Recent changes on the VM Network

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  • There are still a few issues to be resolved before I can post this information. I had hoped that I could have started by now, unfortunately, it hasn't been that simple.


    It would be useful to know what sort of information people want to see. The threads previously posted on other sites seemed to attract praise and criticism in equal measure, with some people expecting the threads to be full of predictions. Occasionally, predictions can be made from the nature of any changes but the thread isn't meant to be a virtual crystal ball. There are many sources of speculative, usually inaccurate, predictions of what may be "coming soon" on other sites. This thread is about changes taking place in the background and, possibly, not yet visible to VM customers, not about speculation.


    Historically, this thread has listed changes considered to be operational, such as Sky channel rebrands and the frequently changing flag which we have classified as "sport+". These changes make up the bulk of regular changes to the network data tables, but aren't very useful for the end user. Would forum members like to see this information included in the reports or prefer that it is omitted?


    Previously, the thread listed changes to the download streams responsible for TiVo software updates. This information is becoming less important as VM customers replace their TiVo boxes with V6 boxes, which update over the internet and not over "broadcast streams". Would forum members like TiVo software updates to be included in the reports?


    A criticism of the old threads was that they referred to channels by TSID (Transport Stream ID) and SID (Service ID) numbers, which some users considered to be too complicated. Nevertheless, it is the best method of referring to individual channels. The NIT (Network Information Table) does not contain EPG channel numbers or VM's unique EPG service numbers (not visible to end users and also not visible on raw data scans such as those on the DigitalBitRate website). Going forward, the NIT analysis will have access to a limited amount of data from the SDT (Service Description Table), so future reports may be able to include EPG channel numbers etc. There are limitations in that the NIT analysis already processes a large amount of data and adding extra data from the SDT increases the processing load. This is a work in progress.


    Over the next few days I will be looking at significant network changes that have taken place over the last few months and regular updates should start shortly after that. In the meantime, some feedback would be appreciated.


    Information posted on this thread may not be posted elsewhere without crediting jj20x and Forum Box and supplying a link to this thread.

  • TSID 35 became the latest transport stream on Virgin Media to be removed from broadcast use. The HD services carried on this transport stream were all relocated to TSID 20 (one of the transport streams cleared by the conversion of SD services to MPEG-4).


    SID 3501 Sky Thriller HD moving to SID 2001

    SID 3502 Sky Action HD moving to SID 2002

    SID 3503 Sky Sports FootballHD moving to SID 2003

    SID 3504 Animal Planet HD moving to SID 2004

    SID 3505 More 4 HD moving to SID 2005

    SID 3506 ZooMoo HD moving to SID 2006

    SID 3507 SONY MAX HD moving to SID 2007


    TSID 35 has now been removed from the NIT (Network Information Table).


    This forms part of a cluster of transport streams which have progressively moved to frequencies adjacent to the batch of frequencies already removed from broadcast use. Other transport streams in this cluster are:


    TSID 42 (carries TiVo firmware updates etc) - these services have been duplicated on TSID 1 but are not yet active in the SDT. Presumably, when the transfer of these services to TSID 1 is complete, TSID 42 will also be taken out of service.


    TSID 45 (carries Red Button sports channels (Sky Sports Extra)) - These services will presumably be moved elsewhere, similar to the method used to clear TSID 35.


    TSID 104 (carries regional HD channels) - The VM services carried on this transport stream have been spread across various transport streams, sharing capacity with SD broadcast channels. As SD regional services are withdrawn, the HD regional channels are being moved to TSID 101 (BBC 1 & 2, RTE & Local TV channels) or TSID 102 (ITV regions & Channel 4 advertising regions). TSID 104 has already been cleared in Scotland and could potentially be cleared in Wales, Northern Ireland and London by relocating the HD services - most SD regions have been removed in these locations. As for the rest of the country.. only time will tell what VM has in mind.

  • only time will tell what VM has in mind.

    Could this be preparation for the move to DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit broadband?

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  • Thanks for info jj20x.


    I agree heero, looks like it as JJ said adjacent streams have already gone and it's adjacent streams that's what's needed for broadband.

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  • Could this be preparation for the move to DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit broadband?


    Thanks for info jj20x.


    I agree heero, looks like it as JJ said adjacent streams have already gone and it's adjacent streams that's what's needed for broadband.

