FAQ: How does the Feb 2009 digital over-the-air transition affect my Tivo?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Stephen Tu, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. Apr 30, 2008 #1 of 116
    Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Well-Known Member

    May 10, 1999


    In February 2009, major over-the-air (OTA) television broadcast stations, which are currently broadcasting both digital and analog signals, will be required to shut off their analog transmissions by the FCC. (Small low-power and "translator" stations are exempt). Many people are asking how this will affect their Tivo. This post will address these issues:

    Am I affected?
    The only people directly affected by the transition are those who receive some or all TV programming OTA using a TV antenna. Satellite users who receive programming solely through the dish will not be affected. Cable users who feed their Tivos with a digital cable box are not affected.

    Analog cable users who feed their Tivos directly with the cable are not directly affected by the OTA transition itself, however they may be affected by a cable company's independent decision to go all-digital, which can be before or after the OTA transition, and may not happen for many years in some areas. Cable companies are not required to shut off analog, but they may do so for their own business reasons (digital takes less space than analog, giving more room for HD channels, internet, phone services). Cable companies in some areas (Alaska, parts of Chicago, Verizon FiOS, others) have already gone or announced plans to go all-digital. Others will likely do so as well, on their own time table, but will always notify you in advance of this happening. Cable companies that maintain analog services and don't require people to obtain digital boxes will either convert local digital feeds to analog for their analog customers or pass on analog feeds provided by the station themselves via land lines, at least until February 2012.

    I use OTA on a series 2 or earlier Tivo. What are my options?
    - You can buy a TivoHD or Series 3.
    - You can obtain some other digital OTA compatible recording solution (OTA DVR from another manufacturer, DVD recorder with digital tuner, computer based recording devices)
    - You can get a digital OTA tuner, aka converter box. The government is offering $40 coupons toward the purchase of these boxes at www.dtv2009.gov. The coupons are only usable with certain low cost, low featured, "coupon eligible converter boxes" (CECB), that only provide standard output, not high-definition. You can also buy more expensive boxes that support HD but won't be able to use the coupon.

    Tivo announced a software update for summer 2008 that will allow single tuner series 2 models, with the exception of the briefly produced TCD542xxx model, to control some of these boxes. See a list of supported CECBs posted by TivoJerry. Series 1 apparently will not be upgraded, but series 1 owners will get a TivoHD upgrade offer, enter your service number on this page. Dual tuner series 2 Tivos do not have OTA support and will not have this functionality added. This software, version 9.3.1, is now available upon request. To get on the priority list to receive this update, sign up on this page.

    I use analog cable on a series 2 or earlier Tivo. My provider sent me a letter indicating that they are going all-digital, cutting off analog service. What are my options?
    - You can buy a TivoHD or Series 3, and obtain Cablecard(s) from your provider.
    - Rent the provider's DVR
    - Get a digital cable box from the provider, rerun guided setup, use "cable with a box". Series 2 dual tuner boxes will only be able to use a single tuner.

    I don't fall into either of the above categories. What do I do?
    Relax, nothing changes for you. Wait until your cable provider sends you a letter indicating they are going all digital, or until you decide to upgrade yourself to HD.

    Edit log:
    5-10-08: Reflect Tivo's announcement of official support for converters.
    8-19-08: Link to supported CECBs, fix broken links, clarify S1 options.
    8-27-08: Link to priority request page for 9.3.1 software
  2. Apr 30, 2008 #2 of 116

    dylanemcgregor Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2003
    Corner of...
    Let me be the first to say thanks for the excellent and useful post.
  3. Apr 30, 2008 #3 of 116

    phox_mulder I get paid 2watch TV

    Feb 23, 2006
    Salt Lake...
    My coupons expire at the end of June.
    TiVo needs to announce support really quick, not necessarily support them yet, but announce which models they will be supporting.

    My daughter will be quite upset when she can't record Idol next year.

    Maybe the S2 will die before then and I'll have to get her a TiVoHD.

  4. Apr 30, 2008 #4 of 116

    Manchot New Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I agree, Phox. My coupons expire in mid-July, and I'd like to know before then whether Tivo will officially support any converter boxes or not; if they do, I need to know which one to buy. They don't actually need to provide the support until February of next year, but I'll be rather miffed if I lose $80 worth of coupons because they sat on their hands for six months. Tivo representatives, please take note.
  5. May 1, 2008 #5 of 116

    lastdeadcat 22 years in Alaska

    Mar 14, 2005
    Duvall, WA


    Excellent post. All the options are clear and concise. This is an excellent job of de-linking two events that seem to get confused in people's minds. All digital cable and all digital OTA are different issues. They get blurred by many people. They are simular, but very different.

    The digital cable issue probably has the more impact because more TV watchers use cable than OTA, but for OTA watchers, their issue has a much bigger impact.

    For cable users, the cable company will (ha!) look after them, but OTA users have to take care of themselves.
  6. May 1, 2008 #6 of 116

    Budget_HT Heavy User (of TiVo)

    Jan 2, 2001
    Renton, WA
    I thought it was strange to see Stephen asking this question (before I entered the thread to read it).

    Once I saw his post I realized what a service he as provided here for a confusing set of events that we will all be seeing in the near term.

    Thanks Stephen for an accurate and easy-to-understand description of what to expect.

