Is TiVo in trouble?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Sparky1234, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Do you mean FDX (full duplex DOCSIS 3.1) instead of EPON specifically just for MDUs? Or that they're dropping EPON completely, including in greenfield neighborhoods? FDX over HFC has, I think, been the plan for all, or nearly all, of their legacy network for the past few years. Although, at least per a roadmap I saw awhile back, that may get replaced with full FTTH several years down the road.
     
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  2. chiguy50

    chiguy50 U.S. Army (ret.)

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    I did not ask whether their comments applied solely to MDU's, but I did inquire whether they were referring only to our region (Atlanta metro) or globally, and they said it was the latter. The issue is particularly germane to our property because Comcast ran fiber lines into our complex last year but have given no sign that they are going to connect them to terminals or offer us the opportunity to subscribe to FTTH service. I asked about it because I am not eager to see them deploy EPON here given its current limitations on their system (e.g., must have Xfinity HSI service, must use Xfinity gateway, non-compatible with CableCARD or DTA's, and no "adult" subscriptions or PPV service).

    If you are sufficiently interested in more detailed information, just let me know and I will shoot my contacts an email with your questions.
     
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  3. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Can you just put it in bridge mode and use your own router to avoid the xFi crap?

    Interesting. They've already deployed some EPON, and have other areas that are RFoG. Does that mean that they will not deploy any more EPON? Or any more brownfield EPON, and just do it for large greenfield deployments? I thought the plan all along was EPON in large greenfields, targeted brownfields with bulk agreements, and FDX for everyone else. The whole EPON architecture is made to be compatible with fiber-deep rphy and eventually FDX. Are they now skipping mid-split fiber-deep to wait for FDX? I guess that makes sense, but it's frustrating when they could jump from 35mbps up to 100mbps up, fix their awful video quality, and have way more DOCSIS capacity all at once by combining mid-split and fiber-deep while bumping the upper end to 1002mhz based on technology that's already out there.

    I just don't see why they would need to go to full FTTH, as FDX with <128 actives/node has the same bandwidth as EPON. Maybe in exurban areas where N+0 can't reach 128 actives without becoming N+1, N+2, etc, but in more suburban/urban areas, I don't see what would push them to FTTH.

    Fiber for individual customers, or for fiber-deep HFC? Or RFoG? I'd be interested to know what their plan is for EPON and RFoG moving forward.
     
  4. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting the info here and the offer to follow up personally, although not necessary. I have no personal vested interest one way or another regarding Comcast's EPON vs FDX HFC roadmap, just find it all interesting from a business/tech perspective.

    I honestly have no idea. I've never rented any modem, router or combined gateway from Comcast. I just try to pass along info I come across that might be helpful.

    Yeah, that seems to be pretty much the info that I posted awhile back based on that slide presentation I found of the Comcast network roadmap, along with comments in a thread over at DSL Reports. Keep in mind, though, that presentation dated from a couple years ago. So plans could well have changed a bit since then.

    Yeah, HFC still appears to have a lot of life left in it. CableLabs is saying that symmetrical 10 Gbps is on the horizon for HFC. As for Comcast's plans to eventually replace the last vestiges of coax and go full fiber, I was just repeating what was in that online slide presentation I came across a couple months ago. Plans can and do change. Apart from pure bandwidth considerations, though, perhaps there are other cost/reliability benefits to be had from a pure FTTH network vs. HFC?
     
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  5. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    True. Comcast's plans constantly slide back and don't get done. Look at IPTV. Everything was supposed to be IPTV by now, and now there's no plan in sight for it. I think they're looking at their TV business and wondering why they should spend the money when over-compressing MPEG-4 freed up a lot of bandwidth for DOCSIS, and there is more to be gained by getting rid of SD and converting the remaining non-HD channels to MPEG-4.

    I would think it would depend on the environment. If you're in a suburban/exurban low turnover area, full FTTH may well make sense. In a more urban area with higher churn, I see coax making more sense. With FTTH, you have to put fiber in to every house, along with the equipment, which is enormously expensive, versus coax, where you just send hardline down the block and tap off of it. Even if they only get one or two blocks off of each fiber deep node in an urban area, that's still WAY cheaper than FTTH. I could see FTTH possibly being beneficial on area immediately adjacent to the ocean, due to corrosion problems with coax, or very sprawled out areas, or other specific use cases.

