Tivo Blues – Thanks to Suddenlink

I’ve long been wanting a Tivo and finally got one for Christmas. For 3 days we all had fun learning the system, setting up recordings, fast-forwarding through commercials, Tivo Logoplaying stored programs. Then today it all came crashing down. We turned on the TV and nothing worked. No signal from Tivo, no signal from cable.

I called Tivo support and after checking all the obvious possibilities, they determined that my cable company was blocking access to all channels and that I would have to get them to install cable cards. Well, this seemed hardly possible. In none of the material I read did I see that cable cards were required in order to allow Tivo to work. I asked the Tivo support person if the cable cards would cost extra and she assured me they would not.

So, I stopped by Suddenlink (my only choice for cable service) and talked to them about this. It turns out that yes, after Suddenlink found out about our new Tivo they started blocking access thus requiring these cable card installations. It also turns out that Suddenlink charges $60 to install them and $2.00 per month service charge! It gets worse: Apparently they can’t guarantee the cards will work. Huh? They have a policy to block channel access to Tivo that requires cards that may not work. Is that legal? But wait! It gets worse! Apparently Suddenlink doesn’t have any of the cable cards that are in working order. And they couldn’t tell me when they would have them.

So, after spending hundreds of dollars on the Tivo box, another $130 on the Tivo service I have a lump of useless hardware, that I may or may not ever be able to make work because my only cable company is either totally inept or evil. Perhaps both.

32 comments for “Tivo Blues – Thanks to Suddenlink

  1. 12/29/2007 at 9:29 am

    How did they find out?

  2. Bob
    12/29/2007 at 9:45 am

    I don’t know the technical details, but apparently it’s an automatic periodic scan of the system. Totally automated.

  3. Anonymous
    12/29/2007 at 10:40 am

    Pure evil.

    If can you “morally justify” it, Miro + TVRSS = Free Tivo.

  4. gary
    12/29/2007 at 12:24 pm

    Bummer…with Dish Network I have a DVR, which is great, but I’m unable to get any of the basic networks.

  5. Jay Koster
    12/31/2007 at 2:02 am

    What is the difference between Tivo and SuddenLink DVRs?

    Price-wise, equipment-wise, etc?

  6. Bob
    12/31/2007 at 8:39 am

    It’s hard to know what the difference in terms of service. But to use their DVR system it’s $22.95/month. That includes leasing of their box. I’m sure the reason they make it difficult to get Tivo is they want you buy their DVR service.

    Would love to hear from someone who has Suddenlink system and how they like it.

  7. 12/31/2007 at 10:55 am

    I have been a Suddenlink customer for about a year now. I started with a standard digital package with DVR. It worked fine. My only complaint was that THREE times my box just stopped working…completely. The only “fix” was to replace the box. This didn’t cost me anything minus losing ALL of my stored programming.

    A month ago I got a LCD HD TV. So, of course, I switched to a HiDef DVR. I have had no problems.

    Tivo does have more options. I’m not entirely sure what these are.

    A friend of mine has Suddenlink and HIS OWN DVR. He uses a ReplayTV system. Much like Tivo, he owns this system. The best part about it is, he can rip stored shows to his PC. His system can never be to full. You run out of room, rip it. Of course if one wanted to… you can rip and burn anything you want.

  8. Bob
    12/31/2007 at 12:48 pm

    Cost is one big difference. Assuming the Tivo box lasts a few years, it will take at least 4 year to start saving money with Tivo.

    At $22.95/mo. the cost for a year of Suddenlink DVR $275.40. The Tivo I got cost $300. Plus $130 for a year of service. So, that’s $430 for the first year and $130/yr thereafter. In 2 years I will have paid $560 for Tivo. But with the extra Suddenlink charges ($60 install of the cards, plus $24/year service charge, plus we ordered a $60 wireless adapter for the Tivo) that’s $728 over 2 years vs $550.80 for the Suddenlink DVR. However, the 3rd year is $154 for Tivo and still $275.40 for Suddenlink (assuming neither changes prices).

