Rumor: Comcast may go all-IP for new subs by year-end

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Mar 29, 2017 #1 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Well, I've seen Comcast's transition from QAM to IP video coming for awhile but even I'm surprised to read this rumor today over at Light Reading (a well-respected industry news source).

    Comcast May Go All IP by End of Year – Rumor | Light Reading

    Note that the rumor isn't purporting that Comcast will turn off QAM service this year, only that it will officially deprecate it by making all new subs IP-only. I'm pretty sure all X1 boxes already deployed can seamlessly switch over to IP and let their QAM tuners lie dormant. Given that X1 already accounted for about half of all deployed STBs at the end of 2016, I would imagine Comcast would switch those subs over from QAM to IP somewhere around the same time (year-end '17).

    Given that there's not going to be a successor to CableCARD, I imagine it will be up to TiVo to try to work out an arrangement to make their boxes continue to work with Comcast TV service at some point in the next few years when they inevitably cease QAM broadcasts all together in order to free up all that bandwidth.
     
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  2. Mar 29, 2017 #2 of 574
    mntvjunkie

    mntvjunkie Member

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    While this would be disappointing to say the least, it's not surprising. Hopefully TiVo has been working on something with them, because I don't think it will take more than a few years for them to sunset the old model completely.
     
  3. Mar 30, 2017 #3 of 574
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    I can see how this is disappointing because current TiVo models can't handle it. But in the longer view getting away from CableCARDs and Tuning Adapters is a really good thing. TiVo will handle it with new models eventually and if they don't someone else will -- hopefully someone with better guide data than Rovi provides.

    The QAM systems will linger for at least 5 years, more likely 10, so recovering the value invested in current TiVo's will not be a problem.
     
  4. Mar 30, 2017 #4 of 574
    atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

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    Without FCC mandates when cable providers switch their traditional cable system from QAM delivery to IPTV delivery users will have no STB/DVR options, you will have to use what ever the cable company is leasing. Same as you do now with AT&T Uverse and Google fiber.

    Only the OTT services are going to support third party hardware and it is unlikely many will support TiVo's platform.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2017 #5 of 574
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Tivo was working with Comcast a few years ago for IPTV delivery but we've heard nothing since.
     
  6. Mar 30, 2017 #6 of 574
    atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

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    Ya a few years ago everyone thought there was going to be a FCC mandated cable card replacement and that the Satellite providers and cable systems using IPTV delivery were going to have to provide support for third party STBs/DVRs. That is all dead now.
     
  7. Mar 30, 2017 #7 of 574
    bradleys

    bradleys It'll be fine....

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    TiVo models can handle it, but only as an app - so I am not sure what the value would be.
     
  8. Mar 30, 2017 #8 of 574
    ajwees41

    ajwees41 Well-Known Member

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    Tivo has software already that can handle SDV without a tuning adapter, but it's up to the cable provider to upgrade the headends
     
  9. Mar 30, 2017 #9 of 574
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    I've always wondered what this entry was in Diagnostics.

    Channel Sources:
    Cs5: SdvHttp Inactive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  10. Mar 30, 2017 #10 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Assuming the rumor reported in the OP is true, here are my thoughts:

    1. I would think that once the switchover happens later this year, no new TiVos will be able to be activated on Comcast. Since they won't actually be turning off QAM signals, currently activated TiVos should continue to work the same, but since all new subs will be IP-only, that would seem to rule out any further activations of TiVos (whether first-time activations of new units or reactivations of old units). From what I gather, Comcast accounts for probably 40% or more of all US QAM-based pay TV subs (i.e. cable + FiOS). It's questionable whether the Bolt could continue to be a viable retail product if 40% of otherwise potential buyers could no longer use it. (Never mind the fact that Verizon FiOS may begin a similar QAM-to-IP transition any day now that would even further diminish the pool of potential new TiVo hardware buyers.)

    2. It's already been reported that Comcast will begin allowing their app on Rokus and maybe other retail streaming devices to access their TV service and be used as customer-owned STBs later this year. Those devices, of course, would be served via IP, not QAM. (This is already in open beta trials for certain Roku models now.) So I'm guessing IPTV support for Roku will be officially offered (post-beta) at the same time that they switch over all new subs to IP. X1 will immediately become the only type of STBs issued by Comcast. If you don't want X1, you'll need to supply your own Roku or other supported device.

    3. If all the above does shake out this year, it would mean Comcast is being even more aggressive in transitioning from QAM to IP than I had imagined. I had been thinking they wouldn't shut off QAM until 2019 or 2020 but they may end up doing it by the end of 2018, roughly a year after beginning the transition. That would be enough time to alert customers who hadn't already migrated to X1 or Roku that they will eventually have to do so. I imagine special incentive deals will be offered to encourage the laggers. Maybe they'll even have discounted Rokus available for purchase (or even free) when customers bring in their old QAM-based STBs.
     
  11. Mar 30, 2017 #11 of 574
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    I don't see how they could refuse to issue a CableCARD to an existing account that adds a TiVo.
     
  12. Mar 30, 2017 #12 of 574
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    As long as they are still broadcasting QAM they are required by law to offer CableCARDs. The only way this would effect TiVo users is if they completely stopped broadcasting QAM, which they're not going to do because they have too many devices in the field that need it.

    Although they could start moving specific channels to IP only and there is nothing we could do about that.
     
  13. Mar 30, 2017 #13 of 574
    lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    Not without changing the packages.
     
