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Frequently Asked Questions
For more information see: »customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···tive-tv/
got feedback?back)ETV stands for Enhanced Television. EBIF is a technical term (Enhanced Binary Interchange Format) associated exclusively with the CableLabs open standard specification. The EBIF spec allows apps to be written once, and run everywhere when the standard is followed. EBIF is a ‘lightweight’ technology that can run on even "low-end" set-top-boxes like the widely-deployed Motorola DCT 2000.
got feedback?back)ETV applications are typically bound to programming on cable networks allowing for interactive overlays that correspond to the video content. The capabilities of these applications include:
* Graphic Overlays - Present on-screen widgets allowing subscribers to interact using their set-top remote control
* Synchronized Delivery - Insert applications into programming (either pre-produced or live) to synchronize interactive overlays with the broadcast content
* 2-way communication - Send form posts from the set-top box through the cable head-end to a response server via HTTP. This allows for applications such as voting/polling and advertising requests for information (RFI)
* Telescoping to VOD - Interface with the video on demand layer to jump from linear programming to VOD assets
* Dynamic Data - Use existing data feeds to update interactive applications with news, programming info, product info, polls, etc.
* DVR Support - Set recordings for episodes or series on DVR boxes.
* Personalization & Targeting - Store user data to create customized experiences
More details here: »customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···eatures/
got feedback?back)Tru2way is cable’s next-generation hardware/software platform that enables advanced interactive TV applications. Tru2way complements EBIF in that it is a more advanced technology that runs on tru2way certified devices, whereas EBIF uses a thin-client approach that is compatible with the lowest-common-denominator of set-top boxes in the field today. For Comcast, EBIF applications will also run on tru2way devices.
For more information see:
* CableLabs OpenCable FAQ
* OCAP/EBIF Developer Network
back)More HD is coming. What, when and where is up to each region. Many area's need to work on "reclaiming" some spectrum which can be used for more HD launches. Reclaiming bandwidth can come from migrating an analog channel to digital, or re-optimizing a multiplex so that 3 HD channels can fit in the same space a regular analog channel would fit. Migrating HD from the normal 2:1 to a 3:1 mux would be unnoticed for most people since the channel mapping stayed the same, it was just the source that changed. Each analog channel slot can contain up to 12 (soon to be 15 with new grooming) SD digital channels. Many Comcast systems have over 2/3rds of their bandwidth dedicated to Analog channels. It is vital that these channels are migrated to digital for better resource allocation over the RF network.
Frequently Asked Questions
With any channel launch or frequency change, there is a LONG drawn out process that must be followed. The FCC requires notice to be given for any channel changes or removals/repositions. Corporate must approve any channel change requests and then there is the marketing side with contracts, timing and advertising. For any MAJOR changes Comcast is required to give 30 days notice, and just getting that out can sometimes be troublesome. One way around a 30 day notice in a channel add would be a soft launch. A soft launch is when channels will appear 'out of the blue'. Usually a week or two later there will be an ad in your local paper saying that the channels will be available 30 days from now, but you can enjoy a 'free preview' today.
It's also because of this required notice, along with the mis-match of channel maps, channel locations, etc, between all the various systems throughout their history of acquisitions that you end up having the channels all over the place. Comcast tries to stick things where they can find room. A region may have 30+ channel lineups to handle each with it's own bandwidth limitations. Imagine playing a really hard game of Soduku. If you simply make a change to a multiplex in one area, it's likely to affect 30 other area's because they are pulling the video from the same multicast IP address. Everyone must be coordinated and on the same page. Adding/changing channels can be a very messy and tedious project.
Multiplex - communicates two or more signals over a common channel
Mux - Shorthand for Multiplex. 2:1 Mux means 2 signals are broadcast over a common channel. 3:1 means 3 signals are broadcast over a common channel, etc.
RF - Radio Frequency
SD - Standard Definition (up 480i resolution)
HD - High Definition (1280x720p or 1920x1080i resolution)
Multicast - addressing is a network technology for the delivery of information to a group of destinations simultaneously using the most efficient strategy to deliver the messages over each link of the network only once, creating copies only when the links to the multiple destinations split.
