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bohratom
Jersey Shore is back again.

join:2011-07-07
Red Bank NJ
reply to telcodad

Re: [STB] Cisco thinking of getting out of the set-top box busin

Cisco selling their STB business does not concern me. However if Motorola or another large STB provider were to purchase it then it would.

ajwees41
Premium
join:2002-05-10
Omaha, NE
why Cisco/SA are not very good boxes compared to motorola

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
said by ajwees41:

why Cisco/SA are not very good boxes compared to motorola

Traditionally, SA boxes have actually been much better hardware then the motorola boxes. The weekness has always been in the guide/interface loaded onto them.

One of the primary advantages of SA boxes? they speak IP natively instead of a proprietary system to address a specific box on the plant.


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
A new product announcement today from Cisco and Rogers, a major Canadian cable TV company, that uses Cisco's Videoscape architecture that has been referred to in some of the set-top box articles:

Cisco and Rogers Reinvent the Cable TV Experience With Cisco Videoscape
Leading Canadian Cable TV Provider Selects Cisco for Path to Video Innovation
Marketwire - February 24, 2012
»www.marketwire.com/press-release···4140.htm

Also, on Roger's website:

Introducing NextBox 2.0
»www.rogers.com/web/content/next-···-nextbox

ajwees41
Premium
join:2002-05-10
Omaha, NE
reply to miscDude
what make the hardware in cisco better than the motorola boxes?

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
said by ajwees41:

what make the hardware in cisco better than the motorola boxes?

A couple easy things are the RISC chips in the boxes have "traditionally" been more powerful than the chips in the Moto boxes. The Cisco boxes have also been able to do PIP.

Architecture wise, There is the whole dedicated QAM In-Band data carrier that was used to send code to the boxes (in basically completely images), guide, and a few other system items, which has left the OOB QPSK carrier free to just handle 2-way box traffic (done via IP) and System information such as channel maps, time, etc. On a motorola system, all traffic to the box is sent via the small OOB QPSK carrier, including box code. It means that managing data rates becomes a much more delicate balancing act in order to get everything to every type of box you have on the plant, while not impacting 2way traffic or time to load. It is because of this you run into the whole code-object aspect of the Motorola code (so you can only push what needs to be pushed and common objects don't get duplicated)... as well as one reason for the proprietary OOB communication protocols which are designed to deal with the limited bandwidth better than TCP/IP would.

ajwees41
Premium
join:2002-05-10
Omaha, NE
»www.motorola.com/Video-Solutions···00_US-EN

the motorola's can do PIP per the above and most like need a firmware guide update.

Russ6

join:2011-03-17
Houston, TX
kudos:1
said by ajwees41:

»www.motorola.com/Video-Solutions···00_US-EN

the motorola's can do PIP per the above and most like need a firmware guide update.

In Ted Hodgins' "New Guide for Scientific Atlanta Cable Boxes" blog (»blog.comcast.com/2010/05/new-gui···nt-37924), he states PIP is not on the current feature roadmap and probably won't be in the future.

Also, the SA/Cisco DVRs support an external hard drive but the Motorola DVRs currently don't.
--
SA 8300 HD DVRs with Patched S25 Guide
Links:
'S25 Guide Blog' 'Schedule' 'Info' 'Patch Thread'

Russ6

join:2011-03-17
Houston, TX
kudos:1
reply to miscDude
said by miscDude:

said by ajwees41:

what make the hardware in cisco better than the motorola boxes?

A couple easy things are the RISC chips in the boxes have "traditionally" been more powerful than the chips in the Moto boxes. The Cisco boxes have also been able to do PIP.

Architecture wise, There is the whole dedicated QAM In-Band data carrier that was used to send code to the boxes (in basically completely images), guide, and a few other system items, which has left the OOB QPSK carrier free to just handle 2-way box traffic (done via IP) and System information such as channel maps, time, etc. On a motorola system, all traffic to the box is sent via the small OOB QPSK carrier, including box code. It means that managing data rates becomes a much more delicate balancing act in order to get everything to every type of box you have on the plant, while not impacting 2way traffic or time to load. It is because of this you run into the whole code-object aspect of the Motorola code (so you can only push what needs to be pushed and common objects don't get duplicated)... as well as one reason for the proprietary OOB communication protocols which are designed to deal with the limited bandwidth better than TCP/IP would.

