TIVO - Comcast Basic Cable - cablecard question - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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We have had Comcast basic cable (lowest price service, not expanded cable) for years. However, Comcast never put the filters on our line so we receive some additional channels.

Now with HD programming and HD TVs, we receive many digital channels (HD local broadcasts, as well as digital SD signals of cable channels such as ESPN).

We have been considering purchasing a TIVO HD recorder. When I call Comcast and ask for cablecards for the device, I am told that they will be programmed for our service level - basic cable.

So I have some questions;

1) Does this mean that we will only be able to use TIVO's advance automated recording features for programs that are on mapped on basic cable?

2) Will we be able to record other programs such as those on USA, FX, ESPN, etc but will have to program the TIVO manually?

3) Is there some other way to map the channels so TIVO knows what channels we get?
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post #2 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

1) Does this mean that we will only be able to use TIVO's advance automated recording features for programs that are on mapped on basic cable?

Once a CableCard is installed, it maps every channel on the cable system, regardless of whether they are encrypted. TiVo will display guide data for every mapped channel.

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Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

2) Will we be able to record other programs such as those on USA, FX, ESPN, etc but will have to program the TIVO manually?

Many cable reps don't make it easy for customers without digital cable to get CableCards, but once you've got one, you're good to go. You'll have the correct numbers and guide data on every channel. There will be no need for manual recording.
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post #3 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. You are right about the cable reps making difficult for customers to understand the system. In fact, when I told the customer rep that I already received HD digital signals thru cable, then she told me I had my TV set up incorrectly. Now I understand that I am receiving things I am not supposed to receive but I thought that the cable company had to provide the HD signals of local TV stations to their customers on basic cable. The way she talked, that didn't seem to be the case. and she told me that I was receiving those over the air. Since I don't receive them when I unplug the cable from the TV, that clearly isn't the case.
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post #4 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bfdtv View Post

Once a CableCard is installed, it maps every channel on the cable system, regardless of whether they are encrypted. TiVo will display guide data for every mapped channel..........

Just curious... With my Sony DVR's and Mits TV that I recently installed CableCards in, I can no longer tune QAM channels on these units. Can the TiVo still tune QAM while a CableCard is installed? It sounds like thats what the OP wants to do.

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post #5 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

Just curious... With my Sony DVR's and Mits TV that I recently installed CableCards in, I can no longer tune QAM channels on these units. Can the TiVo still tune QAM while a CableCard is installed? It sounds like thats what the OP wants to do.

You can tune all of the same cable channels, but they'll have different number. They'll have the official numbers in the cable company's lineup, rather than QAM assignments like 66-2 or 104-3. Note TiVo provides more complete guide data than TVGOS.

Most cable companies do replace every analog channel with a digital version [on the same number] once a CableCard is installed. Before the installation of a CableCard, channel 50 might be the analog version of ESPN; after the installation of a CableCard, channel 50 would be the digital version of ESPN, which is typically encrypted. In the spockcat's case, a number of digital channels are unencrypted, and the installation of a CableCard will not change that.
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post #6 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WS65711 View Post

Just curious... With my Sony DVR's and Mits TV that I recently installed CableCards in, I can no longer tune QAM channels on these units. Can the TiVo still tune QAM while a CableCard is installed? It sounds like thats what the OP wants to do.

Well, "tune QAM" is a misnomer, since all digital cable is transported using QAM; you won't be able to access programming using the physical channel number and stream ID nomenclature though. Once the cards are installed, you'll only see the mapped channel numbers that are pushed out with the VCT (virtual channel table) data that the CableCARD receives and hands off to the TiVo.
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post #7 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 04:48 PM
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The cable coming from the wall with your basic service contains both all analog and all digital channels. What you can receive is based on your tuner.
A TV with a digital tuner that supports either OTA digital with an antenna or supports QAM digital from a cable company will receive the local digital broadcast stations which your cable company tranmits unencrypted(Clear QAM). Almost all or all of the the other QAM channels will be encyrpted and you will need first to subcribe to them in order to receive them with either a digtial cable STB from the cable company or with a cable card tuner and a cable card leased from your cable company.
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post #8 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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LOL, you guys work for the cable company? You are as confusing as they are.
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post #9 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 06:35 PM
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Spock -

This is what I think. What you want to know is if you get a TiVo with a CableCard, will you be able to record the clear QAM channels that you're getting now (free), which are above and beyond what your basic cable package provides?

I don't think you will be able to. I think that the CableCo will program your CableCard to provide only the channels that are included in your basic package. When the Cablecard is installed in the TiVo, the TiVo will tune only the OTA channels and whatever cable channels the CableCard allows it to tune.