    If you're building a brand new network, FTTH makes sense, I just can't see how it makes economic sense for an MSO. I'd love to be wrong, but I'm just not seeing it.

    I just wonder how many eons it's going to take Comcast to actually do widespread FDX. They've done a bit of fiber deep in a few areas, but not much. Ironically, Comcast is treating fiber deep like some newfangled concept, my old local former muni cable company built an HFC system with <125 actives/node in the mid-2000's, and never made a big deal of it, that's just how they built it. Now Comcast comes along with fancy mini-nodes and makes a big deal out of this new architecture called "fiber deep". Ironically my old cable company probably made Comcast closer to fiber deep in that area with their existing archiac system by stealing some of their subscribers and improving their actives per node ratio.
     
  6. bradleys

    bradleys It'll be fine....

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    I think the days of TiVo as a cable box are coming to an end. Cable cards will soon retire and will be replaced with branded streaming services. It will work well in the OTA space, but that is crowded and TiVo is still an expensive, albeit flexible solution.

    So... yes, I think TiVo’s current business model is aging. They need to do something interesting and unique. I still wish they would have partnered with Amazon or Roku a decade ago for their app platform.
     
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  7. chiguy50

    chiguy50 U.S. Army (ret.)

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    I'll ask for more detail and report back.

    I asked the tech rep for an FDX timeline and he just shrugged his shoulders.:confused:
     
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  8. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    I'd bet they have at least one or two systems with in within a couple of years. The bigger question is how long until their entire territory gets it. Could be decades the way Comcast operates.
     
  9. DigitalDawn

    DigitalDawn Active Member

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    The Comcast rep in our area said that they would soon be converting RFoG communities to EPON.
     
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  10. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    When, and define 'soon'.

    This thread will still be alive for years.
     
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  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Eh, only took Comcast about 2.5 years to roll out DOCSIS 3.1 across their entire footprint, finishing in the fall of last year. I think they're still evaluating exactly which vendors, etc. they're going to go with for DAA/Remote PHY, which is a necessary network upgrade to support FDX. They other part of the equation is fiber deep/N+0. But they've already pushed fiber pretty deep, haven't they? Perhaps more than any other major US cable broadband provider, Comcast could get to N+0 fairly quickly if they want to.

    And CableLabs only completed the FDX spec in late 2017. As of last fall, Arris was already plugging their solutions for FDX implementation, expecting sales in the US to start in 2019. (At that point, they'd already supplied their tech to roll out FDX with an Australian broadband provider.)

    My guess is that we'll see Comcast begin implementation of FDX either late this year or in 2020, with the whole thing done across their footprint a few years later.
     
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  12. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    That makes sense, as I think the RFoG stuff is 5-42 1002mhz equipment, so it doesn't work in a 5-85 or FDX world. Fiber goes EPON, coax goes to FDX. It makes perfect sense, and it's moving everything towards a fully IP delivery model where the network has no reason to care whether the last half- or quarter-mile is done via EPON or fiber-deep FDX.

    I think Comcast could be all-IP within 5 years if they really want to be. However, doing the math out, I'm not sure that there's a huge push for all-IP unless they want to go to rphy and get rid of the analog RF on the fiber entirely. Maybe that's part of FDX. However, even if that's the master plan, if they start converting in 2020, it would take at least 10 years to convert all their systems nationwide, and knowing Comcast, there will be some still on 5-42 750mhz in 10 or 15 years.

    Even if Comcast starts converting in 2020, Charter is 10 years behind them, and many small MSOs are even farther behind. Comcast will lead Cox, who will lead the rest of the industry. Then there's Verizon that may still have QAM until linear TV dies or they get out of the business completely. Or they may go IPTV. Who knows. They seem to hate to throw out any cable box, even if it's ancient.

    CableCard TiVos aren't going anywhere, at least in most places, anytime soon. They may well be useless on large parts of Comcast come the mid-2020s, but as for other MSOs, that's unlikely. QAM is dying, but it's dying a slow death.

    That's not a plant rebuild, that's just reclaiming spectrum and plopping in a new CMTS, and that took 2.5 years to do. Imagine actually rebuilding the plants to fiber deep N+0, even if they don't do rphy at the same time. I think Groton, CT got upgraded from a 625mhz to an 860mhz (really 1002 with nothing above 860mhz), but Plainville, CT, AFAIK, is still running a 750mhz system with gig somehow crammed in.