Is this the reason why the new S25 guide takes a couple days to load the complete guide data when it is rebooted and the previous SARA guide loaded the guide data quickly when it was rebooted?
--
SA 8300 HD DVRs with Patched S25 Guide
Links:
'S25 Guide Blog' 'Schedule' 'Info' 'Patch Thread'

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
said by Russ6:

Is this the reason why the new S25 guide takes a couple days to load the complete guide data when it is rebooted and the previous SARA guide loaded the guide data quickly when it was rebooted?

Yes. SARA only sent about a days worth of guide in the OOB carrier, but sent the rest of the 7 days through the in-band data. when you turned off the box it tuned to the in-band and just pulled the full data there. Your data throughput for the guide information would be the equivalent of a dial-up connection vs. DSL.

S25 along with the Moto feel, goes with the Moto guide method of sending EVERYTHING thru the OOB. This means that they are sending the full 2 weeks of guide thru that dial up connection. In theory, it could handle it fine since it's ultimately just text, but because of the way it's constantly streaming they send the first day or so on a pretty regular basis, then day 2-7 less often, and finally days 7-14 maybe once a day. The idea is that no matter when a box gets connected to the plant, the overall guide load time would be about the same vs sending everything all at once which would result in a box maybe getting day 5 pretty quickly once powered, but then having to wait 8-10hrs for the beginning of the data with what's currently airing to come back around.

IMHO, while S25 definitely looks nicer than SARA did, they managed to import all of MOTO's shortcomings while not taking advantage of any of the SA/Cisco advantages. For the average customer however, it's still overall an improvement..... if nothing more, because if you live in a SA/Cisco plant you don't have to worry about customer service not having a clue how to tell you to get to someplace in the guide because the call center is located on a Moto plant.

Russ6

join:2011-03-17
Houston, TX
kudos:1
The main problem that I had with the S25 guide was that it would truncate recordings under certain conditions. See the Patch link in my signature for more information. Comcast had to stop development on adding features to the guide and instead send out a patch to fix this major issue and 2 minor issues. The patch fixed the truncated recordings issue and improved the other 2 minor issues. This has delayed future guide releases by at least a half a year and it could end up being even longer.
--
SA 8300 HD DVRs with Patched S25 Guide
Links:
'S25 Guide Blog' 'Schedule' 'Info' 'Patch Thread'

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
I've got my own feelings about S25. I'm going to try and keep my mouth shut regarding my opinions on it's readiness and/or the way it was/is being handled.


cypherstream
Premium,MVM
join:2004-12-02
Reading, PA
kudos:3
reply to miscDude
hey miscDude, long time no talk.

Do you know if Passport is handled the same way? With the SA Broadband Information Gateway (sometimes called the BIG QAM)?

Good thought from SA when they designed it years ago and sending BFS data over a full 6 MHz channel that the box tunes to when it's idle, but I think the future solution really would be DOCSIS. All the Advanced set top boxes have internal DOCSIS modems. Cablevision already orders their SA/Cisco with the DOCSIS version instead of the BIG QAM/DAVIC OOB version. IE) the SA4250 vs the SA3250.

But think of it this way... There's already 8 channels of DOCSIS in some areas because of DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding. Back in the day when you only had 1 DOCSIS channel maybe it wasn't smart to mix STB data with HSI data and rob customers of their service level agreements. These days I don't see any issue with using DSG (Docsis Set Top Gateway) with all the extra channels assigned to the CMTS. That's at least how Xfinity Spectrum works. I believe the Tivo on Moto experement that has come to an end also delivered the data via DOCSIS.

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
Pretty much any Guide designed to work on a Scientific Atlanta plant has traditionally used the in-band data carrier to send the guide information. Passport, Sara, and even TWC's guide (Mystro? NAvigator? I forget what they call it).

As for using DOCSIS, I actually think most SA boxes have had cablemodems imbedded for years, they just haven't been taken advantage of. As for how DSG boxes will end up working (Tru2Way... it's still out there, even if consumer electronic Manufacturers have kind of dropped their support), I don't know. I'm not sure if they are going to support a "send on request" kind of model for guide data [honestly, will the boxes have enough power for that kind of intelligence?], or if they'll stick to the existing data stream method with just moving the OOB carrier to what would be almost like a VPN tunnel on the DOCSIS carriers. They'd still end up having the room to increase the thruput rate with the extra bandwidth available, and could even create separate tunnels for the different types of data to more efficiently utilize the resources available.

the real question would then become what type of DOCSIS modems are in the devices? If they aren't DOCSIS3 modems, then they would still be limited to a single DOCSIS Downstream... so you'd either need to duplicate your tunnels across multiple downstreams, or make sure that all the STB's locked onto a single downstream frequency.


