Roamio and Premiere CableCARD Instructions and FAQ

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Your cable company provides the CableCARD and sends the necessary signals to make it work with your TiVo DVR. You need a CableCARD in order to view channels that require additional decryption such as digital cable, high-definition, and premium channels (such as HBO and Showtime).

IMPORTANT: The Roamio OTA is not compatible with cable service or CableCARDs.

Specially trained support agents are often available to help you install and troubleshoot your CableCARD, so the first step is to contact your cable provider. Click here for a list of cable companies and their contact information.

Your cable provider will need specific information from the CableCARD to assist you.Click here to learn what information you will need to prepare for your conversation with the cable provider.

After you have obtained your CableCARD, use the following instructions to install it:

CableCARD Installation & Activation


Installation

  1. Verify that all cables are connected correctly by following the instructions at How to Hook Up Your TiVo DVR.
  2. To ensure that your CableCARD installation runs smoothly, TiVo recommends that you complete Guided Setup on your TiVo DVR before the CableCARD is installed. If you are in Guided Setup and have arrived at the CableCARD installation portion, choose I'll get a card later and complete Guided Setup. That way, you have more flexibility in moving around the menus and checking Live TV for a signal.
  3. If you have completed Guided Setup, plug the CableCARD into the DVR.

  4. When you plug in the CableCARD, the CableCARD Decoder screen appears.

    Choose CableCARD options (for installers) > CableCARD Menu.

    If you had previously inserted the CableCARD, you can either unplug the CableCARD and plug it back in, or you can access the MMI screens as follows:

    From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Information > CableCARD Decoder > CableCARD options (for installers) > CableCARD Menu

Activation

  1. Determine the manufacturer of the CableCARD. The two most common brands are Motorola and Cisco/Scientific Atlanta, although you might occasionally see NDS or Conax.

    To quickly determine which brand of CableCARD you have, look at the options on the CableCARD Menu.

    CableCARD Menu screens by manufacturer

    Image Image Image

  2. After you determine your manufacturer, choose your CableCARD from the list to see activation instructions:

    Motorola Cisco/Scientific Atlanta NDS Conax


  3. If you have difficulty accessing the MMI screens, select CableCARD Troubleshooting below, then choose the symptom you are experiencing.

Use the link below for additional CableCARD support:

CableCARD Troubleshooting

IMPORTANT: Remember that before doing any CableCARD troubleshooting, you need to make sure the DVR is receiving a good signal from the headend. If there is a weak signal, the box might not receive pairing and activation hits from the cable provider. See Troubleshooting Digital Cable Signals: Roamio Series, Premiere Series, and Series3 DVRs for instructions on checking signal strength and quality.

I have a Roamio Plus or Roamio Pro, but not all of my tuners are working

There are two types of problems that will cause your Roamio Plus or Pro to lose tuner functionality-outdated firmware and copy-protected content.

Outdated firmware

CableCARD firmware

CableCARDs must meet minimum firmware requirements to support the 6-tuner functionality of Roamio Plus and Pro. If your CableCARD firmware is outdated, your Roamio Plus or Pro will only have four tuners available for use. However, the DVR will continue to schedule recordings as if all six tuners were working, which will result in missing or blank recordings from the two non-functional tuners.

NOTE: If you choose to, you can manually disable tuners to avoid blank recordings. Just follow the instructions in the next section.

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

  • Motorola CableCARDs-version 6.25 or later
  • Cisco/Scientific Atlanta CableCARDs-OS Ver: 1.5.3.1101 or later
  • NDS: VGUARD3.0.7_F.p.0601

To check your Motorola CableCARDs firmware version:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > CableCARD Decoder > CableCARD options (for installers) > CableCARD Menu > CableCARD Status

To check your Cisco/Scientific Atlanta CableCARD's firmware version:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > CableCARD Decoder > CableCARD options (for installers) > CableCARD Menu > SA CableCARD Diag Screen

To check your NDS CableCARD's firmware version:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > CableCARD options (for installers) > CableCARD Menu > Conditional Access

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

If you have a good connection between your DVR and the cable headend, your CableCARD should update automatically.

