Charter Letter Today - Tuning Adapter

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Resist, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    If it were all crappy, that would be true. TCMHD, MGMHD, ScienceHD, Hallmark Movie Channel HD, National Geographic HD, Disney XD HD, Plant Green HD, Encore HD, HBO Signature HD, HBO Zone HD, HBO Comedy HD, HBO Family HD, Showtime 2 HD, Showtime Showcase HD, ActionMax HD, 5 Star Max HD, StarzEdgeHD, Starz Comedy HD, and Showtime Beyond HD are all SDV, and none of them are the least crappy. (AMC HD is also SDV, and if it had decent video quality and didn't have commercials, it wouldn't be crappy, either.)
     
  2. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    Comcast has most if not all (I don't feel like checking) of those channels w/o SDV.
     
  3. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    A bit too far for what? Unfortunately, a lot of CATV techs are clueless.

    You will have to provide a bit more in the way of context for me to judge. If you mean "too far" for SDV, then he is either lying or clueless. The further from a node you are, the less SDV has to "struggle", as it were. The return attenuation goes down the further one moves away from the distribution amplifier. It's possible, however, he meant the SDV QAMs are way up high in the spectrum. While not unlikely, it doesn't really matter. A properly designed CATV plant will be able to deliver acceptable signals to every subscriber, no matter how far they are from the amplifier.

    What is your CATV provider? Just about every MSO and medium-to-large independent CATV system has built fiber. It isn't exactly a physical requirement that an SDV system be delivered over fiber, but a properly engineered SDV deployment does require the per-node distribution to be between 400 and 1000 homes at most. Except in a very small, very compact town, this would be extremely difficult without fiber.

    CATV coax is aluminum, not copper. (Well, the center conductor may be copper or copper-clad aluminum.) It's not the medium, per se, that requires fiber. It is the fact each node's distribution must be limited in size. This would not be practical over coax. One would have to deploy a huge number of amplifiers and vast bundles of coax cables from the headend. Delivering several hundred fibers, each of an average length of, say, 5 miles, from the headend is not a horribly expensive or impractical proposition. Three or four fiber sheaths, each no more than 1/2" in diameter and costing $0.30 a foot will do it. Delivering hundreds of 7/8" CATV cables, each costing about $0.35 a foot and each with an average of at least 10 amplifiers costing more than $3000 each would be wildly cost prohibitive.

    To be more specific, if we assume a hubsite serves 100 nodes each an average of 5 miles from the hub, we are looking at perhaps 50 miles of fiber at an average of $.20 per foot, or maybe $53,000 in fiber plus about $300,000 in fiber nodes. Compare that with 500 miles of coax at $.35 a foot or $924,000 in coax plus 1000 amplifiers at $3000 each. Ignoring strand, conduit, and labor costs (which are about the same), that's $353,000 for a fiber deployment out of a hubsite vs. $3,924,000 for the same distribution done in coax - more than a factor of 10.
     
  4. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    So they may or may not be providing those channels at the expense of shutting down numerous analog channels, impacting those customers who do not have digital receivers. TWC hasn't shut down a single analog channel. Comcast has also been accused of rate shaping their HD content to 3 HD channels per QAM, which is considerably beyond the industry norm, at the expense of a considerable loss of picture quality.

    The simple fact is no matter how one slices or dices it, a linear deployment wastes phenomenal amounts of bandwidth that never gets used by the consumers for no good reason whatsoever. Such a system is absolutely limited to no more than 233 HD channels for a 750MHz deployment unless the provider decides to deliver below-par video quality. Upgrading to 1000MHz is hideously expensive and time consuming, and only offers an additional 83 HD channels. That is without any VOD (which is not practical without SDV) and including all IPPV and specialty offerings. The same system, employing SDV, can offer thousands of channels allocating less than half the bandwidth.

    With SDV it becomes practical for small businesses and even small clubs and organizations to have their own channel. A dive club or bowling league will be able to purchase their own channel to broadcast upcoming events or videos of the last club activity. Employers can purchase an encrypted channel to deliver important information for employees. Without SDV, such a channel can cost tens of thousands of dollars a month. With SDV, the price may eventually fall below $100. Interactive programming, like gaming, video shopping, or online voting is only possible with a deployment of something like SDV.
     