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
said by miscDude:

As for using DOCSIS, I actually think most SA boxes have had cablemodems imbedded for years, they just haven't been taken advantage of.
:
the real question would then become what type of DOCSIS modems are in the devices? If they aren't DOCSIS3 modems, then they would still be limited to a single DOCSIS Downstream... so you'd either need to duplicate your tunnels across multiple downstreams, or make sure that all the STB's locked onto a single downstream frequency.

I believe that Comcast's specs for their Residential Network Gateway (RNG) series of STBs by Cisco (SA), Motorola, and Pace require that they contain a DOCSIS (2.0?) modem.

Here is a Light Reading Cable article that discusses that:

Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential
Light Reading Cable - November 5, 2010
»www.lightreading.com/document.as···lr_cable


cypherstream
Premium,MVM
join:2004-12-02
Reading, PA
kudos:3
reply to miscDude
Interesting, ok thanks for the reply miscDude.

What I like about DirecTV (and most guides on SA boxes that aren't i-Guide), is that the data stays intact on reboot. However on those devices there's a 5 to 10 minute boot time - unlike i-Guide (at least on Moto - I never used it on SA). I-Guide is ready for channel surfing right away and acquires data in the background.

On my DirecTV if I reboot it, it goes through its bootup phase (self check, os load, check dish, acquiring data, rebuilding scheduler, then live TV). You end up staring at progress bars for 5 minutes or more while you wait for it to complete. However I have a full guide when it's back up (not to mention cool features like Pandora, YouTube, TVApps and an HD UI). Now if there's an issue with guide data causing a corruption, they have it programmed if you reboot it twice within a 30-minute time frame that it will flush the guide data and download it from scratch.

A similar model could theoretically be applied to cable DVR's since they have a disk they could store data to. However I did hear that more advanced guides will use the internal DOCSIS modem for things like poster art, social media connections, TVApps, etc... Here's a post from last November from Mari Silbey on ZNF regarding (at least Rovi's total guide) the STB Modem in use: »www.zatznotfunny.com/2011-11/rov···set-top/


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
A new blog post on the Multichannel News site about this:

Duopoly Demise: A World without Motorola or Cisco
By Gary Arlen, Multichannel News - March 5, 2012
»www.multichannel.com/blog/As_I_W···isco.php


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
OK, well, here we go again. Now the New York Post has an article today on Google wanting to dump Motorola's STB business:

Google looking to unload Motorola's TV set-top box business
NY Post - March 7, 2012
»www.nypost.com/p/news/business/p···zKw8aAZK

"This just in: The TV set-top box is on its deathbed.

Google is looking to unload the set-top box business it will inherit from Motorola Mobility even before it closes on the $12.5 billion acquisition, The Post has learned.

The move appears to be an about-face from last August, when Google CEO Larry Page, in announcing the deal, suggested the business would play a role in his plans for revolutionizing the living room.

Google isn’t the only player looking to get out of the business. As The Post reported exclusively last month, Cisco is also seeking to sell Scientific Atlanta, which along with Motorola has had a near duopoly on the set-top box business.

And at least two other smaller cable-box players, Pace and Thomson’s Technicolor, are also expected to test the marketplace by putting their businesses on the block, sources said."


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
An article on the Light Reading Cable site today about this:

Is the Set-Top Duopoly on Its Deathbed?
Light Reading Cable - March 7, 2012
»www.lightreading.com/document.as···r_cable&

"Getting out of the set-top box business appears to be the thing to do these days.

Following word that Cisco Systems Inc. wants to unload its set-top box unit comes a rumor that Google is eager to sell off Motorola Mobility Inc.'s box business even before the deal is consummated.

If both possibilities end up ringing true, then, ding-dong, the duopoly is dead. But, it's hard to blame them if they do indeed decide to bug out. The set-top box business isn't what it once was as margins drop and the traditional functions of the set-top box, including security, give way to set-top-free IP-connected TVs and tablets and more elegant software-based security systems that loosen their stranglehold on conditional access.

