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Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL

1 edit

Cable TV Pixelation, Stuttering, Freezing

Hi All,

I got WOW HSI and the basic cable tv package with Starz for about 9 months now.

I've had various problems with internet outages and signal levels in the Chicago area that were promptly taken care of. I'm happy with WOW, but I have one nagging problem with the cable tv.

The digital channels in the 300's particularly will get pixelation, picture and sound freezing, stuttering and when I first got their service the picture going blank. I've had techs out numerous (about 5 or 6) times when I first got their service. They even gave me 2 months of free service it was so bad but I figured I'd stick it out. But so far this intermittent problem won't go away.

They so far changed the cable box three times, the last time about one month ago. This last time the tech said the box seemed too hot, even though there are no restrictions around it and its not stacked on other equipment. But for the heck of it the last time it was so bad on channel 301 as to be unwatchable I put a fan blowing directly on the cable box but it didn't make any difference.

Sorry to ramble on. Previously I had Directv for the tv and never had a pixelation problem and Comcast for the internet, but you can't beat the price and service of WOW, in my opinion. But now I'm getting really frustrated and don't know what to do. BTW, this only happens on the digital channels.

Does anybody else have this problem? Is there a way to check signal levels for the cable box like you can for a cable modem? If so, what are good levels? Any other ideas?

Thanks



imrf
Premium
join:2002-06-06
Utica, MI

It sounds like a signal level problem. You can read up on the Scientific Atlanta hardware here, »Scientific Atlanta hardware. Specifically this entry, »Scientific Atlanta hardware »Accessing diagnostic screens, and this one, »Scientific Atlanta hardware »Page 5.

Also, it helps to know what city and state you live in, because maybe someone else around you has the same problem and you two can coordinate with WOW to fix this problem. WOW genuinely cares about customers, but there are always bad apples in the bunch and maybe you had techs that were kinda new or just didn't feel like doing anything that day. It sucks but it happens.


Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL

Hi imrf,

Thanks for the reply and links.

Like I said, I live in the Chicago area, specifically Prospect Heights IL. 60070

You're right, they do care, and I'm not ready to give up on WOW.

During the first 2 month fiasco with WOW, they finally sent 2 techs and one guy was their top tech for my area and he finally switched out the cable box which at least took care of the picture going blank.

Funny thing is, I turned on the tv after I posted today and the channel was on 381 from last night. Well it took about 15 seconds before the whole screen pixelized and then froze. 3 seconds later all was fine. So I can rule out heat as a cause. Time to do some reading.

Thanks



imrf
Premium
join:2002-06-06
Utica, MI

Another option is to send Mike Brody(»www1.wowway.com/wowform.asp?ques···o&EM=CTO) an e-mail explaining your issue. He can then get your issue sent over to engineering and they can look into the issue further and even contact you to see if they fixed it or for an engineer to come out and see what the issue is. It doesn't hurt to try it.


CableDaddy3

join:2005-03-23
Grayling, MI
reply to Jaws_

Common problems that cause digital breakup include bad splitters, amplifiers, and poor quality cable. Low SNR is a major cause of that problem as well as low signal. Call and get a truck out there to fix it. Rarely is it a faulty box that causes that.


Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL

Hi Guys,

The funny part about the (clear as mud, there is no front panel diamond key) "Accessing the diagnostic screen" is my wife figured it out while I couldn't. And I'm an auto tech that diagnoses drive-ability and on-board computer problems. LOL.

After monitoring for awhile, this is what I've seen:

The problem looks like it's a Current QAM problem. The level numbers turn amber and go from -9 dBmv down to -13dBmv. For ERR AVG/INST, INST varied during pixelation from 264, 574, 809 and hit its highest at 1762 and I was in the opaque mode so I could actually see the picture breaking up or freezing. At other times it goes to -8dBmv, color turns white and everything is OK. S/N stays around 33 -35. Channel 381 and 327 seemed to be the worse, while the others didn't drop below -8dBmv.

FDC level stayed at 0dBmv and S/N varied between 21 -29.

RDC power stayed at 31dBmv though out.

Splitters have been changed at least twice that I'm aware of from the initial installation. I don't see any inline amplifiers. And the only section of cable that wasn't replaced was the section that goes through the conduit that runs along the 4 x 4 through the roof that was used with Directv (which I had no problems with). This Directv cable is what's being use for the modem too, which I have no problem with.