Bandwidth - The width, usually measured in hertz, of a frequency band; Of a signal, the width of the smallest frequency band within which the signal can fit; A measure of data flow rate in digital networks typically in bits per second; The capacity, energy or time required
got feedback?back)The June 12, 2009 digital transition will have absolutely NO EFFECT on your Comcast service! This date is a Government mandate that only affects over-the-air broadcasters. Cable systems are using their own private RF spectrum over fiber and coaxial cable. Comcast will do what they want with their spectrum when they want. Expect Comcast to take advantage of the situation by attracting new customers signing up to basic cable because their over the air antenna no longer works. Comcast will also take advantage to run additional outlets in homes where some rooms relied on rabbit ears while only the primary room had cable.
You may of heard of Comcast digital migration website seen here: http://comcastdigitalworld.com/ or »www.comcast.com/digitalnow It's true that digital signals are a much more efficient way of transmitting video. Remember, with every one analog channel removed, about twelve standard definition digital channels can be added. With the much higher bandwidth requirements of HDTV channels, each analog removed would allow a system to add three additional HD channels. The removal of analog channels can also be used to increase cable Internet service speeds and capacity, for every analog channel removed it gives back about 38Mbit/sec of speed to be used for Internet subscribers.
Because of the efficiency with the digital transmission, Comcast has also slowly been migrating channels from analog to digital. This has been done in phases throughout 2009-2012. As of early 2013, the vast majority of Comcast's systems have now been migrated to 100% digital.
For more see: »customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···igration
The boxes communicate in the house using a technology called Multimedia Over Coax Alliance or MoCA for short, this is the industry standard for multi-room DVR, used by all the major cable and satellite TV providers. The AnyRoom DVR allows the DVR recordings to be watched in any room using a compatible Set-top. The client boxes cannot be used to program the DVR or schedule recordings but this can be done on the Comcast.net website or using their iPhone/Android apps.
An initial installation by a Comcast technician is required for the AnyRoom DVR service. The technician will install a MoCA trap on the incoming line (the point of entry) to isolate the MoCA signals from the rest of the cable plant and the installer will then setup a compatible DVR and client boxes. The equipment that is currently offered works with HDTV and Standard Definition televisions sets. After the installation, any faulty equipment can be swapped at an office but the replacement equipment must be compatible (MoCA ready). The provisioning of the equipment is done remotely.
Additionally the inside wiring must be in good condition as MoCA operates in the higher frequencies in between and above all normal cable TV signals. Wiring should be RG6 or better. The installer will check levels and cabling issues before installation.
got feedback?back)The Master Headend or does their bit in aggregating and sending the video signals in MPEG format across the CRAN network. From the cran it goes to the various local headends via Multicast UDP through routers. Finally the local hub picks up the signal and converts it to RF to shoot out over the network. There is also a VOD server farm, which could reside in it's own building or in a regional headend depending on the local archetecture either built by Comcast, or inherited from acquisitions. VOD has been known to spread apart to other larger headends in the region for redundancy. There are various hubs spread out along the plant house the OOB communications equiptment and the VOD (and potentially SDV) edge qams.
There are digital controllers that address all of the set top boxes in the area's. For Scientific Atlanta sites there's a *NIX based server called the DNCS, while Motorola sites there is a server called the DAC. While DNCS's and DAC's pretty much do the exact same job, the way they do it on a SA plant vs Motorola plant are ENTIRELY different. Motorola tends to break things out a bit more with NC1500's, RPD's, etc.....While SA tends to centralize things a bit more within it's DNCS/Appserv setup.
Headend - The control center of a cable-television system, where incoming signals are amplified, converted, processed, and combined into a common cable for transmission to subscribers.
CRAN - Comcast's Reginal Area Network
Multicast - network technology for the delivery of information to a group of destinations simultaneously using the most efficient strategy to deliver the messages over each link of the network only once, creating copies only when the links to the multiple destinations split.