The set-top box is a dying breed, but the business isn't dead yet, nor will it be for many years. So, in the theoretical absence of the duopoly, what's domestic cable to do? Don't fret too much is a good starting point. Panasonic Corp. may have picked the worst time to exit the U.S. set-top box business, but there is no shortage of folks that are hungry to help cable operators bridge the chasm. Here are some of the leading candidates, plus a few dark horses."

[Followed by the author's list and discussion of the leading candidates and dark horses.]

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to miscDude
Hey miscDude, you seem to know a lot about the STB comms (let me guess, you're an embedded dev for them ). So can you answer a question I had in another thread - why don't the Moto boxes cache the guide data to flash so you don't have to wait a couple of days to reload it after a power outage? Seems pretty archaic and a hassle for the customer in these days of whole home DVR tech. At a minimum you could only cache a couple of days if flash memory was tight, then pull the rest in over time.

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
said by GTFan:

Hey miscDude, you seem to know a lot about the STB comms (let me guess, you're an embedded dev for them ). So can you answer a question I had in another thread - why don't the Moto boxes cache the guide data to flash so you don't have to wait a couple of days to reload it after a power outage? Seems pretty archaic and a hassle for the customer in these days of whole home DVR tech. At a minimum you could only cache a couple of days if flash memory was tight, then pull the rest in over time.

Well the first thing to remember..... there are still millions of legacy boxes (2000's and other older boxes) which are over 10yrs old out in the field. While the oldest boxes are starting to replaced as they are returned, there are still many many boxes out there that must be supported. Flash memory has only started to get to the maturity level that it could potentially survive the typical lifecycle of a cable STB (over 10yrs in the field with multiple write/erase cycles per day), or a cost level that it could POTENTIALLY be easy to justify the added functionality vs cost when you are talking millions of boxes being ordered/purchased at a time.

So the fact is, that while Flash memory could make some sense when looking at things today, 5 years ago it would've been a totally different story.... let alone 10yrs ago. Since you still have boxes designed and built out there in massive numbers, you must still support them and the way they were designed to work.

Also, as was mentioned before, Motorola code is designed that you have firmware specific to each box type, but then the "applications" such as the Guide software and other interactive clients (VOD/ etc) are pretty much universal and shared between the different box types and just hook into the API hooks built into the hardware specific firmware. (With exceptions such as for older box types with extremely limited memory availability, some newer advanced settops, etc). This simplifies things on the code development front since you can design/program one version of the app to work across several hardware platforms instead of designing completely separate apps for each type of hardware.... and is also a major OOB bandwidth saver since you aren't needing to push down unique versions of the apps for each box type in the field across the extremely limited pipe. As such, the code is often developed with the "lowest common denominator" approach to hardware/feature support; with some caveats. (You may see several versions of the app designed such as an "extremely low memory" version for ancient 2000 series boxes, "regular" flavored app for other legacy boxes, and then a "cablecard" version of the app designed for more recent motorola cablecard type boxes).

from both a marketting standpoint, and technical standpoint because of the OOB bandwidth constraints, It can be quite a big deal to get another revision/flavor of the core app approved to be added to a system which may add additional advanced features (such as the widescreen guide for HD boxes).

And I'm not even touching upon the time delays involved in getting new hardware with embedded rewriteable FLASH memory designed, tested, certified to be stable enough to be deployed to customers, purchased, distributed, and deployed to the field.

That answer your questions enough?

(remember.... this is all entirely conjecture based off my own opinions and understanding about some of the core facets on how things currently work.)

