Series 3 support for digital (HD) cable channels received without CableCARDs

Discussion in 'TiVo Suggestion Avenue' started by Saxion, May 17, 2007.

  1. Saxion

    Saxion Substantive Member

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    Sep 17, 2006
    San Diego

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    The Series 3 TiVo has extremely poor support for digital (HD) cable channels that are received "in-the-clear" without CableCARDs. The FCC requires that local digital OTA channels that are rebroadcast on cable are sent "in-the-clear" and available to anyone with the most basic tier of cable service. There is no need for CableCARDs to receive these signals. The Series 3, however, does not map them into the TiVo guide...thus, no Season Pass, Wishlist, or channel guide support for them. Currently the only option is to pay for a truck roll to install 2 CableCARDs and pay rental charges on them forever...not to provide any decryption service, but solely to provide 5 or 6 channel numbers to the TiVo. And some cable companies balk at providing CableCARDs to customers who don't subscribe to a digital cable package, in which case there is NO solution available at all (except to upgrade to an expensive digital cable package). Surely there must be a simpler solution just to provide 5 or 6 channel numbers to the TiVo.
     
  2. pitchford

    pitchford New Member

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    Mar 10, 2007
    That requires a QAM decoder which I'm not sure the S3 has. Have you tried splitting the coax into both the cable input and the antenna input? QAM and ATSC are usually on the same chip, so if it can, that's how it would recieve those channels.
     
  3. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Feb 18, 2004
    Ontario Canada.
    The TiVo guide data for cable relies on virtual channel numbers, ans so far, the TiVo needs to map those with cablecard. The actual QAM channels could change, and are often unpublished by official sources TiVo could use.

    The most they could do is allow users to manually map QAM channels to VC numbers, but so far, its eems they don't really want to do that.
     
  4. jblake

    jblake New Member

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    Jan 24, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    The box has to have a QAM tuner to be able to view the channels with a Cable Card. The card does not contain the tuner.

    I think classicsat hit the nail on the head. Connect my TV to the cable directly and the locals show up in the 900s. Use a cable box and they are in the 600s. The authorization stream seems to contain channel mapping data.
     
  5. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    Mar 3, 2002
    .worcester.m...

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    Yes, one of the functions CableCARDs perform is to provide the mapping between the actual channel (frequency range) and the logical channel.
     
  6. j0nnyhb

    j0nnyhb New Member

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    Jul 28, 2007
    Can you actually tune in those channels with the tivo? Is it just the guide (so wishlist, etc.) doesn't work? Thanks in advance.

    I can live with manually recording what I want to see if I can at least tune in the HD channels without having to use a cable card. My TVs have QAM decoding capabilities, so I have plain jane basic cable with 6 HD channels.
     
  7. j0nnyhb

    j0nnyhb New Member

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    Jul 28, 2007
    I"ll answer myself ... from reading some other threads, it sounds like the answer is YES, you can tune the QAM HD channels, just don't have the guide support.
     
  8. HTH

    HTH No Avatar Selected

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    Aug 28, 2000
    Lincoln, NE
    I ran my Series3 initially without CableCARDs and was able to watch in-the-clear HD broadcast channels carried on my cable, except for one which I could not find anywhere.

    Also, the channel scan picked up a hell of a lot of subchannels, some with more digits than TiVo would display in the banner. Nothing on them that I could access though.

    I now have two CableCARDs installed, but occasionally while watching a prerecorded program I get yanked out to a grey-border screen displaying information about CableCARD 1. Is this a sign of a defective card?
     
  9. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

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    Apr 9, 2001
    sunnyvale
    yes it's true. I once in a rare while will manually tune to a QAM channel.
    My S3 is almost full of basic quality analog stuff so I rarely do that (HD takes up a lot of space). With more talk of M cards on the S3 section, I wonder if comcast locally has M cards.. supposedly the 'first is free'.

    I'd love to be able to manually map the QAM channels though... (even though I think I get a bad signal on some of the channels due to tons of splitters)
     
  10. BsyGrl

    BsyGrl New Member

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    Oct 16, 2004
    I bought the TiVoHD and the guy came out from Comcast (Houston, formally known as Time Warner) last night to hook up basic cable. They told me I can't get the "in the clear" HD channels without upgrading to digital tier service. In my case, that's the difference between $16.42/month and $56.99/month ($70/month once we get done with all the add-on fees). No thanks! If the cablecard would work without having to go to the digital tier of service, I'm interested in that. I think some of the earlier posts indicated that possibility. The cablecards are cheap with Comcast here (1st is free, and $1.50 for each additional). Can anyone educate me on this? Comcast certainly won't - they just direct me to upgrade to the digital rip-off plan.

    I have both an antenna and cable hooked up to the TiVoHD. The antenna pulls in surprisingly good reception considering it's an indoor and I'm 25-30 miles from the broadcasting sources. So I can watch and record in both HD & standard, but the HD reception is unreliable, depending on the weather. This means that I need to get season passes to my favorite shows in both channel locations to make sure I get the show, while still having the option to watch in HD if the signal happened to be good at the time. Of course, this defeats the purpose of having dual tuners since I'm recording two versions of the same show.

    I did a full scan for channels after the cable was hooked up, and it claimed to find 562 channels. The channel numbers were "188-36" or "107-37625" and the like, and there was no guide data for these extra channels. I can tune to them by changing the guide options to allow "all" channels instead of "those you receive."

    And yes, I can find the clear HD channels in there. I also found some cable channels I'm not supposed to get (like C-SPAN, etc. - nothing to get excited about), but most of the "extra" channels were blank. The problem, for me, lies in the sheer quantity of these channels. The clear HD channels are all in there, I'm sure, but who has time to go through all of those channels to find them? I got discouraged and quit trying. If I could be sure they wouldn't move, I might make the effort, but it would be a pain in the ---.

    Bottom line, these channels should be available to us, with guide data. If the cable companies are complicating matters just so they can make the customer upgrade, then we need to take this to the FCC.

    I will put an ugly outdoor antenna on top of my house before I will pay $70 per month just to get my "supposed-to-be-free" broadcast digital channels.
     
  11. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    Jul 10, 2004
    San Diego,...
    The cable companies are under no obligation to lease equipment to you when you aren't buying services from them which require that equipment to tune. In general, you can't get CableCARDs without buying some digital cable service. The only digital channels which they're required to provide in the clear are those in the core basic services tier (and all rebroadcast of local television, analog or digital, must be positioned in the core basic services tier)

    It's an ugly situation. The FCC should require that they rebroadcast local DTV channels on QAM carriers in a certain small range of frequencies, using program numbers which are related to the local channel numbers. (I think that they're actually supposed to broadcast PSIP for them, which clear QAM tuners should be able to pick up but I don't think that they often do). At the very least, they should be required to readily provide tuning information for them (perhaps on their web sites) and not require people to hunt for them.
     
  12. BsyGrl

    BsyGrl New Member

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    Oct 16, 2004
    :up: I posted my results in another thread that might be relevant to this one, also. The original poster wanted better support for QAM mapping without cablecards, but based on my experience, there shouldn't be any reason not to get cablecards.

    Here is my other post, explaining my odyssey in detail:
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=363094&referrerid=86877

    The cablecard should solve the QAM mapping and guide data issues, even with basic analog cable packages. The first card is free in my market, and each additional is $1.50.

    Hope this helps...
     

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