Tuning Adapters

If you have trouble getting your channels through a tuning adapter connected to a Roamio Series DVR, check the adapter's firmware version:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Account & System Info > Tuning Adapter

If you hava a Motorola tuning adapter, it requires firmware version xxx.39 or later (where xxx might be MTR_PLATO1 or a similar string of characters). The important thing is that the digits at the end of the string are 39 or greater.

If you have a Cisco/Scientific Atlanta tuning adapter, it requires firmware version xxx.1901 or later (where xxx might be STA1.0.0_1520_BDSG.LR_F or a similar string of characters). The important thing is that the digits at the end of the string are 1901 or greater.

Copy-protected content

The other reason you might not be able to use all 6 tuners is a software bug that impacts copy-protected material. When you view or record a copy-protected program, your CableCARD might go into a state where it can only support 5 tuners. You will be able to use all 6 tuners when you finish watching or recording the copy-protected content.


I don't have a 6-tuner-compatible CableCARD, or my CableCARD won't update its firmware

Contact your cable provider to get a new CableCARD that will support six tuners. In the meantime, you must set your Roamio Plus or Pro DVR to use four tuners. Use the following process to set the number of tuners your Roamio uses:

From TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Settings > Channels > Channel List

While viewing the Channel List screen, enter one of the following number sequences on your Roamio remote control to set the maximum number of usable tuners:

  • 88634 (the Roamio will use four tuners)
  • 88636 (the Roamio will use six tuners)

You should hear "dings" representing the newly configured tuner count. Once your CableCARD has the appropriate firmware version, switch back to six tuners.

The DVR reboots when a CableCARD is inserted

Go to My DVR reboots when a CableCARD is inserted.

MMI screens are blank

  1. Remove and reinsert the CableCARD. Try to access the MMI screens by following the instructions at CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens, or contact TiVo Technical Support for further assistance.
  2. Occasionally, rebooting the DVR is enough to get the DVR and the card to communicate. Unplug the power cord from the DVR for 10-15 seconds, then plug it in again.
  3. If trying multiple CableCARDs and/or restarts don't resolve the issue, contact TiVo Technical Support for further assistance.

ERROR: "Your card is not in normal operation"

This message can appear briefly when you first plug in a CableCARD, and is caused by the card going through its normal initialization process. This does not indicate damage to the CableCARD. After as initialization is complete, the message will be replaced with the MMI screens and you can continue activation.

ERROR: "Upgrading CableCARD" or "Updating Firmware"

When a CableCARD is getting a firmware update, the DVR displays the message "Upgrading CableCARD. Press SELECT for more info." Here are a few things to note about CableCARD firmware:

  • Firmware is software that is stored in the CableCARD's hardware. When you insert a new CableCARD into the DVR for the first time, the card often downloads a firmware update. This process can take up to one hour.
  • If the process takes more than an hour, or the update stops and then restarts, the firmware update failed and the CableCARD is unusable. You will need to contact the cable provider to get a replacement CableCARD.
  • If the CableCARD has not yet been activated, the configuration screen appears immediately after the update is complete. The cable provider can then activate the card. If the CableCARD was already activated, it will resume working as usual after the update is complete.

WARNING: Firmware updates are sent through the cable connection, and cannot be controlled by your DVR. Do not remove the CableCARD or unplug the DVR while an update is in progress. Doing so could permanently damage the card.

ERROR: "The cable company has not provided information for this CableCARD…"

This message means that the CableCARD was not set up correctly before being given to you. You will need to contact the cable provider to replace it with a correctly staged card.

A black and gray screen with "This screen is displayed on behalf of your cable provider..."

If a black and gray CableCARD screen pops up when you tune to a copy-protected channel, the CableCARD is unpaired. Typically, this screen contains the card information needed for activation and pairing, such as the host ID and other relevant information.

If this screen appears, call your cable provider to activate and pair the CableCARD. See CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens for troubleshooting instructions, or contact TiVo Technical Support for further assistance.

ERROR: "Problem with the signal on this cable channel"

This error message indicates that the CableCARD is not inserted, is unpaired, or that some other physical or environmental issue is preventing the DVR from getting the cable signal.