    When I total it up, after 4 years, Suddenlink will have cost $1,101.60. Tivo will have cost $1036. Not much of a savings.

    And by then, the whole landscape of TV and how we receive it will have changed.

  9. 12/31/2007 at 3:06 pm

    I hear you Bob. One more big thing to consider is HD programming. Suddenlink offers a total of 12 HD channels (if you buy the additional Showtime and/or HBO packages). I think that I’ll be switching to Sat TV very soon. I can’t see owning a high dollar HDTV and not watching HD programming. Good luck coming to a decision. BTW like you were saying about everything soon changing, I agree. We should all be making short term decisions for now. I think that once AT&T’s Uverse is available here, it’ll be huge.

  10. Bob
    12/31/2007 at 6:40 pm

    The problem with satellite is you don’t get local channels as I understand it. We’ve thought about that route as well. Our neighbors have DirecTV but also basic cable for the local channels. That’s just way too many remotes for me.

    Do you know something about the AT&T service? I imagine it will be quite a while before that reaches the north coast.

  11. 1/2/2008 at 10:17 am

    A friend of mine also has DirecTV & Basic Cable. I can’t see doing that either. True, you can’t have local networks with Sat. For me, I don’t think I’ll care a whole lot. If I get my NBC etc. from New York or LA, big deal. At least I wouldn’t have to suffer any more Raider/Niner games. As for News Channel 3, they run their broadcast online. I think that the only thing I would miss is local TV commercials, either for their informative nature or sheer entertainment.

    I have a friend that works for AT&T in the Bay Area and he has no idea of a possible time-line for Uverse. Although I did sign up for any updates about Uverse in our area via their website.

  12. Houstonian
    1/29/2008 at 2:35 pm

    Not true that DirectTV doesn’t have local channels. They have them in most major metro areas in both HD and vanilla flavors.

  13. Cleave
    9/2/2008 at 9:48 pm

    I think I can shed some light on some of this confusion. I have been a Tivo customer since the first model (about 13 years ago?). When I made the move to HD here was my setup: 3 Tivo units, all connected to Suddenlink cable (NOT Digital, NOT HD). When I decided to convert my “expanded cable” service to digital cable with HDTV channels, I disconnected one of my Tivo’s for the Suddenlink DVR.

    First let me express my greatest frustration (this may be hard to understand if you don’t or have never owned a Tivo but…) The providers DVR’s, Home Media PCs, etc are NOT Tivos. I think the brand name, Tivo has become like “Kleenex” and used to mean anything that records TV. This cannot be further from the truth. I cannot tell you how maddening it is to walk into Suddenlink and ask how there service is going to work with Tivo and they say, “Oh, you will just use our Tivo.”

    If you’re not familiar with Tivo, here is the biggest difference, Tivo is a SERVICE that works in conjunction with Tivo hardware, it is not the hardware itself. You can subscribe monthly, annually, or with some devices you can purchase a lifetime subscription. The Tivo box connects to this service via the Internet or telephone lines and downloads regular program information and more.

    I just don’t think you can compare a Tivo with a Suddenlink DVR. They both record shows, allow you to pause LIve TV, and thats where the similarities end. I won’t get into the integration with my desktop computer, and the ability to download content from the Internet, but let me mention just one important feature; Tivo learns what you watch and keeps the storage drive filled with programs you might like. For example, if you regularly record ER, and have space available unused by recordings you scheduled, Tivo may record a few episodes of House, MD. The Suddenlink DVR (usually made by Pace) only records what you specifically tell it to, and as many have learned; it doesn’t even do that very reliably.

    So, I begrudgingly scheduled the installation of the Suddenlink DVR because I am evidentially too stupid to install it myself; and enjoyed HDTV but sorely missed the myriad of Tivo features. In fact, I probably missed the Tivo user interface most of all. It was a royal PAIN to find a program with the Suddenlink box. With Tivo, I could find anything easily, or even setup my recordings online. But even with all this, the biggest problem was that the Suddenlink box just would not work. Usually in the middle of a football game when I had guest over. It would just go to the Weather Channel and stop. They came out and replaced it four times. Then I ordered a Tivo HD box.

