FIOS signal problems in Howard County, MD

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by rvmeush, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. rvmeush

    rvmeush Member

    74
    0
    Dec 24, 2001
    Columbia, MD

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    I have been experiencing video macro-blocking on a number of channels, mainly HD, from Verizon in Howard County, MD. I have used the Tivo signal strength screens and found that on the channels with blocking the strength is about 50 or so. On channels without problems the signal strength is 80-100. I have called Verizon and they keep claiming that it is a Tivo problem or an HDMI cable problem or something else ridiculous. They keep telling me to contact Tivo to resolve the problem.

    I'm have seen problems like this before - mainly on one HD channel - but the signal strength seemed to improve after a week or so the signal improved and the problem went away. Does anyone know what causes these signal strength problems with FIOS, and how to get the problem resolved?
     
  2. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    2
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    It is a tuner sensitivity issue. In many cases, attenuation completely resolves the problem, but there are also some instances where it doesn't (or doesn't resolve the problem on every channel). Even when attenuation does eliminate the problem, it can be a tedious process to find the right amount.

    The upcoming 11.0d software will address the issue. I previously required 16-18dB of attenuation to eliminate pixelization, and so far with the new software, I haven't needed any attenuation at all. I am just one person, and I've only had the 11.0d software for 10 days, but it appears to make the TivoHD's tuner at least as robust as the Motorola DVR, because I required 3-4dB attenuation to eliminate pixelization and stutter on that box last year.

    Here's the quote from the Known Issues sticky, linked in my signature:

     
  3. mbhuff

    mbhuff New Member

    129
    0
    Jan 24, 2004
    New York
    There are two known issues with Tivo and Fios that cause pixelization and macro blocking.

    The first is two "hot" of a signal. Since FIOS sends the QAM signal via a Fiber MUX that is decoded at the ONT, there is no attentuation like normal coax plants, hence too "hot" of a signal. The fix is to check the signal strengh and RS uncorrected errors and add attenuators at the ONT until it is resolved.

    The second issue is that the actiontec router sends MOCA via coax. MOCA is ethernet over coax. It uses higher frequency signals that the Tivo wasn't designed to handle and causes issues. This can be resolved by putting a low-pass filter on the coax near the tivo. FIOS technicians have been sent a notice about this and usally carry filters in their trucks.

    Both problems have been reported to be resolved by the latest release of the TiVO software (11.0d), which is in the slow process of being distributed to everyone. It should hit your Tivo within the next 30 days. I'd just wait and see if that doesn't fix the issue and if not, try the low-pass filter.
     
  4. rvmeush

    rvmeush Member

    74
    0
    Dec 24, 2001
    Columbia, MD
    The problem I seem to be having is with too weak a signal, not too hot a signal. It would be nice if the new version 11 Tivo software fixes this problem. Is there a way to get the new software sooner rather than having to wait for the general release?
     
  5. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    2
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area

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    People often mistake a "hot" signal with a weak signal on the TiVo. The TiVo responds to extreme "hot" signals by displaying a large variation in signal strength; for example, you might see the signal strength jump between 40 and 90, 50 and 80, etc. When your signal is actually weak, you will see a low number with virtually no variation in signal strength.

    If past software roll-outs are any indication (three weeks from preliminary deployment to release), we should see the general release in 7-10 days.

    If you have an attenuator installed, like that pictured below, you can remove it once 11.0d is installed.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. rvmeush

    rvmeush Member

    74
    0
    Dec 24, 2001
    Columbia, MD
    I checked the signal strength on the problem channels and it seems to remain low at around 40-50.

    I also checked my current Tivo software version and it is 11.0c-01-2-652, so I'm assuming that I don't have the latest version. Is the new software supposed to fix the problem on channels with continuously low signal strength?
     
  7. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    2
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    The signal from the FiOS ONT on the side of your home is +12dB to +21dB, depending on the model. To suffer from low signal strength in the 40-50 range, the signal at the TiVo would have to be in the -10dB range. Think about that for a moment.

    The typical dual/triple splitter reduces signal strength by 4-6dB.

    Some FiOS installers know to add attenuation for the TiVo, and it is possible that the installer applied a bit too much for your particular installation. Look behind the TiVo, at the coax connection at the wall, and at the ONT (outside) for one of the attenuators pictured above. If you are certain there is no significant attenuation between the ONT and your TiVo, then it is not possible to have a low signal from FiOS unless your cable connections or coax are damaged (ex: chewed by a squirrel).
     
  8. wdave

    wdave New Member

    3,996
    1
    Jul 16, 2000
    Stevenson, MD
    What channels? I'll check mine. (Can you remind me how to check it, too?)
     
  9. mae

    mae member

    252
    5
    Dec 10, 2001
    USA
    Just got back from being out of town. One channel group (including Food HD-664-597Mhz) is very low at 45 with 30db SNR. No real problem though, tuner was on that channel for 3 days and only ~4500 uncorrected errors. All others seem fine, with the normal signal levels of 93-100 and 34/5db SNR.

    Seems like there is a system wide problem, and if it is causing issues for your reception, you should call it in to the FSC. It is probably just a bad modulator they don't know about. I'll post it on the Verizon Direct forum at BBR (http://www.dslreports.com/forum/vzdirect), but they won't see it until tomorrow.