  1. Verify that the coaxial cable is connected correctly to the CABLE input, not the ANTENNA input.
  2. If you have a tuning adapter from your cable company, disconnect it and run the coaxial cable directly from the wall to the DVR. If you are able to see TV with the tuning adapter disconnected, see Tuning Adapter Troubleshooting for troubleshooting instructions, or call your cable provider to troubleshoot the tuning adapter.
  3. A weak or poor-quality signal from the headend can cause this error. Go to Troubleshooting Digital Cable Signals on Roamio Series, Premiere Series, and Series3 DVRs to check the cable signal strength and quality.
  4. Go to CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens to confirm that the CableCARD has been correctly activated and paired, and that the channel is authorized.

ERROR: "Searching for signal" or blank screen

This error message appears when the DVR can't detect a signal from the cable headend. Sometimes there will be no error message-only a blank screen.

  1. Check the coaxial cable and verify that it is correctly connected and not defective.
  2. After verifying that the coaxial cable is connected correctly, go to CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens to confirm that the CableCARD has been properly activated, paired, and that the channel is authorized.
  3. If the error persists, make sure you have selected the correct lineup. If the lineup is correct, repeat Guided Setup.

ERROR: "Please wait… Acquiring Channel Information"

This message means that the CableCARD is trying to download a channel map. You will see it when:

  • there is no connection to the cable headend and the card was unable to be activated
  • the wrong lineup has been loaded for the channels you are trying to view
  • the channel map has not been loaded

If you have just installed the CableCARD, the channel map might take a few minutes to load. Sometimes, however, the "acquiring channel information" process is stuck at 50% or 75% and won't move, even after waiting several hours and/or restarting the DVR. This can indicate that there is no connection to the headend, or that card has been incorrectly activated or paired. Be sure to check the coaxial connection between the DVR and the wall. If it is connected correctly, go to CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens and follow the instructions to activate and pair the card. Pay particular attention to the MMI screen that tells you whether you have a connection to the headend (this screen varies by CableCARD manufacturer).

If the MMI values indicate that the card is activated and paired correctly, but the error message still appears in Live TV, contact TiVo Technical Support.

ERROR: "Channel not authorized - Please contact your cable provider"

This error message appears when the CableCARD is missing information about which channels are on your cable package.

  1. If you have a tuning adapter from your cable company, disconnect it and run the coax cable directly from the wall to the DVR. If you are able to see TV with the tuning adapter disconnected, see Tuning Adapter Troubleshooting for troubleshooting instructions, or call your cable provider to troubleshoot the tuning adapter.
  2. Verify that the card is activated and paired, and that the channel is authorized (see CableCARD Troubleshooting: Accessing Roamio and Premiere MMI Screens for instructions).
  3. Occasionally, the "Channel not authorized" message is caused by low signal strength, which can introduce errors into the signal stream and prevent the CableCARD from decrypting the channel. Go to Troubleshooting Digital Cable Signals on Roamio Series, Premiere Series, and Series3 DVRs to check the cable signal strength and quality.
  4. If the MMI screens show that the CableCARD has been successfully activated, paired, and authorized, a problem with your cable account might be the cause of the error. Contact your cable provider's billing department to resolve the issue.

My CableCARD channels and program guide data do not match

Go to CableCARDs: My CableCARD channels and Guide data do not match.

161-x Errors

If you see an error code that starts with 161-x (for example, 161-4), and are in the process of activating a new card, wait for an hour to see if the error clears itself after activation is complete. Otherwise, contact TiVo Technical Support for assistance.

30xx Errors

These errors occur only on NDS and Conax CableCARDs. They refer to the SmartCard, which is a SIM card that is installed into the CableCARD- not the CableCARD itself. If you see a 30xx error:


  1. Remove and re-insert the SmartCard (with the yellow arrow facing up and pointing into the slot) into the CableCARD.
  2. Restart the DVR by unplugging the power cord for 10-15 seconds, then plugging it back in.
  3. If the error continues, ask your cable provider to exchange the CableCARD and SmartCard together.


The only exception to these instructions is error code 3008, in which case you might have just inserted a new SmartCard. If so, follow the instructions that came with your SmartCard.

For general information regarding CableCARDs, see the link below:

CableCARD FAQ

Why do I need a CableCARD?