  5. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    I have to believe that you have a vested interest in SDV technology. Your last post sounded like a sales pitch. You continue to downplay any problems with SDV, that it does not increase the number of simultaneous channels that can be carried, that the more channels that are moved to SDV the likelihood that a given hub will run out of available channels increases drastically, that there are other options.

    Yes, Comcast has removed analog channels. The only people seriously impacted by this are S2DT users and I am sorry about that but, IMHO, it beats SDV, which impacts everybody. Those analog channels aren't coming back. Are you actually suggesting that TWC isn't going to do the same at some point? In order to support your grand plan, they're going to have to recover that bandwidth somehow to add the additional QAM channels. They may just be waiting until the FCC mandate regarding DTAs expires next year. Look, I hate Comcast as much as the next guy. It's just that I prefer their solution to SDV.

    The final paragraph in the referenced post is most telling. This is the TCF. Why the heck should anyone here give a rodent's posterior about what a small business can do or how an MSO can leverage SDV technology to generate more revenue?
     
  6. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    For you maybe, up here, not so much.
     
  7. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    As a consumer, you bet your bippy I do, and I do not apreciate other people trying to limit my choices or impact my costs for spurious, idiotic reasons. Other than that, no I do not. I want the CATV company to be able to minimize their spending and hopefuly pass that savings on to me - at least eventually. I want them to be able to deliver a maximum of variety for a minimum of cost to me. I also am an engineer intimately famliar with the issues invloved and the impact, both short and long term, to consumers for deploying and not deploying SDV (or some switched transport medium). I do not work for a CATV company or any afiliate. Indeed, I do not like TWC in the least, not in small measure because they are a competitor to us in the telecommunications field. Mainly I dislike them, however, for their overly high prices, dishonest business practices, terrible customer service, and poor coporate environment.

    A sales pitch calling for lower costs and more diverse services?

    I am frank about them. Any engineering decision, no matter what, involves trade-offs and compromises between competing resources. A horse and buggy have several distinct advantages over an automobile. There are lots of Mustangs on the road, but how many of them fill up on oats, rather than gasoline? The advantages of SDV far, far outweigh the disadvantages on a very large number of battlefronts.

    On top of the limitations of SDV itself is the poor design of the TA. That design is the result of precisely the same sort of obtuse thinking you are bringing to this debate, but even with the shortfalls of the TA, the additonal features and massive amount of extra content provided by the TA are well worth it. I have three of them, and have had since they first were introduced. San Antonio was the second city in the Nation to get them. More than 80% of what they record would not be available without the TA. If 0.1% of that 80% get lost due to the TA itself, well boo-hoo.

    You haven't the faintest clue of what you speak. On a 100% digital 750 MHz system employing the industry norm rate shaping and full HD penetration, a linear system can provide exactly 230 HD and 115 SD streams simultaneously, including all IPPV and other video offerings. That's it, period. In San Antonio, for example, there are over 2400 fiber nodes (I just called an old friend of mine who still works for the CATV company to check). By employing SDV, the CATV company has, for a comparatively minor outlay in cash, increased that limit from 230 + 115 to more than 552,000 simultaneous HD streams and 276,000 simultaneous SD streams city-wide. Now, they have not purchased anywhere nearly that many modulators, yet, so they cannot at this point in time deliver that many unique streams, but that is the SDV limit for this system. It is more than 2400 times the absolute limit for a linear system. Smaller CATV systems have lower capacities, but then they also have smaller numbers of customers.

    Once more you are completely clueless on this topic. Moving a channel from linear to SDV means at worst there will be no change in the bandwidth allocation. If at least one person on the node is watchng the channel all the time, then the stream remains on the node full time. If at any point in time throughout the day there is no one at all watching the channel, then if it is linear, it is simply being broadcast to no one, and the resource is being completely wasted. If it is an SDV channel, though, the bandwidth is cleared to be used by another video stream.