    The DOCSIS 3.1 spec is limited to a bandwidth 192 MHz, which, for VM's 8MHz spacing is 24 bonded channels. VM are already using 24 bonded channels for DOCSIS 3.0. Even the bandwidth limited TDN's had sufficient spectrum for 24 bonded channels with the capacity freed from HD channels converting to MPEG-4.


    It appears that VM is taking advantage of the increased efficiency of MPEG-4 to reduce the number of transport streams used for broadcast channels, reducing infrastructure costs.

  • Perhaps as they axe SD channels in favour of the HD variants, they need less streams. Seems odd though. Can they really save that much money by axing a few of these streams?

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  • There were 48 active transport streams when I started doing these reports on another forum. Following the conversion of HD streams to MPEG-4, and various other changes, this was reduced to 40. Closing a further 4 will reduce this to 36, so 75% of the original amount. That's a 25% saving in relevant costs across the distribution network and the 90 regional networks. - so savings in infrastructure and electricity costs across the network and a surplus of equipment released for spares and maintenance.


    Conversion of SD streams has cleared even more transport streams but at the moment these are still running with static video slates. The conversion isn't yet complete with TSID 12, 16, 18 & 45 still running MPEG-2. A few other minor services elsewhere are also using MPEG-2, mainly static video slates, so no urgency to convert them. The timescale of these changes seems to be random to a casual observer but other network changes are taking place whenever MPEG-4 conversion appears to have stalled. MPEG-4 upgrades are just pieces of the jigsaw.


    TSID 18 seems to be the rest home for any remaining SD channels earmarked to be axed as the network cuts back on dual illumination of HD and SD services. At a guess, the delays here are contractual rather than strategic.

  • On Cable Forum, they're saying that Sky and VM have reached a new agreement, so perhaps the Sky SD channels might finally get dropped and VM close a few more streams as a result. What's on 12, 16, 18?, jJ?

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  • Overnight changes:


    2 SD channels switched from TSID 11 to TSID 21:


    SID 1102 Real Lives+1 moving to SID 2130

    SID 1131 Project2 moving to SID 2131


    These services were duplicated in the background on TSID 21 for a few days prior to the change. Project2 was either running black level video or a Sky Witness logo without the channel content for the duration of the duplication. Both services are now encrypted, so Project2 along with its relatives Project1 and Project3 (which remain on TSID 11) continue to be a mystery - AdSmart testing perhaps?


    [Project1, 2 & 3 are only included in the NIT of one VM internal network: TTA Knowsley DMC (Hayes_RHE).]


    TSID 21 is an odd location for SD channels, so it will be interesting to see how this develops.


    Other changes this week:


    16th July: Frequency changes - Derby regional network

    17th July: Frequency changes - Lewisham regional network & VM Hammersmith internal network.

    18th July: Frequency changes - Brighton regional network and Brighton TRIALS network.


    Part of an ongoing change on the ex Cable & Wireless networks. The channel previously used for set top box cable modems being reallocated to broadcast. Basically moving the clear channel released by the STB cable modem into the cluster of cleared frequencies. Interestingly, for ex-C&W networks, the range of cleared frequencies is NOT contiguous with the main DOCSIS download frequency range.


    Derby still has remnants of the former TSIDs 38 to 41 in the NIT and VM didn't take the opportunity to remove these with this update.

  • I wonder if these changes are essentially the removal of all the remanents of the ex-ntl, cwc and telewest networks? Seems like they're doing a lot of cleaning up to me.


    Re cwc changes, I seem to recall that some of their streams were at the higher end of the frequency range and were not national streams and unusable for most parts of the country. So if they still exist, makes sense getting rid of them.


    By the way, I'm on the Seven Kings headend (East London) former cwc.

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  • On Cable Forum, they're saying that Sky and VM have reached a new agreement, so perhaps the Sky SD channels might finally get dropped and VM close a few more streams as a result. What's on 12, 16, 18?, jJ?

    TSID 12 will, possibly, be the next conversion to MPEG-4: alibi +1, Colors Cineplex, Dave ja vu, GOLD +1, Good Food +1, QVC Beauty, Home +1, W +1, Eden +1, YESTERDAY +1, COLORS, TCM +1, Star Bharat, Colors Rishtey and the remnants of a few "Channel Moved" slates.


    TSID 16 has been partially cleared but ITV Audio Desc & ITV4 +1 and the BT Sport Extra red button channels remain along with the remnants of some of the old BT Sport SD channels.


