Tuning adapters: a sign of Cable's crumbling infrastructure?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by BetaMark, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. BetaMark

    BetaMark New Member

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    So let me get this straight...

    The Cable Co says: We'll give you 500 channels (sic) of HD Programing. Oh, wait - we haven't got the bandwidth. So instead of addressing the bandwidth issue directly, we'll force these POS tuning adapters that 'switch off' unused channels on TiVo-using customers as a Bandaid fix.

    Now isn't this the way the Internet has always worked, in a matter of speaking? That is to say, when you stream content, you're streaming a single 'channel', just the content you want to see.

    Granted, as more people start streaming content over the 'Net, there will also be bandwidth issues, but there's little argument that improvements in bandwidth (specifically the Internet backbone) need to be made. But I wonder if the cable operators (maybe with the exception of Verizon FIOS) are so forward-thinking.

    Does this make any sense? :confused:
     
  2. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    It's not really the same as the the internet. Channels are only switched off if nobody connected to that hub are watching it. Everybody still shares the same feed. Also, in all likelihood, only a selection of channels are affected, the least watched ones.
     
  3. CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    I am curious what your engineering solution is, to directly address the bandwidth issue. You can only force so much data through the pipe (coax) at any given time.

    Here are some options, perhaps you have others that are more cost effective. (while still supporting legacy equipment and keeping basic analog customers happy)
    - Don't add any more channels
    - Deploy Switched Digital Video
    - Eliminate Analog channels
    - Build out Fiber to Home
    - Upgrade the plant to 1GHz
    - Invest in Converged Multiservice Access Platform (CMAP)
     
  4. BetaMark

    BetaMark New Member

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    Probably all of the above, with the exception of deployment of Switched Digital Video (isn't that what got us into TA's?). And maybe some channels should be taken away. Who on Earth needs 500 of them?

    If I seem sour on tuning adapters, maybe it's because our first experience with one was so disastrous that it finally pushed us to go off the (cable TV) grid, and we haven't looked back.
     
  5. BetaMark

    BetaMark New Member

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    That was not our experience, if memory serves. In fact we found out the hard way that we needed a tuning adapter: all of a sudden, we discovered we couldn't receive at least one of the three major network channels. It was explained to us by TWC that this was because the digital video is switched in a sort of rolling manner, so any channel could be affected at a given point in time. (BTW we were notified in April of '09 of the impending need of a TA, with the understanding that we would be contacted regarding specific availability of these boxes... which of course never happened. :eek:)

    The straw that broke the camel's back came towards the end of July, when we were trying to watch the Tour De France on Versus. It was during this time that we tried to get the TA on line. At least every 3 or 4 days, communication or sync between the TA and TW was lost, requiring a hideous reboot procedure that involved rebooting the TA, unplugging the USB connection from TiVo, then rebooting TiVo... and this all had to be done in a very specific order just so, or the process wouldn't take. And I of course made sure the TA and TiVo had the latest firmware/software updates for the time.

    That last fiasco is what finally prompted us to go off the grid. First with Apple TV and then going OTA with TiVo, we're saving a ton of money, getting 99% of the content we had when on cable, and we couldn't be happier with the new arrangement. :D
     
  6. CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    I am using a Cisco SDV Tuning Adapter and have had no issues yet. I was expecting to have some TA issues based on many negative postings, but I have not encountered any. I have only had TiVo and the TA since August 3, 2011, so far it just works as it should. Cox Arizona has about 160 channels using SDV, including many HD channels I watch.

    Reclaiming Analog bandwidth will most likely drastically increase in 2012 and beyond. The downside is Cable Cos may loose many basic Analog only customers, and will need to provide free or low cost DTA converters to keep those customers.

    The cost to build out Fiber to Home would be almost prohibitive. Many Cable Cos, including Cox have already built out Fiber to Node in many areas.
     
  7. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    Well, if your object is to efficiently utilize limited bandwidth, that's just...dumb. But it's sneaky if your object is to also screw up people who are watching the clear QAM channels w/o benefit of one of their STBs or a CableCARDed TiVo. Maybe even to screw up the latter. That could be part of the source of the TiVo's problems with the TA.

    Something that occurred to me: What happens if the demand on a particular node for SDV channels exceeds the available QAM frequencies?
     
  8. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Imagine, for the sake of argument, that all the boxes UPS carries on their trucks are the same size and weight. $1000 AV receiver from Vann's, pair of hipwaders from Tractor Supply, compressor hose from Northern Hydraulics, boxed DVD set from Amazon, all the same size and weight. UPS just gets them from point A to point B.

    Now imagine that how much money UPS makes on delivering those identical size and weight boxes depends on what you're buying from whom.

    That's the problem with cable. They aren't just a delivery service, they're also a content seller, and that prejudices how they go about the delivery service part.
     
