CableCard firmware issue

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jaimeknapp

Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:49 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX

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CableCard firmware issue

#1

Post by jaimeknapp » Thu Mar 21, 2024 4:53 pm

My PCIE-4 system stopped receiving channels. In the diagnostics, the CableCard reports that a firmware update is in process but never completes. No tuner can resolve any channel. The Tuning Adpater reports proper operation. If I ignore this and use Media Center to view other program material, or use its ATSC tuner, I will get popups asking to configure the CableCard now or later. If I say yes, Media Center will hang and require a restart. If I say later, the popup will cycle through all four tuners and eventually hang Media Center.

Is this finally the end of CableCard, or is there any hope that there may be someone left at Charter/Spectrum that might help, or any way to reach them?

Thanks

DSperber

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Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:35 am
Location: Marina Del Rey, CA

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#2

Post by DSperber » Tue Mar 26, 2024 7:03 pm

Oooh... Spectrum. Grim. Where are you in the country? What brand of cablecard?

With the disappearance a few years back of the FCC mandate that cable companies MUST provide an option for customers to go with cablecard-enabled "customer owned equipment" (e.g Tivo, SD HDHomeRun Prime, and WMC/Win7 with Ceton PCIe/ETH/USB tuners), Spectrum couldn't wait to bail out of this equipment. They no longer issue newly requested cablecards and required "tuning resolvers for SDV channels", not even providing a replacement in the case of damage or failure or other need for repair to existing customers of these items. And the monthly price is now up to $6/card, in an attempt to make it less economical to "own your own equipment" than to "rent hardware/software from Spectrum".

True "end of life" for customer-owned cablecards. Of course the equivalent items are welded inside of their own STBs and DVRs, but providing them separately and externally for "customer owned equipment" is apparently now a thing of the past. The sad truth.

I'm on Spectrum here in LA and currently still have and still for pay two Motorola cablecards (at $6/each) and Motorola tuning resolvers (these are free). Spectrum "supports" these, as far as still sending signals to them and allowing me to continue to use WMC and my Ceton PCIe cards with two Win7 HTPCs. And they do still have a "cablecard support" group that handles issues with the need for re-pairing, etc., should that situation arise. They are in fact trained and familiar with at least what needs to be done with the HOST ID and DATA numbers, in order to activate or re-pair cablecards to Ceton etc. tuners. But as far as repair or replacement of dead or defective equipment, I'm afraid that seems no longer available.

jaimeknapp

Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:49 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX

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#3

Post by jaimeknapp » Thu Mar 28, 2024 8:01 pm

DSpewrber,

I am in San Antonio. I have found a technician and supervisor that are working on it. They have found substantial noise down in the same band as the CC uses and it is reported to the trunk line group to resolve it first. They also have found a CC removed from a working Tivo system that they are willing to bring out and attempt to pair it into my account. We'll just have to wait and see.

DSperber

Posts: 380
Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:35 am
Location: Marina Del Rey, CA

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#4

Post by DSperber » Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:53 pm

Ironically, just yesterday I had a "miracle service call" from Spectrum, specifically to bring me out another cablecard! I know these things aren't supposed to happen but I was able to plead my case to the upper-level support supervisor I worked with unsuccessfully for an hour on the phone on Tuesday, to try and re-pair one of my two existing cablecards in its host Ceton PCIe TV 6-tuner host. This was already the third phone session that had ended unsuccessfully. The background here was that I had tried using my Ceton ETH tuner instead of the Ceton PCIe card during a weeklong research project with a third PC (which began with getting Spectrum to successfully pair the cablecard in its new Ceton ETH host), but in the end it was unsuccessful. So now I was trying to put back that cablecard into the Ceton PCIe tuner card and that required re-pairing, which for many days and attempts had still failed to be accomplished successfully.

So in the end a service call for Friday was scheduled. I insisted that they clearly put in the notes "bring a cablecard", although I really did believe that would never happen. But hopefully working with a brand new cablecard would end in successful pairing.