Russ6

join:2011-03-17
Houston, TX
kudos:1
Comcast is in the early process of rolling out On-Screen Guide 2.0 on new Cisco RNG 200-N to support AnyRoom DVR functionality in SA/Cisco set-top box markets. Currently, it is only available in about 6 states. This new guide will eventually be rolled out to all SA/Cisco RNG set-top boxes and modern Motorola set-top boxes that can support Tru2way and the new guide. The new set-top boxes haven't changed the way guide data is downloaded and since Comcast didn't add Flash memory to store guide data I don't think they will in the near future. Any set-top box that doesn't support either On-Screen Guide 2.0 or X1 (On-Screen Guide 3.0 - Xfinity Spectrum DVR) will eventually become a legacy box.
--
SA 8300 HD DVRs with Patched S25 Guide
Links:
'S25 Guide Blog' 'Schedule' 'Info' 'Patch Thread'


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
reply to miscDude
A follow-up blog item on the Light Reading Cable site today, on why Google may want to dump Motorola's STB business:

Why Google Will Dump Moto's Cable Biz
By Jeff Baumgartner, Light Reading Cable - March 8, 2012
»www.lightreading.com/blog.asp?bl···r_cable&

"2:05 PM -- If Google does indeed try to sell off Motorola Mobility Inc.'s set-top box business after the acquisition closes, why in the wide, wide world of sports would it stop there?

Moto's cable business also includes set-top modems, cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), edge QAMs, video servers and video software that's not Android. Does anyone really believe that Google, despite its interesting fiber experiment in mid-America, will want to hold on to any of that? I can't find anyone who does, despite Moto's defense of it.

As one cable insider put it to me: One of the big reasons why Motorola Mobility has kept the cable business around is because it's a short-term cash cow that's been funding its mobile handset business. "At Google, that motivation no longer matters. They have plenty of money," he says.

And besides not being a great fit at Google, Motorola's cable business probably doesn't have the kind of scale that's attractive to it. Moto's lumped-in cable business could pigeonhole a company that prefers to sell to the masses. While some cable guys like that Android might help them clear up their set-top box software issues, many in the industry simply don't trust Google, fearful that it will undermine what cable is trying to do on the set-top box.

From my discussions so far, there is widespread belief that Google is apt to saw off Moto's cable business and try to sell it off in whole or in parts, or just shut some stuff down.

The good news for Google is that it could find some buyers. Yesterday, we focused on some vendors that could help fill the gap with their existing set-top businesses. Today, here are some candidates that might flirt with buying part or all of Moto's cable business. (See: Is the Set-Top Duopoly on Its Deathbed? »www.lightreading.com/document.as···lr_cable )"

[Followed by the author's list and discussion of which companies may want to buy Moto's cable business.]


cypherstream
Premium,MVM
join:2004-12-02
Reading, PA
kudos:3
reply to Russ6
I think Tru2Way requires DSG. So data would flow along the 38mbps pipe DOCSIS channel vs. the constrained 2mbps OOB channel.

GTFan, if you want something with more modern technology, you'll have to get a system that works that way. A Media Center setup, Tivo Premiere, DirecTV HR24/ HR34, Dish Hopper/VIP722/622/etc...

Your barking up the wrong tree here. Maybe in the future that will change but for now, sorry man.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
Yes, I understand that completely. I use Tivos and WMC with Cablecards. I just wanted to know why Comcast is so far behind the curve here, but I can see from what miscDude posted that the least common denominator is indeed what they're stuck with.


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
An entry in Motorola's MediaExperiences2Go blog about the set-top's future:

The Set-Top’s Future
MMI's MediaExperiences2Go blog - March 8, 2012
»www.motorola.com/mediaexperience···-future/

"With recent buzz around Smart TVs, game consoles, and other connected devices, there is continued discussion around the question: is the set-top dead? As the world leader in set-top technology, it is a question we hear all of the time.

The answer from our perspective, of course, is a resounding, “NO!” It’s just the opposite — the set-top’s role is rapidly evolving – to become the entertainment hub in the Living Room. And, with the number of connected devices predicted to increase to +24 billion in 2020, we see a very bright future."

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
Heh, rapidly evolving? Yeah, but Comcast's deployments aren't, either for boxes or for software. I understand why, and it can't be easy for them.

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Kissimmee, FL
reply to GTFan
said by GTFan:

Yes, I understand that completely. I use Tivos and WMC with Cablecards. I just wanted to know why Comcast is so far behind the curve here, but I can see from what miscDude posted that the least common denominator is indeed what they're stuck with.

Also remember that it's also not just the Least Common Denominator on the hardware side. You also have to look at the support/customer side.

True, there are a ton of great features some of us would love to see/have on our cable box which are even readily available on non-MSO platforms today. But there is a HUGE number of Cable Subscribers who just don't like change of ANY sort.

some perfect real life examples we have seen here from threads started up over the past couple years....

