CableCARD Install Process Still Needs Improvement

Blogger Christopher Price live-blogged his CableCARD install experience in his new TiVo HD today. While his experience is certainly not as bad as others have experienced, it still shows that the cable industry has some work to do on improvement the CableCARD install experience. The first card in his install failed, and Comcast had to provide a second card, which worked. It would really be helpful if the cable companies would update the cards to the latest firmware and test them before sending them into the field to customers. And give installers spare cards. Dead CableCARDs are too common (again, test them first!), and I’ve been burned by the installer needing to call around and hunt down another card too. It has to cost the cable MSOs as well, having installers wasting time waiting for cards, needing to run back to the office, etc. Why not make life better for everyone and give them some spares? (And did I say test them first?)

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Vince

    I honestly think that cable companies like the process as difficult as possible. That way they can complain about the third party device being used (typically a TiVo) and offer their own, usually inferior, device.

  • Tim

    I must be one of the lucky ones. The kid who installed my M-Card was done in 20 min. Said it was the easiest install he ever did.

  • hemo_jr

    I installed my cable cards myself. I think I made 6 trips to the local Comcast payment center, mostly because they never had enough cable cards (I needed six single stream – never did get any Mcards to work), and some of the cable cards I got didn’t work. Each trip meant about 20 minutes standing in line. You stick in the cards, call in with the pairing information and maybe the next day it works. Any noise on the line (or maybe it’s just low signal strength) can cause failure.

    Anyone else have cable cards that spontaneously up-paired? This happened to me in March. Four cards ended up up-pairing. Took about a week before they were successfully paired up again.

  • jonathan lundberry

    I had the privilege of installing my own M-Card. The cable installer showed up and didn’t even know the difference between and S-Card and an M-Card. I got to do all of the installing and have the installer complain about how long it took for the Tivo and CC to do their business.

  • Tom

    I had a very easy time with installs (for a TV and S3) with Comcast in Boston. The field guys were very knowledegable as well as their dispatchers.

    Not so for my parents in Pittsburgh (also Comcast nee Adelphia) last december after getting them a new TiVo HD. The first guy they sent was an outside contractor for Comcast who had never installed any (first sign of impending doom). Also he was only allowed to “check out” 2 cards for the install (sign #2). I guess they don’t let them take any more equipment than is being unstalled (what, they don’t trust the employees?). When the cards were installed they immediately went into a firmware update (sign 3). And of cource the installer left before the update completed. He told my parents things should be all set within a few hours as he left. Needless to say they weren’t.

    It took about 3 additional visits over a week’s time to get them working. Fortunately the second installer (he came all 3 additional times) had CableCard install experience being an S3 owner himself (apparently he’s the go-to guy for installs). He determined that part of the problem was just the physical install. Comcast had recently acquired Adelphia and was in the middle of an accounting change over. The cards couldn’t be fully activated because of this. Trying to get the cards to work actually killed the service on my parents STB on another TV. The second installer eventually had to go into the office and talk to another technician to get the billing/software coding correct.

    There’s training lacking all around, apparently, and not just in field.

  • Justin

    My experience with S-Card installs by Verizon was pretty rocky, too. The prevailing issue was the Verizon Tech’s complete unfamiliarity with TiVo, which meant I got to take a very active role in the installation. Ironic considering that Verizon refuses to allow self-installs and charges customers a $90 fee to roll a truck out for this. Good times!

  • Glenn

    One CableCard install, using an M-Card. Two installers, one experienced. Multiple M-Cards in hand. Put in a powered splitter in the closet beforehand because the measured signal level at the Tivo was too low. Installer was very cavalier with the long strings of numbers being called over the phone. Neither end checked that they’d heard right. Presumably somebody mistyped something. Waited an (unneccessarily) long time for it to work. Gave up. Switched cards (first one might have been fine), everything worked fine after that. Probably took two hours overall.

    Have had random problems since then, certain channels disappearing for a day or two (showing black screen), then working again. Generally quite satisfied though. Does give me pause as I consider when to replace the bedroom Tivo with an HD, given the possibility that it *might* be a pain requiring multiple visits…