    TSID 18 carries SD channels which will possibly be dropped: all of the Sky Cinema SD channels, and also Sky Sports Racing & Television X, which could be replaced by the HD versions which VM doesn't currently carry.


    TSID 45 carries the Sky Sports red button streams. Which could possibly be combined with the BT red button streams "somewhere".


    The situation with TSID 9 is odd. It looked for a while as if VM had earmarked TSID 2 to TSID 12 as the locations for MPEG-4 SD channels but TSID 9 was cleared of services and marked as hidden for a while. It was then brought back into service for the temporary Eurosport UHD channel at the end of May. As the Eurosport UHD channel closed, it became the location of the temporary BBC summer red button streams. As the BBC red button streams have closed it will be interesting to see whether this transport stream is brought back into use for SD channels or mothballed once again and reserved for pop-up channels.


    TSID 13 was similarly mothballed after being cleared of SD channels in October 2018. (Again, making it appear that TSID 2 to TSID 12 would be the TSID range for SD channels.) It was brought back into service for Premier 2 HD in early 2019, at a time when the existing HD transport streams were filling up. (A few HD channel closures since then has eased the burden.) On 27th June 2019 the 2 SD "Virgin TV Highlights" streams were removed from TSID 1 and replaced with a single HD stream on TSID 13, although it is mapped to 2 EPG channel slots.


    TSIDs 14, 15, 17, 19 & 20 have all been cleared of SD services and marked as "hidden". TSID 20 being redeployed for HD services absorbing the channels from the former TSID 35, as indicated in yesterdays post. TSID 14 was used for the pop-up BTSport 4K UHD Finals UHD service in May 2019 and is currently reserved for "hidden" BT Sport services.

  • I wonder if these changes are essentially the removal of all the remanents of the ex-ntl, cwc and telewest networks? Seems like they're doing a lot of cleaning up to me.


    Re cwc changes, I seem to recall that some of their streams were at the higher end of the frequency range and were not national streams and unusable for most parts of the country. So if they still exist, makes sense getting rid of them.


    By the way, I'm on the Seven Kings headend (East London) former cwc.

    There are still significant differences between the legacy networks. Even within what is considered to be ex-Telewest, the old Eurobell networks operate within different frequency ranges. As does ex-Smallworld (Carlisle) which is now in the ex-Telewest range of networks, even though it wasn't actually a part of Telewest.

  • It seems stream 18 is the one most liked to get axed with all those Sky SD film channels on them, I'll guess we'll wait and see what happens when the new Sky deal kicks in.


    I've tried to check how many streams are on my v6, but can't remember how to get into the engineering menu. Would be interested to see if my area has been reduced down to 36 streams.

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  • Aha! there will be more about that in the general update but there are still significant differences between the legacy networks. Even within what is considered to be ex-Telewest, the old Eurobell networks operate within different frequency ranges. As does ex-Smallworld (Carlisle) which is now in the ex-Telewest range of networks, even though it wasn't actually a part of Telewest.

    I remember reading that some of the older boxes were unable to tune to the higher frequencies, so they were earmarked for closure, but I don't know if that ever happened or not.

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  • It seems stream 18 is the one most liked to get axed with all those Sky SD film channels on them, I'll guess we'll wait and see what happens when the new Sky deal kicks in.


    The pattern became obvious over time. On March 6th, MTV Beats, Together, Lifetime, Sky Two, Sky News & QVC were cleared from TSID 18 and MPEG-4 versions of these channels were added to TSID 2 in spare capacity created by the conversion of existing TSID 2 channels to MPEG-4. MPEG-2 versions of Sky Action, Sky Disney, Sky Comedy, Sky Drama, Sky Family, Sky Select, Sky ScFi Horror, Sky Thriller, Sky Greats, Sky Premiere 1hr & Sky Premiere being left behind on TSID 18.


    On April 25th, these channels were joined by Sky Hits from TSID 10 and Sky Sports Racing from TSID 20.


    On May 2nd, Television X joined from TSID 7.


    Bringing all of the Sky Cinema channels together in one place and adding Sky Sports Racing and Television X, which had recently added HD channels on Sky.


    Quote

    I've tried to check how many streams are on my v6, but can't remember how to get into the engineering menu. Would be interested to see if my area has been reduced down to 36 streams.


