Cablevision's Expanding Tuning Adapter Requirements

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by TishTash, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Nov 3, 2010 #1 of 31
    TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    When Cablevision went all-digital (no analog feeds, so a cable box or cable card device is required to receive anything), I thought that was that. Well, silly me, I was wrong:

    As of October 26th in my area (Merrick, NY), and at staggered dates both past and future throughout Cablevision's area, almost all channels will be on switched digital video, and thus require a tuning adapter. I found this out when my non-TA TiVo HD could no longer get signals from 95% of its lineup, as opposed to getting 95% of the lineup without the TA before the all-digital deadline. Once I connected an old TA I wasn't using, voila! all the channels came back.

    On the good side of things, the TAs are much more stable, I suppose with the latest firmware in place. The previous incarnations were flaky to the point where they would reset frequently, killing any ongoing recordings. (If there's a wish list re the TA, it would be that TiVo units continue recording after TA resets resolve themselves.) Now they seem to reset very infrequently, thankfully, and they now work with Premieres well. (Previous incarnations would never download the channel map correctly.)

    The truly silly thing I was told by Cablevision customer service during the switchover to all-digital was that this conversion would free up spectrum space to obviate SDV and TAs. "People, like those who own TiVos, have had so many issues with TAs that we'll be able to eliminate them." Heh, riiiight -- "elimination by proliferation"?
     
  2. Nov 3, 2010 #2 of 31
    lew

    lew Well-Known Member

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    So much for (the few) people who purchased a TV set with a cable card slot. Tivos customers can use TA. People with cable card TV sets are out of luck.
     
  3. Nov 8, 2010 #3 of 31
    TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Well, I'm a donkey's you-know-what: As it turns out, it wasn't SDV that was causing my channels to vanish; it was a CableCard rendered defective temporarily by the digital switchover. Plugging in a TA corrected the issue, but not because the channels went SDV; it just downloaded a correct channel map and reset the CableCard to a functional state. Removing the TA resulted in all historically non-SDV channels remaining tunable. So my apologies for the misleading original post.

    Ultimately, the original claim is correct: The analog abandonment to go all-digital is (in addition to other things) in pursuit of eliminating SDV in the future by freeing up bandwidth, due to several known issues by some with tuning adapters. Currently all analog channels are running a placard directing everyone to get a cablebox (or implicitly a CableCard), so the bandwidth to be freed is still pending, but probably will happen in a month or two. (That's how long it took for Bronx Cablevision customers to regain all their SDV channels to non-SDV status.)

    So for all you non-fans and haters of TAs, for whatever reason, will no longer have to deal with them for Cablevision. :-D
     
  4. Dec 9, 2010 #4 of 31
    TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Welp, Cablevision just announced that as of 12/14 on Long Island, all channels previously affected by switched digital video will no longer be on SDV (aside from affected international channels). Tuning adapter, I will miss you ... not.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2010 #5 of 31
    NJ_HB

    NJ_HB TiVo/MCE/PSP

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    I hope that happens here soon, my TA has been disconnected for a few months.
     
  6. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Well, don't hold your breath: 12/14 came and went, and still the TA is required for those channels. Cablevision's take? "The changeover has been delayed." Stay tuned.
     
  7. dbtom

    dbtom Member

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    You only need a TA for a few channels in the Bronx CableVision. Good luck!
     
  8. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Those were pointless from day 1, since you wouldn't have DVR functionality. Plus, its not like they're screwed, they can just get a box like everyone else.
     
  9. drevilkep

    drevilkep New Member

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    No, the point of cablecard tv's was to eliminate the need for a box (and extra remote) altogether. Not everyone needs a dvr and not every tv in a home needs a dvr. I would like to hang a small tv in the kitchen but I have no good place to put he stupid box.
     
  10. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    If you're just watching the news on it, just use clear QAM. Cablecard TV's are completely pointless.
     
  11. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    The problem with clear QAM is that the channel numbers are completely anti-intuitive. Sometimes you get lucky with 2.1 for HD channel 2. Other times, it's 101.3. Tell someone's non-tech-savvy spouse, "Honey, could you tune into 101.3?" and see the expression on their face.
     
  12. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Actually, I was wrong: TAs are no longer required for most previously SDV channels on Long Island's Cablevision lineup. (Yippeee!)

    As it turns out, you need to restart Premieres (with the TA unplugged [for good, it turns out]). HDs and HD XLs can tune into previously SDV channels by just unplugging the TA's USB connection from the back of the TiVo, without restarting. (Why the discrepency is anyone's guess.)
     
  13. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    They are pretty much their analog broadcast number .1. OTOH, the cable boxes have seemingly random numbers (i.e. channel 30 is 30.1 in the clear, but 232 on the cable box here). Even my dad, who can barely figure out how to use the cable box, figured out the channel .1's really quick when we first had the HDTV, and they are much easier to remember, as everyone knows the old analog broadcast numbers, since they are the "brand" of the tv station (i.e. NBC30 or Channel 8 News or FOX 61 WTIC-TV). They'd be even easier in NYC, since most of the channels are pretty low numbers (2.1,4.1,5.1,7.1,13.1).

    EDIT: I wish the cable companies would do what the satellite companies have done, and move all the cable channels up into the 100+ range, and then give the local channels their broadcast numbers. Would make life a lot easier.
     