    It would be a great public service if you shared this somehow with the press/media. Left to their own resources, they will likely deliver more confusion than clarity.
  7. May 1, 2008 #7 of 116

    JimSpence Just hangin'

    Sep 19, 2001
    Binghamton, NY
    Since this question has been raised many times, I think this FAQ thread should become a sticky. :)
  8. May 1, 2008 #8 of 116

    jrm01 New Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    The confusion is out there. I have had letters-to-the-editor published in two newspapers chastising them for their confusing reports. I even sent one to HT Magazine and got into an e-mail dialogue with one of their writers who thought that the news coverage was fully explanatory.

    I work at BB part-time. I have had at least 20 customers come in over the past week to buy a converter box, only to find that the vast majority of them didn't need one (they were using cable).

    I have likened this to Y2K all over again. People are probably buying new toasters fearing that their old one won't work on Feb. 18th, 2009.
  9. May 1, 2008 #9 of 116

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

    Sep 21, 2005
    Very well done post.

    You'll (Stephen) probably have better luck if you PM a mod to get it stickied - I concur this needs to be up there though. (and the Fall 2006 price change FAQ can probably go).
  10. May 1, 2008 #10 of 116

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    I reported the original Post...

    as being an excellent FAQ that does indeed need to be stickied :up:
  11. May 1, 2008 #11 of 116

    SkeeterTV New Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Fantastic post... this should be stickied.
  12. May 1, 2008 #12 of 116

    classicsat Astute User

    Feb 18, 2004
    Ontario Canada.
    Keep in mind, the underlying support framework for most boxes are mostly identical, the only change required being IR codes themeselves.

    With that, I'd get a major brand box, perhaps one that has partial support already. That way, there is a better chance of proper IR codes to be loaded, should TiVo choose to support OTA tuners.

    Should TiVo elect not to support digital OTA, then you at least could use the existing unsupport to record from digital OTA.
  13. May 10, 2008 #13 of 116

    jklinken New Member

    Dec 4, 2005
    This is a great post and exactly what I needed to know since I just received the Verizon letter yesterday – they are switching Fios to all digital here in Maryland on July 21 2008. I ordered a digital adapter from them with the hope that it will work with my Tivo series 2, which I use for lower analog channels only. After reading this post, I didn’t even realize that my Tivo Series 2 could control a cable box. To satisfy my own curiosity, I would really like to know how the Tivo does this and if I need any special connections between the Tivo and the digital adapter, or do I just continue to use coax to hook everything up. Can anyone enlighten me?
  14. May 10, 2008 #14 of 116

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004

    This is really a faq on OTA conversion to digital. Best to not have a bunch of posts on how to hook up what is essentially a cable box.

    I would suugest you start a new thread in this coffeehouse forum with a subject like "how to use digital adapter with FIOS and Series 2" and you will get lots of good info in such a thread.
  15. May 10, 2008 #15 of 116

    hddude55 New Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    When I purchased two series2 dual tuner Tivos in December 2007 as Christmas presents for my two daughters it would have been nice if someone at TiVo, Inc. had been honest enough to warn people that the machines would revert to single tuner machines in a mere year. Between this dishonesty and the more than six months of disappearing channels problems with Series 3 SA cable cards, I think it's safe to say I will never spend another cent on a TiVo product but will continue to spread the word so others won't be fleeced. Good customer service might result in a single customer sharing that experience with a couple others but bad customer service ensures the company of losing significant business. Get a clue, TiVo, Inc.
  16. May 10, 2008 #16 of 116

    jrm01 New Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    If you purchased your Tivo in December 2007 it does not have antenna capability, only cable or satellite. Therefore, none of this will affect you, and there was no dishonesty.
  17. May 13, 2008 #17 of 116

    hddude55 New Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    "Experts" have been posting here that the dual tuner series2 TiVos like the two I have hooked to Cox Cable will cease to work as dual tuner units after the conversion in 2009 and will only work as single tuner units unless Cox keeps sending an analog signal. If they provide an analog signal -- until 2012 -- I'm OK but I and others who purchased S2 boxes in the past year or so should have been forewarned that there were problems on the horizon.
  18. May 13, 2008 #18 of 116

    bicker bUU

    Nov 9, 2003
    Nothing is changing with the S2DTs. As long as you have an unencrypted analog signal coming into your home, as it was designed for, it will continue to work as it always has. Any changes are changes external to TiVo, and therefore the obligation for advance notification rests squarely on the initiator of those changes, i.e., the cable company. And that obligation is very clearly spelled out by the franchising authority. If you don't like the amount of notice they are required to give you, complain to your franchising authority. That's where the responsibility rests.
  19. May 13, 2008 #19 of 116
    Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Well-Known Member

    May 10, 1999
    They have? I think you probably misinterpreted. The statement is that dual tuner Tivos effectively become single tuner *if* your cable company decides to go all digital. But I don't think anyone stated that Cox was going all digital, in fact Cox has made statements saying they will maintain analog service for at least 3 years after the OTA transition if not longer.

    Also S2 DTs have always had disclaimers that they were dual tuner only for basic cable or basic cable + digital, not two digital channels.
  20. May 13, 2008 #20 of 116

    jtlytle Un-Registered User

    May 17, 2005
    2 weeks ago, I called TiVo tech and reported that my S2 single tuner stopped working. I got it replaced with dual tuner S2 and they warning me that it will NOT be a dual tuner once the digital started. All S2 DT will become D2 single tuner.

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