The only difference is the modem cable is split in the interface box that WOW installed and only runs a couple of feet and goes directly through the walls into my office and the tv cable has a longer run through the basement.

Now the problem is, I can get a tech out here but what does he do that the 6 or 7 tech before couldn't do if the problem is not there at the time. You'd think it reasonable that if one of them saw the low QAM level that they would try to fix it. Even if it was say -5 to -8dBmv (which is what it's at on most channels) and at the time no pixelation.

Thanks for your help, Ed


CableDaddy3

join:2005-03-23
Grayling, MI

Generally speaking, the boxes are close but not completely accurate in measuring signals. Has one of the previous techs turned it over for the maintenance techs to come out? S/N is a little low, but at that level it shouldn't cause breakup like you describe. As a precaution, the directv wireing should be replaced, as it is not quad shielded. Directv signals are different than catv signals and are not affected by outside RF noise. But with 6 techs out, seems like a plant problem to me, although i'm not a maintenence tech. Time to escalate this problem so it can be resolved.



WOWSimpleFix

@wideopenwest.com
reply to Jaws_

I had the same problem and the solution was......

Remove the splitter. Don't split your signal, get more drops. /thread


Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL
reply to Jaws_

Would like to give an update.

Called WOW costumer service which transfered me to a supervisor right away. I gave him the low down about all the service calls (7 in one year) and he setup a service call the next day.

Tech arrives and I give him the story. He checks the signal at the cable box, the outside box where the splitter is for the modem and goes up on the utility pole and checks signal there. The same old, same old that every tech does.

I mention the cable that wasn't changed going through the outside conduit, so he changes that. Of course I mention the amber colored -13 QAM level and he installs an amplifier. Well that brought the QAM level up on channel 381 to +5dBmv but it also made the FDC level go up to +14 and it turned amber.

Anyway 20 min. after he leaves I keep the channel on 381 and don't you know it starts to break up. ARRR.

So now it's my turn. I disconnect the splitter for the VCR and plug in directly to the cable box. Still get breaking up of picture and audio. Then I go to the basement and eliminate the splitter for the small TV in the kitchen. Same as thing.

Now, I switch the connection from the cable box to TV with coax instead of using the individual, video, left, right audio cables. Still get the audio and video breakup and freezing. Both with and without the amplifier. As a matter of fact, it doesn't seem as bad w/o the amplifier, so I left it out.

The only other variable is the TV, but I never had a problem with Directv and digital breakup with my TV.

So that's where I'm at. Still get breakup of video and audio and freezing. BTW, the breakup is intermittent but regular. It might be fine for 30 minutes and start to breakup constantly for a few minutes and OK for a few minutes and so on. It also doesn't seem to occur on all the digital channels but then again the ones I do watch, it breaks up.

I feel I gave WOW every opportunity to resolve the problem but it just won't go away.

Thanks.



imrf
Premium
join:2002-06-06
Utica, MI

Send an e-mail to the guy I suggested in my earlier post. He can get an engineer to contact you to get to the bottom of this. WOW doesn't want people to be unhappy, but like with any other company it can take so work to get it fixed. The good thing about WOW is their upper management 99.9% of the time responds to customer e-mails and will try their hardest to make them satisfied. Don't give up, just get the info to the person I suggested and I'm sure he'll make sure someone, who can get things done, call you and get it fixed.



Inflex

join:2002-09-05
reply to Jaws_

It took them a total of eight truck rolls when I had digital breakup. Last roll they sent a manager with two techs.

Get then where it hurts. They are not delivering the service you pay for, therefore get credits for the time you have been having problems. When they have to refund you a couple of hundred bucks it will get noticed.


Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL
reply to Jaws_

Just a follow up report on my problem.

I did e-mail Mr. Brody but I'm not sure of the consequences. I did get a call from WOW when I wasn't home asking if the previous service call fixed the problem. Since the service call was previous to the e-mail, I don't think the call was instigated by Mr. Brody, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I call WOW back that Saturday, asked for a supervisor and just happened to get the same guy I talked to for the last service call. This time he said he'll send out a maintenance tech on Monday and call me later on Monday to see if everything works out.

On Monday I never saw a maintenance tech or got a call back. I did notice an interruption of service when I was on the internet. My modem lights went out for a short while twice (about 30 sec.) and came back on. When I checked the Surfboard test page, the downstream PL dropped from a previous reading of (-5 to -9) to -14. I checked page 5 of the cable TV and the QAM level also dropped to -16 from a -13.