    I was aware that I would have to get a CableCard from Suddenlink and I dreaded it because every previous dealing with them confirmed the internet consensus that they are booger-eating morons and they didn’t’ let me down when it came time to get my cards. As other posters have experienced, they would not give me the card to put into the Tivo, they sent someone out who had never seen a Tivo or installed a CableCard and charged me $70 bucks for the “installation”.

    Here’s how the “installation” went. I showed the tech where the CableCard slides into the front of the TivoHD, he put it in there and asked me to sign the work order. I asked if we should check some channels first and the “installer” told me, “Well, if they don’t work there is really nothing we can do because we don’t support Tivo.”

    I told him goodbye and that I would take my chances getting it to work. It didn’t of course, and I started calling Suddenlink customer service.

    I hope that someone that is about to take this on finds this post like I did and if so, here is the only perl of wisdom I can share, When you call Suddenlink and are told that they can’t support CableCards or Tivo, just hang up and call back, and back, and back until you find someone that wants to be helpful (it may take a few calls.)

    I called Tivo and they confirmed everything was working like it was supposed to on the Tivo end and they told me to ask the cable company to re provision the card, When I finally found someone at Suddenlink willing to work with me, they did this and everything magically came up and has been working flawlessly for 7 months. I love the TivoHD and highly recommend to anyone suffering through those awful Suddenlink DVRs and their excessive monthly charge to get one. Especially when Tivo runs it’s Lifetime Service offers. It will take about a year to pay for itself and then it’s just the $3 monthly charge from Suddenlink for the privilege of renting the credit card size key that unlocks the channels I pay for separately.

    Tivo good. Suddenlink bad.

  14. 9/11/2008 at 7:07 pm

    Hey BOB !
    Not completley true about the local networks – go to http://www.mydistantnetworks.com
    If you are in an area thats say out in the boonies – and you can’t get a regular TV signal ofer the antena – then YOU CAN GET WAIVERS! Its not easy but it can be done thru Dish Network, Of course you can just tell them you will pay for it and they will turn it on too – Ive seen that happen….

    Dishnetwork has a great picture – (blows away Suddenlink ) and Is also cleaner than any Dtv signal I have seen, although I admit I havent seen DirectTV’s high Def package in person…

    Dish network has DVR – get the dual tuner – tell them you are only using it in single mode – and you can DVR two different programs at once ! I also went a step further and spent a hundred bucks on a pocket dish (20 gig hd with small viewing screen) now I can easly transfer my DVR recorded programs to the pocket dish to my PC and burn them for storage – they arent Rippable – but oh well (they used to be but not any more) – Its great to take something that you dvr’ed to your friends house and use three rca plugins to your buddies tv and play that DVR event easly – the pocket dish also handles files AVI and Mpeg, so you can use to view those to – they have several sizes to choose from if you want bigger screen to view on the go – the hundred buck one is only like 2×2 or somthing – …

    I am curently having problems with Suddenlink High Speed internet – Its slow from 6 pm till like 1 am – cant even google at times – 400ms times are killing my high speed enjoyment – have been trying to get Suddenlink to fix it but word is they have just sold more internet connections than they can really handle – GET OFF THAT WALLET Suddenlink and please BUY MORE BANDWITH!!!


  15. 9/11/2008 at 7:10 pm

    Any one with Suddenlink who would like to see my traceroutes and lack of High Speed connection I am refering to, can see it at

    If you too are having problems with Suddenlink and can run trace routes to show the problamatic connection please send them to me and Ill post yours there too in effort to get some one to pay attention to us who arent getting High speed from thier ISP SUDDENLINK!

  16. Bob
    9/14/2008 at 4:05 pm


    Good information. BTW, I have never heard from Suddenlink about their CableCards. I gave up.

