has been solved/minimized...

    Now speaking of work, maybe I should get back to it :)...
  6. captain_video

    captain_video Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    I don't disagree at all. Installations that don't go well are frustrating for everyone and a major waste of time. There are several threads telling people to avoid the Tivo HD at all costs, which is just plain irresponsible IMHO (also based on a minimal sampling of installations). Fortunately, these seem to be in the minority of cases, which is the reason for my thread. Too many people post only when there's a problem. I'm just trying to let everyone know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. :)

    FWIW, I'd be willing to be there are a large number of installers that have never done a Tivo cablecard installation. This has nothing to do with a lack of training but more a lack of market saturation on Tivo's part. You can train the heck out of your installers but until they get some actual field installations under their belt all that training goes by the wayside. If and when they finally do a cablecard install in a Tivo it may or may not go as smoothly as everyone would like. My installer was obviously experienced at the task and got things going in short order. Others aren't going to be as lucky.
  7. MickeS

    MickeS Active Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    That's a pretty inflammatory subject line you chose, based on the number of people who have issues with their TiVoHDs and CableCARDs...
  8. TiVotion

    TiVotion Early Adoptersaurus

    Dec 6, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    Well, count this post as two techs in two market areas. The OP is in MD; I'm in Florida.

    I've had Verizon at my house on 2 separate occasions to install pairs of cablecards.

    Like the OP, I too decided to chat up my last Verizon installer (who did the THD) on the subject of cablecards. I told him that if you were to go by the "Internet", in particular, the TCF, there would appear to be a large issue with cablecards in general, and that I'd been told in the past that cablecard use is not very widespread. He corrected me, and said he actually installs several cablecards per week - and - as the OP stated above, this guy also said that he has never, not yet, run into a cablecard issue. That included the TiVos he'd installed, and he'd actually done them before.

    The world's a big place, and I don't think these message boards necessarily reflect the majority of every TiVo and cable TV user experience. You have to keep everything in context.

    That said, I wouldn't generalize cablecard issues as "a myth". Issues do exist.
  9. Phantom Gremlin

    Phantom Gremlin Active Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    A lot of the reported differences might be due to individual area policy. For example, if bad cablecards simply get put back into a "pool", then over time that pool accumulates a large population of bad cablecards.
  10. BobCamp1

    BobCamp1 Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2002
    Sure there are issues. Tivo has said this. And there can be incompatibilities, which are directly nobody's fault, and will vary wildly from area to area. Especially with everybody making firmware/software updates at the same time. It looks like everyone involoved is at least trying, though. I think things will get better in a little while once all the issues are ironed out. This is still cutting edge technology.
  11. acvthree

    acvthree Active Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    One more data point.

    My installation was several months ago. My tech at the time stated that he was doing 3 or 4 Tivo installs a week and that he never had any trouble. The Tivo part of my installation took less than 30 minutes. This was FIOS in Carrollton (Dallas) Texas.

  12. GoHokies!

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

    Sep 21, 2005
    Interesting that most of the "good install" data points are from FIOS users.

    I'll throw a wrench into that by saying I had a good Comcast experience, but I lucked into getting a more senior, in-house, "CSR tech" to do my work.

    Overall, it sounds like the cable company that isn't really a cable company is doing a better job than the more traditional cable companies.
  13. mike_camden

    mike_camden New Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    I was about to make the same point. the folks who are having the worst installation experiences (at least the ones I have read on this board) tend to be like mind with an installer showing up saying that he has never installed a cable card but has heard it's going to be trouble (and why do you want to use a different DVR anyway).

    In the cases I've read in which the installer is experienced with cablecards and works for a company that doesn't seem to be hostile toward the technology (it seems that FIOS is the only one to fit the bill here), it seems to go smoothly.
  14. captain_video

    captain_video Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    Perhaps. But like I said earlier, you tend to hear more about the bad installs than the good ones. I believe a recent poll someone posted showed that far more people experienced good cablecard installations than bad ones.
  15. mwwilliams10

    mwwilliams10 New Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    I was surprised when the RCN guy said he has been doing CableCard installions all the time. The impression I had received from many threads was that I was going to be a technological sacrificial lamb in the form of a first-adopter. So much for my bid for martyrdom....
  16. Espo

    Espo New Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Captain Video - before getting FIOS, did you ever try your cards with Comcast? I also live in Howard, MD & have witnessed many different cablecard installations with both Verizon & Comcast. There most definitely is a card problem, but not completely with how Tivo handles them. If you read this thread:
    you'll see the real problems are usually found with the Scientific Atlanta cards (Howard Comcast) & NOT the Motorola cards (all FIOS, other nearby counties Comcast). I also have found these SA problems while inserted in the TV & not the Tivo. This is why a lot of people would disagree with your "myth" theory.
  17. GoHokies!

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

    Sep 21, 2005
    Very true - but that doesn't mean that the bad install stories are myths. :)
  18. captain_video

    captain_video Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    I haven't tried Comcast in Howard County since they went digital. I had them when I first moved here back in '86 (actually, they didn't provide service in my neighborhood until about two years later, IIRC) because they were the only provider available. When DirecTV came out I dropped Comcast and stayed with DTV for about 10 years.

    I didn't mean to imply that there were no bad installs, as evidenced by my earlier posts. The issue is more with bad cablecards, of which there appear to be very few. As per my installer's feedback, a card may not work in one Tivo but works fine for the next install. I think they use Moto cards exclusively for FIOS in Howard County so nobody in my area has had to deal with the SA card fiasco. The problem with SA cards has already been acknowledged by Tivo and I think they're working to fix the incompatablity issue.
  19. jrm01

    jrm01 New Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    I don't think that the OP said that "bad install stories" are a myth, but that "bad cablecards" were a myth. In the case of the moto cards I would agree with him. I'll bet that 90% of the time that a moto card is declared as being bad it really was a mess up in how the cards wre being paired/authorized.
  20. drcos

    drcos HD where available

    Jul 20, 2001
    Venice FL
    It is curious also to me that these tales come from the FiOS camp...

    It would appear to me (via numerous posts here and my own direct experience) that many cc problems are related to cards not being properly paired, or 'slotted' on your account, etc. etc.

    And it would also appear that the pairing process is a little smoother with FiOS, but is that because the cards are not actually being tied to the device(s), but just to the account?

    My theory is that the cc's are not being used 'as much' with FiOS as with cable, that due to the greater possibilities of cable theft, the security used with the cards on cable is more in-depth than with FiOS. In other words, the FiOS security is not as restrictive to begin with, so the decryption portion would be simpler...??

    I think that the folks who came up with FiOS did in fact pass up a wondrous opportunity to make the product even more attractive, by putting the encryption/decryption into the entry box where the fiber transitions to cable. To have a video stream from the ONT with all the channels you paid for unencrypted, not needing a box at each TV...but I forgot for a moment the MPAA/RIAA mafia stranglehold on 'entertainment.' God forbid you have an unencryped, high-definition signal with 'Episode III' on it that you could watch on any TV/PC in your home...oh the horror.

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