    It won't be 36 until TSID 42, 45 and 104 are cleared. TSID 42 could happen at any moment, TSID 104 could take some time. Unfortunately the diagnostics count is meaningless as VM have a habit of leaving out of date data in the NIT. Although TSIDs 38 to 41 have long since been taken out of use, ghost data has been left in the NIT tables of several networks.


    My local network states 47 TS streams but it includes ghost data for the "Frequency Test" transport streams TSIDs 301 to 304. Again, these were deactivated quite some time ago.


    The diagnostics count will also include the VOD pseudo transport streams in the count (usually 4) - so the actual number of broadcast transport streams in my region is 47 less the 4 VOD streams less the ghost data for the 4 "Frequency Tests" - so 39.


    Seven Kings still has ghost data for TSID 38 to 41, so the diagnostic count there should also be 47, assuming 4 streams for VOD. Useless information until VM clear historic data out of the SI tables.

  • I remember reading that some of the older boxes were unable to tune to the higher frequencies, so they were earmarked for closure, but I don't know if that ever happened or not.

    I would have thought that boxes used in each region would have tuners capable of tuning across the full range of frequencies used in the relevant region. Some of the older boxes had problems with QAM-256 data, so VM were restricted to QAM-64 for certain data channels. Most networks on VM range up to 747 MHz. The ex-Eurobell and ex-Smallworld networks use higher frequencies (up to 835 for Crawley - Eurobell SE). As far as I know the "frequency test" transport streams tested response up to 843 MHz, in various regions which don't normally use such high frequencies.


    The TDNs have been restricted to a significantly lower range of frequencies and currently use up to 667 MHz. Although "frequency test" streams have been used on Liverpool & Preston TDNs up to 843 MHz. I've no idea how well or badly those tests went...


    DOCSIS 3.1 opens up the possibility of operating at higher frequencies if the VM network is improved enough to allow it. A wider range of VHF frequencies for upstream DOCSIS channels could effectively cross the (currently) protected FM range of frequencies, pushing the broadcast and downstream DOCSIS channels onto higher frequencies.


    The true beauty of DOCSIS 3.1 is full duplex, allowing the upstream speed to match the downstream speed. Not with the quality / state of VM's network however. That would need significant investment in improving the network infrastructure.

  • DOCSIS 3.1 opens up the possibility of operating at higher frequencies if the VM network is improved enough to allow it. A wider range of VHF frequencies for upstream DOCSIS channels could effectively cross the (currently) protected FM range of frequencies, pushing the broadcast and downstream DOCSIS channels onto higher frequencies.

    I still have the old diplexer/isolator in circuit with the VHF port terminated. If they start to use these frequencies I'll need to replace it with a standard isolator. Probably a good thing to do anyway.


    Must be quite a few out there from the legacy days when NTL used to output the VHF radio stations on analog. It was part of the install when our area was first cabled up together with the Jerrold impulse STB.

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  • Useless information until VM clear historic data out of the SI tables.

    Thanks for all that. But just on that last point, I wonder why VM don't clear out the SI tables. Is there any benefit for that information to remain??

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  • Thanks for all that. But just on that last point, I wonder why VM don't clear out the SI tables. Is there any benefit for that information to remain??

    Not really, it's just clutter. I think it's just a case of VM putting it into the timetable for regional updates and it getting missed as other changes are added. The TSID 35 removal was done across the network in a single update, which seems to be the most efficient method, a pity they aren't consistent.

  • The Prime Video EPG slate finally arrived yesterday on TSID 21 SID 2105. EPG Slot 228.


    [Initially, Prime Video was only included in the NIT of 4 internal VM networks, commonly used to test new services: TTA Knowsley DMC (Hayes_RHE), VM Hammersmith, Code Download Test (Portsmouth) & TTA Bromley DMC (Bromley RHE).]


    Other changes detected on the overnight scan were Sky channel rebrands. As always, the Sky customer forum is the best place to track these promotional rebrands, just ignore the EPG numbers.


    https://helpforum.sky.com/t5/W…de-July-2019/ba-p/3024909


    Unfortunately, VM doesn't have such comprehensive updates on their customer forum.

    Edited once, last by jj20x: Added EPG slot number. ().

  • The only notable change on the scan from last night was TSID 10 SID 1007 Kids TV On Demand morphing into a pop-up channel "Ben 10 Takeover" on EPG slot 700.


