[mythtv-users] Astound Unencrypted Channels

Yeechang Lee ylee at pobox.com
Tue Nov 20 08:52:16 UTC 2007

Brad DerManouelian <myth at dermanouelian.com> says:
> I'm in San Francisco and considering a move from DirecTV to Astound
> cable.

Search for my first name and "RCN" or "FireWire" in the list
archives. As of a few months ago, RCN San Francisco is now Astound.

> I'm wondering if anyone else uses Astound in the bay area and can
> tell me what I can expect to get for digital channels on my
> HDHomeRun or any other information about what I can get out of one
> of their STBs regarding digital stations and especially HD.

Over FireWire, everything one is subscibed to. Yes, that includes
premium channels. This was an RCN policy that Astound has inherited
(and may also practice elsewhere, as many smaller cable providers
reportedly do), and is why I originally chose RCN over Comcast.

Two caveats:

Analog (<100) channels haven't come in right over FireWire since late
September. A firmware upgrade on my DCT-6200 apparently caused the
problem; basically, FireWire feeds for these channels will shut down
after a minute or six. Before the cutoff, the audio is fine but the
video is a little fuzzy and the OSD is very fuzzy when, before, the
video was rock solid considering its analog conveyance. It's not a
copy-once (CCI/RC flags) issue; I've checked the diagnostics screen. I
do miss TCM and Cartoon Network but I of course much prefer still
having access to the digital, including HD, channels to the other way

KBWBDT (166) has its RCI/CC flag set to non-zero values, preventing
any access to it via FireWire. This occurred several months ago. I've
been in touch with technical support, and I've read the relevant
mailing list threads on the subject Joe Borne started last
month. Contrary to his findings, my research indicates that the CCI
(the infamous "broadcast flag") is set *by the broadcast station*, and
cable companies are required to pass it through without
alteration. This is consistent with what Astound technical support
told me after much befuddlement on their part. I have not yet tried to
contact KBWB about the issue, mostly becuase I have access to it over
the air.

I'd suggest you first try requesting a DCT-6416 (DVR) cable box;
you'll of course ignore its DVR functionality and just use it as a
FireWire box as I use my 6200s. However, if you find that either one
(or both) of these issues does not occur with the box, stick with it
and let me know; I'd probably want to swap myself. Otherwise, swap it
for a 6200 and save a few dollars.

I don't know for sure about QAM. I have a HDHomeRun for over-the-air
use that I did recently try, on a whim, QAM scanning with. I didn't
have and luck in finding valid channels but it's entirely possible I
just wasn't motivated enough to get it right, given how nice the
status quo is. Working QAM would, of course, render the CCI flag
moot. Again, let me know if you can get any/all channels via QAM.

Frontend/backend:	P4 3.0GHz, 1.5TB software RAID 5 array
Slave backend:		Quad-core Xeon 1.6GHz, 6.6TB sw RAID 6
Video inputs:		Four high-definition over FireWire/OTA
Accessories:		47" 1080p LCD, 5.1 digital, and MX-600

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