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An MDU that's not an MDU?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by Fly Navy, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Cool Member

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    I live in a condo building that shares a single dish (to eliminate everyone and their brother hanging a dish off their balconly). The signal is distributed to the units through a couple of 6x16 wide band multiswitches and a couple SWM-8s.

    We recently had someone new move into the building and is having a heck of a time getting their DTV service activated. The install techs insist we are an MDU but each unit has their own account and manages it separatley. From that standpoint we ARE NOT an MDU. But the techs said we are wired like one and insist that the receivers they have will not work with our set up.

    I find this very strange since there are multiple other units who have their service hooked up and have for quite some time without any issues. Supposedly the techs even hooked up a receiver and went through the setup process but it would not complete and asked for some sort of waiver.

    For all intents and purposes, we are wired like a large house with 11+ receivers (we're a small building with only 11 units).

    Can someone please help? Why would a new receiver hooked up to the setup now not work? Has DTV changed something in the receiver software recently that would cause this?
     
  2. NR4P

    NR4P Dad

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    With all those multiswitches and SWM8's I'll venture some guesses.

    First possibility, the dish type isn't being set correctly. How is the coax connected and is the dish type in the setup correct?

    With a number of SWM8's, don't overlook that the coax is connected to a SWM but you already have 8 tuners connected to that particular SWM. If its the 9th tuner, it won't work.
     
  3. Manctech

    Manctech Icon

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    First. I can't fathom why any tech would agree to use a single dish for running 11 separate accounts. The building owner needs to open an MDU account. It isn't possible or reasonable for a tech to do any work including upgrades and service calls seeing as he doesn't have access to 90% of the televisions.


    A waiver is used when bad weather makes it impossible to pass verification. If there is no bad weather in the area than there is a very small chance of getting a waiver. (They are not the friendliest people). A waiver should never be granted due to a poor installation.

    There could be any number of problems for why they have low signal. It's nearly impossible to tell without seeing the actual setup.
     
  4. dsw2112

    dsw2112 Always Searching

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    The "easy" way to tell if you are offically an MDU is to call D*. If you're an MDU D* won't be able to do anything for you and will refer you to call the MDU servicer. This will dictate what you can do going forward. If you're not an MDU then you (or a tech) is prob gonna have a heck of a time figuring out that wiring situation...

    P.S. The waiver you mentioned is not related to whether you're an MDU or not. It's strictly related to low signal and means you probably have a poorly aligned dish or a switch/cable problem.
     
  5. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    This is what's called a SMA (System Master Antenna) system. The problem is that DirecTV doesn't officially recognize these, so there is no "MDU"-type protections for these systems. While they are actually a great idea *in theory*, in PRACTICE, they are often very difficult to deal with, because no one wants to take responsibility for the dishes and switches if something goes wrong.
     
  6. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    I've run into a few around here like that. Thats where having un-offical "ghost" supplies comes in handy. :)
     
  7. Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Cool Member

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    Oct 31, 2007
    I assume when you say "dish type" you mean when the tech was configuring the receiver? There's no setup on the dish itself, right? Unfortunately I wasn't there when the tech tried to set up the receiver so I don't know what dish type he chose during the setup but I assume he picked the correct one considering he had eyes on the dish. Am I giving them too much credit?

    Also, I'm sure that the SWM isn't maxed out, so that's not it either. Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  8. Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Cool Member

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    Thanks BattleZone. We are a small self managed condo buidling so I guess you can say we take responsibility for the switches and setup. It has worked fine - up until now.

    The switches are Zinwell WB616 and we have two connected in parrallel. There are two SWM-8s downstream of the WB616 hooked up to a couple of units who wanted more than two receivers hooked up. Originally there were only two runs from the distribution panel to each unit limiting the # of receivers in each unit. That was pre-SWM.
     
  9. Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Cool Member

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    Oct 31, 2007
    So it sounds like there is nothing inherently in our setup that would deem us an MDU. I know for a fact we are not an MDU per D* since we have never signed an MDU agreement with any of the service providers in the area and D* has not record of it.

    And there is no reason any HXX or HRXX receiver wouldn't work if it was connected to the setup we have and configured properly, right? Of course barring any signal loss issues which I don't believe are a problem since the previous occupants of the same unit had not previous issues.

    Thanks for all the advice.
     
  10. matt

    matt New Member

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    If you add more IRDs to the SWM8s, make sure you don't exceed 8 tuners or you will run into trouble.
     
  11. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

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    Privately owned DirecTV distribution systems are albatrosses. I installed several, back when DirecTV used just one satellite and customers owned their receivers, and things went smoothly for a few years, but the complications introduced by multisatellite distribution and DirecTV's lease model of doing business have made such systems extremely difficult to manage.

