TiVo S3 + Prairie Wave cable - no CableCards?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by demon, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    I have a Series 3, and in a couple weeks I'm going to be moving back home to South Dakota. I'll be moving into an apartment there, and found out that the apartment building I'll be in is served exclusively by a company called Prairie Wave Communications. They provide digital cable service - but unfortunately it seems that the whole company has no idea what CableCard is, or about the upcoming integration ban/CableCARD mandates. They claim that "well, our competition doesn't offer them, so we aren't really interested in it either".

    Am I mistaken that all cable operators deploying digital cable services are required to offer CableCard to their customers? With the integration ban now looming less than two weeks away, I'd think that every cable company would be scrambling to get the necessary head-end equipment in play and to have the cards ready, since integrated set-top boxes are going the way of the dodo RSN. I've asked them to check the FCC regs, but they don't sound too interested. I'll be able to do mixed ATSC + analog cable, but I'll dearly miss the likes of HDnet Movies and DiscoveryHD - any thoughts on what I should do? Is there anything I can do? Contact the FCC? Contact the state's Public Utilities Commission? Something else?

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  2. MickeS

    MickeS Well-Known Member

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    Yes you are. They're only required if they have a certain number of subscribers. Smaller companies are exempt.
     
  3. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Hm. Disappointed I am. Le sigh. Oh well, I'm loaded up with all of Planet Earth, and lots of movies off HDnet Movies, concerts from HDnet, and so forth; I guess I'll have to bide my time until they decide to implement CableCard.

    Edit: Maybe they'll have some (all?) of the digital cable stations without 5C encryption, accessible via clear QAM? No, I couldn't get that lucky.
     
  4. Gregor

    Gregor Wear Your Mask! TCF Club

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    You might try talking to the local cable franchise authority about this when you get there.
     
  5. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    You could luck out and they have quite a bit of QAM is in the clear.
     
  6. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Maybe I'll get lucky - that'd be good. As they're a smaller cable provider, maybe they're a bit more lax about encrypted channels than TW is. I guess we'll see when I get there and get everything rigged back up.
     
  7. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    As a followup, I contacted Prairie Wave today about the amount of my first bill for cable Internet service, and as an aside (semi-jokingly) asked about the status of CableCards. The person I was speaking to told me that in fact, there was a change on their offering of CableCards - I'd previously pointed out that their local competition (Midcontinent) offered CableCards, and apparently since I came on, they were acquired by another, larger company. I'm not certain if they're available *now*, or in the near future, but that'd be a nice change, as I want my HD - so, so badly. Fingers crossed... the rep should be calling me back with more info later today.

    Edit: The rep called me back, and got me scheduled for next Thursday for installation. I even get a free movie channel (got HBO; they had some deal with SHO, but SHO has screwed me twice) and a two-month ~$30 credit for moving to a package deal. Works for me. Once again, I'll be walking the tech through the installation process, I've no doubt. :)

    Edit 2: Then I got another call from someone else at the cableco, saying "we can't give you cablecards, we only will put them in our own boxes, Mcards aren't backward compatible with Scard-capable hardware, no we're not required to provide them to you, etc." Waiting for a callback from their legal department, at which point I'll get TiVo on the line, and see what they can do to set these jokers straight.

    Edit 3: Never heard from the legal department. Called up my rep at Prairie Wave, and told him what had happened, which surprised the hell out of him. He attempted to get someone on the phone from the legal department, but I guess they're strict about leaving at 5pm (they're in US Central time). He says he'll get someone from legal on the phone in the morning, and we'll get this sorted out once and for all. Ain't it grand...
     
  8. cableric

    cableric Fairly Technical

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    BS, M-Cards are absolutely, 100%, backward compatible with S-Card hosts. HOWEVER, the last time I put an M-Card in my TiVo (like 4-5 months ago) it was not recognized. After talking to my TiVo contact I was informed that they were going to be rolling out an update to support the M-Card pairing. They had no time line for me, and since then I haven't tried, so who knows...

    cableric
     
  9. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Do you mean to use a single M-Card instead of two S-Cards? I know that doesn't work, but from everything I've read, if you put an M-Card in a slot in an S-Card capable device, it'll work like an S-Card - which is *fine* by me at this point. This guy claimed that there was something *physically* preventing the use of an M-Card in an S-Card device slot - which I told him was ridiculous. (Note this was not my rep - my rep agreed with me that this sounded highly implausible.) One way or another, I *will* get their legal department on the phone with TiVo tomorrow. They're really making this so much more difficult than it has to be - like I told my rep, I *know* they want my filthy money, you'd think they'd let me *give* it to them...
     
