Cox (LV) upcoming changes?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by LVKeith, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. LVKeith

    LVKeith New Member

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    Got a notice in my Cox statement this month that said beginning mid November through May of next year Cox will be transitioning to mpeg 4 encoding. They said to check channel 1987 to make sure that your device (Tivo Bolt Vox) is compatible which I did and it was. Ch 1987 was a test channel showing CSPAN programming.

    When double checking resolution broadcast on ch 1987 it was 720p and didn't look all that great. When checking the regular CSPAN channel (1192) it showed that it was in 1080i and looked significantly better.

    I hope this isn't an indication that with the switch to Mpeg 4, that Cox will be taking the path that Comcast has chosen to down-rez all 1080i channels to 720p. Will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming months.

    If anyone has any info on this change happening (or has happened) in other Cox markets, I sure would appreciate any info. My current deal with them is up in January, and I don't think I'll be renewing if it's true that they will be down-rezing to 720p.
     
  2. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Who knows what they'll do but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Cox follows Comcast's lead and moves to 720p for all channels at the same time that they move to MPEG-4 encoding. Cox has already standardized on Comcast's X1 platform (which they've branded as Contour).

    I saw a slide several weeks ago from an industry presentation from Cox, showing their network plans for the coming years. It indicated that they plan to take their network all-IP (meaning dropping QAM-based TV channels) in late 2023 or early 2024. (The timeline graphic just gave an approximate indication.) So you probably have three years or so until your TiVo becomes completely incompatible with Cox cable TV service.

    I'm honestly a bit surprised that they're not just going all-IP at the same time that they switch to MPEG-4. I'm also surprised that they're still using MPEG-2 in late 2020.
     
  3. osu1991

    osu1991 Well-Known Member

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    No surprise. Cox has been following Comcast’s lead for several years now. I figured as they launched the IPTV service at the first of the year, that they might be making changes to end QAM sooner.

    I got rid of the cable tv part of Cox Oklahoma February 1st or so of this year and Cox Las Vegas June 1st. Just wasn’t worth the cost anymore and the tuning adapters seemed to quit working the last few months before we cancelled. I now have more TiVo’s and minis than I need just for OTA and they’ll probably be obsolete in a few more years as ATSC 3 takes hold. On to the next perceived great innovation.
     
  4. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    I'm with Cox in Tucson. Initially the MPEG-4 rollout led to bitrate-starved video - lots of blocking artifacts in high motion or dark scenes. They've improved over time. Channels that were 1080i during the MPEG-2 days stayed 1080i (same with 720p).

    Like SDV, not all channels are MPEG-4. Basic cable channels are mostly MPEG-2. Primary premium channels, like HBO, are MPEG-2 while the additional HBO channels are MPEG-4.

    A "bonus" for you is increased recording capacity.
     
  5. LVKeith

    LVKeith New Member

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    Not sure what they will be doing here in LV as far as IP, but I wouldn't be surprised if that happened soon after they complete the switch to MP4 in May next year. At that point they will probably extend the offer of a free Cox box for one year. I won't be taking them up on that and will probably just drop the service all together and go to streaming full time.
     
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  6. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Well-Known Member

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    Technically 1080i and 720p at least in the beginning of HDTV are considered to be equals. One being better at handling motion the other creating a clearer static image. This is why espn along with ABC broadcast in 720p. I Always thought 1080i looked better but those numbers are not the bottom line on picture quality.
     
  7. CommunityMember

    CommunityMember Member

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    In addition to 720p vs 1080i (using the same bitrate) quality debate (and as you say, it depends on the content type which "looks" better to people), one important thing (for the providers) is that progressive is much easier for low cost devices (or in-home streaming) to render well because high quality de-interlacing is computational very expensive, or requires dedicated silicon, which not all devices (especially things like tablets or phones or even those really cheap TV boxes and streaming boxes that some providers wish to deploy) may have, which results in poorer visual quality. Interlaced content may not be completely dead, but it is now mostly supported for limited legacy compatibility and is considered deprecated.

    As for schedule, these things tend to be a journey, rather than a flash cutover, as lots of people don't read the bill or letters that announce such changes, so the provider changes a few channels and then pauses and deals with those that suddenly notice their favorite channel does not work, and then changes some more channels, pauses, etc. so that the conversion takes many many many months in a market (and that was in the before times when all the store locations were able to exchange devices without any additional impedance).
     
  8. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    Correct. In practice, the extremely low bit rates dominate overall quality instead of 1080i vs. 720p.
     
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  9. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    I'm in your boat as well. My Premiere has paid for itself many times over when compared to renting a DVR from Cox. So I'm just riding out those savings until Cox makes TiVo impossible. Dropping Cox TV for YouTube TV doesn't change my TV + Internet total price, so I'm sticking with Cox TV and TiVo for now.
     
  10. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    It would make sense, as they are a smaller, nastier, more obnoxious version of Comcast, and they usually follow Comcast's lead from a technology perspective.

    This makes sense. Cox has a lot lower marketshare for video than Comcast does, and a slightly lower marketshare for internet, to the extent that any com. Where I live near Hartford, if I go anywhere, I cross Cox and Comcast towns, and the Cox towns have a LOT more satellite dishes. Cox doesn't do bundling nearly as aggressively as Comcast does, they are privately owned, so they don't care about subscriber numbers, their attitude is very take-it-or-leave-it even on the video side where they do have competition. So they have fewer customers to support, and thus a bigger bandwidth advantage.

    They probably need to reclaim the bandwidth first to roll out more DOCSIS, although with 1ghz SDV fiber deep, I'm not sure that they are anywhere as crunched as Comcast is.