    I don't have a good sense for their node sizes. The last report I saw was from 4 or 5 years ago, it was accidentally not redacted, and it was a bad example, as it was for Groton, which has a much lower penetration rate due to being overbuilt. Some of the systems with exurban towns, i.e. Madison, Marlborough, Simsbury, etc, have high-income pockets that Frontier doesn't serve, and have near 100% penetration on those nodes.

    However, they could well have already put the fiber in for those nodes, it's just sitting dark waiting for the electronics. I can't imagine the nodes today are larger than 500 actives/node, although it may have crept up over the past couple of years as people have switched away from Slow DSL to cable. If it's 250-300/node, they're only splitting nodes in 2 or 3 to get to fiber deep, which is 128 actives/node on Comcast.

    Maybe they've sped up their deployment, but as of a few years ago, they were positively glacial at doing anything on the last mile. They are super fast with deploying core network technologies, IP transport, business fiber, etc, just not HFC last mile.

    It sounds like they are skipping 5-85 for the most part and going directly to FDX, but it is going to require an epic amount of work. They have to not only split nodes, but get rid of all of the downstream amps, and I believe they have to change or eliminate some filters at various split or tap points to be fully bidirectional. The real doozy, however, is that they have to remove each and every drop amp, and I'm not sure how they do that with N+0 as the whole point of N+0 is that there are no secondary amps, and I'm not sure they can make an FDX drop amp. It's really easy to take an N+4 5-42 system in an exurban area with 25 homes per cable mile and tack on one more layer of amps in each house to support a maze of wiring that feeds 5 TVs, broadband, phone, etc. I don't know how they do that with FDX. At least with 5-85, houses with drop amps just lose half of the upstream channels, which isn't ideal, but everything more or less keeps working, possibly with drop amp users getting reduced speeds, or putting their modem on a passive port before the amp electronics so that the modem does receive the full 5-85, and X1 doesn't need that many upstream channels anyway.

    So with FDX can a drop amp be made? Or are there MSO-grade amps that can be deployed to an N+1 configuration to get deep into exurban areas? Or do they just run 30-50 home nodes to keep the power levels up? Or do they deploy EPON and spend gazillions of dollars pulling fiber through conduits and trenching, since many of those exurban areas have a lot of UG.

    The other issue is what is the business case for FDX? Of course cloud is becoming huge, and managing upstream bandwidth is becoming more of a challenge on 5-42. But what does FDX solve that 5-85 fiber deep doesn't? In markets with heavy exposure to FiOS, the few techie users who really care about upload bandwidth and use cloud heavily are going to self-select to FiOS or AT&T fiber anyway, and Comcast can't be competitive for that market with FDX, they would have to go to full EPON. In markets that don't have heavy competitive exposure to fiber, they have no incentive to go to FDX, as 5-85 can blow anything else in the market out of the water. Most VDSL2 implementations top out at 20mbps up, while 5-85 fiber deep can do 100mbps up 1000mbps down.

    Lastly, does going to FDX and rphy force Comcast to move to full IPTV in those markets? Their backend is ready for it, but the CPE changes required for that are very, very significant. If I were Comcast, I'd go to 5-85 1002 fiber deep, fix their crap MPEG-4 quality by moving to regional/local stat muxes, get rid of MPEG-2 entirely, de-duplicate SD/HD channels, which would allow for a maxed out 32 DOCSIS 3 + 2x 192mhz DOCSIS 3.1 configuration.
     
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  13. mschnebly

    mschnebly Well-Known Member

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    LOL 10 years after TiVo does goes out of business there will be folks on here saying that as long as their box keeps running TiVo will never be dead! "You'll have to pry my TiVo from my cold....." :)
     
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  14. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    It's not about being a diehard, it's about the reality of cable system TV inertia. As Bigg said Comcast et al have taken years to slowroll IPTV on their cable plants (if at all), so the thought that cable cards are going away 'soon' is laughable to me based on the evidence we have.
     
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  15. morac

    morac Cat God TCF Club

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    My area still doesn’t have fiber to the node, let alone FTTH. That causes all kinds of problems periodically as ingress can literally enter the system anywhere and affect people across multiple towns.

    Comcast needs to focus on updating their infrastructure before they can even think about implementing full IPTV.
     
  16. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Your post makes a number of points, some of which, TBH, are beyond my ken when it comes to HFC network tech. You raise some good questions too.

