FIOS Missing Channels below 300000 KHz

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by PeteTV, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. PeteTV

    PeteTV Member

    May 6, 2006


    I have a Series 3 and recently (within the past week) a bunch of channels stopped working. How likely is it there's something wrong with the TiVo itself (not the cable, cableCards or pairing) that would cause only SOME channels not to work?

    I'm fairly certain it's not a cableCard pairing issue, at least the status on the cableCard screens all look good.

    I'm 90% sure the problem is related to the frequency of the channel. All the channels below 300000 KHz get no signal (see more below).

    After talking to Frontier (FIOS) tech support a couple times, they suspect it's something wrong at my house and have scheduled a tech visit next week (Jan 5th). The 2 techs I spoke with, both said it's very likely a problem with
    1. the cable in my wall
    2. the cable from the wall to the TiVo
    3. the TiVo itself
    And if it's any of those, I'll be charged for the tech visit.

    Shortly after I lost the channels, I checked the signal strength on a bunch of different channels and it was much lower than I remember. If fact, the overall signal strength used to be so high I had 16dB attenuators (2x8dB) for the cable to the TiVo. A few years ago (after Frontier installed the attenuators), the signal strength on most channels was around 90%. Now, after removing the attenuators, the highest channels are 77-81%.

    My S3 has 2 cableCards, #1 is a single stream and #2 is a multi stream. They were both installed Sep/2010, replacing 2 single stream cards.

    A bit more detail... I painstakingly, went through about 100 channels and mapped the channel number to the frequency (from Messages & Settings -> Account & System Information -> DVR Diagnostics) and did see some patterns:
    • The channels with no signal happens on both tuners/CableCards.
    • None of the channels with a frequency below 300000KHz work (no signal).
    • About half the channels between 300000KHz and 4000000KHz won't work (no signal), the other half work, but with low signal strength (40-43%) and are very pixelated.
    • All the channels above 400000KHz work with 50% signal strength or higher.
    • The signal strength seems to increase with the frequency. In other words, 500000 KHz channels have roughly 50-60% signal strength, 600000 KHz ~60-70%, 700000/800000 KHz ~70-80%. The highest signal strength is 81% on 2 channels at 849000 KHz.
    • The SNR also seems to be related to the frequency/signal strength. The lowest SNR is 26dB on the pixelated channels in the 300000-400000 KHz range. The channels in the 500000-600000 KHz range have SNR 28-30db. The highest SNR is 32-33dB on the channels in the 700000-800000 KHz range.
    The cable comes from the wall to a splitter. One cable goes to the router and the other to the TiVo. One of the techs told me the splitters sometimes go bad, but only for some frequency ranges, so that's a possible cause. BUT, I tried going direct from the wall to the TiVo and still had the same problem, which should eliminate the splitter as the problem. I also tried 3 different cables from the wall to the TiVo, so that would seem to eliminate the room cable as the problem.

    That leaves the cable IN the wall, the cableCards or the TiVo itself.

    It seems unlikely the cable in the wall is suddenly going to fail for only some frequencies? Unfortunately, I don't have an easy way to verify/bypass this cable. I only have one wall cable and one TiVo... no other TVs, TiVos or cable boxes.

    It also seems unlikely both cableCards would fail at the same time in the same way.

    Sooo, what about the TiVo?? Can the tuners fail in this way? Such that only lower frequency channels get no signal?

    Or is it more likely to be a problem with the signal coming from Frontier?

    It DOES seem to be the overall single strength is less than it used to be. ie, while the mid and higher frequency channels still work, the signal strength is much less than it used to be.

    Any help appreciated.
  2. ThAbtO

    ThAbtO TiVoholic by the bay TCF Club

    Apr 6, 2000
    SF Bay Area
    Its also likely the issue with the power supply, aka bad/aging capacitors.
  3. ClearToLand

    ClearToLand Old !*#$% Tinkerer!

    Jul 9, 2001
    Central Jersey
    A few days ago, on a whim, I looked at the Guide to see if there were any interesting upcoming movies. I found one on FXM HD Ch 732 and set my Roamio Basic w/ CableCard to record it. IIRC, I even glanced at the active tuners at the time the recording was scheduled to start and saw that indeed it was recording (9PM, 3hr 15 min). Then, the following day when I tried to view it, it was nowhere to be found. I checked HISTORY and it said 'No Signal'. I tuned to the channel via Live TV - 'No Signal'. Hmmm, didn't I record a movie from this channel a few weeks back? o_O [I did!]

    I also have a Motorola 7100 HD STB so I tuned it there - 'Black Screen' ("Do you want to troubleshoot?"). I used the STBs In-House Agent and it 'Reactivated' the channel - NG. It said I needed to reboot my STB - NG. 'Reactivated' a second time - nothing at first but a few MINUTES later a picture appeared. Back to my Roamio - now I had a HIGHLY pixelated image. By the time I got to DIAGNOSTICS, it was a 'Black Screen' again. Since nothing was recording, I power-cycled the Roamio.