  9. CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    It happens from time to time, even with Cable Co leased equipment, especially in newly deployed systems that have not had the bugs worked though. You get a pop-up message stating "This channel is temporarily unavailable, Please try again later". Usually just tuning away and tuning back the channel comes in.
     
  10. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

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    Tivo owners are not the only ones going through trouble with switched digital video(why tuning adaptors are needed), in some areas where they are deploying sdv even the cable companies equipment is having tuning problems. This all seems to be a work in progress.
     
  11. JJK1954

    JJK1954 Beatle Freak!

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    Dumb question people. Why can't a TA be built in to the Tivo unit?
     
  12. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    As far as being physically possible, it is, although apparently you have to have the right one for whatever equipment your particular cable company uses.

    So you have something that only some TiVo owners will need, and no guarantee that the one built into the TiVo will be the right one.
     
  13. tiassa

    tiassa Me --Avatar

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    The other problem is that in addition to Digital and analog signals we also have duplication of SD and HD programming, if a Cableco was to eliminate all the SD programming the would free up a lot of bandwidth (they'd lose a lot of customers as well, but I'm just pointing out one of the other bandwidth hits that Cablecos are getting hung up on at the moment)
     
  14. shwru980r

    shwru980r Well-Known Member

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    The FCC should limit the number of channels the cable company can offer to the current bandwidth. Cable customers should demand a refund of their entire cable bill for any tuning adapter failure. When the tuning adapter fails, they customer is not receiving the service they paid for. The cable company should be on the hook for the performance of the tuning adapter, not the customer.
     
  15. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    I would install 1 Ghz plant in new developments, and eventually switch out others. I would basically have two different fibre trunks, one 750 Mhz with SDV or CMAP, the other with 1 Ghz.
    I might try FTTH in new developments, or where the plant is freakeishly old and in disrepair. Of course, that much fibre and ONTs cost money, as well as having to invest in QIP boxes.

    I would put new channels on MPEG4, and and in short term move costlier packages with fewer subscribers to MPEG4, then more popular packages as MPEG4 boxes get deployed.

    I would reduce analog channels in stages, and deploy DTA boxes.

    I am not sure of the numbers, but I reckon there are a lot more regular digital cable subscribers than basic analog, so the reveue from the former can subsidize boxes for the latter (which cost under $50/apiece).

    Not adding channels, and taking away analog too fast would anger my customers, and in the case of not adding channels, cause them to move to another provider.
     
  16. BetaMark

    BetaMark New Member

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    This bring up an interesting point. Last night the wife and I were talking about the possible resurgence of OTA content now that the signal is digital. I pointed out that the digital signal has turned out to have not quite the reach in terms of reception that its analog counterpart had, and her suggestion was that perhaps repeaters could be built in strategic areas. I reminded her that this, in a sense, was how Cable Co's got started... they were merely a means to supply viewers in areas of poor reception with a way to receive existing television channels (I can still remember watching Z Channel back in the '70's).

    Of course, they added a few 'bonus' channels of their own. Then a few more, and a few more after that, and so on, until we got to the point where we are today.

    So maybe the Cable Co's need to go back to their roots, so to speak.
     
  17. davezatz

    davezatz Funkadelic

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    No, it's a sign that the cable industry isn't going out of its way to support TiVo's retail strategy. The cableco's boxes all seem to work fine without requiring a tuning adapter hack.
     
  18. modnar

    modnar Active Member

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    Someone posted earlier in this thread that this isn't the case...
     
  19. davezatz

    davezatz Funkadelic

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    In my experience, it's the case. I've had many boxes and exposure to even more. I'm sure there are outliers, but generally speaking most cable boxes are designed with two way communication in mind... VOD/PPV is still a lucrative business for them and obviously they need the bandwidth until they dispense with the analog broadcasts. Whereas retail CableCARD devices were never designed for two-way communication and the tuning adapter is a hack to handle one specific task. Which is doesn't do well, the bare minimum to avoid the FCC's scrutiny. tru2way was supposed to usher in a new era of retail CableCARD devices that could handle 2 way communication. But the initiative kinda died on the retail side. Perhaps partially because the early specs called for companies like TiVo or Sony to essentially inherit the cableco UI for certain functions.
     
  20. smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

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    This is the best answer. There's too damn many channels already. Furthermore, get rid of some of the existing ones.

    I'll even put one of my former favorites on the chopping block: SyFy. In the entirety of the existence of that channel, it has at most had 3 shows per week worth watching. It could easily be combined with USA network and replace of couple of their NCIS-rerun slots.

    What we find is the more channels there are, the more bloating there is with unnecessary reruns of old shows or old movies. Streaming can be used for that. Reserve broadcast for new original programming. Lack of resource constraint causes bloating (that's why windows 7 needs tens of gigabytes of space while windows 98 needed only tens of megabytes).

    Now, the bigger issue is how to get the Internet infrastructure to handle the case where every house on the street is simultaneously streaming old episodes of NCIS... It might not be as easy as some think.
     

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