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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:14 am 
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I am moving to an area with comcast. Comcast is going to have all channels above 30 needs some sort of box. For my sd channels I am using the winpvr 150 card. Will it likely be able to receive those sd digital channels or will i need to use their box?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:01 pm 
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Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Your winpvr 150 only records analog channels. That said, there is a high chance Comcast in your area is still broadcasting analog for a lot of their basic content channels as the government DTV mandate does not apply to cable systems.

At some point you will want a digital encoder to receive the digital channels and this is where it gets tricky. The cable system encrypts anything they consider "premium content" and you will not be able to record those shows without a cable box. Even WITH a cable box you may not be able to record them because you have to use something like firewire between the cable box and myth or something like the Happauge HD-PVR.

Satellite users are even more screwed since there is no firewire output from sat receivers. For them, the HD-PVR is the only choice, but it is an expensive choice. The HD-PVR box itself is $200-250 for a single channel, and you still have to buy or rent a receiver!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:52 pm 
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Comcast has already removed analog channels > 30 in my area. I have 2 DTas that they sent out for free for TVs that I used to use the builtin analog tuner.

As far as my MythTV setup goes, my analog tuner is pretty much useless now. However, my 2 QAM tuners are much more useful now. Comcast unencrypted the channels that used to be analog (30-75). I'm pretty sure they did this to keep costs down on the DTA by not requiring them to decrypt those channels.

With the multirec feature for the QAM tuners (which allow for recording mulitple shows on the same QAM channel), I can oftwen record more than 2 shows at once. They are also better quality now and take up less disk space...

Chris


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:05 pm 
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cfoxga, which qam tuners do you have?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:14 pm 
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I have the AirStar HD-5000 from the older Dragon Reference Platform. I don't think it is readily available any more...


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:14 am 
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Location: Arlington, VA, USA
cfoxga, can you not use an analogue tuner card like the pvr-150 to record from the DTA? (Would it involve an IR blaster?)

I also wonder if unencrypting those QAM channels will be a permanent, nation-wide thing for Comcast... that would be a huge deal, and a big reason for me to choose Comcast and buy a QAM tuner card.

I'm moving soon, too, and will probably be choosing between FiOS and Comcast (or nothing at all).

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:18 am 
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You should be able to use the PVR-150 with an IR blaster. In my case, I already had 2 QAM tuners I used to record unencrypted local HDTV. so the move to unencrpyted digital for 30-75 made them a much better choice for me than the analog PVR tuner I had...

There is a big reason for Comcast to keep 30-75 unencrypted. It lowers the cost to build the DTAs that they are giving for "free" to customers, since they don't need to be able to decrypt the channels. In this type of device, every penny that can be saved in production costs is huge.

This doesn't mean it is permanent, as a future generation chip might allow for the decryption without adding cost. But I think we do have a while before that happens...

Chris


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:14 pm 
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Read comcast propaganda at http://www.comcast.com/digitalnow


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:07 am
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Location: California
I've done a bunch of digging into the question of "will Comcast keep the extended basic digital SD lineup in the clear". I don't have a definitive answer, but here are the data points I have gathered:

1. It has been suggested in some things I have read that FCC regulations prohibit the use of integrated decryption mechanisms in cable boxes. The comcast DTA has integrated decryption. As a consequence, Comcast must keep all those channels unencrypted.

2. Other things I've read state that Comcast is working with the FCC to get an exception to that regulation so they can encrypt them.

3. A local radio talk show had a Comcast rep on the air and I called in and asked if they planned to keep the extended lineup unencrypted. He stated that the plan is to being encrypting them in the November / December timeframe (2009). Of course, this seems to be at odds with point # 1.

4. Comcast already uses a device called a "notch filter". A notch filter will prevent a specific range of frequencies from passing though. In the days of analog, if you subscribed to basic cable they would place a notch filter on your line. This would prevent you from receiving the extended-basic channels you were not paying for. There is a line of thinking that Comcast will ultimately move the digital version of the extended basic channels into the range of the notch filter. This would prevent people who are not paying for them from receiving them but would keep them unencrypted for those that are paying for them.