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post #10 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes WS that is pretty much what I am wondering. Will I be able to tune, record and watch the channels I currently get. bfdtv seems to think that I will still get the channels and they will be mapped.

I guess the only way to tell is for me to get the cablecards and buy a TiVo. If it doesn't work, I will return it under their 30 money back policy.

I was just hoping that there would be someone here who has this same situation and knows the answer.
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post #11 of 25 Old 11-25-2009, 03:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

In fact, when I told the customer rep that I already received HD digital signals thru cable, then she told me I had my TV set up incorrectly.

Well, that was unfortunate wording: What she evidently meant was that you have your television set up in a manner that the cable company does not, and has no obligation, to provide support for. If you want to set things up that way, that's fine, of course, but the point is that the cable company supports only certain configurations. This is something that a lot of consumers don't understand. They learn that cable companies are required to provide local broadcast over-the-air channels in-the-clear (which is not even completely true -- see below), and then they project from that some obligation, which in reality does not exist, that the cable company help them set up their own personal equipment to take advantage of that service. With digital cable, QAM frequencies, channel scanning, x.xx, PSIP, etc., all of which work different from television to television, there is only a limited amount of assistance that the service provider provides -- the rest the subscriber must do for themselves. That's one reason why forums like this are so great -- we can help each other bridge the gaps that we might have with regard to our knowledge of how to take best advantage of the service we're using.

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Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

Now I understand that I am receiving things I am not supposed to receive but I thought that the cable company had to provide the HD signals of local TV stations to their customers on basic cable.

That is not necessarily the case. Rather, each local over-the-air broadcast station gets to specify one of its frequencies that service providers within its DMA must carry in-the-clear. However, the local over-the-air broadcast station could also elect not to do so, generally in return for some compensation -- called retransmission consent. In that case, the service provider may decide not to pay what the broadcaster wants, and in that case, they wouldn't even be carrying the station at all.

Furthermore, paradoxically, downconversion to standard definition has been found not to be material degradation. (I don't understand how that could be, but that's the way it is.) So theoretically, all they have to provide in-the-clear are SD downconverts.

Regardless, that's not the issue here... they are providing the HD locals in-the-clear. The issue is that you want them to help you get your personal equipment working properly. They are not required to provide that assistance.

We will though!
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post #12 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Comcast misinformation strikes again. I called on Wednesday evening about getting a cablecard for the TiVo I ordered. They tell me that I can either get it shipped to me (with a UPS charge of $20) or pick it up at my local service center (because that is where the installers get all their supplies so they have them there).

On Friday I go to my local service center, wait nearly an hour in line, and lo and behold, I am told you cannot get cablecards there. They have to be delivered, programmed and installed by an installer.

My wife says you need to call Comcast 3 times to get the correct answer that you can be sure of.

On my way home I called them on my cellphone and the phone rep agreed that a visit by an installer is required, and there is a $17 charge (which the guy at the service center didn't tell me about despite the fact that he made the appointment for me).

After telling them the story about the previous call and visit to the service center, I got the charge waived.

Yesterday I also picked up the TiVo from Best Buy ($199 on Black Friday). Without cable cards it still only knows about our basic cable but we can view and manually record the other HD and SD channels we aren't supposed to be seeing at our basic service level.

If the cablecards reduce our service even further, will I be able to remove them easily? Should I even forgo the installer visit for fear that he will put filters on our line?
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post #13 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 09:10 AM
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The cable from the Wall outlet has all of the analog and digital channels on it that your cable company provides.
It is the tuner that you are using that determines which channels you receive.
With basic cable(about $20) you should ber receiving all of the lower numbered analog channels and all of the local HD channels that your cable company is required to provide unencrypted(ClearQAM) digital format at no additional charge.
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post #14 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

On Friday I go to my local service center, wait nearly an hour in line, and lo and behold, I am told you cannot get cablecards there. They have to be delivered, programmed and installed by an installer.

You should have asked us here -- we could have told you that. And you generally only need to ask us once, and you'll get the correct answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

Yesterday I also picked up the TiVo from Best Buy ($199 on Black Friday). Without cable cards it still only knows about our basic cable but we can view and manually record the other HD and SD channels we aren't supposed to be seeing at our basic service level.

If the cablecards reduce our service even further, will I be able to remove them easily? Should I even forgo the installer visit for fear that he will put filters on our line?

A TiVo HD used with cable service, without CableCARDs, is like a day without sunshine.

They won't ever put any filters on your line that would restrict any of the services that you're paying for.
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post #15 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 11:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by walford View Post

The cable from the Wall outlet has all of the analog and digital channels on it that your cable company provides.

