While TiVo is one of the easiest consumer electronics devices to use, its installation on digital cable systems has been challenging. The challenge comes from TiVo’s reliance on a CableCARD installation that has typically required a scheduled visit from the cable guy (sometimes it comes with an additional charge too). The pain around this process was recently detailed by the New York Times. What’s a CableCARD you ask? It looks like one of those little PCMCIA cards you used to push into the side of your laptop. A CableCARD plugs into the back of a TiVo (or other digital receiver) to interface it with your cable system. Think of it as a mini-cable box. The FCC recently changed the rules around CableCARDs and as of today, August 8th, for select devices such as the TiVo, consumers are now given the option to perform their own installation. The specifics around the FCC rule changes are detailed here. Cable companies that do not currently offer any self-install options (i.e. you can’t pick up a cable box and plug it in yourself) do not have to offer them until November 1st. Our own recent experience with installing a CableCARD into a TiVo Premiere was hassle-free.
According to the TiVo Community forums, some providers such as FIOS offered self-installs before today’s deadline while other cable companies did not.
So, what happens if you call your cable company and they won’t give you the option for a self-install? Besides adding to the aforementioned post on the TiVo Community, you can also complain to the FCC. In addition, TiVo support can help since they have contacts with the major cable companies. Good luck with the self-install!