    Few things I would say, in response:

    First, I think Comcast's extension of fiber across their footprint in general may be more extensive than what you're seeing in the local areas you cite. I saw them rolling out fiber in my neighborhood several months back, not sure for what. D3.1 had already been deployed here at that time (Nashville was one of their first markets) and there were no new speed tiers that become available at my location after that new fiber got hung. Likewise, I've seen posts in this or other similar threads on this forum from folks who've seen Comcast fiber getting extended through their backyards, etc. My point is, I think Comcast has been at work for awhile now on moving towards fiber deep/N+0. I don't think their plan was to just implement D3.1 and then, after that's all done, start doing all the things (including fiber deep) that would be necessary to implement FDX. At least some of the work toward fiber deep had been going on for awhile now, I think. As bandwidth demands among the public increase every year, getting fiber closer to the end customer and shrinking the number of homes per node has benefits beyond setting the table for FDX.

    Next, you raise the question of the business case for FDX, i.e. will it provide the greatest market return for Comcast's infrastructure buck? I'm not going to hazard a guess one way or another, I just know that I have repeatedly read, from multiple credible sources over the past couple of years, that FDX is next on Comcast's network roadmap after D3.1. One might debate how *smart* such a move is but I don't think there's any reason to question that that's what Comcast is going to do. And I may be wrong, but I really don't see it taking them until the late 2020s to implement it. At that point, I think their plan is to have already moved on to newer technological improvements to HFC.

    Oh, BTW, I've also read that "full network virtualization" that uses cheaper, generic hardware is also on Comcast's network roadmap, perhaps to be implemented as the same time as DAA/FDX.

    Lastly, I still it's plausible (not sure I'd say probable any more) that we see Comcast go to an almost-fully-IPTV system in the next few years. They could leave, say, their Digital Starter channel tier (plus maybe the original main channels for HBO, SHO, Starz, Cinemax and TMC) on QAM but only in SD (MPEG-4). All TV service in HD and any channels beyond that tier, as well as all VOD, would require switching to either of Comcast's IPTV services (X1 or Xfinity Instant TV). That shouldn't be a problem for all those already on X1; it might be pretty much a seamless switch. Others would have to decide whether to switch out their STB (and potentially also get a Comcast internet gateway, even if they don't subscribe to broadband) or instead, stick with their existing hardware and settle for a max of ~100 channels in SD. Such a move would allow all those businesses (waiting rooms, etc.) to keep using the little DTAs that dangle from their wall-mounted TVs, and it would keep Comcast from cutting off elderly folks and others who are very averse to tech change. Those folks probably can't tell the difference between SD and HD anyway. Such a move would free up all the bandwidth currently devoted to HD QAM channels to be repurposed as D3.1 OFDM IP bandwidth. This might be a transitional thing, though. Maybe a couple years later, they'd fully shut down those SD channels on QAM (or truncate them even further to just the Limited Basic tier of locals).

    And, yes, it's also plausible that Comcast decides that the costs involved in deprecating/shutting down QAM TV don't justify the benefits as the traditional linear-channel cable TV business evolves and shrinks in the 2020s. In which case, whatever improvements they make going forward (e.g. 4K HDR, new channels, integration of their upcoming SVOD service) will be restricted to IPTV while their existing QAM TV platform is frozen in time. Such a scenario does not match repeated info that has leaked out of Comcast over the past few years but, of course, plans can change.
     
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  17. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    How is DOCSIS handled? It still has to effectively be split up between multiple CMTS's, even if it is running on hardline RF from the headend. Is the broadcast video a true RF system, with each different CMTS notched in?

    To be fair, their upgrades are very splotchy, and Connecticut is towards the bottom of the list for them. I'm not sure about MA, as one train of logic would say that they would be competing harder there than anywhere else because of FiOS, another would say that their capital is best spent elsewhere, and they're better off running their oldest technology and offering aggressive pricing, since the techie customers are going to go with FiOS anyway.

    I don't doubt that Comcast is doing SOMETHING, the question is what are they doing it and where are they doing it. So fiber deep doesn't require FDX, and it doesn't even require 5-85 1002mhz. However, as I understand it, FDX requires N+0, which effectively requires fiber deep, as I don't think you can run 200+ subs off of an N+0 node. They may well be moving towards fiber deep through node splits with their traditional HFC network. There's nothing special about their fiber-deep mini-nodes, other cable companies did fiber deep 10+ years ago with regular nodes and amps.