Some in-the-clear, some encrypted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

With basic cable(about $20) you should ber receiving all of the lower numbered analog channels and all of the local HD channels that your cable company is required to provide unencrypted(ClearQAM) digital format at no additional charge.

Not necessarily true, but regardless of whether both analog and HD are "required" to be provided at no additional charge, that is generally the case anyway.

Here, there are no cable channels provided via analog service. Those provided via Clear QAM are filtered out for basic service customers (and eventually will be encrypted).
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post #16 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 03:32 PM
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You have me confused I still get about 30 analog channels from my cable company in addition to the clearQAM digital channels. For example the channel listing for my cable channels on my TV lists both channel 7(analog) and channel 7-1(clear QAM digital).
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post #17 of 25 Old 11-28-2009, 03:52 PM
 
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You posted a reply to spockcat -- he doesn't necessarily live in the same neighborhood as you, so what he encounters would not necessarily be the same as what you encounter.

Also note what I wrote: "Not necessarily true," -- that referred to your statement about what was "required". What you wrote was not necessariliy true. I also wrote, "but regardless of whether both analog and HD are 'required' to be provided at no additional charge, that is generally the case anyway." There is no substantial inconsistency between what you've said and what I said.

Furthermore, do be aware that what you experience today is not necessarily what you'll experience six months from now, a year from now, or a couple of years from now, etc.
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post #18 of 25 Old 12-28-2009, 05:42 AM
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any update on this thread? I am in the same boat as the original poster.
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post #19 of 25 Old 12-28-2009, 01:18 PM
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I have basic Comcast cable (around $15 a month) and we receive many more than 99 channels. Our TiVo found arond 470 channels when scanning (it's a TiVo HD), and the Comcast website says we should get over 700. Some of the channels on the TiVo, howver, do not show up; it just shows a gray screen.

The TiVo said we may need cableCARDs, so I called Comcast and asked about them. They told me that cableCARDs would help, but none were available for delivery, so I had to come pick them up. So I'm going later today to pick them up, and I assume I don't need Comcast to install them--don't I just slide them into the slots in my TiVo and change the TiVo settings?

I'll post an update later when I find out what's going to happen.

By the way, the two cableCARDs they are providing are free. They told me that the first two are free, and after that, there is a monthly charge from arond $3-$5 per month. This is contrary to what I read on the Comcast website, but the website and the representative on the phone both told me that the charges vary depending on where youlive (the prices are regulated differently by different local or state governments, I guess).
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post #20 of 25 Old 12-28-2009, 01:28 PM
 
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Howdy. Most of what you've written doesn't jive with what typical Comcast subscribers experience.

First, for around $15 per month, Comcast subscribers generally get just the local over-the-air broadcast channels, a few shopping channels, and maybe one or two other channels, such as the Style Network. If you're getting more than that, then either (1) you're receiving channels that are not part of the service you're paying for (and therefore CableCARDs will probably not help you receive those channels), and/or (2) you have some special MDU-based service, the details of which are specific to the building you happen to live in, in which case there is no way anyone here could tell you what you can expect in terms of service.

Second, Comcast subscribers generally are rebuffed when they seek to pick up CableCARDs for their personally-owned host devices, and when they request CableCARDs to be shipped. Comast generally requires installation of CableCARDs by their own technicians, as part of an installation call or service call.

If you provide more information (such as your zip code, the name of the service package that you have with Comcast, and any specific details about whether you're getting service through some agreement with your landlord, or home owners' association), we might be able to provide more details for you. However, the bottom line, for now, is that I would guess that your efforts to pick up CableCARDs for your TiVo will not be successful.
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post #21 of 25 Old 12-28-2009, 03:48 PM
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Comcast is slowly ensuring nation wide that all channels that they are not required to provide unncrypted are encrypted. At that point a cable card will enable decryption of only those cable services above basic cable which you subscribe just the same as their digtial cable card tuner unit would.
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post #22 of 25 Old 12-30-2009, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

Comcast is slowly ensuring nation wide that all channels that they are not required to provide unncrypted are encrypted. At that point a cable card will enable decryption of only those cable services above basic cable which you subscribe just the same as their digtial cable card tuner unit would.

How do you know this?
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post #23 of 25 Old 12-30-2009, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepforwheat View Post

How do you know this?

Comcast has talked about it publicly for years. They call it "Project Cavalry."

Comcast is eliminating all analog channels except local and public interest stations. They are moving all of those cable channels to encrypted digital; only the locals and public interest channels will available unencrypted. Comcast is doing this for all of its systems. They've said publicly that the change will be made to the majority of systems by the end of 2010, with the remainder in 2011.