    DirecTV will ordinarily not allow a new account to be established with a community antenna that is not part of their MDU program because they know, from experience, that they will be creating a headache when this customer needs service. The customer often won't know who is responsible for maintenance of their system, and if a DirecTV tech shows up, the smartest thing he can do is refuse the job because of the unforeseeable complications that he can encounter. A technician would first go to the front desk, where he might be told that he has to go to security next, where he might be told that no contractor can work in the building unless their company has a $1 million to $3 million (Trammell-Crow) liability certificate on file. Then, if he goes into the resident's unit and suspect that there is a signal input problem, he would have to find out where the signal comes from, which may involve dealing with the building engineer, who might not be available until he finishes whatever it is he is doing.

    Once the tech gets to the communications closet, he probably doesn't have the kind of signal meter needed to measure the signals there, and if he finds a shared SWM, he won't know what other residential unit shares it, and even if he finds out and decides he wants to access their unit, they might not be available or might refuse him entry if they are not experiencing any problems. And if there is a bad polarity locker or distribution amplifier, there is not a chance in hell that a residential tech will have it in stock, or if he does, he won't even know who is supposed to be billed for it.

    I have assisted some home theater companies with their DirecTV customer accounts in large buildings that share a dish, but I no longer do, because as soon as the home theater company's tech arrives on site and sees the configuration, he calls in and says it is a DirecTV signal problem, and then when I come out and say it isn't, the customer is not happy about the fact that he now has two bills from two different service companies but his system is still not working.

    Then the customer starts chewing out DirecTV, because he is paying $6 or $7 a month for a service contract, and they won't just cancel their account like they used to because they have paid $300 or more in non-refundable, up front lease fees that they are unwilling to forfeit, and they have the liability of the two-year service commitment as well.

    One problem I ran into that wound up with me getting stuck with some unpaid bills was when DirecTV sent out a defective software revision to some of its DVRs - the number x129b come to mind - and if any customer went into "repeat guided set-up", there was no "single tuner mode" option, so for those people on old, legacy distribution systems with a single coax, the "searching for signal on tuner 2" message kept popping up in the middle of the screen while they were watching TV, and there was simply no way for these customers to revert to single tuner mode. If they had been part of a registered, MDU program, then their MDU operator would probably have been compensated by DirecTV for chasing his tail around, trying to get to the bottom of this, but for me and other independent repair people, the customer can decide that the repair wasn't done competently and not pay us.

    When a technician completes a new installation, he has to make certain representations regarding the installation, and so if he sets up a new system in an unregistered multiple dwelling unit and there is ever a malfunction that results in DirecTV getting entwined in a situation that their residential service program cannot deal with, then the technician gets punished.

    If someone wants to start a new account in your building, the easiest way to do it is to have DirecTV install the equipment in another home and then have the customer physically move it and install it in the condo himself.
     
  12. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

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    Now, as far as a new receiver not working is concerned, a couple of weeks ago, I was doing some work for the headquarters of a big-name cable TV channel, where they own their own equipment and have 80 receivers, and when their engineer brought one up to the rooftop, I was surprised to see that the Guided set-up only initially gave me a couple of LNB options. I think they were "multiswitch" and "SL-3" or "SL-5". I didn't pay much attention because I didn't even want the receiver there: the engineer did this on his own. But I'm pretty sure that when I put that receiver into guided set-up a couple of days later, there were a few more choices available, so it is possible that the initial set-up failed because the receiver had not yet downloaded the software needed, but by the time it did, DirecTV and the technician were in "bail-out mode" because they weren't about to start exploring to even see if the available signal was SWM, or round dish stacked, or wideband, or whatever. I'd bet that it would have been physically possible to complete the installation and that the installation tech probably could have done so if he had hung in long enough, but if he or the customer had learned that no waiver was going to be granted, then that was sufficient impetus for the tech to conclude his efforts.
     
  13. Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Cool Member

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    AntAltMike: Everything you said makes perfect sense. I can see how these systems can quickly grow out of control and become unmanageable. I also understand now the position that the D* installer is in. He's taking on a liability if he sets it up not knowing the full extent of the set up. I think that's why the techs don't want to go through with the install and while they can probably get it to work, they don't want to take on the risk of having to come back if something goes wrong.

    Long term solution sounds like we need to convert to an officual MDU. In the short term, would D* send a receiver directly to the person setting up the new account and have them set it up themselves? I just don't know how we would be able to get them to set up a new account in another unit and then transfer the equipment to another unit. The other option is for them to purchase the rcvr from Solid Signal or another reseller and install it themselves.

    Just trying to come up with a short term solution...

    Thanks again.
     
  14. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    Back tracking to the original issue.

    It sounds like there was no or low signal at the location in question. It's possilbe that the dish is out of alignment just enough to be below the activation threshold but still high enough for fairly reliable day to day operation. Someone would have to do some comparisons to see whats going on there. Or there could be some cable/connector damage or an unseen splitter on that line causing signal issues as well.
     

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