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CableCARD Reference and Troubleshooting

Overview / General Information

General Information

In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act and charged the FCC with creating a more competitive market within the cable industry for set-top boxes (STBs), aka digital receivers.

The FCC mandated that cable companies separate the two key features of a digital box: navigation and security.

This meant that any manufacturer's navigation system (including any device that tunes and displays a cable feed) could be used with any cable provider's security system.

The CableCARD* was developed to incorporate all the necessary security functions needed to create a "conditional access" system to detect whether a user was authorized to view certain content and then to decrypt that content. Charter now offers CableCARDs for lease to customers.

A CableCARD is a security device that plugs into a Digital Cable Ready TV and permits reception of encrypted Digital services.  A CableCARD looks like the PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) card or PC Card typically used in PCs.  In the past, CableCARDs were initially referred to as "Point-of-Deployment (POD) modules," and that term may be occasionally used in Technical and Regulatory material.  Charter provides CableCARDs for a small monthly fee.

Motorola CableCARD

Motorola CableCARD

Scientific Atlanta CableCARD

SA CableCARD

IMPORTANT NOTE

Once installed, CableCARDs are addressable, meaning upgrades and changes to Cable Packages, as well as the addition of High Definition (HD) services, can be completed without a truck roll

* CableCARDs will not provide access to digitally encrypted channels in areas where Charter has implemented Switched Digital Video (SDV). In SDV areas, HDTV CableCARD customers will need an HD Receiver to view digitally encrypted channels. Customers using a CableCARD TiVo device will need to install a Tuning Adapter to view digitally encrypted channels.

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Features / Benefits

Analog and digital channels that are in the clear will be available through a CableCARD-Ready TV.  With the authorized CableCARD, you can receive encrypted video services that you subscribe to, such as HBO.  With the CableCARD, you will also be able to tune channels using the Charter assigned channel numbers.  The currently available CableCARD TVs and CableCARDs do not support interactive services such as Pay-Per-View, Video On Demand, iTV, or Interactive Program Guides.  That capability may come in future devices from consumer electronic manufactures using CableCARDs.

  • CableCARDs enable customers access to Charter Digital Cable without the use of a converter box 
    • Clear away some of the entertainment center clutter
    • Reduce the amount of cables being connected to the TV
    • Digital CableCARDs leased from Charter installed into CableCARD ready TV's do not support interactive services such as VOD, iPPV, and the On Screen Guide
  • CableCARDs work in 3rd party peripherals such as TiVo 
    • Customers are able to own their own set top boxes and DVRs while using CableCARDs to access Charter Digital Cable
    • Digital CableCARDs leased from Charter installed into 3rd party peripherals (such as TiVo) do not support interactive services such as VOD, iPPV, and the On Screen Guide
  • CableCARDs are the least expensive equipment option for service
  • CableCARDs have a cheaper monthly rate-Monthly rates and availability vary.  Please contact us at 1-888-438-2427 for pricing and to order.

Pricing

Leased CableCARD from Charter are $2.00 per month per CableCARD

Disclaimer

CableCARD customers subscribing to any service package in which Charter leased equipment is included in the package price, may receive a discounted price, reduced by an amount equal to/greater than the fee for such equipment not leased from Charter.  We lease CableCARDs for $2.00 per month per CableCARD for use in customer-owned retail CableCARD-ready devices.  Our leased digital receivers also include either a CableCARD or integrated security inside the device.  Our lease rate for digital receivers with CableCARD includes a $2.00 imputed charge for the included CableCARD.

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Obtaining

CableCARDs can be leased from Charter Communications and can be activated by professional installation or self installed.  M-stream CableCards can be picked up at our local sales and service centers or we can deliver one to your home.  For more information and requirements for self installing cable cards click here.

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Service Availability

Analog and digital channels that are in the clear will be available through a CableCARD-Ready TV.  With the authorized CableCARD, you can receive encrypted video services that you subscribe to, such as HBO.  With the CableCARD, you will also be able to tune channels using the Charter assigned channel numbers.  The currently available CableCARD TVs and CableCARDs do not support interactive services such as Pay-Per-View, Video On Demand, iTV, or Interactive Program Guides.  That capability may come in future devices from consumer electronic manufactures using CableCARDs.

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Removing

You must communicate any change in your status to Charter, just as if you were a regular cable television customer.  You may either return your CableCARD to your local Charter office or schedule a technician to come to your home to disconnect and retrieve any Charter equipment, including the CableCARD.

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Moving

If you relocate to an area with a different cable provider, simply turn in your CableCARD to Charter and obtain a new CableCARD from your new provider.  Essentially, you own the equipment and lease the CableCARD.

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Installation / Equipment

CableCARD Ready TV

A television that is capable of receiving analog basic and expanded channels as well as digital channels without a digital receiver box.