  17. The Dude
    1/6/2009 at 7:17 pm

    I have Suddenlink and Tivo with no issues. This is my set up: From the wall I have the cable run to the cable box, then from the cable box to my Tivo, then from the Tivo to the tv. you have to have the remote conrol wire from the tivo to the front of the cable box installed so the tivo can controll the cable box. With that I have no issues what so ever.

    Good luck to you.

  18. CrazyCleave
    1/7/2009 at 4:31 pm


    Are you using CableCards in your Tivo, or just regular (analog) cable?


  19. 4/25/2009 at 3:33 pm

    I have suddenlink cable. It’s so great to see 1 of their “HARD IS” commercials every 15mins. I stopped watching late @ night because of their CABLE THEFT commercials also. Hard is paying $60 + a month for this ignorance. Sad that i can’t watch history channel or discover & learn anything, but more about suddenlink broadband.

  20. Zaphod
    9/1/2009 at 7:34 pm

    I have Suddenlink and an HD TiVo. As well as three other Tivo’s, including the original one that I bought back in 1998 for around $1500 (yikes). It did take Suddenlink three trips and two different Techs to get my CableCards working, but it’s now been running fine for almost three years. I love TiVo and wouldn’t want to watch TV without it.

    I was also a DirecTV subscriber for 10 years. TiVo 1st and 2nd Generation worked fine with them, but when they quit making the DirecTiVo and the HD 3G TiVo came out, I switched to Digital Cable.

    I’m happy with my setup, you just need to keep working with Suddenlink until they get your cable cards working.

  21. Jared
    2/22/2010 at 3:42 pm

    I have had Suddenlink for a while now. I have home phone,internet and cable with them. My service is working out fine. I don’t have problems at all.

  22. 5/6/2010 at 9:41 pm

    been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your publish. and now how do i subscribe to your weblog?

  23. 5/17/2010 at 10:47 pm

    How can any company have such bad customer service. I just say on the phone for 30 min

  24. Mark Funderburg
    6/2/2010 at 4:43 pm

    After 30 minutes on hold, you then get someone who has no idea what they’re talking about. When you question them they ask their supervisor who repeats the ridiculous claims. I was told that ALL Tivos will work with the digital service without any additional equipment (by at least 5 different people). One person told me that you connect the cable to your TV (that has a digital tuner) and then from the TV into the Tivo. I’ll most likely be canceling my cable service and watching everything online. With ABC, NBC, CBS, Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, ect, I don’t need the cable company.

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  26. Nonyadamn Bidness
    10/7/2010 at 7:47 pm

    The people at Suddenlink are in direct violation of the Telecommunications Acts of 1992 and 1996, and with presented with that information, Pete Abel and his little buddy Michael McKeen have refused to correct the problem. (Suddenlink Execs)

    The provisions in the Telecommunications Act provide for the activation of CONSUMER OWNED EQUIPMENT, and I quote: “No cable operator may prevent the activation of customer owned equipment provided that the equipment is technically compatible with the cable operator’s plant”….seeing as how my equipment is the EXACT equipment that you people use, and you still refuse to activate it, tell me. Yet they still refused to activate or support my device.

  27. 12/19/2010 at 1:34 pm

    There is great information on this page. I am in love with your blog so far. I’ve added you to my boomarks and will continue reading your work. I did have an issue with how fast this post loaded. Might be an issue to look into.

  28. 7/25/2012 at 8:35 am

    The problem lies in corporations running our country. While it is illegal for you to sell someone something that does not work and keep the money, corporations are doing this at an accelerating rate. While not only paying money for inferior devices, they want you to buy some type of insurance to protect their low quality device and support. They then charge you to replace the crap they sold you to start with. Plus whats HD ? I cant find any television sets that are not HD anymore. This is the new standard, shouldn’t have to pay extra for normal stuff, its basically just definition.. and the previous version of definition) that you cant get unless you buy a decoder)is low standard.

    My dvrs cost 15 per month a piece. Its bs. damn vcrs did the same thing for a 20 buck one time purchase and could program the times needed.
    Our technological advances have became more expensive and less reliable as consumers and working class Americans are basically being robbed for what is in todays standards a normal quality of life.

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