    I know FDX is on their roadmap, I'm just wondering what the business case for it is (i.e. how much can they monetize the upstream?). I highly doubt that they will have FDX widely deployed (i.e. on 80% or more of their footprint) by the late 2020s. They take 15+ years to do a cycle of upgrades, and one arm of the company never seems to know what the other arm is doing, at least in the area of the last mile HFC infrastructure.

    That makes sense. They are already using white box server hardware for software MPEG-4 encoding, and I could see that model spreading, I just don't understand enough about it to understand how that fits in with FDX, fiber deep, etc.

    It's possible. There are a lot of scenarios. What would make sense to me is to keep about 70 SD MPEG-2 channels for DTAs, and then move the rest of the SD channels to MPEG-4 and de-duplicate the ones that are also available in HD. If they did that, they would have plenty of room for DOCSIS, although FDX could potentially use more spectrum than the current implementation of DOCSIS 3.1, so maybe that's what pushes them fully to IPTV. I'm also not sure if QAM video is compatible with FDX and rphy, as you'd need a way to have both fiber Ethernet (rphy) and analog fiber (RF) feeding each node, and then combining the signals together at the node level.

    Yeah, I think they're just buying time at the moment to either shed more customers that won't have to be converted, or for the whole TV business to fundamentally change. However, their business model of trying to force people into marginally profitable (at best) TV bundles doesn't line up with that technical strategy. If they weren't force-bundling, I think they'd lose another 1-3 million TV subscribers, possibly even more, within 1 year. There aren't going to be many, if any new channels for linear TV. What we will see is many channels disappearing as they are no longer profitable, and providers don't want to pay for them. Comcast never really got into the HD tonnage wars, and they may lead the thinning out of the cable TV lineup.
     
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  18. Apr 3, 2019 #278 of 350
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Just as an example of how quickly a conversion to IPTV could go if Comcast were serious about it, have a look at Rogers, Canada's largest cable company. They're licensing Comcast's X1 platform to power their Ignite TV service, which is 100% IPTV. Ignite TV uses only small wireless STBs at each TV -- the 4K HDR-capable Xi6 and maybe also the Xi5 (which is basically the same, but can't do 4K HDR) -- that work in conjunction with a required Rogers RDK-B compliant gateway modem/router (which is probably the same as or a lot like Comcast's xFi Advanced Gateway). No local DVR, only cloud DVR. Linear channels are either multicast or unicast, depending on popularity/network traffic. (Note that Roger's approach represents a clean break from QAM TV to IPTV as opposed to Comcast's transitional approach, which includes earlier generations of X1 hardware that are QAM/IPTV hybrid devices.)

    Rogers introduced Ignite TV in mid-2018 as their new upper-tier video offering, running alongside their traditional QAM-based cable TV service that uses legacy STBs. But Rogers now says that they "plan to switch over entirely to Ignite TV and other X1-based 'connected home' products before the end of the year (2019)." "We'll move to stop selling our legacy products as early as we can," Stafferi (a Rogers exec) said. While he declined to put an exact time frame on it, he said expects that to happen "towards the back half of the year."

    Rogers, Videotron Angle for X1 Edge | Light Reading

    So, about 18 months after introducing the new IPTV platform, Rogers will deprecate the legacy QAM TV service and make it unavailable for new subs. (I'm taking the more conservative interpretation of his "stop selling our legacy products" to mean "stop signing up new customers on the legacy products" as opposed to "completely shut down the legacy products".) So who knows how long they'll continue to operate the legacy service in order to give those customers a chance to trade in their STBs and migrate over to IPTV. But keep in mind, for all the discussion we've had about the bandwidth considerations of delivering video via QAM vs. managed IP, Rogers has been fully supporting both distribution systems simultaneously since June 2018 and will continue to do so until whenever they shut down their legacy QAM TV system, which I would guess wouldn't come before the end of 2020.
     
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  19. Apr 3, 2019 #279 of 350
    aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    The x1 boxes and clients are capable of IPTv. The problem is the millions of people not on x1. People with boxes that wont work properly with iptv. Those boxes need to be changed out for comcast to switch completely to iptv.

    Sent from my Galaxy S10
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  20. Apr 3, 2019 #280 of 350
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    That's an interesting example, but I wonder how many channels they have up there compared to what we have down here, and what frequency their systems are operating at. It's a lot easier to run both a on 1ghz system versus 750mhz or even lower systems. Existing XG1 and XG2 boxes can use IPTV with the right gateway, even though some of their hardware becomes redundant.
     

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