A CableCARD (the card that Charter will provide) is required for the customer to view encrypted programming such as HBO, Cinemax, Digital Tiers, Music Choice, etc.†

CableCARDs will not provide access to digitally encrypted channels in areas where Charter has implemented Switched Digital Video (SDV). In SDV areas, HDTV CableCARD customers will need an HD Receiver to view digitally encrypted channels. Customers using a CableCARD TiVo device will need to install a Tuning Adapter to view digitally encrypted channels. For more information on the Tuning Adapter, click here.

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Functionality

Many televisions are CableCARD-ready. If you have a CableCARD-ready TV and are interested in Basic, Expanded Basic, and/or Digital service and lease a CableCARD, call Charter for service.

The CableCARD-ready TV is connected to the cable system via standard coaxial cable wiring (RF cables) to the cable input port on the rear of the TV set.

CableCARD-ready TV

front card slot (like the one shown below) is generally a memory slot that is used for other purposes, such as showing pictures from a digital camera on the television.

  • Even though the CableCARD™ may physically plug into this slot, it will not function.

    Front-card-slot

In most cases, the CableCARD™ Input Slot (often labeled POD "point of deployment" or Cable Card) is located on the rear panel of the television as shown below.

Input slot

When the CableCARD has been installed into the television and activated, the television screen displays important information which must be gathered to form the decryption key to unlock digital service:

decryption key

  • CableCARD ID - This is the identification number for the CableCARD itself. Similar to a MAC Address for a modem—not to be confused with a hardware address that is shown on the equipment screen. The CableCARD ID is comprised of 13 digits.
  • Host ID - This is the unique identification number for the television set. This is a bonding number that allows the CableCARD and the television to function together. The CableCARD, once assigned, will only function with the unique television to which it has been assigned (i.e. it is non-transferable to other TV sets). The Host ID consists of 13 digits.
  • Data ID – This number is sent back to our headend—not only for tracking purposes, but also for pairing purposes and is directly associated with the Cable Card and the TV. The Data ID number is comprised of 11 digits.

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  • Therefore, if you move to an area of the country served by a different Charter system or cable operator, simply return the CableCARD™ to your current Charter system.
  • On the other hand, if the customer moves and stays on the same Charter system, the CableCARD is truly plug ‘n play and will work at any location without the need to re-provision…as long as it is on the same cable system and in the same TV.
  • The CableCARD is initialized for the original host TV, and will not work if it is placed in a different host (TV or other device). When moving the TV to a different location in the house, leave the card in the television.

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One-Way or Two-Way Receivers

Charter Communications offers customers various types of equipment which fall in two basic categories: One Way or Two Way signal receivers.

  • The primary difference between the two equipment classifications is that one-way receivers can only receive signal from the source while a two-way receiver not only receives a signal but also broadcasts signal responses back to the signal source.
  • Charter's CableCARD (an example of a one-way receiver) are able to receive cable signal information, but lack the ability to send signal information back to Charter.
  • As a one-way receiver, CableCARDs are unable to tune to digitally encrypted channels in areas where the Switched Digital Video (SDV) feature has been implemented. This impacts HDTV CableCARD and CableCARD TiVo device customers.
  • Customers with CableCARDs will, therefore, be unable to order IPPV or VOD programming or receive the Charter supplied i-Guide system (the digital on-screen menu/guide system for Charter programming) as these functions require signal response from the receiving unit to function. Customers with a CableCARD can order (call in and order by phone).
  • The majority of Charter's digital receivers are two-way signal receivers and, unlike the CableCARDs, have PPV, VOD, and i-Guide functionality.

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Setting Parental Controls

CableCARD customers must set parental controls on their televisions based upon the functionality available with their televisions models.   Customers must refer to their Television User Manuals provided by the television manufacturer for parental control instructions for their television model.  Parental Controls are not programmable through the CableCARD itself.

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Troubleshooting

Switched Digital Video (SDV)

SDV is a more efficient way to add new channel lineups on existing bandwidth by having digitally encrypted channels ‘switch out' when no one requests them and ‘switch in' when someone wants to watch them. On our current systems, all channels are transmitted to a customer's home and available for viewing at all times; but, only a percentage of these homes are actively watching a channel at a given time. On an SDV system, only the digital channel being watched is transmitted, or ‘switched in', to a customer's home at any given time. The unwatched channels are not transmitted, or ‘switched out', until one is tuned to for viewing.

CableCARD (CC) devices - including TiVo HD and Series3 DVRs - do not currently support SDV without the aid of a Tuning Adapter (TA). The Tuning Adapter enables access to the full spectrum of digitally encrypted channels on these devices. For more information on the Tuning Adapter, click here.

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Missing Channels

Before we can begin troubleshooting a CableCARD issue, we need to determine if the problem is a CableCARD problem or a line problem.