  14. Mar 30, 2017 #14 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    So long as Comcast offers customers a way to access their full TV service with an alternative form of customer-owned equipment in the form of streaming boxes like Roku, I'm not sure the FCC would continue requiring Comcast to offer CableCARDs. Maybe. But I wouldn't count on it. Everyone in the industry recognizes that CableCARD is on its last legs.

    As for completely stopping QAM transmissions, Comcast obviously wants to do that as soon as is feasible in order to reclaim all that bandwidth. X1 increased from about 30% to 50% of their subs in 2016. Assuming similar gains this year would put their IP-capable installed user base at 70% by the end of this year. Then figure that a good chunk of that remaining 30% will transition to IP pretty quickly, either by voluntarily migrating to the newly available Roku app instead of the clunky old QAM box they were already using or through normal subscriber churn, given that all new subs must be IP.

    I really don't see that many subs they would be in jeopardy of losing if they shut off QAM completely by year-end 2018. And those that may choose to walk away are probably such low-margin customers that Comcast wouldn't care all that much. (However, we could very well see the most basic level of service, just local channels in SD, continue to remain available in QAM for awhile longer, maybe indefinitely. That would use very little bandwidth.)
     
  15. Mar 30, 2017 #15 of 574
    kokishin

    kokishin Active Member

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    Would the switch to iptv force customers to use Comcast internet service?

    I have Comcast TV service only with a Roamio Pro and two Minis all with lifetime service. I use another company for my internet and voice services. I do not want to switch to Comcast for my ISP and voice services. I do not want to rent Comcast's inferior boxes.

    I'm hoping the Trump FCC will not allow Comcast to force their customers to an all Comcast solution. That would suck!

    As the infrastructure moves to iptv, I'm hoping Tivo will offer a solution that allows their DVRs to connect to any iptv provider.
     
  16. Mar 30, 2017 #16 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    No. They've already announced that IPTV service for Roku will be available to non-internet subscribers. A Comcast "IP gateway" will be installed -- essentially a cable internet modem that can access only their IPTV streams, I guess.

    See this bit from this article:
    It does, however, mean that you'll need a "compatible IP gateway" for access, which Comcast says it will make available soon for cable-only customers who don't already have its modem.
     
  17. Mar 30, 2017 #17 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Another bit of info about Comcast's future plans that fit in with the scenario above:

    Comcast to roll out skinny ‘Stream’ service across footprint in Q3 | FierceCable

    "Xfinity Instant TV" will be the branding for their skinny IPTV service. Makes sense that it will become available at the same time as they officially unveil their Roku app. So I guess all that is going to go down sometime in the July - Sept. time frame. Perhaps the switchover to IP for all new subs happens then too.
     
  18. Mar 30, 2017 #18 of 574
    kokishin

    kokishin Active Member

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    Crap! Based on the size and rental fees of Comcast's other boxes, this gateway will most likely be an inelegant, expensive (rental fees over time) POS.

    I'm hoping Tivo has an elegant solution already integrated into their Roamio Pro or Bolt. Or Tivo offers an elegant solution that I will purchase. Ideally, Tivo (or someone) will provide a solution that will work with most iptv service providers over my choice of isp without the need for a separate gateway. iptv should free up the cable tv monopoly/stranglehold that the cable tv companies currently enjoy.
     
  19. Mar 30, 2017 #19 of 574
    Jed1

    Jed1 Well-Known Member

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    TiVo would need to have a built in DOCSIS modem and also have DSG (DOCSIS Set top gateway) capability, which it does not have. So once this is done your TiVo's are finished with Comcast.
    The X1 box is already a gateway device as it has a built in modem and DSG capability. The VOD system on the X1 uses the upstream/downstream of their DOCSIS feed and not the traditional QAM based one. Also the communication of the box for things like guide data also use the DOCSIS feed and not the traditional OOB channel and upstream channel at 11Mhz. The legacy STB's and TiVos use the OOB, at 75.25Mhz, to receive communications from the headend. They also use the legacy Aloha (Motorola) and Davic (Scientific Atlantic) protocols for security. The X1 uses DSG protocol.
    Once Comcast gets to a 80% install base then all older non DOCSIS STBs will be shutdown. Those customers will have to move on or upgrade to the X1 platform. At this point they can convert their entire broadcast spectrum to DOCSIS and do away with the legacy QAM channels. This is a lot cheaper solution for Comcast as this way the do not have to upgrade all the headends that are below 865Mhz.
    Also this is why they have been converting their channels to 720p as this the format they will use when they go over to sending them by IP down their DOCSIS feed. My cable system is within their two year window now to do the same thing. This is why I would never buy a cable only TiVo. At least I could use my TiVo with OTA.
     
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  20. Mar 30, 2017 #20 of 574
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Comcast hasn't announced anything specific about the IP gateway, including whether or not there will be a rental fee for it. Part of the allure of their upcoming skinny streaming Xfinity Instant TV service is supposed to be that you can use your own equipment (e.g. Roku) without having to pay any equipment rental fees. If the service requires a second box (the IP gateway) that you do have to rent, well, that kinda ruins the scenario. Of course, if you're already renting a modem from Comcast for regular internet service, that can serve as your IP gateway for Instant TV. But if you're using a modem that you own (as I do) or if you don't have internet service with Comcast at all, then I think you'll need their IP gateway.

    I'll bet the new IP gateway puts out an Xfinity wifi hotspot signal, just like the regular internet modems they rent to broadband customers do. Those hotspots are really handy -- they're everywhere!
     

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