All my other readings stayed about the same and obviously maintenance techs don't necessarily come to your house. I don't have an internet problem even though the PL is kind a low now. The TV still has occasional pixelation but nothing like it was before. I guess I'll have to live with it.

It's funny but I think a lot of people get pixelation but don't know it's not normal. For instance, my wife's co-worker would get it on Fox movie channel but thought it was normal because it was an old movie and he has Comcast. The sad part about the whole situation is DirecTV is all digital and I never got pixelation for the years I had it.

Thanks to all.



StepR
Code Warrior
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Elgin, IL
reply to Jaws_

On our cable TV, analog, on many channels, a black box will appear on the lower half of the screen. It appears about two seconds after changing the channel and covers 90% of the lower half of the picture. Any ideas?


CableDaddy3

join:2005-03-23
Grayling, MI

Check to make sure the text caption is off on the tv.



tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI
reply to Jaws_

Had pixelation/Freeze on WOW digital when I had it. Notice it more when I record something on the DVR and playback with CC. Welcome to the "digital" age.


JeffM3

join:2005-10-02

It's funny that you mention that Starz channel, because it happens
here too in MI. On digital cable, channels 480-490 has Starz/Encore,
and those channels always break up with digital pixelation. And it
so happens some of the 300 channels always have very bad digital pixelation
or just totally black out.

These channels are unwatchable. Need I say more?



Inflex

join:2002-09-05

said by JeffM3:

It's funny that you mention that Starz channel, because it happens
here too in MI. On digital cable, channels 480-490 has Starz/Encore,
and those channels always break up with digital pixelation. And it
so happens some of the 300 channels always have very bad digital pixelation
or just totally black out.

These channels are unwatchable. Need I say more?
They are very watchable. You need a technician to check things out at YOUR location.


imrf
Premium
join:2002-06-06
Utica, MI

said by Inflex:

They are very watchable. You need a technician to check things out at YOUR location.
I agree on both counts. I haven't seen a digital breakup of any of my digital channels in the longest time, they are all extremely watchable for me as well. A tech should come out to check everything over.

jscherer26

join:2005-11-17
Glenview, IL

I live in Glenview very close to Prospect Heights and we share the same issues. Many visits from the WOW people with a supervisor scheduled to come out Monday.



johnbear

@wideopenwest.com
reply to Jaws_

Did WOW have an answer for any of you guys? Because Im in the same boat. Had a Technician out yesterday (been having the problem for a while now) and after a few hours, he had replaced almost every cable in the house, replaced the splitter, added and then removed the tap. We have 3 digital cable boxes and it happens on all of them no matter what even if the line goes from the pole straight to the single cable box. My signal strength is very high. Its the "packet loss" that is killing me. Its like the signal is powerful, but the data is getting corrupted or something along those lines. Any ideas? I am having a "line tech" come out today and do the whole pole monkey thing and see if there is a problem up there. Anything that might help me either fix the problem, or deal with WOW would be much appreciated.



imrf
Premium
join:2002-06-06
Utica, MI

If you register and start your own thread that would help the most. This thread is too old for people to be replying. You state you have packet loss, did you see the sticky about the ICMP requests being on low priority? That is more than likely why you think you're getting PL.


Jaws_

join:2005-08-06
Prospect Heights, IL
reply to Jaws_

Hi All,

I see I'm, finally, not the only one to have these issues, and I thought I was special. On a serious note, unless your installation was botched, or very old, I don't think having a truck come to your house will value anything. At least more then two times, just my opinion.

Being an auto tech, I know the problems created with bad connections. But as your house doesn't travel down potholed streets or live in a vibration and salt filled environment, connections shouldn't be a MAJOR problem. That leaves the cables and the cable box.

In my case it seems the cable box was the cause of the picture going completely blank, because after it was changed that problem was resolved. But I still had the pixelation, freezing issue.

While I'm not a cable tech, a defective cable or splitter, IMO, should be picked up after a couple of service calls to your house. Can you imagine, I, as an auto tech, having a car come back 7 or 8 times for the same problem. Now I know having multiple issue can really cloud the cure, but NO AMOUNT OF SERVICE CALLS TO MY HOUSE HELPED. YMMV.