Customers will need a cable box or a CableCard to receive more than local and public interest channels (CSPAN, etc) when this change is made. Comcast has already made that change to a number of its systems, and more follow every month or two.
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post #24 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spockcat View Post

Comcast misinformation strikes again. I called on Wednesday evening about getting a cablecard for the TiVo I ordered. They tell me that I can either get it shipped to me (with a UPS charge of $20) or pick it up at my local service center (because that is where the installers get all their supplies so they have them there).

On Friday I go to my local service center, wait nearly an hour in line, and lo and behold, I am told you cannot get cablecards there. They have to be delivered, programmed and installed by an installer.

My wife says you need to call Comcast 3 times to get the correct answer that you can be sure of.

On my way home I called them on my cellphone and the phone rep agreed that a visit by an installer is required, and there is a $17 charge (which the guy at the service center didn't tell me about despite the fact that he made the appointment for me).

After telling them the story about the previous call and visit to the service center, I got the charge waived.

Yesterday I also picked up the TiVo from Best Buy ($199 on Black Friday). Without cable cards it still only knows about our basic cable but we can view and manually record the other HD and SD channels we aren't supposed to be seeing at our basic service level.

If the cablecards reduce our service even further, will I be able to remove them easily? Should I even forgo the installer visit for fear that he will put filters on our line?

Spockcat,
I don't know if this helps, but I live in the Center City Philly area, and after getting an HD TV and HD TiVo, I went and picked up a cable box myself from the Delaware Avenue Comcast office, took it home and plugged it in. Then I had to call Comcast and get them to activate it, since they never seem to realize they need to activate the box they give you.

After activating it, I took the cablecard out. The cable card is in the back of the cable box covered by a metal guard. You unscrew two screws and take off the ventilated metal "guard" and the cable card is sticking out about 1/2 inch from the back of the box. I plugged the cable card into the TiVo, ran through TiVo's setup and search, and was getting what appeared to be ALL channels except premium movie channels like HBO and SHO. I got the music channels in the 400 range, and channels all the way up to the 900 range if I remember correctly. There were local channels in analog and then digital versions of the same, sometimes two digital versions.

Trying a premium movie channel like HBO would cause TiVo to display a gray screen and black screen with words like "This screen provided on behalf of your cable company" at the top and "Press CLEAR to continue" at the bottom with stats like ID and REV and last update in between. If you pressed clear the grey and black screen would go away and I'd be left with a black screen for those premium channels.

Everything was fine for at least three weeks, but just yesterday I noticed that it seemed that more channels were giving me that grey and black screen. I would have to press clear and then the channel would come in. I'm sure that these were channels that I was getting when I first installed the cable card, like the Home and Garden HGTV channel. This was not the way it behaved when I first set it up.

I'm wondering if Comcast has sent out some signal to limit what I receive, since I don't think the package I'm signed up for includes this many channels.

I'm sorry that I can't be more definite about the details, but I have a newborn at home and don't have the time to devote to it now.

In my experiences with Comcast there seem to be three non-DVR boxes that they give out: a very small black one that looks almost like a modem, a large full component sized one that is a Motorola and is silver with a black display panel and control buttons on front, and then the box which I got was a shrunk down version of the silver one, it is about half the width of a component and has no controls on the front. I know the tiny black box does not have a cable card, and I assume the larger version of the box I got does have a cable card.

So, if you can pick up one of the two silver/black Motorola boxes you can pull the cablecard out of it and use that in the TiVo like I did.

I'd like to know what ever happened to you, since your situation seems like mine.
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post #25 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erw300zx View Post

Everything was fine for at least three weeks, but just yesterday I noticed that it seemed that more channels were giving me that grey and black screen. I would have to press clear and then the channel would come in. I'm sure that these were channels that I was getting when I first installed the cable card, like the Home and Garden HGTV channel. This was not the way it behaved when I first set it up.

I'm wondering if Comcast has sent out some signal to limit what I receive, since I don't think the package I'm signed up for includes this many channels.

A CableCard must be "paired" to a specific device to tune encrypted channels.

Previously, Comcast was not using encryption on most of its channels in your market, so you were able to tune them even though your CableCard was not activated (paired) in the TivoHD. As soon as those channels were encrypted like HBO, you lost them.

In order to tune encrypted channels to which you subscribe, you need to have Comcast activate a CableCard in your TiVo. A CableCard from another Motorola STB/DVR will not work, because it is paired to that box, and cannot tune encrypted channels in any other box.
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