UDP - A communications protocol that is mostly used to send streamed material over a Network
VOD - Video On Demand
SDV - Switched Digital Video - A method of broadcasting only channels that are currently tuned, rather than every channel offered at once.
DNCS -Digital Network Control System
DAC - Digital Addressable Controller
SA - Scientific Atlanta (now owned by Cisco).
NC1500 - Motorola device that links application servers and set-tops using Internet Protocol (IP) to deliver data packets through the out-of-band data channel.
RPD - Motorola's Return Path Demodulator for interpreting commands from the Motorola Cable Box back to the Cable Headend.
OOB - Out of Band communication. Method used to program cable boxes remotely, while allowing their tuners to be on any channel.
got feedback?back)Although this list is not complete, here are the majority of the Muxes from Comcast Media Center. They are available on the CRAN network, and some of them are available via Satellite. For an explanation of CRAN and what it means for you, please see this entry courtesy of our friends in Comcast HSI: »Comcast High Speed Internet FAQ »What is CRAN?
A 3:1 HD mux means 3 HD channels in 1 38.8mbps QAM. Instead of dedicating 19.4mbps for one HD channel, it is varied depending on the channels on each QAM. As of late Comcast has modified their "muxes" in order to improve picture quality; they place 2 1080i channels and 1 720p channel together.
Mux 1 Starz East, HGTV, A&E
Mux 2 Food, SciFi, UniversalHD
Mux 3 Discovery, USA, NatGeo
Mux 4 HDTheater , Animal Planet, History
Mux 5 HBO East, Max East, TLC
Mux 7 AMC, Golf, CNN
Mux 8 Disney, ABC Family, Science
Mux 9 FX, Speed, Fox News
Mux 11 IFC HD, WE HD, Fuse HD
Mux 12 Encore HD, Fox Bsiness, Hallmark Movie Channel
Mux 14 Bravo, CNBC, QVC
Mux 15 MGM HD, ESPNews, Toon Disney
Mux 16 Lifetime Movies, Biography, Planet Green
Mux 17 E!, Travel, Cartoon
Mux 18 Starz Edge, Starz K&F, Starz Comedy
Mux 19 Spike, Lifetime, Nickelodeon
Mux 20 G4, Style, TV One
got feedback?back)QAM stands for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. It's a modulation scheme that transmits data by changing the amplitude of two carrier waves. The two carrier waves are out of phase with each other by 90 degrees. Digital Cable uses QAM to transmit the majority of their signals. Two major QAM schemes are 64QAM and 256QAM. 64QAM contains data throughput around 28 mbps, where 256QAM has data throughput of 38.8 mbps.
If your TV has a QAM tuner, it has the ability to read this signal and display it. The cable company can encrypt the digital video carried in a QAM signal and this is commonly referred to as Encrypted QAM. To receive Encrypted QAM, you would require a device with a CableCARD slot or an official Comcast digital receiver.
A QAM tuner on a TV or DVD recorder does not 'map' the channels to the same location on the Comcast channel lineup card. A QAM tuner will display unencrypted channels on their physical location in relation to the frequency they are carried on.
Some areas are able to pass PSIP data along with local broadcasts. PSIP data is embedded in the digital information that tells your TV what channel number to display. For example, Channel 3 in HD may embed 3.1 in it's video stream. Your TV would be able to tune this by typing in 3-1. Each Comcast area is different, and some may not pass PSIP.
It's also recommend to force your TV or DVD recorder to rescan the QAM channel lineup from time to time. Additional channels may show up unencrypted or may have changed frequencies.
NOTE: Comcast does not guarantee channel availability through a QAM tuner. Comcast has been slowly encrypting all channels in many markets, if this is the case you will not be able to receive any channels without a set-top box. »customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···ryption/
If your looking for a QAM channel lineup, there is no official one from Comcast. You could try the SiliconDust HD-Home Run page. Enter your zip code at this following website:
Then choose "Comcast" from the pick list menu.
The link listed is for OTA information, and I think that is an important detail that is overlooked in this article since it has nothing to do with Comcast. Those that don't know the difference will be thoroughly confused.