Finally having the maintenance tech look into the issue has brought, for the most part, digital channel that are WATCHABLE. Be aware that maintenance techs don't come to your house, at least in my case. While I still live with occasional pixelation, by no means is it like it was before. Occasional pixelation in my case is maybe once or twice a week, for a few seconds, then everything is OK.

I commend WOW for their persistence in trying to resolve these issues, but I can't help feeling they're losing money dealing with it. Not to mention the fact that the customer, in some cases has to take off work to receive a service call. Add to that the fact that some people won't give them the chance to make half a dozen or more service calls and just give up on WOW. WOW did give me $10.00 a month discount for a year for all my problems. Is it worth all the trouble, you make the call.

Grades are from my personal experience. I'm sure there are people that have no problems and others that do have problems but don't post here.

Dealing with WOW is a piece of cake. They're costumer service, when you call them, is top notch. Give them an A.

The tech that come to your home are also good and friendly. But I don't know why, if after they find no problem at the time they are at your house, they don't elevate the issue you're having to someone that can look further into the problem. Unless WOW doesn't allow them to do this, grade C+. (I know there are WOW techs on this board, so please don't flame me. This is just my personnel opinion. Again, being an auto tech, I know fixing a problem that's not there at the time is impossible to fix, but upgrading the problem to the next level should be an option).

Engineering. This one is tough since Comcast may be having similar problems. You'd think after all these years of cable TV that they would have all the kinks ironed out. Well, think again, grade D.

Upper management. Since no one stepped up to the plate to help resolve the issue, grade F. No one contacted me. Not Mike Brody nor anyone else. You're left out on an island to fend for yourself. My opinion is if there are more then two service calls for the same problem, upper management should be on the phone or e-mailing you to help resolve your issue.

To the two people above, I hope your problems are resolved sooner rather then later. WOW as a company has some growing to do and I wish them all the best. But after 8 or 9 truck rolls and almost a year trying to resolve an issue, and now others with the same problems, it doesn't bode well.

Regards


johnbear0

join:2005-11-18
Glendale Heights, IL

Ok, I am the same guy from this morning that posted the question. I took the one persons advice and got an account. We have 3 cable boxes with tv's in our home. All 3 exhibit the same issues. Even when we took the line straight from the box outside straight to one of the cable boxes and tv inside, it was the same thing. This makes me believe the problem is outside of our house. What I dont like is that there is so little faith in their own technicians. Last night the tech left here just as frustrated as I am, with no solution to the problem in site. He had very harsh words to say about the previous technician, and even showed us and documented the previous repairman's (from WOW also) screwups. Even after fixing all of the other screwups, however, the problem was not resolved. So now he had to call in a "pole monkey" as he called em to come and see why our perfectly powerful signal is half garbage. He then said "they give us a 3000 dollar computer to help us, but its a POS". It cant actually analyze good packets from bad packets, just look at signal overall. So here I am wondering if this isnt all a waste of my time to not just go straight to the top and demand a resolution to my problem. I have had so many trucks 'roll' here.

So I am here waiting for a line tech to show up between 8am and 8pm sometime. And reading all the posts here doesnt make me confident that it will get much better. I will keep hopeful though, and thank you all.



Jwobot

join:2002-08-14
Sterling Heights, MI

1 edit

i have a problem with some channels just showing up as blank and once in a good while the pixal thing happens but i did some stuff today and narrow it down to being a bad wire, i will by a new wire this weekend to see if that was the problem.

i know the feeling, i wanted to watch a documentry couple nights ago but the channel was just blank when its in the living room and i was too lazy due to it being late at night to unhook everything then rehook it up in my room cause it works fine there. papa wont let me keep it in my room =(


johnbear0

join:2005-11-18
Glendale Heights, IL
reply to Jaws_

I waited all day for a line tech to show up, and no one ever did. However my internet and TV were both fixed. I called and asked what was going on. They didnt know anything and after a while I got the tech dispatch themselves to give me a call.(they wouldnt give out that number, understandably) They said that the tech started at the source node and worked their way towards me to fix the problem properly. It turns on at the end of my block, a digital repeater was messed up, and and corrupting the data. This makes sense technologically, and I have no reason to believe they are just making it up. The problem is now fixed, so I dont care that they never called and let me know. Thank you everyone for your assistance.


alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18

said by johnbear0:

I waited all day for a line tech to show up, and no one ever did.
A line tech will not normally come to your house only service techs when you have an appointment set up.

At least this is the way the cable co's I have knowledge of work.

peace