The Digital Conversion/DTA's. Seems a no-brainer to most of us. Analog is a bandwidth hog and we'd love to see the extra internet speeds and more HD content. But how many people have we seen come in here bitching about the "new box they need to hook up" or the fact they have 8 TV's and Comcast is only giving them 2 free DTA's?

The Recent SARA-S25 conversion in SA/Cisco Markets. I think that anybody who has seen the old SARA guide will admit it was an ugly and clunky guide experience. S25 is ultimately a much better guide (if you can get past the PIP disappearing and/or numerous bugs). But how many complaints have we seen from people in SA markets complaining about the new guide? (not the Bugs, but the interface/look changes)

Sometimes around groups like this we forget that for a large majority of people, they just want to come home, flip on the TV, and enjoy vegging out watching their shows. If you change anything or give them something new to learn, it's going to annoy quite a few people.

This means that the MSO's need to be EXTREMELY careful when they deploy anything that drastically changes anything about their boxes or they could risk a large customer fallout experience, increased calls to the callcenters to complain, more truck rolls because of older people demanding a tech come and show they how things work now, etc etc etc.

In some ways, we even see Verizon and AT&T running into those same issues now. They are much newer products so their Guide experiences were able to be much more modern at launch since customers were making a conscious choice to switch to their services with the new interface and quirks. but as those products have started to mature, We haven't really seen any major changes because they also now have to consider Customer reaction to change in any interface or technology changes.


telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
reply to telcodad
A follow-up blog item on the Light Reading Cable site today, on a possible Motorola STB business purchase scenario:

Will Moto Go Back to the Future?
By Jeff Baumgartner, Light Reading Cable - March 9, 2012
»www.lightreading.com/blog.asp?bl···r_cable&

"4:45 PM -- We've outlined a few possible outcomes if Google should decide to sell all or part of its cable division, with some a bit more outlandish than others.

But there's another scenario involving a ghost of cable's past that's been circulating in recent weeks. It sounds not just outlandish, but maybe a little nutty. The scenario? How about Edward Breen swooping in to save Moto's entire cable business rather than seeing it chopped up and sold for parts?

Breen's already got a pretty good job. He's the chairman and CEO of Tyco International Ltd., which he joined in 2002. Before that he was the president and CEO of Motorola Inc., joining them in 2000 when Moto got into the cable business in a meaningful way via its acquisition of General Instrument Corp. (GI), where Breen was chairman, president and CEO -- the king, basically.

There are some different ways he could go about it. The less complicated path would see him leaving Tyco and rounding up some investors to make a play for Moto's cable division, which Google is expected to unload.

Or, he could stay with Tyco and make his play from there. But that one's a bit more of a tangled mess. It got a little less messy last November when Breen resigned from the Comcast Corp. board in part because he's also on the board of ADT Security Services Inc., a unit of Tyco's that creates an apparent conflict with Comcast's budding Xfinity Home business."

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

2 edits
reply to miscDude
said by miscDude:

said by GTFan:

Yes, I understand that completely. I use Tivos and WMC with Cablecards. I just wanted to know why Comcast is so far behind the curve here, but I can see from what miscDude posted that the least common denominator is indeed what they're stuck with.

True, there are a ton of great features some of us would love to see/have on our cable box which are even readily available on non-MSO platforms today. But there is a HUGE number of Cable Subscribers who just don't like change of ANY sort.

some perfect real life examples we have seen here from threads started up over the past couple years....

The Digital Conversion/DTA's. Seems a no-brainer to most of us. Analog is a bandwidth hog and we'd love to see the extra internet speeds and more HD content. But how many people have we seen come in here bitching about the "new box they need to hook up" or the fact they have 8 TV's and Comcast is only giving them 2 free DTA's?

Poor example IMO, because those complaints were perfectly valid to me. You had a large number of customers that suddenly found out they needed boxes for 'cable-ready' sets when they didn't need to before. I understand the reason why, but you have to look at it from the customer's point of view - something they got for free was taken away.

Same applies for the new effort to encrypt basic cable - people are going to be understandably pissed when they have to get boxes for every TV when clear HD QAM was working just fine for them.

I guess I'm proving your point, but not because of change in general - for both of these cases the issue is about the need for a box, not changes on the box itself. Comcast is woefully behind the curve on deployed DVR/STB features, but you are correct that most people just don't care.