    With a 100% SDV solution, the number of streams being broadcast on the node is equal to the number of unique programs being watched or recorded by the subscribers supplied by the node. Most nodes are limited to about 400 - 500 subscribers, but some systems stretch that to 1000. Let's use 500 for an example. Furthermore, let's assume that the average home has 2 DVRs with 2 tuners each. That is 2000 tuners. Now, if every one of those tuners were on full time and each and every one were seeking a unique data strream, it would require at least 666 QAMs or 4000MHz of bandwidth to service. If the CATV plant did have that much bandwidth or more, then it would be comletely impossible to ever encounter a tuning denial.

    The fact of the matter, however, is that we know statistically there would never be that many streams requested. Indeed, the very time (prime time)when the number of active tuners is at a peak is the time when the fewest streams are going to be requested. During prime time, most tuners will be tuned to 1 of at most 20 different streams, leaving the rest of the bandwidth available for those outside the mainstream. Moving outside of prime time, the number of unique streams being requested will go up, but the number is still nowhere near the 345 streams the node can deliver. Of course, fiber and fiber nodes cost money, and so the CATV system is going to cut the margin as thin as it can. In some cases this has historically meant some systems have had too few nodes resulting in some objectionable level of tuning denials on some of the more obscure channels.

    At this point, I feel compelled to point out a fewtruths about tuning denials:

    1. No tuning denial will ever occur if someone else on the node is already watching the channel. It will only occur if no one else on the node is watchng the channel. In general, this means it's only likely on a program that is about #200 or so in the Nielsen ratings. To use your terms, only the "Crappy" channels are ever going to suffer the issue.

    2. They are least likely on scheduled channels. By far the most likely candidate for a tuning denial is a VOD channel, and even that is very rare on a properly engineered and properly operating CATV system. Since TiVos are excluded by policy from receiving VOD, a lost scheduled recording due to a tuning denial is very unlikely. A lost Suggestion is somewhat more likely. This is especially true since Suggestions not only have a potentially lower priority, but also are more likely to be on obscure channels.

    3. A failed modulator is not an uncommon issue (more common than bandwidth starvation). With a linear QAM, everyone out of the hubsite - perhaps dozens of nodes and thousands of subscribers - will be without the all the channels - up to 12 of them - on the QAM. With SDV, the subs watching the channels when the QAM fails will encounter a brief interruption, after which the channels will be restored.

    There are, but all that have the same potential that SDV does have the same issues that SDV does, while those that do not have SDVs limitations sufer severe limitations that SDV does not. The issues and limitations are fundamental to whether the service is switched or not.

    True enough (although Series I and S2 single tuner customers are also impacted), but it is the folks least able financially to cope with that limitation that are hit hardest by it. That said, I certainly am not personally sorry to see the analog channels go away, even though digital transmission suffers from far more issues than SDV in and of itself does. The point is, merely converting to digital only adds a comparative handful of extra channels and no extra features.

    No, that's not my point, at all. My point was, for a lot less cost that they ultimately will without fail pass on to me, they were able to deliver far, far more programming.

    Once again, you haven't a clue. First of all, there is no such thing as a "QAM channel". A QAM is a digital data stream. Several video bitstreams are muxed together into that data stream. Industry norm rate shaping places 12 SD streams, 6 SD streams and 1 HD stream, or 1 SD stream and 2 HD streams into a single 6MHz wide QAM carrier. More to the point, and which point you missed entirely, they don't have to add anything. The 400 MHz or so left over above the analog channels is more than enough to deliver several hundred HD and SD channels.

    Why? Clearly you know almost nothing about SDV, and by your own admisssion you have no personal experience with it, so upon what, exactly, do you base this preference?

    This is a discussion about SDV and the Tuning Adapter. A discussion about SDV (or deciding whether it is good or bad) should have nothing to do with its capabilities? Did you even bother to think at all before posting that? Nevermind that quetion. The answer is obvious.