Actually it provides both... you just have to select Comcast from the pull down because OTA shows up first
back)In order to troubleshoot issues channels breaking up, turning to a black screen, or saying "This channel will be available shortly" you should check your signal strength. There are hidden diagnostic menus for most cable boxes that will let you find the signal strength.
For Motorola cable boxes:
There is extensive documentation on this over at the Motorola DVR Wikihow site:
For Cisco/SA cable boxes:
Turn to the channel that is giving you issues and then follow the instructions below.
For newer Cisco branded cable boxes: Power off the box, Press down the power button on the cable box until the green light blinks twice, then press power button again.
All Other SA boxes: Power off the cable box, Press the OK/Select button and the Info button on the cable box at the same time.
Once the Message light on the front of the box starts to flash press the INFO button on the front.
You navigate the menus with the Vol +/- keys on the remote.
Choose the RF Status
The stats are color coded, amber signifies a borderline signal and red means there is a definite issue with the signal quality.
* CURRENT QAM refers to currently tuned video channel:
Level: Should be -12 to +15 dBmV for QAM256
S/N: Should be 33 dB (or more) for QAM256 [This is more important than level]
Seconds: How long channel has been tuned.
Corr Bytes: How many bytes were detected in error and corrected since first tuned
Uncor Blks: How many data blocks that failed parity check, but could not be corrected.
Errs Avg/Inst: Average and Instantaneous Bit (byte? block?) Error Rates.
When finished press the EXIT button on the front of the cable box.
got feedback?back)Comcast portals:
Comcast Remotes Device Codes -- includes online code finder and links to printable PDF manuals
Comcast Cable Box Manuals -- not quite up-to-date but has most major boxes currently widely used.
Comcast Digital Migration Information
Comcast Encryption of Limited Basic Information
Comcast Customer Forums
How to use a Motorola DVR
While a little out of date this has solid information and plenty of tips and tricks for setup and configuration of Motorola set-top boxes. This includes how to access the hidden setup menu to set HD resolutions and digital audio preferences. As well as an extensive discussion on the Comcast silver remotes and custom programing them for volume locks, 30-second skip, and more.
Comcast HDTV section on avsforum.com:
AVS Forum contains discussion on many topics for the A/V enthusiast, like TV programming, detailed discussions on hardware(cable boxes, DVRs). This is the main Comcast HDTV page on the avsforum.
The RNG designation allows Comcast to have a standard grading scheme for boxes from all set-top box vendors (i.e. Motorola, Pace, Cisco, and any other brands that Comcast chooses to buy from in the future). An "N" in the model number tells us that it has MoCA networking for AnyRoom DVR support.
It is expected that boxes compliant with the RNG specifications will eventually get the X1 Guide software. Link to initial report from Light Reading. More confirmation from Ted Hodgins, Sr. Director, Video Product Development - Navigation, in Media & Entertainment for Comcast, here:
RNG100 -- This designation has only been used for one Cisco box (a relabeled Cisco Explorer 1540C). It is unique in the fact that this is the only standard definition cable box to have meet the requirements for an RNG. All others in the RNG line-up are HD capable.
RNG110 -- This designation has only been used by one Pace box, which Pace actually named the RNG110 on their manufacturer site. It has no AnyRoom client abilities, it is a simple HD capable digital cable box. Commonly deployed to customers who do not wish to have a DVR for their first TV or as a second room TV box. It also comes in a variant with an RF coaxial output (ch. 3/4) for legacy customers who would like a modern cable box and/or have a reason to use both an HDMI connection and an analog RF one (i.e. a VCR, DVD recorder, etc.).
RNG150 -- This has only been used for a single Cisco cable box (a relabeled Cisco Explorer 1640HDC), as the designation implies, it does not support being an AnyRoom client. It appears to be roughly equivalent to the Pace RNG110 used in Motorola areas.
RNG150N -- These boxes are widely used and come from all three main vendors (Cisco, Motorola and Pace). They are made to be used as AnyRoom DVR clients and are also commonly deployed as single HDTV boxes for bedrooms, etc.