  14. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Boy, are you ever inside my head with that suggestion. :-D
     
  15. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    This is almost surely false. First of all, the SDV servers cost a good deal of money, and it's unlikely the CATV system would just chunk them. Secondly, and much more importantly, no amount of digital conversion can come anywhere close to the number of channels available with even a limited bandwidth SDV solution. A typical CATV system may have 690 MHz or so of usable downstream bandwidth. Assuming the industry standard 6 MHz QAM modulation, that is 115 QAMs. Ignoring SD channels for the moment, and assuming the industry norm of 2 HD channels per QAM, that adds up to a mere 230 HD channels, with no VOD or other interactive services available, at all. With even a fraction of that bandwidth, say 300 MHz (50 QAMs), SDV can fairly easily offer a totally unlimited number of channels - literally millions of them. The only reason to convert from analog to digital is to expand the SDV footprint, allowing more and more interactive services without having to buy and install a large number of nodes (not to mention having to move old ones) at great expense. While at the moment the penetration of the broadcast networks and the top twenty or so Cable channels makes it uneconomical to deliver them over anything other than a linear timeslot, eventually every channel will be SDV, not the other way around. Finally, and most importantly from the CATV company's perspective, SDV allows them to sell huge additional amounts of on-demand and IPPV content. Even those features they do not sell directly stand as great marketing tools when selling against satellite services, or conversely are necessary to compete effectively with other providers (i.e. U-Verse and FIOS) who employ switched services on their platforms.
     
  16. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    I used to work for a CATV company, and I agree. When I raised an issue with a very similar situation (unnecessarily moving channels around in the line up), you would not believe the answer I got from marketing. When I pointed out such things annoyed our customers no end, I was told, "Oh, no, we *WANT* to annoy the customers. That way it keeps us in their minds. If we don't annoy them by moving the channels around from time to time, they forget about us."

    I kid you not, and that is as near as I can recall a verbatim quote. Their notion was it was better to be damned than ignored, as it were.

    Unfortunately, it turns out he may have had something of a point. Some years ago, back in the FidoNet days, there were a number of mail tossers available (software that took in the transfer bundles and unpacked them into individual echo folders). One, which I preferred, was released once and never updated. The reason it was never updated is it was the fastest tosser ever built - in fact it was a fast as a tosser could theoretically be - and it was 100% bug free. Competing against it were a number of other tossers, the most popular of which typically came out with an update once or twice a week. The author pretty much had to come out with an update every week, because it was buggy and slow, and its approach to tossing left it unable to easily integrate with other applications, so it had to try to do it all by itself. It was far, far more popular than the tosser I used. When I asked why this would be the case, the answer from numerous individuals was, "Oh, but that hasn't been updated in ages!" The fact the other software was far superior and did not need any updates was, evidently, not relevant to them. All they saw was one software was improving and being kept in their consciousness, and the other was not. Perhaps, as Agent Smith pointed out in the movie The Matrix, human beings are just not comfortable with perfection.
     
  17. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    With an all digital lineup, this would be trivial, but with analog offerings the situation is a little different. That is to say, most companies are still delivering analog channels for channels below 80, and the channel number is actually a physical thing, specifying a particular broadcast frequency. Channel 2, for example, is 55.26 MHz in the CATV spectrum. Channel 13 is 211.26 MHz. Digital channels, however, have no physical tie to their channel number. Digital channel 13 could be at 250MHz, or at 750 MHz. Indeed, it doesn't even have to be the same in different parts of town, and in fact probably isn't. There is an additional hold over, however. Back in the days of analog OTA broadcasting, it was not wise to deliver an OTA channel in a CATV system on the same channel as its OTA counterpart. Doing so would very likely wind up with very objectionable artifacts in the picture in many people's homes, and that on channels that were generally the most popular. The frequencies carrying OTA broadcast channels were considered "impaired" and usually only low priority channels were placed there. When placed underneath completely different content, the result was often noticeable, but frequently not too unpleasant. When paired with identical content, however, the results were often much worse.
     
  18. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Wow, that's unbelievable.

    Yes, I am aware of this, and how if done at present on analog systems, the kitchen TV would end up with a mish-mash of channels on their old numbers, and the living room TV would have them all correctly aligned according to OTA numbers. It would require a completely digital system which is clearly the future. Very interesting what you say about OTA interference though.

    Also, if you have small enough nodes, and enough bandwidth dedicated to SDV, you flip the whole thing around, and you can deliver individual streams to individual boxes, like U-Verse, but with a lot more bandwidth. At that point, you have an unlimited channel capacity.
     
  19. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    Yeah, what you say makes a whole lotta sense. Remember, this is the cable (low level) techs talking: "We save lots of bandwidth with the analog switchover to digital. SDV not so much." Which as you said is patently false, and in fact, intuitively, one can imagine the enormous bandwidth saved with even a few channels on SDV, most especially little-used ones.

    But then here's the question for you: Why throw even a temporary bone to those with TA troubles, or no TA option at all (e.g., CableCard televisions)? Why even stir up trouble by converting previously SDV channels to non-SDV status, if only to eventually convert many back? (And let's face it, since you mentioned that one of the criteria for prime SDV material are channels that are not viewed by many people, it will probably be similar is not the very same channels.)
     
  20. TishTash

    TishTash Active Member

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    That's a great story, but I think in many cases the motives are less sinister. Nowadays, single-digit and increasingly double-digit channel numbers are more desirable than ever because they're just easier to remember. Hence, several carriers of course strike deals with the highest bidders--or corporate bedfellows--to be placed in lower slots. Hence TNT is channel 3 in NYC on Time Warner, and HSN is channel 8 in Long Island's Cablevision lineup. Gone are the days when those numbers were skipped for clarity sake, because the value of those slots are too high. (Although Verizon FiOS in their more substantial flexibility does attempt to keep OTA channels in their single- and double- numerical slots without filling in the blanks, so to speak.)

    Relatedly, logical placement of like-programmed channels are difficult to do, due to wildly different popularities (e.g., ESPN vs. VERSUS), not to mention wildly changing format conversions (e.g., the old TNN to SpikeTV). In the end, the consumer has to reprogram their memories not only in the face of logic, but also on the fly.
     

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