How Bad Is CableCARD Support?

Dave Zatz —  April 21, 2014 — 30 Comments

cablecard

As the story goes, CableCARD support has deteriorated since the FCC inadvertently relaxed the requirement last year. Indeed, Tim Gibbons reached out this weekend regarding his inability to tune Fargo … and ignorance (at best) or deception (worst case) from Time Warner Cable’s first line phone support agent. What makes this especially ironic (or depressing) is Tim’s role in the cable television industry. If the producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm can’t keep his TiVo’s CableCARD going, what hope do the rest of us have?

Beyond public shaming, we currently have a rare and unique opportunity to influence the FCC as they evaluate Big Cable’s push to end CableCARD … without having identified a successor. But you better fire up those word processors post-haste as today, April 21st, is the deadline. Hit this FCC link, click Reply To Comments, and make sure you reference Proceeding Number 14-16. For comparative purposes, you can review previously submitted comments here.

Tim’s TWC transcription follows:

30 responses to How Bad Is CableCARD Support?

  1. Incidentally, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse are probably the least favorable operators for TiVo owners. And, how is it possible that Verizon can simply re-pair a CableCARD via Twitter support but all an NCTA affiliate behind Cable Labs and the CableCARD standard can suggest is a reboot?

  2. “we currently have a rare and unique opportunity to influence the FCC as they evaluate Big Cable’s push to end CableCARD … without having identified a successor. But you better fire up those word processors post-haste as today, April 21st, is the deadline. Hit this FCC link, click Reply To Comments, and make sure you reference Docket 14-16.”

    Hear, hear!

  3. I think it took me 10 calls to activate and get the firmware updated on a Comcast cable card on my hdhomerun prime. The secret was lying that it was a TiVo.

  4. I’ve had my fair share of Cablecard issues with TWC. I got a tuning adapter for my Tivo because some channels require that now, but when I have issues receiving some channels I have to reboot the tuning adapter as well to fix them.

    My BBCAmerica HD and Esquire HD also have horrible static. I’ve called TWC support to to troubleshoot and they scheduled an appointment. Then the night before, the channels cleared up and I cancel the appointment. Then a week later it starts again and I have to deal with static. I don’t have any issues with their SD counterparts, so now I have to set my Tivo OrphanBlack Season Pass for the BBCAmerica SD because I’m sure when the TWC person comes out in 3-5 days they’ll not be able to help me.

  5. Here’s the video of my BBCA HD that I posted on Vine on Feb 1st.

    https://vine.co/v/MzH9PwhQK7V

  6. Noah Swint writes:

    “I think it took me 10 calls to activate and get the firmware updated on a Comcast cable card on my hdhomerun prime. The secret was lying that it was a TiVo.”

    Take 15 minutes, and follow Dave’s advice to register this with the FCC today! The last day to comment is today! Otherwise, it’s gonna get worse.

  7. LA Dave writes:

    “I’ve had my fair share of Cablecard issues with TWC.”

    Take 15 minutes, and follow Dave’s advice to register this with the FCC today! The last day to comment is today! Otherwise, it’s gonna get worse.

  8. Coincidentally, I experienced some significant CableCARD issues on BHN this morning. This is the first time I’ve had a problem in a very long time and could be related to a recent letter I received from BHN discussing changes to the channels available via CableCARD and Switch Digital Video.

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r29193104-Tampa-TiVo-Tuning-Adaptor-Issues-this-Morning

    Gary at BHN confirmed that they are doing a number of things in the SDV area to improve operations. While BHN does have very restrictive policies on copy control flags that limit the usefulness of things like TiVo’s out-of-home streaming and downloading, they have been relative proactive and responsive in getting things working smoothly for CableCARD and SDV Tuning Adapters.

  9. The tuning adapter breaks suggestions on my tivo s3. They never fixed that, so I leave the tuning adapter turned off and torrent any shows I miss. This is either TWC or TiVo’s fault, not sure which. They both suck.

  10. The best way to get help with your cablecard is call TiVo support first. They will conference call with your cable company and get it fixed with the first call.

  11. Tom, that’s a fine workaround, bankrolled by TiVo, and one I suggested to Tim. However, it doesn’t address the core (in)competency here.

  12. If anyone doesn’t understand why we need, at the least, something like CableCARD, remind them that there was time when you could only use equipment provided by the phone company with your land line.

  13. To be fair, the cable companies have only had 20 years to get this right…

    Just as soon as CableCards were starting to be accepted, they introduced SDV, which I think is good, but with that idiot “Tuning Adapter”. My guess is that they saw SDV as a good thing and something that would make CableCard so painful that it’d kill off set top box competition.

    Tuning Adapters – they almost kinda work sometimes.
    - that, to me, is an apt description of them.

    SDV is a good idea, I think. 3rd Party set top boxes like TiVos are good ideas. Tuning Adapters are clunky (a stupid box hanging off your TiVo) and unreliable.. (Maybe they work for a week or two and then just stop responding..)