  10. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Well, my saga, as they do, continues. I didn't get any callback from the legal department, so I called them up myself. They wanted specific chapter-and-verse quotation of the FCC regulations that required them to provide CableCards to me. I got a TiVo tech on the line, and apparently the person in legal who I was speaking to went away, so we ended up navigating the phone tree instead.

    We finally got to someone in tech support, who claimed that they're not required to provide CableCards to digital cable subscribers; the TiVo rep, of course, cited the exact document which says "well, you actually do, here's why".

    She was going to escalate the issue, and I should be hearing back in up to 5 business days. Guess we'll see what happens next.
     
  11. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Well, still no CableCards for me. It's been 4 weeks so far since I called up TiVo, hoping they'd be able to light a fire under the cableco - two weeks in, I was told that the first rep I'd spoken to hadn't completed some form that had prevented anything being done with my case. However, two additional weeks later, they're telling me they're backed up and that they're trying to get to it.

    I tried calling my state's Public Utilities Commission, who referred me to the office of the state's Attorney General. Supposedly I'll be getting a call back tomorrow from the appropriate person there; I'll have to see what happens there. One way or another, I'm going to light a fire under these guys. This is ridiculous on so many levels.
     
  12. rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    It's a shame that their system obviously works with M-Cards and yet they can't provide you with 2 of them (since the S3 doesnt' support M-Cards yet in multi-stream mode). Small cable companies are exempt from having to provide CableCards however. Maybe when TiVo updates the S3 to support M-Cards, the cable company will bite the bullet and give you one.

    At this point, you could always offer to buy the cards from them. I know some people have had success with smaller companies going this route.
     
  13. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

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    Kudos to you for being so persistent! :up: :up: :up:
     
  14. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    I called up the state AG consumer protection office on Friday - they'll be mailing out some paperwork tomorrow for me to fill out about this. I probably won't get around to filling it out this week though, as I'll be out of town for the better part of the week for work.

    Well, it didn't until just recently - PrairieWave merged with another (apparently larger) cable MSO, and apparently as part of that, they gained the ability to deal with CableCARDs. Prior to that, when I called, they were like "what's CableCARD? integration ban? what's that?" So at least they have the infrastructure... however getting them to cough up the goods, as you can see, is another matter entirely.

    I don't think they'll go for that at this point, since the person that called me up informed me that they have internal policies against third-party gear on their network (which the FCC Plug-and-Play doctrine specifically addresses - they can't do that, that defeats the whole purpose of CableCARD). I figure I'll use whatever avenues I can to bludgeon them into submission though - doesn't seem like anyone's going to do it for me. (If only I could just get Midco, I could let these guys wallow in their ignorance...)

    Well, what other choice have I got? Gotta get my HD somehow. :)

    Edit: Guess I'll be around after all. I'll keep updating this thread as I make progress - maybe I'll hear back from TiVo before the end of the week... maybe. If not, state's AG it is.
     
  15. Hexerott

    Hexerott New Member

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    Wow, it's good to see someone like you who isn't going to let them get off easy.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for following up in this thread!!!!!
     
  16. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    Hah - wouldn't you know it, my workstation died. The letter I was writing, the PDF with the FCC mandate information... all of it are on there. The drive itself is most likely fine, but I have to wait for an adapter to be able to use the drive (yay SATA :/) and a new workstation (work machine, so they'll send me something to replace it). More fun for me. Hooray. :/
     
  17. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    FINALLY - SUCCESS. I received a call from Gary at PrairieWave, who informed me that they've had CableCARD for about a year and a half, and that he's actually been wanting an opportunity to field-test the equipment. He said that there's apparently some misinformation floating around the company halls, so he's going to see what he can do to remedy that. In the meantime though, he said I should be receiving another call shortly to schedule a technician visit for the actual installation.

    Persistence pays off in the end...
     
  18. MickeS

    MickeS Well-Known Member

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    Let's hope it works out for you.

    This made me literally laugh out loud. :D
     
  19. demon

    demon BURNINATOR

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    You've got to love the culture of denial and ignorance among CSRs - it seems like they're almost trained to never give the customer what they want. :) At least there were a couple people who were interested in actual customer service.

    /me crosses fingers...

    Edit: I did get the callback to arrange the installation; I'm booked for next Wednesday at 1PM. I feel like doing a dance.
     
  20. lormahoykyd2007

    lormahoykyd2007 New Member

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    I agree I haven't heard a better story lately about the ignorant CSR's. I say this with my brothers GF who is a CSR for TW standing over my shoulder.
     

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