In Scientific Atlanta/Cisco areas this is a re-labeled Cisco Explorer 1642HDC
The RNG150N in Motorola areas is a re-labeled Motorola DCX3200/M Phase 2.
New deployments of the X1 DVR use Pace branded RNG150N's (model number "PR150BNM X1") loaded with the X1 Guide software as their boxes for other rooms.
RNG200 -- This an HD DVR without AnyRoom abilities. This code has only been used for a relabeled Cisco Explorer 8540HDC/8550HDC.
RNG200N -- This is the top level of features. It is an AnyRoom capable DVR. This generic labeling has been applied to Cisco DVRs and to Motorola DVRs. Pace also has an RNG200N on their products website, but it appears Comcast is not using these yet.
In Motorola systems RNG200N refers to two models: either DCX3400/M or most recently DCX3501/M. The DCX3501/M shows up as code "MOR200BN" in the equipment listing of the Comcast customer website.
Like Pace, Cisco has started to offer up product pages using the Comcast naming scheme in addition to their traditional "Explorer" naming scheme for other cable providers. The newest Cisco DVR that Comcast and Cisco label as RNG200N is basically a Cisco Explorer 8652HDC.
NOTE: If you are in a Motorola area and want to find the actual manufacturer's model number, check the bottom or the backside of the cable box for the FCC label. The front panel was customized by Comcast with an RNG designation, so it is not a reliable way to find the actual model number.
got feedback?back)Guide Software
X1 is Comcast's next generation guide software that is totally HTML5 based, and has nothing to do with any of the previous legacy guides such as the blue and white i-Guide or SARA. It is a totally new guide software written as Tru2Way (also called OCAP) middleware. As such it should be fairly easily ported to different vendors compliant cable boxes.
The X1 Guide is also referred to as "The X1 Experience" and sometimes referred to as "On Screen Guide 3.0", this terminology typically has only been used in Scientific Atlanta/Cisco markets.
You can see the new user interface and features here: »xfinity.comcast.net/x1/
Somewhat confusingly "X1" is also the common name used for Comcast's first DVR that implements the X1 Guide software. So for the purposes of clarity we call the guide software the "X1 Guide" and the DVR the "X1 DVR".
The X1 DVR and Guide combination was called codename "Xcalibur" during testing.
Cable Box Hardware
Much like the "RNG" designation used for current digital cable boxes there are different levels of "X" designations being used for different levels of features and boxes can come from a variety of vendors. These boxes are based on Comcast’s new Reference Design Kit (RDK).
• The current "X1 DVR" is made by Pace. This has been known by the codenames "Parker" and "Spectrum" while under development.
It is compliant with the "XG1" specification from the Comcast RDK. It is technically called the "Pace XG1", in various places on the chassis it has the designations of "XG1-P" (presumably to signify it is an XG1 compliant box made by Pace) and "PX001ANM." It has 6-tuners, however currently 5 are enabled. The current tuner configuration allows four simultaneous recordings while the fifth is used for live TV or OnDemand, the fifth tuner is never used for recording, it is always left available for live TV. This behavior may change in future updates.
• There is a new codename "X2" software specification, which is an internal name only, the end result will still be branded "X1", the X2 guide features a recommendations engine (ala TiVo). There is also revised DVR hardware being prepared by Pace as a next evolution from the first generation XG1 DVR. Not much else has been confirmed about what's new or different from the current XG1 DVR from Pace. The new software/hardware is expected to be shown at The Cable Show in June 2013.
• There are also client-only boxes called "Xi3" coming from a variety of vendors, including Pace, Humax, Technicolor, and others, that will allow the X1 enabled DVRs to provide multi-room DVR services. These boxes are tunerless, they rely totally on MoCA networking from the main DVR and the DVR's tuners to do all TV functions. This is similar to how the TiVo Mini works.