    (wdave-go to DVR diagnostics)
     
  10. rvmeush

    rvmeush Member

    74
    0
    Dec 24, 2001
    Columbia, MD
    To check the signal strength go to Now Playing>Msgs & Settings>Account & System Info>DVR Diagnostics. There you can find the info for what's being received by each of the cablecard channels, including signal strength.

    I don't know how channels map to channel groups, but the channels that are pixellating for me include 554, 641, 664, 665, and 681. I also have a weaker than normal signal (approx. 75) on channels 104 and 126. I'd appreciate it if anyone can verify problems with those channels in Howard County, MD.

    Could someone tell me what the FSC is, how I contact them, and what I should report about the problem?

    Thanks
     
  11. mae

    mae member

    252
    5
    Dec 10, 2001
    USA
    Sorry I wasn't more descriptive. The FSC is the Fiber Support Center, where you always call.

    I checked the other channels you posted. 641 and 681 are on 591 MHz and also read low. 665 shares 597Mhz with 664 and is also low. The others are fine on my system.

    I'll amend my post at the VZ Direct forum, and you should post there as well if you can't get anyone on the phone to listen.

    Mark
     
  12. wdave

    wdave New Member

    3,996
    1
    Jul 16, 2000
    Stevenson, MD
    How long should it take to bring up that screen? I've been waiting a half hour so far. Soon I'll give up and reset the Tivo. Every button press results in a bong.
     
  13. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    2
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    It should only take 1-2 seconds. Something else is wrong if you can't bring it up. Or it could be a fluke.
     
  14. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Well-Known Member

    4,863
    180
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    I've had FIOS in Howard Co. with two S3 Tivos connected for about 28 months and never had any issues with macro-blocking or severe pixelation on any channels I watch. The coax comes off the ONT and goes through a 6-way splitter whuich then feeds the various STBs and Tivos. Keep in mind that each Tivo also splits the signal so the total attenuation ends up being about 6-9 dB lower than the initial output of the ONT.
     
  15. rvmeush

    rvmeush Member

    74
    0
    Dec 24, 2001
    Columbia, MD
    I'd be interested to know if you have checked any of the channels I mentioned having problems with (554, 641, 664, 665, and 681)? Thanks.
     
  16. mae

    mae member

    252
    5
    Dec 10, 2001
    USA
    I got an answer from VZ_Gustavo at the Verizon Direct forum. He gave me the knee-jerk "It is the TiVo" answer, which just isn't true as I've confirmed the signal strength issue on their QIP7100.

    If the problem isn't system-wide, it is at least on the strand that feeds here.

    Would folks on the AA/Howard County FIOS system pleas check your strength on 641, 664, 665 and 681. If it is significantly lower, please post here and at the Verizon Direct forum, http://www.dslreports.com/forum/vzdirect, att:VZ_Gustavo.

    Thanks.

    Mark

    Here's my reply to his message:

    THIS IS NOT A TIVO ISSUE!

    I can confirm the same symptoms on a QIP7100 on the inband diagnostics which show an SNR of about 30 db on these two frequencies while all of the others show 35+ db. I'm sorry I don't own a Sunrise meter so I could confirm an actual field strength on the ONT output, but since at least two customers in the area have the same symptom, I seriously doubt it is related to the ONT, although it could be on the same fiber.

    This is a distinct issue that involves two QAM pods, 591 and 597 MHz and seems to be system wide at least here in the Columbia area since all other channels have their normal signal strengths and these two frequencies are far below that level. If it was a standard HFC system, I would suspect a bad (or going bad) modulator at the head end. I'm not as familiar with your infrastructure as I am with regular cable.

    This is the same type of canned response that the poster received at the FSC. Actually, I'm very familiar with the TiVo issues, and in fact, TiVo provided a software update last night that adds some robustness to the tuners that will allegedly resolve that problem.

    I thought by posting the details here with technical information, I would bypass that knee-jerk response, and give you a chance to get ahead of what may be failing hardware and avoid a more serious and widespread issue.

    I will post on that thread and ask the original person to come here and contact you, but as I said, this appears to be a system issue on these two frequencies, confirmed by the readings on YOUR QIP 7100.
     
  17. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    2
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    mae,

    If your signal is low on those two channels, can't you just remove your attenuators? Attenuators are no longer needed under 11.0d. Or is the signal too weak, even without attenuation?
     
  18. Uncle_Steve

    Uncle_Steve Member

    105
    0
    Jul 23, 2004
    Sykesville,...
    Still in HO county (roughly 15 mins NW of Columbia), but almost certainly on a different switch (if that's the right jargon). In any event, running 11.0c. All signal strengths on channels 104, 126, 664, 554, and 681 were 100 with a SNR of 38dB.
     
  19. mae

    mae member

    252
    5
    Dec 10, 2001
    USA
    Never had any attenuators (or any problems). There is also a low signal on both of the VZ Moto STB's.

    Strength on 664 has always been 93-100, which is why I'm suspicious of something failing on their network.
     
  20. mae

    mae member

    252
    5
    Dec 10, 2001
    USA
    Thanks! I'm on the north end of Columbia, east of Route 29 off 108. We are probably on different central offices (COs) so that should be helpful to VZ if they take an interest.
     

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