    If they can generate more revenue, it is only because consumers have a greater demand for the available services. You also completely ignored the most impotant fact of the matter: the cost of each individual service should go down.
     
  8. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    Yeah, that may be true. Here in San Antonio was one of the first deployments of SDV in the nation. The TWC execs in San Antonio (to their credit for a change) decided that no existing systems or channels would be impacted, so they left all the existing analog channels analog and all the existing linear channels linear, but all new chanels since then are SDV. That was about 4 years ago. Here in San Antonio, though, they had some unused bandwidth to play with. That was no doubt not the case elsewhere.
     
  9. CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    @ lrhorer

    Great info on SDV. Thanks for posting all those facts and details.
     
  10. Resist

    Resist Well-Known Member

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    So today I had to stop by my local Charter Cable office and while there I asked about tuning adapters. The rep said that my area does use tuning adapters, since around June of this year. I am about ready to blow my top! I swear, every Charter rep tells me something different. First back in June I get letter and they tell me to call and make an appointment to get a tuning adapter, then when the rep arrives he knows nothing about tuning adapters in my area. Then because I had a channel issue months later, a rep shows up and says I need a tuning adapter and that they have been installing them here for a while. Because he didn't have any on his truck he arranges it so someone would arrive the next day, of which they didn't. When I call Charter they tell me that I didn't need a tuning adapter for my area. And now today they say they have been installing them since around June. Aaaaaugh!

    And the reason why I was at my local Charter office was to exchange an S-Cablecard for an M-Cablecard. They couldn't do that there and scheduled a truck roll for tomorrow. Freaking amazing! The warehouse is right behind them in another building and I have to wait another day for a truck roll. They said I wouldn't be charged but still. Funny, at this Charter office I can exchange cable boxes there but can't get a replacement Cablecard.
     
  11. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in any technical industry these days. The number of people who actually know something about which they speak is vanishingly small, and the public's access to them is vanishing even faster.

    Welcome to corporate America, where arbitrary, poorly considered rules have replaced common sense.
     
  12. Resist

    Resist Well-Known Member

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    The Charter Tech didn't arrive on time, so I called Charter and got $20 back from their on time guarantee policy. He had to try several M-Cards before they finally worked correctly. Then there were some issues with the Tuning Adapters. But all is working nicely now.

    I learned a lot about Cablecards that day. For instance, you can take a card from one Tivo to the other and it will still work. You just won't get any of the copy protected shows until the card is paired with that box. And if you are pairing them with a Charter tech on the phone, make sure they ask you for the host ID from the Tivo cablecard menu. I also don't need to keep my Tuning Adapters connected because I don't have any of the channels it is effected by, but that could change down the road so for now I will keep them hooked up. Kind of pisses me off though having all these extra boxes sucking up my electricity, as they seem to keep adding up.
     
  13. LoadStar

    LoadStar LOAD"*",8,1

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    For me, my tuning adapter is transparent to me....

    ... until I can't tune in a channel. What happens is you tune in a particular channel, and all you get is black. No message, no nothing. Just black. Flip the channel away, then back again, and voilĂ , it tunes in.

    Sadly, I have to do this channel change then back again very often. Worse, this happens quite often on scheduled recordings on my TiVo, but the TiVo doesn't know to do the channel away and back dance, so all that happens is my TiVo misses the recording.

    If they were to fix that one problem, and redesign the tuning adapters to replace the stupid LED light with a LCD that could actually tell you what the status is in more detail, I'd be fine with SDV.
     
  14. Applejack

    Applejack New Member

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    I just got the tuning adapter letter. Problem is we do not care about all the HD channels and premium services. We have antenna for the networks (beautiful picture) and the wife only watches a few channels like TVLand (75), FoodTV (61), and Lifetime (29). (Otherwise I'd cancel the cable.) We have a Tivo 3 with M-Card. Do I really NEED the tuning adapter, and potential headaches if all I have is Expanded Service with no super-duper services? Thanks for any input!
     
  15. Resist

    Resist Well-Known Member

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    Probably not, but it does open up the bandwidth for everyone else in your area if you use one.
     

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