• Lastly, there is an "XG5" specification which is meant to be a whole home solution (a Media Server Gateway) that combines DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, wireless router, digital voice telephony, digital cable DVR, and transcoding hardware for streaming TV inside the house, into one box. It intended to be "headless" (i.e. not connected to a TV), instead it would be put somewhere near the cable line into the house (perhaps in a closet) where it will function as a server to other clients including MoCA enabled cable boxes, and transcoded video streams to smart phones and tablets. Pace and Arris are producing hardware compliant with the XG5 specs. A few more details can be found here. The Arris version, Model MG2402, was shown at CES in the Intel booth.
got feedback?back)The following websites pertain to information regarding the Motorola equipment.
How to use a Motorola DVR
Motorola Customer Premises Equipment (Set-Tops)
About 80% of Comcast's systems are Motorola based.
There are a few series of Motorola set tops.
The low-end Motorola 68k models include the DCT-1700, 1800, and 2000. Due to the limited memory and processing power, these models have a reduction in amount of guide data that is stored in memory. While they can still support simple ITV applications, the local area will need to employ guide filters to these set tops that prevent them from loading a full set of guide listings. Also ITV transparency elements are not available, as well as video scaling. The general performance (navigation and channel changing) is much slower. These set tops are SD capable ONLY. Back in the early days of HD, a Motorola HDD-200 sidecar box could be connected to the data port on DCT-2000's to enable HD decoding.
The mid-range Motorola MIPS-32 models include the DCT-2500, DCT-700, DCH-70, DCH-100, DCH-200. These models are noticeably faster than the older 68k models. They support video scaling, which means you will see the current channel scaled down to fit in the upper right corner of the guide. These set tops are SD capable ONLY.
The high-end Motorola MIPS-64 models encompass a larger subset of equipment:
DCT-5100 Original HD cable box (DVI Interface)
DCT-6200 Widely used HD cable box (DVI Interface)
DCT-6208 Single Tuner HD DVR (DVI Interface) (80GB)
DCT-6412/6416 Dual Tuner HD DVR (DVI Interface, except for Phase 3 revision which has HDMI) (120GB/160GB)
DCT-3412/3416 digital-only Dual Tuner HD DVR with HDMI (120GB/160GB)
DCH-6412/6416 CableCARD Dual Tuner HD DVR with HDMI (120GB/160GB)
DCH-3412/3416 CableCARD digital-only Dual Tuner Cablecard DVR HD DVR with HDMI (120GB/160GB)
DCX-100 MPEG4 compatible SD digital-only cable box with 1GHz tuning (M Models support MoCA) and CableCARD
DCX-700 Small Form Factor MPEG4 compatible HD digital-only box with 1GHz tuning (M Models support MoCA) and CableCARD
DCX-3200 MPEG4 compatible HD digital-only box with 1GHz tuning (M Models support MoCA) and CableCARD
DCX-3400 MPEG4 compatible digital-only dual-tuner HD DVR with 1GHz tuning (M Models support MoCA) and CableCARD
DCX-3501 (AKA RNG200N) MPEG4 compatible digital-only dual-tuner HD DVR with 1GHz tuning (M Models support MoCA) and CableCARD
The latest DCX models have the most available memory and processing and can be configured with as much as 512MB RAM, and 500GB Hard Drive (DCX-3501). The DCX-3x00 series also allows native HD resolution pass-through, video sharpness post processing, and can decode Dolby Digital Plus. The DCX models also run much cooler than their DCH / DCT cousins. All i-Guide and Interactive TV features will work on the MIPS-64 based boxes.
The Motorola naming scheme is as follows:
DCT series - integrated security (no CableCARD slot)
DCH series - separable security (CableCARD pre-installed)
DCX series - separable security (CableCARD pre-installed), Advanced functions (Processor, Memory, MoCA, MPEG4, Dolby Digital Plus, 1GHz Tuning)
QIP series - integrated security (no CableCARD slot), similar to DCX series with MoCA and IPTV functionality paired with traditional QAM tuning. This series is only used for Verizon FIOS.
got feedback?back)DTA stands for Digital Transport Adapter. Comcast also refers to them simply as "digital adapters." It's an inexpensive and very basic digital cable device that allows you to watch all Limited Basic and Expanded Service channels that were migrated from analog to digital (Usually the first 99 channels). DTAs will not receive premium channels such as HBO, Showtime, etc. Consult your local Comcast center for an applicable channel lineup card for details.