Please check the following:

  • Has Switched Digital Video (SDV) launched in this location? †
  • Is the problem happening on all channels?
  • Is this problem happening solely on channels above 100?
  • Has the CableCARD been switched to another television?
  • Has the CableCARD been removed from the television?
  • Has the customer unplugged the power from the TV, or has the power gone out?

If the problem is that there is a fuzzy or snowy picture, you will want to check cable wire connections.

Reminder: CableCARDs only decrypt digital signals (analog signals are not encrypted) so CableCARDs will not affect analog channels (local broadcasters, non-digital expanded basic channels) in any way.

If you are having problems with channels above 100, there could be a problem with the communication between the CableCARD and your television set. To troubleshoot this type of issue, follow these steps:

1. Television Power Cycle - Unplug the television with the CableCARD still in the television and keep it unplugged for no less than 60 seconds, then plug the TV back in.

  • This erases any improper commands stored in the TV's memory and restarts communication from the television to the CableCARD.

2. If the Television Power Cycle doesn't resolve the problem with the digital programming, then try to turn the television off, pull the CableCARD out of the television (typically located in the back of the television set).

3. Then turn the TV back on without the CableCARD. Verify that your channels below 100 are working properly. If yes, turn the television off again and replace the CableCard.

  • DO NOT REMOVE OR INSERT THE CARD WITH THE TELEVISION POWERED ON! The TV MUST be OFF!
  • This causes the television to attempt to re-gather the pairing information from Charter's system and reinitialize the decryption key.

Common CableCard Error Messages

Error Message:  "Tuning Adapter Missing"

Verify the tuning adapter is plugged in

Verify the tuning adapter is turned on

Error Message:  "Service Not Available" or "Temporarily unavailable"

service not available


channel unavailable

Error Message: "Please press SELECT (OK) to continue watching this channel" 

select ok to continue watching


press ok to continue viewing

Press Select (OK) to attempt to view the channel.

If the issue is not resolved, Please call Charter at 1-888-GET CHARTER (1-888-438-2427) for assistance.

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Card Not Functioning

Make sure card is plugged into the correct slot. The card plugs into the POD or CableCARD™ Interface on the back of the TV. Sometimes TVs come with a memory slot that will physically accept the CableCARD™. The card won't function in the memory slot, and you'll need to move it to the correct slot.

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Can't Order Video on Demand or Pay Per View

CableCARDs™ and CableCARD™ devices are currently 1-way devices. They do not send reverse signals upstream and so cannot be used with 2-way services such as PPV or VOD.  If you would like access to these services please contact us at 1-888-438-2427 to discuss and schedule a service visit to exchange your cable card for a digital receiver.

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Channel descriptions Don't Match TV Guide® Listings

The CableCARD™ TV acquires the channel map from Charter. This map is manually entered by each system and may or may not match TV Guide entries. The channel description field in Charter database can contain many more characters than the TV can display (typically 7 to 12 characters), so the names are usually very cryptic.

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New TV and CableCARD™ No Longer Works

Provisioning the CableCARD™ requires the card's serial number and information from the Pairing Screen.
The Pairing Screen shows:

  • CableCARD™ Security Certificate: ###-###-###-###-#
  • Host Security Certificate: ###-###-###-###-#
  • Data Security Certificate: ###-###-###-##
  • Unit Address: ###-#####-#####-###

The Data Security Certificate number is unique for every CableCARD™/TV pairing. When the TV was replaced, this number changed and needs to be changed in the provisioning system to fully enable the CableCARD™.   Please contact Customer service at 1-888-438-2427 to verify and correct the provisioning if necessary.
Dark Channel – This probably means that the CableCARD™ has not been properly provisioned to receive encrypted channels, or Charter needs to correct the information in our billing system.  Please contact us at 1-888-438-2427 to have a customer service representative check the account in the billing system. They will need you to verify the serial number of the card and the numbers from the Pairing Screen in order to make sure provisioning has been set up correctly.
Receiving "Pairing Screen" message -Two systems must be populated to permit the CableCARD™ to work properly – the billing system and our Charter network. If you switch to a channel and the TV shows the pairing screen, then the TV doesn't know how to process that channel. Please contact us at 1-888-438-2427 to have a customer service representative assist in resolving the Pairing screen message.

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Blank Screen

If you are experiencing a blank screen on your TV while using a CableCARD™, unplug the affected device (TV/DVR) from its electrical power outlet, wait at least 1 minute, then plug it back in.

Blank screen may also mean there is an authorization problem. CableCARDs™ are used to control copy protection capabilities and must be authenticated at a Copy Protection Management System (CPMS). Charter has several CPMS systems covering Charter customers. Please contact us at 1-888-438-2427 to have a customer service representative assist in resolving the blank screen.

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