To be honest, I have no idea what is going to happen. I am personally hoping that option # 4 is the outcome, but we won't know for a while. If they do go back to encryption the choices left are:

1. DTA and IR blaster -- there are two write ups on how to do this: http://regx.dgswa.com/html/node/134 and http://mysettopbox.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic. ... ce+comcast

2. Use the HDPVR in conjunction with your hidef cable box - search for "hdpvr" and you'll find several threads on this topic.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:48 pm 
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marc.aronson wrote:
1. It has been suggested in some things I have read that FCC regulations prohibit the use of integrated decryption mechanisms in cable boxes. The comcast DTA has integrated decryption. As a consequence, Comcast must keep all those channels unencrypted.

"Seperable Security" is another good search term for this. The basic premise of the law, from around '96 I believe, is that customers should be able to purchase their own set-top boxes and access ALL the channels for which they've paid. You buy the set-top box, CableCo provides the security. nice plan, no?

The cable industry then came up with CableCard, as their implementation. then made damn sure it almost never worked. I know of no one who tried to go cable card without having to exchange "defective" cards. These things seem to be even worse than then the worst stereotypical Microsoft bashing. "They had to replace (insert number) defective cards," "It worked for a week, then just stopped," "They tell me I have to call TiVo (or whomever)"

These things are a nightmare of poor-service induced customer dissatisfaction, then the CableCo's bitch to the FCC that CableCard isn't popular with the users and can they please have an extension on the roll out.

Tru2Way is the latest promise to fix all the problems, and is a hardware/software approach. It may be that the Digital Adapters can run the Tru2way software, then Comcast could begin encrypting without violating the separable security regulation. (at least not the letter of the law.)


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 3:19 pm 
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Location: Arlington, MA
Reviving an old thread...

I recently got an "IMPORTANT ACTION REQUIRED" mailing from Comcast about their digital transition and how I would need a cable box or DTA to continue receiving the extended basic channels. Today I contacted their on-line support and asked why I suddenly needed a box when I already had a digital TV and DVR and more to the point was watching the digital channels.

The "analyst" was horribly, painfully, amazingly clueless and either couldn't or couldn't be bothered to remember things between one sentence and the next (was I talking to a bot?). Didn't know what QAM is, etc., etc., ... What an annoying experience. The limited information I managed to extract was that if you were already watching the digital signal that wasn't going to go away. Now how much credence you put in that is another matter. ;-)


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 5:06 pm 
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Location: California
So far the expanded basic digital channels are also still in the clear for me. Various rumors / messages I've read suggest Comcast will re-encrypt them sometime during calendar Q4. I figure if we make it to Feb, 2010 with them still in the clear, then they will probably continue to stay in the clear. To be clear, that's just a guess...

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:15 pm 
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Location: Arlington, MA
Talked to a pleasant but only marginally more clue enabled lady from "Comcast Executive Customer Care" who didn't provide much better answers. Essentially it was the same information in the letter with only slight clarifications and I couldn't get a straight answer on my "need" for a cable box or whether they were going to start encrypting the signal, but at least half of that was due to the obvious lack of technical knowledge.

I *really hate* trying to get tech support answers from people who know less than me about their company's products. :roll:

It's looking like it may be time to get FIOS, an antenna for local stuff, start working on the streaming video support on my system, and leave the cable company to join the other business model road kill of the information age like newspapers.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:27 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Yep, I got that notice about a month ago. I was really glad that I had installed the antenna back in February. I just called and canceled my cable service (though I kept my cable Internet). I didn't want to deal with a box and another thing on the irblaster. Plus I save a bunch per month, so I spent my first year's savings and bought two new frontends and a 24" widescreen for the kitchen (much better than the old 17" 4:3 screen).

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:32 am 
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I had clear QAM working for all of Comcast's basic cable channels (which I pay for) for pretty much this entire year.

In November, they switched many of their channel frequencies to take advantage of the former analog frequency space. At the same time I noticed them showing a LAMC lock (decrypted). So I prepared for the worst.

I left on vacation Dec 8 with my system working and got back on the 15th to find everything except the OTA channels encrypted (partial LAMc lock) - no picture or sound anymore. Game over. Note that I'm still paying the same basic cable fee I've been paying all along. The only options now are:

- pay an additional monthly fee for a digital tuner box from them. Run HDMI into an HDFury and then component to a Hauppauge HD-PVR. Hope Comcast doesn't blow up the signal or that you get bitten by the copy once flag.

- pay as above and use degraded resolution from component out on the comcast box.

- get a free Digital Transport Adapter from Comcast which spits out analog, and stuff that into an analog tuner card and enjoy fighting with IR blasting to get your degraded service.

I wrote a nice letter to the FCC while I was ripping apart my myth box to get things working again.


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