The DTA does not offer any advanced features such as OnDemand or Pay-per-view or even an on-screen guide. DTAs are intended for legacy analog TV sets, as such they only feature an RF coaxial output that transmits a video signal on channel 3 or 4 (switchable), in this regard it is like a VCR or the old analog cable boxes used in the '80s and '90s.
For Limited Basic users Comcast is offering the first two DTAs for free and then charging $1.99 (plus taxes and fees) per DTA after the first two. This offer may vary by region and if/when encryption of all channels is being implemented, so please check with your local Comcast office. You should also keep in mind that usually Comcast doesn't charge anything for the first full fledged digital set-top box if you subscribe to the Digital Starter or above package, further, Comcast now (as of early 2013) charges $1.99/month for any and all DTAs if customers are on Digital Starter or higher.
More information is available here: »customer.comcast.com/help-and-su···ryption/
In 2013 Comcast, in select markets, has begun to offer an HD capable version of a DTA for Limited Basic subscribers who would like access to the HD versions of their channels. It costs the same $1.99/month. Like the standard definition version, it is a simple small black box, in addition to an RF coaxial output (for legacy TVs), it features an HDMI connection. For Limited Basic users there are no other fees. For those on higher-up plans it will require the addition of the HD Technology fee ($9.95) if it is not already on your account.
got feedback?back)When you get digital cable, you have a couple of choices for service. (1) Comcast STB or DVR and (2) CableCARD devices like the TiVo HD, and TiVo Premiere and Windows Media Center CableCARD tuners such as the Ceton InfiniTV or Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime.
With a Comcast STB/DVR, you receive all the SD and HD programming that you pay for, plus access to Comcast's On Demand and PPV services. Comcast is responsible for troubleshooting problems and replacing dead/defective equipment. Cost varies by market, typical rental fees are $8 per digital box. Renting a DVR adds another $16 on top of that. Contact your local office for more information.
By using the Comcast STB/DVR, you are limited to whatever software and hardware capabilities that Comcast offers in your area. In most markets, Comcast uses Motorola DVRs that do not currently support storage expansion beyond the built-in 20-30 HD hour capacity. In some markets, Comcast uses Scientific Atlanta DVRs that may support external expansion with eSATA drives.
CableCARD devices like the 3rd and 4th generation TiVo's and Windows Media Center have a program guide with 14-days of program information; they download this guide information from their own servers using a wired or wireless connection to your home network. Advantages include superior DVR functionality, usability (ex: no remote lag, improved commercial skipping), up to six times the capacity (157 HD hours), support for external hard drives (up to 300+ HD hours), remote scheduling, and PC/Mac integration. Other TiVo features include multi-room viewing and the ability to download some SD and HD recordings to your computer. However, CableCARD devices do not have access to OnDemand or PPV. This limitation is changing somewhat as TiVo has worked with Comcast to allow OnDemand access via an app for the TiVo Premiere hardware in select markets, see this TiVo website for more details.
However any other CableCARD devices such as the older TiVo HD series or Windows Media Center are still unable to use OnDemand.
CableCARDs are essentially access cards; they plug into the device and authorize all of the channels you pay for. The Tivo's and Windows Media Center add-in cards support multiple tuners with a single CableCARD (M-CARD). Comcast will provide one free CableCARD as part of digital service, but additional CableCARDs will cost $1.50-$2.50/ea. If you have another Comcast STB/DVR in your home, or buy a second TiVo, you may be assessed an additional "outlet fee."
You do not pay Comcast STB or DVR fees to use CableCARD devices. The purchase of a TiVo typically results in lower monthly fees, but it takes years for that savings to offset the purchase price. People who buy a TiVo typically do so because they want the improved DVR functionality, usability, and storage capacity. If you decide to buy a TiVo, do so with the knowledge that that Comcast is not responsible for replacing dead/defective equipment (with exception to the CableCARD).