    SUCCESS!!! :D

    I never noticed this before, (for as long as I've had FiOS - several years; only back with TiVo 2 years though), so I went over to DSLReports.Com -> Verizon FiOS TV to see if there was any 'chatter'. A bit here-and-there. Since the In-House Agent 'fixed' the problem, maybe that keeps the number of posts down.

    Something to try if you have a STB - otherwise, you might have to pick, let's say, ONE channel, call FiOS on the phone and have them re-activate it (or did they call it 're-authorize'? :oops: ) and then power-cycle your TiVo to see if it worked.
  4. PeteTV

    PeteTV Member

    May 6, 2006
    I did have a problem with bad caps a few years ago and replaced all of them. The S3 has been fine since then... at least up to now. I also wondered about the caps when I started to lose the channels (a few days ago), so I opened the cover and looked at them and they all LOOK fine... no browning or bulging on any of them. I know that's not a guarantee, but it was quite obvious a few years ago when they were bad.

    I don't have a STB, just the one TiVo. I did reboot several times while on the phone with the FiOS tech, although I don't remember if he tried to "re-authorize" any specific channels.

    The problem seems to be getting worse. The signal strength for ALL channels is now about 10% less than it was 12 hours ago. So the channels that did work with about 40% signal strength don't work at all now. And the channels that had the highest signal strength (81%) are now at 70%.
  5. PeteTV

    PeteTV Member

    May 6, 2006


    UPDATE: Things have continued to deteriorate. About 12 hours from the last time I checked the overall signal strength has gone down even more. Now, only the channels with a frequency higher than 700000 KHz have any signal... and that's at ~48-54%.

    I suspect by tomorrow none of the channels will have any signal strength.
  6. PeteTV

    PeteTV Member

    May 6, 2006

    Short version -- All channels are back and the problem wasn't the TiVo it was the FiOS ONT. Well, ALMOST all channels... there's 2 exceptions that I think might be the TiVo (see long version for details).

    Long version -- In case anyone cares and for my own future reference...

    So, back on Dec 30th (see previous post) I said the signal strength was continuing to go down on all channels and by the next day I didn't think any channels would work. I never got a chance to find out. Instead I decided to turn off the TiVo and disconnect all wires/cables overnight (~9 hrs). Main reason is there was some football games I wanted to record and I thought maybe it would get better for a while if I let it "rest". The next day I plugged everything back in and turned it on and most of the channels came back to life. It was roughly the same set of channels and signal strengths I reported on Dec 29th. They remained at those levels all day and as far as I recall, throughout the weekend. I wasn't around much so I can't say for sure.

    At some point during the next week (I think around Jan 2nd) I was watching something live, when the channel went completely black. I switched around and found most of the channels were black. The only ones that weren't, were the broadcast (unencrypted) channels. I decided to shutdown the TiVo and left it off for about 10 mins. After turning it back on, most of the channels where ok and the signal strength was roughly what I reported on Dec 29th. The channels remained that way for the rest of the week.

    On Jan 5th, the Frontier FiOS tech came. I explained what I was seeing and he took the cable out of the TiVo and plugged it into some device. He said the signal was at -6dB and should be closer to 10dB. He then went outside to the FiOS ONT (Optical Network Terminal) and measured it from there and said it was -2dB (I think). At any rate, he said that's way too low and explained that sometimes the ONT (or something in it) degrades over time. He ended up replacing something inside the ONT (the case is still the same). After that we checked and all the channels were back and over 100% signal strength. I had previously (on Dec 29th) removed the 16dB (2x8dB) attenuators, so we put them back on and that got the signal strength down to about 95% on most channels.

    The only remaining mystery is the 2 channels that don't work, but ONLY on the 1st cableCARD. I'm quite sure this has been a problem for some time, but I'd forgotten about it until this recent issue. I never watch one of the channels and the other only occasionally. And since it works on the 2nd cableCARD, anything I recorded seemed to always get recorded on the tuner connected to the 2nd cableCARD. The first cableCARD was a single-stream installed back in 2010, so I suspected maybe it was having a problem. The tech replaced it with a new multi-stream, but it didn't fix the problem.

    The 2 channels that don't work: SPIKE (554) and VH1 (717) are both at frequency 861000 KHz, which is the highest frequency for any of the channels I receive. I thought that was an odd coincidence. If anyone has any insight into this, either a TiVo issue or a FiOS issue, I'd be interested.
  7. emuman100

    emuman100 Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    I doubt it's a Tivo issue. That "new" cable card may be used, or they need to reauthorize it, or perhaps what they replaced in the ONT was also "new". I'm not sure how tilt is adjusted on the ONT, but if the signal levels for 861 MHz are good, then it's probably an authorization issue.
  8. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    I was going to say it sounds like an ONT issue. I had a similar issue six years ago on Verizon FiOS. And my ONT needed to be replaced.

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