About the size of a credit card, a CableCARD is a plug-in card that is inserted into a slot on your DVR so you can receive digital cable channels. CableCARDs are supplied by your cable provider and enable your DVR to unscramble your cable provider's encrypted signal. After installation and activation, a CableCARD communicates with your local cable system and delivers all the high-definition and digital cable channels included in your cable TV subscription package.

When a CableCARD is inserted into your TiVo DVR, and activated with a phone call from the customer (or installer), the cable provider's agent sends a signal to the CableCARD, pairing (binding) it to the DVR, and authorizing the CableCARD to decrypt and unlock the digital channels to which the customer currently subscribes.

If you do not insert a CableCARD decoder into your DVR, it will still receive antenna and standard definition analog cable channels. It will also receive broadband content, as long your DVR is connected to the Internet through your home network.

Who makes the CableCARDs?

CableCARDs are made by one of four manufacturers: Motorola, Scientific Atlanta/Cisco, NDS, or Conax. These manufacturers also make the equipment that is installed at the local cable facility, called the headend. Like cable boxes, CableCARDs must be registered on the cable system and be compatible with the other hardware in the headend. For these reasons, you must obtain CableCARDs from your cable provider.

What kind and how many CableCARDs do I need?

You need one multi-stream CableCARD (M-card). Single-stream CableCARDs (S-cards) are not compatible with Roamio Series or Premiere Series DVRs.

How do I get a CableCARD?

You must call your cable provider to obtain a CableCARD. While some cable companies offer CableCARDs to their subscribers for free, others might charge a nominal monthly fee, usually a few dollars per month-significantly less than they typically charge for the lease of a basic DVR. Contact your cable provider for details.

Federal law mandates that all major cable companies provide CableCARDs to their digital-cable subscribers, and that they allow the customer to self-install the cards with no need for a professional installer. If you experience any difficulties with getting a CableCARD, or are told that a service technician must install it, refer to the August 2011 CableCARD FCC Enforcement Advisory. If you would like help with resolving the issue, call TiVo Technical Support and we will initiate a three-way call with your cable provider to expedite setup.

Can I set up my DVR if I don't have my CableCARD yet?

Absolutely! When going through Guided Setup, you can choose to install a CableCARD now, or at a later time. If you don't have your CableCARD yet, choose "I'll get a CableCARD later." You will not be able to view encrypted channels, but you can still use online apps and other features.

Even if you have a CableCARD ready to install, TiVo recommends that you choose I'll get a CableCARD later and finish Guided Setup. Doing this ensures that the DVR can connect to the TiVo Service to download the latest software update and the program guide data for your lineup-both of which will help with CableCARD installation. See the CableCARD Installation section for full instructions.

(Clear QAM) Why does my DVR need a CableCARD to display some unencrypted channels?

Some cable providers include unencrypted channels in their cable lineups. These channels usually are rebroadcasts of ATSC (antenna) channels. If you perform a channel scan, these unencrypted channels (which are also known as "clear QAM channels") appear in your channel list, and your DVR can tune to them, but you will not receive program guide data for them unless you obtain a CableCARD from your cable provider. Here is why CableCARDs are necessary for clear QAM channels:

  • Unlike analog channels, which are mapped to fixed base frequencies to comply with industry-wide broadcast standards, digital channels can be broadcast on any frequency your cable provider chooses, and the frequency can be changed at any time.
  • Tribune Media Services, which provides program guide data to TiVo, does not collect tuning frequency data from cable providers.
  • As soon as a CableCARD is installed and activated, the card downloads a channel map from your cable provider that tells the DVR which frequency to tune to in order to display each channel in your lineup. With this information, the DVR can match the program guide data with the tuning frequency.
  • Without the CableCARD channel map, the DVR cannot automatically tune to the correct channel to begin a scheduled recording. This means that without a CableCARD, you can only record a program on a digital channel by pressing the Record button while the show is playing in Live TV.

This article covers CableCARD information for Roamio Series and Premiere Series DVRs. If you have a Series3, HD, or HD XL DVR, click here.

If you have a Series2 or earlier DVR, you don't need a CableCARD. Instead, refer to My cable provider says I need new equipment to view some of my channels and follow the instructions for your DVR model.

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