The STBs you receive with your video package through Comcast are free, though each additional STB does warrant a rental fee. That being said, the same applied for CableCARDs. After the first one, each additional CableCARD is $1.50/month to rent, and Comcast doesn't support the STB nor the STB's channel guide if you use a CableCARD. Plus, you lose access to pay-per-view programming and On Demand programming provided through Comcast. If you call them asking about your TiVo being broken with a Comcast CableCARD in it, they'll simply just refer you to TiVo for box support if they determine your CableCARD's signal is normal.
Great information, thanks for taking the time to get the 'facts'
back)In the United States cable company equipment is only leased, never sold outright. The boxes you see for sale online may be from Canada where they do sell equipment outright, or it may stolen from another branch of Comcast or another cable company entirely, etc.
More likely than not digital cable boxes for sale on eBay or sites like Craigslist, and others, were stolen. Comcast will not activate boxes bought off the Internet.
If you have bought one, you should return it to the closest Comcast location and pick up a legal box from that center.
If you want digital cable service you should rent a cable box from Comcast or, if you'd like own your own equipment, you can purchase a TiVo HD or Premiere.
got feedback?back)First, congratulations on making the step forward into the digital realm!
In order to receive digital cable from Comcast, it is recommended that you rent a cable box from Comcast. Comcast refers to cable boxes as "Digital converters".
If you wish to order HD service, please see this question.
For digital service in standard definition, you need to get one of the following cable boxes from Comcast. Note, you may also order DVR service. In that case, you may receive an HD DVR.
A somewhat complete (but not 100% up-to-date) list of current boxes can be found at the Comcast Cable Box Manuals site.
NOTE: List of boxes below is deprecated
In Motorola areas, you may get:
In Scientific Atlanta/Cisco areas, you may get:
-Explorer 8300 DVR
-Explorer 8240 DVR
-Explorer 8000 DVR
In certain systems, Pace set top boxes may also be available. Please inquire at your local office for the availability of the aforementioned cable boxes.
In Motorola areas, they still have plenty of the DCT 2000 series receivers to go around as well even those boxes date back to the late '90s to early 2000s. If they try to issue a DCT 2000, I would ask them for a newer receiver because the DCT 2000 boxes DO NOT support newer features like the Xfinity mobile app.
back)To receive HD service from Comcast, you need the following equipment:
-An HD capable television
-High Definition set-top box, from either Comcast or a 3rd party, or;
-CableCARD slot in television (extremely rare), or;
-QAM tuner in television.
In order to access all the HD channels on your service level, you must have a set top box or a cable card slot in your TV. A QAM tuner may only pick up your local channels in HD and nothing more. QAM tuning is not officially supported by Comcast and may be unavailable in your market, for more see the FAQ entry on QAM tuning.
A somewhat complete (but not 100% up-to-date) list of current cable boxes can be found at the Comcast Cable Box Manuals site.
You may also purchase a TiVO Series 3 or 4 or use a Windows Media Center PC with a CableCARD tuner for use on a Comcast system. These require a CableCARD from Comcast. For more on going this avenue see the separate FAQ on TiVo and CableCARDs.
NOTE: List below is deprecated.
In Motorola areas, the HD boxes that are offered are:
-PACE RNG110 (small black HD set top with no front clock display)
In Scientific Atlanta/Cisco areas, the HD boxes that are offered are:
-SA 8300HD (DVR)
-SA 8300HDC (DVR)
Might also be nice to talk about what services are necessary to receive HD. For example, if you are using a cable box/dvr, you have to pay an extra fee for HD service (which I believe is really an extra rental fee for a HD-capable box). If using cablecard directly in a TV, you do not need to pay this extra fee. Comcast also doesn't make it clear that most of the non-premium HD channels are included in the Digital Starter package.
Some general usage about Tivo usage with Comcast might be helpful. How does Comcast generally set the CCI flags which can restrict the usage of TivoToGo?
Should also make mention of the new smaller Pace HD boxes like the RNG110