    I finally just gave up on it. I sole my TiVo last August and while I’ve bounced between he cord/cut the cord status over the last decade, I don’t see going back. I get what I need through streaming, cable is far too expensive for what you get, the channels make no sense (History has nothing to do with history, Discovery isn’t about discovering anything, the Weather Channel is more about reality, etc – it’s all dumb), and if you want to watch you pretty much have to use either a clunky cable box with a 10+ year old interface (unless you go DirecTV which is notably better), or TiVo with a tuning adapter situation that may lock up from time to time.

    You win, cable, I no longer want to be your customer and, while in the past I’ve gone back and forth, I don’t see it happening this time.

  14. As a long-time TiVo owner (original S1, original S3, Premiere, and now a Roamio Pro and Mini) I was considering posting a comment of my own on the FCC site for Docket 14-16, but I can’t think of anything to add to the excellent comments that Sam Biller already submitted on April 14 (http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=6017611815). Too bad there isn’t a “Like” or “+1″ button that we can use to “vote up” existing FCC comments. :-)

  15. Probably just as important as “good” is sheer numbers… The majority of folks engaged in the process are businesses, or their shills, with skin the game. I would hope that input from consumers like us provides a meaningful and somewhat different perspective. You could write a single paragraph saying you’re concerned and frustrated, that you appreciate Sam’s well reasoned submission on the matter or whatever the case may be. Anyhow, I did manage to get my letter written and uploaded but it’s not yet published.

  16. “As a long-time TiVo owner (original S1, original S3, Premiere, and now a Roamio Pro and Mini) I was considering posting a comment of my own on the FCC site for Docket 14-16, but I can’t think of anything to add to the excellent comments that Sam Biller already submitted on April 14 “

    Just rephrase it in your own words, from your own experience. Numbers of comments from actual consumers count, not just the quality of Sam’s single excellent comment. (And consider doing it today, since today is the deadline…)

  17. I’ve had the same picture problem as l.a. dave who has the the video on the vine ,but i have verizon fios and this happens mostly on my showtime channel 865 as well as audio dropouts.

  18. LA Dave, celticpride, macroblocking like that is interesting (and frustrating). Once had a similar problem on Cox (with CableCARD and Tuning Adapter) — it was related to a 30 year old coax coupler/splitter that couldn’t handle certain frequencies well in conjunction with my hardware configuration. The little splitter in the attic was swapped out and the picture was restored. One possible idea…

  19. Thanks Dave Katz. Let me try changing out the splitter or cabling to see if it fixes it.

  20. Zatz, typo. :p

  21. I submitted a response to the FCC.

    Aside from the obvious benefit of ensuring cablecard rules are in place and that a successor is created, I did also point out that competition — real competition — has been a boon to the telephone and internet industries, and that the NCTA’s resistance to competition is nothing but the same foot-dragging employed by the old monopolistic relics of the past, namely AT&T.

    Standards in telephone services is what allowed fax machines, answering machines, and modems to thrive. Ditto for high-speed internet (DOCSIS). So too should standards enable the video industry to boom. The video industry is RIPE for disruption.

    I also served the NCTA a small piece of STFU pie for claiming their half-assed “apps” substitute for competition.

    I also stated that if after almost 20 years since the adoption of Section 629, 16 years after CableCard rules were enacted, 7 years past basic common reliance, and 4 years past anti-discriminatory support and pricing has been in effect, if MVPD’s still can’t get it together, the fault lies directly at their feet and they can’t be trusted to continue to support CCard users without proper common rules in effect.

  22. @Mike,

    +1. Awesome response. Thank you!

  23. Well played, Mike! While I can’t take credit for your content, I’ll take credit for rallying the troops who prefer “set-top” choice. :) Given the current uncertainty, triggered by the Echostar case, very few will join the likes of Ceton and TiVo. Hopefully the FCC will take this opportunity to assert themselves and stabilize the situation for potentially increased third party competition of those end-point experiences, despite the player’s deep pockets and will to contest their authority. A next gen software-based solution isn’t so difficult, given where hardware has been going with several ideas having been floated, but they lack the appropriate motivation to move forward as they see Section 629 as vulnerable.

  24. Good rallying, there’s a nice number of us updated on the FCC site this morning.

    http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?name=14-16

  25. “A next gen software-based solution isn’t so difficult”

    Technically difficult, no. But is any of ‘that ilk’ likely here in reality?

  26. Most/many are testing gateways from the likes of Arris/Motorola that receive content from the mother ship and then move it throughout the home and many/most are members of the DLNA…

  27. Glad to see the troops showed up to the fight. :)

  28. Just keep in mind how inefficient those CableCards are….

    Happy #EarthDay2014! Did you know your cable DVR is remarkably energy efficient. pic.twitter.com/9JsNIsEMtR— NCTA Cable (@NCTACable) April 22, 2014

  29. As I expected, Wheeler is making Julius look like Jesus.

  30. ars technica has an interesting artical up today about the revolving door between NCTA and FCC. It feels like are days are probably number with Powell and Wheeler tag teaming. At least Eshoo is trying to protect FCC ability to ban future integration in STELA.

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