    They weren't as pressed for bandwidth on the video side, due to having both 1ghz and SDV to begin with.

    I've never had Cox for TV, only internet since Failtier failed to provide service.

    1080i is much sharper, and will look better if it's given enough bandwidth and proper de-interlacing, but those are all big IFs, and 720p is a lot easier to compress down, as there is just a lot less data there, as it's less than half the resolution of 1080i. Moving from p to i doesn't actually save half the bandwidth, as the frame deltas are twice as big (well half frame deltas technically).

    Comcast did a few markets that way, and as they started doing more markets, they basically cut over all the cable channels except for ESPN and TWC in some markets/regions due to technical limitations of the regionalization equipment and where channels are getting encoded.
     
  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    It'll be interesting to see what Cox does with those customers who must switch out their current non-MPEG-4-compatible boxes for new ones that support MPEG-4. If they are also broadband customers, will Cox put them on IPTV-only, cloud DVR-only Contour boxes, as Comcast has been doing with many of their new TV customers for the past 18 months? Or will they put them on traditional hybrid QAM/IPTV Contour boxes/DVRs? Will they give out any non-Contour QAM-only boxes? If they're serious about dumping QAM in the next few years, you'd think they'd want to use this MPEG-4 switchover as an opportunity to get closer to ready for that happening.
     
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  12. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    Cox in Arizona killed analog TV in 2016, offering a confusingly limited Mini Box that only gets MPEG2 QAM channels for $4/month in its place. Their other offering is the Contour 2, which I think is the Comcast-based IPTV boxes.

    My neighbors who also have Cox complain because the mini box is useless. You need to get a $10/month Contour receiver per TV in order to get any features.

    Cox's only obstacle to IPTV is the Cox Mini box and old Contour-1 boxes. It took about 5+ years (from time of announcement) to phase out analog TV so I'm guessing it will take the same amount of time to phase out QAM delivery.
     
  13. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Well, isn't the Contour-1 a hybrid QAM/IPTV box that can work with both types of channels? The oldest Comcast X1 boxes are hybrids, so I'd say the Contour-1 is too. If so, then I don't think they would be a barrier to Cox going full-IPTV. As for the Cox Mini boxes, well, since you say that they only do MPEG-2, it sounds like they'll all be replaced with *something* soon because of the switchover to MPEG-4.

    My guess is that Cox, like Comcast, is going to put as many of their broadband+TV customers as possible on IPTV-only boxes with cloud DVR only. (The X1 models that Comcast uses in such installations are the Xi5, which is HD, and Xi6, which is 4K.) I think Comcast requires customers to use a Comcast gateway (modem/router) for that configuration, though. I'd say it's the same situation at Cox, given that they even require their standalone broadband subs to use the Cox gateway if they want to rent the Contour Stream Player (Cox's branding for Comcast's Flex box, which is the same thing as their Xi6 IPTV box).

    It's possible that after the MPEG-4 switchover, the only boxes in use with Cox cable TV that won't be IPTV-compatible will be TiVos and other CableCARD devices.
     
  14. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Are they SD or HD? If they're SD, they can stay on MPEG-2 until a complete IPTV transition a few years down the road.
     
  15. dishrich

    dishrich Active Member

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    Not at all; Contour 1 was YEARS before Cox got the X1-based boxes & was simply a newer Cox designed EPG on newer MPEG4 capable - but NOT IP capable - boxes. (on my relatives system they used Moto/Arris DCX boxes for Contour 1, while other systems used newer SA/Cisco) They also have a version of this EPG on their DTA's:
    Learn How to Use Contour 1 TV | Cox Communications

    Contour 2 is the X1-based system:
    Learn How to Use Contour 2 TV | Cox Communications

    When Cox started using DTA's - which was much later than Comcast - they only used HD(MI) -capable ones...so because of that, they are all already MPEG4 capable & will NOT have to be replaced.
    You need to also keep in mind, because Cox uses SDV, they do not have the bandwidth limitations like Comcast does...so quite honestly, they really don't have an urgent need to go IP-only - particularly now that it appears they're going MPEG4 on HD - which will NOT affect any subs that might (STILL) have SD-only equipment. It really will only affect pre-Contour (1) legacy HD boxes.

    My relatives in KS have had all 3 types (including the pre-Contour Rovi-based EPG) so I've seen them first-hand
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020 at 11:19 PM
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  16. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Ah, OK. I thought "Contour" was simply Cox's rebranding of X1, meaning that all Contour boxes are part of the X1 platform. But apparently the Contour brand preceded Cox's licensing of X1.
     
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  17. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Same. They don't make anything simple.
     
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  18. powrcow

    powrcow Active Member

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    I'm not sure about this - while the Arizona Cox mini receivers are HDMI-capable (they also have coax out), none of them are advertised to support MPEG4. Which is the biggest issue with them - if you have Contour 2 with expanded channels you need to rent the $10/month box instead of the $4/month receiver for additional TVs. I think the mini receivers are capable of MPEG4 - Cox might need to pay for the additional licensing (and obviously pass that cost directly to customers). Or continue to enjoy the extra $6/month from the more expensive box.
     
  19. Paul Anderegg

    Paul Anderegg New Member

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    Did a quick check of what exactly is comming down on channel 1987...h264 AVC Part 10 stream, around 5.5Mbps 720p60. Looked at my ABC channels and they are mpeg2 obviously, 720p60 at 10Mbps. Basically, they reduced the bitrate so that they retain the horrible mpeg2 quality, but save themselves half the bandwidth. :confused:

    30 minute mpeg2 recording on my Windows Media Center was 2.02GB. The 30 minute mpeg4 recording was 1.19GB.o_O

    Paul
     

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