Spectrum Employee

Cable Box Error Codes/Codes During Reboot

[ Edited ]

Maybe this topic is too minor of a consideration, since it typically either just works or it just doesn't work...  But I remember being curious myself as to what all that displayed up on the LCD actually means.  I can't be the only person out there wondering what's going on, so I figured it would be good write up something people could understand (even if the specifics are left out because they are A. too technical B. probably proprietary info)


This is public knowledge (which could all completely change in the coming years) for most major cable box manufacturers (i.e.: Samsung, Arris/Motorola, Pioneer, etc.) that sell their boxes to cable companies (Charter/TWC, Comcast, Frontier, Brighthouse, etc.), but I couldn't find but bit & pieces out there on the net.   There was actually more info about this on ComCast's forums , but it didn't look like any has ever bothered to explain it in layman's terms what the front of that newer cable box is meaning when it's doing a L-something countdown or gets stuck on displaying "AIT" (and it is AIT, not ALT).


OCAP itself, is middleware designed by CableLabs, it's coded in Java.  Hence if you've ever wondered why if you see Java advertising that they are on billions of devices...  That's a sizable percentage of them right there.  Smiley Tongue


 In layman's terms, think of OCAP being like base-level programing of the cable box, like an operating system of sorts.  ODN is the "On Demand Navigator" which is kind like an application running on your operating system.  So if OCAP was Windows/MacOSX/Linux, ODN would be like Chrome/Firefox/Safari.


I'm going to try to keep this as non-technicial and avoid proprietary stuff (just the things that are in-common with all cable providers and various brands of boxes), but just a warning, the terminology is very technical sounding...  sorry in advance for that, it can't be avoided.


OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) Boot-up Sequence:

(the part in bold & underlined is what shows on the LCD on the front of the box)


  1. AIT: The Applications Information Table (AIT) is a method used for signaling bound applications.  Unbound applications use the XAIT for signaling.  It's not "ALT" as a lot of people seem to think it is.

    If your cable box can't "hear" the signal incoming down the coaxial wire (such as there's no signal, or a weak signal), it'll just keep listening for the carrier signal and not finding it.  So one should check the coax wire.

  2. APP: Bootstrapper starting up.  This is typically a small software component that initiates or loads a considerably more major process(es) that influences or controls a device or a related function.  It's basically the BIOS firmware of the cable box, with a fancy name.

    If it gets stuck here, the firmware is bugged (such as human error in somebody at TWC accidentally installed the wrong firmware and QA didn't catch the mistake before it shipped), or the chip is got damaged somehow (I've seen electrical surges do this).  Please replace the box by returning the broken one to TWC/Charter (i.e.: at a local store, click link to search for one near you).
  • OCAP:  OCAP is starting it's boot-up sequence now.  I already told you what this was remember?  Smiley Very Happy
    You can actually turn "on" the cable box at this step to see a picture on the TV screen.

  • L-13: Point-of-Deployment Handler (PODHandler) initialization.  The PODHandler is an application interface used for network-specific functions outside of OCAP standards.​ This would include XAIT's unbound applications.

  • L-12: "has been started"

  • L-11:  "reading configuration information from the service provider". (proprietary stuff)

  • L-10: " loading Java classes"

  • L-9: "reading catalogs" (more boring proprietary stuff)

  • L-8 through L-5:  related just to ODN launching.  ODN again is the On Demand Navigator.   Older boxes use something called i-Guide instead.

  • L-4:  "ODN is doing Service Group Discovery."  This is a loooong explanation, but to make it brief:  the digitial channels you actually watch are grouped into a few channels per group, and each group is a on a frequency, like a lane of traffic on a multi-lane highway.  Every service provider does this differently, and that's kind of between the FCC and that service provider.

  • L-3: "Reading Profile catalog and verifying disk cached catalogs." This step takes awhile on some boxes, depending on the CPU in the box, and cable TV boxes aren't normally needing a super-powerful CPU.  Basically you boxes is building the information you'd see on The Guide menu.  Satellite provider boxes take even more time for a step similar to this.

  • L-2: "ODN reading catalogs containing information from regions, service table, channel map, etc."   (basically, it's finishing up L-3 step stuff)

  • L-1:  Creating channel map and other miscellaneous tasks.  When you press menu button and The Guide comes up, it's filled with stuff right?  It's filling those tables with data, and synchronizing it's clock with the server's clock.

  • Time Displayed:  The boot up is complete.  The time of day should automatically be correct (if not that's a probably local hub problem on our end, call it in so we can check please).
My postings on this site are my own, off-the-clock, and don’t necessarily represent TWC’s/Charter's strategies or opinions.

Re: FYI: the OCAP Boot-up Sequence

Good explainer, yes written in Java, one of the reasons updated firmware does not run well in old boxes, new firmware(software) is written for later hardware.