Comcast and TivoHD: Uh exactly WHAT plans/channels can you get or not get!!?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by landrvr1, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. landrvr1

    landrvr1 New Member

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    Sep 12, 2006
    Comcast here in Elgin told me today that my current Digital Preferred service will NOT work with TivoHD and two CableCards, and that I'd need the basic service (Starter?) instead.

    Uh...

    What?

    There seems to be a lot of confusing posts on exactly which service you get/need and exactly what channels you can get/receive/etc...

    Anyone want to clarify here?

    There's also an issue of the HD service fee - which I currently use as well. Do you have to pay for it with a TivoHD?
     
  2. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

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    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Whoever told you that was wrong.

    Not sure what the HD service fee is, but I have a Comcast digital package and don't pay that.
     
  3. singletb

    singletb New Member

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    May 12, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    The person you spoke to is wrong. It will work with all packages except for OnDemand. What is your location? I was able to go pick up Cable Cards directly at the Comcast office here in Chicago.
     
  4. jlb

    jlb Go Pats!

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    Dec 13, 2001
    Burlington, VT
    Maybe the Comcast person was trying to describe SDV.......
     
  5. landrvr1

    landrvr1 New Member

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    Sep 12, 2006
    I'm in Elgin, Illinois. I'm going to give Comcast a call again this morning and see if I can sort this out. The first rep I spoke with was as nice as can be, and very apologetic that she didn't have her facts clear.

    None of it made sense to me either.

    Is there any truth that certain channels aren't accessible with the HD Tivo units? HBO and such? I realize you no longer get OnDemand, but what about everything else? I keep reading posts here saying there's issues.....
     
  6. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    Jan 2, 2004
    The CSR was told to discourage people getting cable cards and most likely also did not know what cable cards can and can not do.

    You already get the PPV/VOD part

    the other aspect to this is SDV or switched digital video. This is a newer technology in which the cable company does not send all channels down the cable at the same time in order to save some bandwidth. If one customer does tune that channel though then that channel goes out to everyone on that part of the cable system.

    in other words it makes no sense bandwidth wise to not send popular channels that everyone will tune anyways. So typically this applies to the more obscure channels like "history of metal containers" or "Classic badmitton". It also could apply to HD channels like "discovery HD" since they take more bandwidth.

    To tune the channel on a cable box - you change to that channel and then the cbale box sends a signal back to the cable company head end and it knows to drop the filter and send that channel down the cable. The current cable card 1.0 spec that Tivo can employ does not have a way to send the siganl back to the cable company so the TiVo can not tune in channels that are on SDV. this is what the CSR was likely groping for. There is a draft for a cable card 2.0 spec to allow this talking back to the cable company but it entails a lot of hardware and cable company control of the appliance using it and of course TiVo and the TV makers do not want to be burdened with such a beast. So there is no interactive sandard that TiVo can use right now. TiVo CEo, cable comapnies. FCC, congress are all working with this issue. Wheels are turning slowly on it.


    What you need to ask/find out is what, if any, channles are on SDV and if any future SDV plans are afoot in your local area. I have not heard of a premium channel going on SDV, most likely because the providers of those channels would take the cable company to task for limiting access.
     
  7. vstone

    vstone Active Member

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    May 11, 2002
    Martinsville...
    It is likely that HBO and everything but the very newest channels are available with the Tivo HD with cablecards, even if SDV has been implemented. However, it is possible that if SDV has been implemented then no channels except cable carriage of OTA channels will be available, pending an SDV solution for Tivos. It is even possible, though legally challangeable, the SDV means that absolutely no digital channels will be visible to your Tivo.

    Even if you don't understand any of the above, it's possible, maybe even likely, that you know more about this than the CSR, who is rarely trained to answer any reasonably technical question.
     
  8. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    25,527
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    Jan 2, 2004
    they don't tend to do it just because it is a new channel, but base it on how many people are likely to tune in a channel. the idea is to keep the channels rarely used off the cable until someone asks for it
     
  9. singletb

    singletb New Member

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    May 12, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    SDV has not been implemented in the Chicagoland area. The cable cards should work just fine.
     
  10. vstone

    vstone Active Member

    1,250
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    May 11, 2002
    Martinsville...
    I would agree with that, except that some TWC locations have allegedly stated that all new channels will be added via SDV.
     
  11. drcos

    drcos HD where available

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    Jul 20, 2001
    Venice FL
    Drop the filter? I haven't seen filters since 94, 95 ish. I could explain how that worked but won't now.

    Not to be a smart ass, but here is how I understand these things to work.
    Non-SDV encrypted channels are unscrambled in your home, by your cable box or your Tivo based on whether or not you are subscribed to that particular channel. There is no 'request' up the pipe to query, there is a data stream sent periodically or constantly on an out-of-band channel (frequency) which tells your box or cable card what channels you are subscribed to. This information is then used by the box to unscramble or not.

    All SDV channels are sent out to each node on a system, with a node serving a number of homes. When your cable box tunes to an SDV channel, a request is sent up the pipe to ask the node where that channel currently resides in the channel allocations for that node.
    If someone is already watching it, the node tells your box where it is and your box tunes it in, no muss, no fuss.
    If no one else is watching it (and there is channel space available), the node assigns a channel to it and tells your box where it is.
    If no one else is watching it and there is not channel space available, you will apparently get some kind of message on the box telling you, so sorry, the channel you thought you were paying for is not available.

    Since the TiVo uses the Cablecard 1.0 spec, it is not allowed to communicate upstream to the node (and apparently the S3 has no such provisions to communicate upstream. The Cablecard 2.0 spec provides for two-way communication necessary for SDV to (appear) seamless.
    Fixes may or may not be in the works, depending on who you listen to. It seems as though a USB dongle would be a simple fix to tie into the ethernet line, but this wouldn't do for folks w/o cable internet. Even simpler would be for a TiVo software revision to use the built in ethernet to communicate with the node/headend over DOCSIS 2.0, but DOCSIS 2.0 isn't widely in use (in general or for SDV), and also wouldn't work w/o cable internet.

    For the original questions...make sure that the rep doesn't try to bs you into extra fees and such. I just had a discussion with my local reps (and one topic of discussion was that there is no such thing as an "HD cable card") about this and (hopefully) it is on the way to rectification.
    By law, anything they can provide for you with a cable box, they have to provide with the cable card, except for PPV, VOD, and SDV, although SDV may be/is a gray area under the law, and PPV could be managed with the cards, although you would have to order over the phone or over the internet, but hey, if I can order Papa John's over the internet...
     

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