Outdated CableCARDs Limit TiVo Roamio Tuning Capabilities

Dave Zatz —  August 27, 2013


Considering a brand-spanking-new TiVo Roamio Plus or Pro DVR? You might want to hold off a few months. Cable providers who haven’t provided updated firmware for their CableCARDs essentially limit 6-tuner DVRs to 4 streams or pixelate video beyond recognition. Out of the box, beyond the obvious viewing issues, customers in this situation may also end up with a certain percent of unusable recordings and will be unable to fully flex their TiVo Mini whole-home muscles. Yet, for those who find themselves in this predicament, TiVo has provided a method to limit the number of tuners in use until the issue can be corrected. At the moment, the dysfunctional 4/6 CableCARDs appear limited to certain Comcast regions running Cisco/Scientific Atlanta gear with the MSO anticipating upgrade completion in October. Further, FiOS TV subscribers with pixelated content and Motorola cards numbered ######-002 should contact Verizon for replacement.


More detail from the support note quoted below and, if nothing else, this should provide good fodder for TiVo’s FCC CableCARD complaint.

The following CableCARD firmware versions are capable of handling six tuners:

  • Motorola CableCARDs — version 6.25 or later
  • Cisco/Scientific Atlanta CableCARDs — OS Ver: PKEY1.5.2.2801

Currently we have no data on compatible NDS or Conax CableCARD firmware. Nagravision CableCARDs can support four tuners only.

20 responses to Outdated CableCARDs Limit TiVo Roamio Tuning Capabilities

  1. Romio Plus and 3TB drive coming today…and NOW you tell me this? ;-)

    Looks like I have a Motorola M card….there are two entries for Firmware though…

    FW: 5.23
    FW*: 6.25 E 05

    Not sure what that means. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong screen.

  2. There’s speculation that TiVo transposed the numbers and by 2.65, they meant 6.25… in which case you’re golden. Or, you’re so many revs ahead, it doesn’t even matter. I’m not aware of anyone in your region reporting issues.

  3. Whew…I hope so.

    We’ll see if the cable card swap will work without having to dial in for another pairing…it worked last time I swapped TiVos.

  4. The pairing is usually only necessary for Copy Once channels like HBO.

  5. Thanks brennok! We only get expanded digital from Comcast, not any of the extra channels (HBO, Showtime, etc) and makes sense now. So that’s good news!

  6. Everyone with CableCARD firmware and Tuning Adapter firmware that does support 6 tuners should be thanking the folks at Ceton for their efforts at getting these CableCos to update the firmwares. I don’t know the extent of TiVos efforts, but Ceton has been on top of this for over a year now.

  7. I get my TiVo Roamio today. replacing 3 Premiere boxes and 3 cable cards with 1 Roamio Plus and 2 TiVo Minis. My cable card is a Motorola from Midcontinent Communications. I will let you know how it goes. Patiently waiting for UPS man. Thanks for the great site and news Dave!

  8. 3TB installed and updates applied. Swapped the cablecard to the new Roamio and all channels came with it. Tested recording 6 shows at once and that worked as well.

    I did need to call try try to get my month-to-month service transferred to the new device. TiVo offered me $12.99 a month with a year commitment, so I took that instead. Great service overall.

  9. Tivo has a procedure to enter specific codes so that the Roamio will only use 4 or 5 tuners in stead of six for the people that have cable cards with outdated firmware.

    I checked my FiOS cable cards in my Elites last night and they had the firmware needed for six tuners. Now if my Roamio Pro will just show up at bestBuy.

  10. Why on earth does this new state-of-the-art TiVo box (with six channel support and all) still require a Tuning Adapter? Did cable companies not learn their lesson from having to deploy those things on the previous TiVos? I would love to know what the cable companies spend supporting those things (having watched two Cox Cable guys spend a couple hours trying to get a second one working on a Premiere at my mom’s house, and that doesn’t count previous time spent getting the first one working on her TiVo HD). No wonder the customer support reps try to get her to swap out the TiVos for a Cox Cable DVR every time she calls.

    I would seriously consider replacing her existing TiVos with a Roamio + Mini if doing so meant not having to deal with Tuning Adapters any more. However, just the thought of having to go through one more round of Cable Card + Tuning Adapter setup headaches with a new Roamio make me want to avoid the whole thing.

    Shouldn’t we have support for bidirectional Cable Cards by now? :-(

  11. Bi-drectional support requires either IP back channel, negotiated and implemented on a per MSO basis, or an integrated DOCSIS modem (altho tru2way was DOA for retail)… I had nothing but problems with Cox+TiVo+Tuning Adapters – was so happy I was able to move to FiOS. Perhaps one day when analog is all gone and that spectrum is all reclaimed, SDV will just go away?

  12. @Steve,

    The answer Dave didn’t say is that the Cable Companies are a monopoly and defined the CableCARD standard this way on purpose to keep its implementation limited. Yes of course there should be standards for bi-directional communication by now, but there aren’t. Because they don’t want them.

    This isn’t even slightly TiVo’s fault. Its all big cable. Period.

  13. FCC’s fault too… took too little interest early on in CableCARD, didn’t have the teeth, and now discovering they may not have the power (or legal team to fend off industry).

  14. Got my Roamio Pro yesterday. Retired my ancient Series 3/HD TiVos. My old boxes had lifetime subscriptions. I put them on eBay after I ordered the Roamio. The sale of those boxes covered my Lifetime subscription of my new box. My biggest complaint with setting up the new box was not being able to transfer the Season Passes from my old boxes. I didn’t realize how many Season Passes I had. One other complaint I have is with the remote. They moved the guide button to where the select button used to be. Other than that, I am enjoying it.

  15. Cablevision also limited to 4 tuners – per their former CTO – Wilt – who is active on the cablevision Yahoo Group, the updated CC firmware is currently being tested. And yes, Cablevision + TiVo + Tuning Adapter was a mess. Lost connection that would kill recordings, 5-8 dBmV of signal attenuation from the TA itself, along with the blinking green light that was the harbinger of bad news.

  16. Joe, is there any way around the Season Pass transfer issues (to the new Tivo’s)? Or is that just going to be a casualty of the switch. That sort of sux if you’re talking about stuff like NFL RedZone.

  17. Why would they limit the plus and pro to exclude the OTA antenna? Deal breaker for me!

  18. Just in case anyone is still looking for it, there is a Season Pass Manager available on the tivo.com web site that can transfer shows (for example) from an old Series 3 to a new Roamio… https://www.tivo.com/apps/login/show.do?cams_original_url=%2Fapps%2Fspm.do

  19. It’s a nice theory… only about 2/3rds of mine worked after a few attempts to slide them into place. Perhaps they’ve fixed it, but the busted SPs seemed to have been related to shows that weren’t currently in the guide.

  20. I already set up most of mine from scratch on the Roamio (as I figured it was probably a good chance to lose a bunch of old passes that are no longer relevant), but I just moved a few more over using the SPM. It rejected a few that weren’t in the current program guide (though it also suggested that I might consider adding a keyword search for them). It could certainly be a little smarter, like offering to show only passes that don’t already exist on the new device…