    The Sky rebrands mentioned on the Sky Forum for Sunday 21st haven't been carried out on VM.

  • As expected, the Prime Video EPG slate TSID 21 SID 2105 was added to the customer facing regions in the NIT table overnight (EPG Slot 228).


    Other changes:

    The Sky Netball rebrands ended, reverting to Sky Sports Mix (The Sky customer forums are out of sync with these changes).

  • Several changes overnight.


    TSID 10 SID 1007 - Pop up channel Ben 10 Takeover reverts to Kids TV On Demand

    TSID 11 SID 1110 - rebranded Sky Sports The Open reverts to Sky Sports Golf

    TSID 23 SID 2307 - rebranded Sky Sports The OpenHD reverts to Sky Sports Golf HD


    (The Sky Community Forum is now back in sync with the rebrand dates.)


    Major changes on TSID 42 with all existing services being cleared out and transferred to TSID 1:


    TSID 42 SID 4201 A Message For Parents (PIN warning slate) moving to TSID 1 SID 103

    TSID 42 SID 4202 A Message For Parents (PIN warning slate) moving to TSID 1 SID 104

    TSID 42 SID 10069 - DL1_TiVo_10069 moving to TSID 1 SID 10069 - renamed as DL_Cisco_TiVoPF_10069

    TSID 42 SID 10070 - DL1_TiVo_10070 moving to TSID 1 SID 10070 - renamed as DL_Cisco_TiVoPF_10070

    TSID 42 SID 10071 - DL1_TiVo_10071 moving to TSID 1 SID 10071 - renamed as DL_Sam_TiVoPF_10071

    TSID 42 SID 10072 - DL1_TiVo_10072 moving to TSID 1 SID 10072 - renamed as DL_Cisco_TiVoPF_10072

    TSID 42 SID 10073 - DL1_TiVo_10073 moving to TSID 1 SID 10073 - renamed as DL_Sam_TiVoPF_10073

    TSID 42 SID 10074 - DL1_TiVo_10074 moving to TSID 1 SID 10074 - renamed as DL_Sam_TiVoPF_10074

    TSID 42 SID 10075 - DL1_TiVo_10075 moving to TSID 1 SID 10075 - renamed as DL_Sam_TiVoPF_10075

    TSID 42 SID 10076 - DL1_TiVo_10076 moving to TSID 1 SID 10076 - renamed as DL_Sam_TiVoPF_10076


    SID 0 - "Hidden 42" has appeared on TSID 42 - an indication that the transport stream has been taken out of use.


    This is in line with the prediction for the clearance of TSID 42 mentioned earlier in the thread. The TiVo download services had been duplicated in the background on TSID 1 for a short period.


    Frequency changes - Norwich regional network.


    Part of an ongoing change on the ex Cable & Wireless networks, as discussed previously.

  • Several frequency changes were made on the Peterborough regional network overnight.


    There were also changes to the NIT root. Changes to "linkage" records, consolidating the transfer of download services from TSID 42 to TSID 1 and changes to Peterborough records linked to the frequency changes.

  • The overnight scan shows a frequency change on the Poole network (ex-C&W).


    The ex-C&W networks still awaiting the frequency change to relocate the former STB DOCSIS channel into the cleared frequency cluster are: Ashford, Southampton, Stoke, Watford & Wearside.


    Poole still has remnants of the former TSIDs 38 to 41 in the NIT and VM didn't take the opportunity to remove these with this update.


    The scan also reveals VM's plans for TSID 9, recently cleared of temporary pop-up services with the removal of the BBC summer red button services. Also revealing what VM will do with the red button sports services as TSID 45 is taken out of use:


    The red button sports "SptsETV" services currently carried on TSID 45 have been duplicated on TSID 9 (still operating in MPEG-2). No changes, at the moment, to the SDT, so the duplicate services are unnamed.


    A new service has appeared on TSID 18, which is considered to be the dumping ground for SD channels about to be removed as services go HD only. The new service carries a "HEADS UP!" slate (not yet added to the NIT/SDT):


    SDT & NIT changes will follow.


    So... now we have confirmation of what is about to happen.

  • Information posted on this thread may not be posted elsewhere without crediting jj20x and Forum Box and supplying a link to this thread.

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  • So... now we have confirmation of what is about to happen.

    That's very revealing! No need to guess what that means.


    Thank you.


    Sports channels next??

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