Lo and behold, when Sergio showed up Friday morning he had in his hands BOTH (a) a Motorola M-card, and (b) a Motorola MTA700 tuning adapter!!! He' apparently been talking about the service call with associate techs and lo and behold he found one that actually had a random cablecard in his struck, and a second that actually had a random MTA700 tuning adapter in his truck!!! So he grabbed both from his two "sources" and came to my house with them!!

When he arrived and I stopped gasping with excitement that he'd actually brought not just a replacement cablecard but also a tuning adapter (which I didn't need, but just in case...), we got to work. Phone call made to the Spectrum "cablecard support specialists" desk in NY (I will privately share that phone number if anybody needs it), and we first decided to try kick-starting my existing cablecard one more time just to be sure it would or wouldn't finally validate. I provided the card S/N (just to be sure he didn't screw up the other cablecard on my account that was working perfectly in my other WMC machine), along with the HOST ID and DATA required for pairing. They were unsuccessful in coaxing it back to life.

I then powered off my PC, removed the current cablecard, inserted the replacement he'd brought, powered the PC back on, and provided the new cablecard S/N, and new HOST ID and DATA values required for pairing. Initial efforts to get it paired and activated and validated were also unsuccessful for a while. After asking for some backroom help from other "expertes", I was originally told that they actually couldn't do this, that they weren't allowed to "add a new cablecard to an account". The Spectrum tech in my house got on the phone and insisted that this was simply a "repair/replacement of an existing cablecard" and for sure should be allowed, and the guy at the other end retreated to enlist yet another specialist expert to help get this done.

This time, they apparently "burned my account to the ground", and started from the beginning, and DID manage to get the replacement card "added back" to my account. A shriek of joy went up in my house from both me and the Spectrum tech as we saw the Ceton diagnostic utility which was on the screen of my PC and open to the "cablecard" tab, suddenly change the RED object to a GREEN CHECK, as the new card magically got correctly assigned to my account, and successfully activated and validated and authorized! IT WAS A MIRACLE!

And sure enough... 100% successful. Everything was now once again working properly in that WMC machine. All channels were once again available for tuning and viewing, and my existing MTA700 tuning adapter was successfully "READY" and capable of getting the "SDV channel map" and thus capable of allowing me to successfully tune to ALL SDV CHANNELS.

CASE CLOSED! ... (or so I thought). The Spectrum tech and I congratulated and thanked each other for an exciting morning, and he left.

I then went out of the house for the day. When I return home last night I noticed that the normally scheduled afternoon and evening recordings on my OTHER "production" WMC machine (which was NOT the "backup WMC machine" we'd worked on in the morning for the above cablecard issue) had ALL FAILED TO RECORD! The WMC "history" showed "no TV signal available", and this began happening at 3PM, shortly after the Spectrum story on my other machine had ended successfully. And now when I manually tried to tune to any channel , I just got a "black screen", which I recognize as the symptom of a NON-FUNCTIONING CABLECARD, i.e. no "decryption" of the encrypted Spectrum channels is occurring.

I checked things on my other "backup" WMC machine, and sure enough everything was still working fine, through the newly replaced cablecard we'd gotten placed on my account in the morning. But apparently in the process of "burning everything to the ground" in order to finally successfully add the replacement card to my account, the specialist in NY had also REMOVED ALL CABLECARDS FROM MY ACCOUNT... of course including my other cablecard in my "production" WMC machine that had been working just fine until then.

So, one more phone call to that same "Spectrum cablecard support specialists" desk in NY. He looked at my account and my authorized equipment, and saw what had happened in the morning. He was then able to re-add (without any difficulty whatsoever, so he clearly WAS a "specialist expert") this unintentionally de-activated cablecard back onto my account, sending it the proper validate authorize authenticate signals. And sure enough Ceton diagnostics again went GREEN CHECK for this cablecard, and like magic my "production" WMC machine and its cablecard and tuning adapter were once again back in business and tuning/decrypting all channels (both SDV and non-SDV) successfully.

And now, truly... CASE CLOSED.

I will now protect these two WMC machines which are both working 100% correctly WITH MY LIFE!!!

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