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Reference EPG Flip Flop

As of January 29th, 2011, DISH Network had 7522 channels in their system. This included 4199 channels with their own EPG (electronic program guide), and 1698 channels with linked EPG. (In addition there were 1236 OTA EPG channels, and 80 ITV Applications. 309 channels did not have an EPG.)

The use of linked EPGs (or reference EPGs) reduces the size of the EPG data on the system. Many channels on DISH's system carry the same programming. Some channels are for Eastern Arc customers, some are for Western Arc customers, some are for Hawaii and or Alaska customers, some are for Puerto Rico customers. Referring one channel to another for EPG reduces the data size by 28%.

Channels with linked EPGs (or reference EPGs) are flagged with a special descriptor that points to another channel. As part of tracking changes in the system I have tracked the changes in reference EPG.

The 2010 Flip Flop
On October 29th, 2010, at 2:06pm ET (v03), DISH network changed the reference EPG on 593 channels. The next day at 12:41pm ET (v13) DISH reversed those changes. About two weeks later, on November 11th and 12th DISH performed the same flip-flop. This continued through the end of 2010. Despite the 20 changes, the channels ended up having the same reference EPG as they started with before the October 29th change. All the intermediate changes were a simple "flip-flop" between two sets of data.
2010 Flip Flops
10/29/10 2:06pm ET (v03) - 10/30/10 12:41pm ET (v13)
11/11/10 2:46pm ET (v15) - 11/12/10 12:46pm ET (v24)
11/23/10 12:46pm ET (v15) 12/1/10 4:47pm ET (v16)
12/2/10 12:46pm ET (v24) 12/3/10 2:46pm ET (v01)
12/3/10 5:16pm ET (v03) 12/3/10 6:46pm ET (v05)
   12/4/10 4:46am ET (v09) 12/4/10 6:11am ET (v10)
12/15/10 12:46pm ET (v31) 12/16/10 4:46pm ET (v11)
12/16/10 6:46pm ET (v12) 12/16/10 10:46pm ET (v14)
12/18/10 12:46pm ET (v27) 12/19/10 2:46pm ET (v03)
12/30/10 12:46pm ET (v17) 12/31/10 6:46pm ET (v29)
Note: There were no mass flip-flops of reference EPG data before October 29th, 2010. The reason for these flip flops is unknown.

The 593 channels involved are mirrors of ConUS HD channels (9400-9529). These include the 4100-4299 Commercial Account HD service channels, 4300-4424 Alaska/Hawaii service mirrors, 4428-5075 Puerto Rico service mirrors, 5300-5406 DISH Latino service mirrors and 5498-5600 Alaska/Hawaii service mirrors.

The flip-flop is best described as flipping between the ConUS version on Eastern Arc and the ConUS version on Western Arc. Note that the mirrors do not all point at the same arc at any time (this is not a case of point all the channels east then west - this is a case of alternating where the channels are pointing).

The 2011 Flip Flop
On January 12th, 2011, at 2:11pm ET (v29), DISH network changed the reference EPG on 615 channels. The next day at 2:46pm ET (v08) DISH reversed those changes. The number of channels has changed as channels are added and removed from 72.7 but the basic premise remains the same. The reference EPG is being changed back and forth between the same two settings.
2011 Flip Flops
1/12/11 2:11pm ET (v29) - 1/13/11 2:46pm ET (v08)
1/21/11 at 4:46pm ET (v15) - 1/21/11 at 6:46pm ET (v16)
1/21/11 at 10:46pm ET (v18) - 1/25/11 at 2:46pm ET (v15)
1/26/11 at 2:46pm ET (v24) 1/27/11 at 12:46pm ET (v01)
1/28/11 at 2:46pm ET (v11) - 1/28/11 at 6:46pm ET (v13)
1/28/11 at 8:46pm ET (v15) 1/29/11 at 2:46am ET (v17)
1/29/11 at 4:46am ET (v19) 1/29/11 at 12:46pm ET (v23)
2/8/11 at 12:46pm ET (v22) - 2/9/11 at 12:56pm ET (v00)
2/25/11 at 4:46pm ET (v05) - 2/25/11 at 6:46pm ET (v06)
2/25/11 at 10:46pm ET (v08) - 3/2/11 at 2:36pm ET (v13)
3/3/11 at 2:46pm ET (v25) 3/4/11 at 12:46pm ET (v02)
3/26/11 at 2:46pm ET (v09) - 3/29/11 at 12:46pm ET (v00)
3/30/11 at 2:31pm ET (v10) 4/1/11 at 12:31pm ET (v29)
4/2/11 at 4:47pm ET (v06) - 4/3/11 at 12:46pm ET (v13)
4/9/11 at 12:46pm ET (v28) - 4/11/11 at 2:46pm ET (v11)
4/11/11 at 10:46pm ET (v14) - 4/12/11 at 12:46am ET (v16)
4/12/11 at 2:46pm ET (v21) - 4/16/11 at 12:46pm ET (v23)
   4/18/11 at 3:51pm ET (v09) - 4/18/11 at 4:46pm ET (v11)
[4/20/11 at 12:46pm ET (v26) - Large move 61.5 to 72.7]
4/27/11 at 2:36pm ET (v16) - 5/1/11 at 4:46pm ET (v18)
5/5/11 at 12:47pm ET (v20) - 5/9/11 at 4:46pm ET (v22)
5/13/11 at 2:46pm ET (v21) - 5/14/2011 at 2:47pm ET (v29)
5/25/11 at 12:46pm ET (v18) 6/2/11 at 2:46pm ET (v15)
6/17/11 at 10:46pm ET (v03) - 6/18/11 at 8:46pm ET (v11)
6/25/11 at 8:46pm ET (v06) - 6/27/11 at 2:46pm ET (v20)
6/29/11 at 12:06pm ET (v08) 6/30/11 at 4:47pm ET (v20)
6/30/11 at 6:41pm ET (v21) - 6/30/11 at 10:46pm ET (v23)
7/14/11 at 12:46pm ET (v02) - 7/16/11 at 4:47pm ET (v19)
7/18/11 at 4:47pm ET (v03) - 7/19/11 at 12:47pm ET (v10)
7/19/11 at 1:06pm ET (v11) - 7/26/11 at 2:46pm ET (v04)
7/27/11 at 2:36pm ET (v12)* - 7/31/11 at 2:46pm ET (v17)
8/3/11 at 4:06pm ET (v09)* - 8/4/11 at 2:47pm ET (v16)
[* 7/27 and 8/3 were large changes including EPG]
8/5/11 at 2:47pm ET (v25) - 8/6/11 at 2:46pm ET (v01)
A list of the current 950 channels can be found here.
Commentary
When I see changes in the uplink data I expect it to reflect the additions or deletions of channels (which is the primary reason why I monitor the data) or fix a problem introduced in previous updates. The flip-flop described here does neither. Making a change and then reverting it isn't a fix. Making the same change and reverting it over and over isn't a fix. If there is something wrong with the way the linked EPG/reference EPG is working on these channels perhaps DISH should try another solution? This flip-flop is like flipping a light switch up then down and expecting a burned out bulb to re-light. Try something else.

One thing to note with these channels is that some link to channels on the same arc and some link to a different arc. This is most noticeable with the Commercial Account HD channels 4100-4299. These are actual mirrors of the ConUS channels in the 9400-9529 range. The same ConUS feeds residential subscribers see on 9400-9529 are seen on 4100-4299 from the same transponders. It would make the most sense to me if the 4100-4299 channels were linked to the channels they mirror ... not channels on the other arc. Most of the Alaska/Hawaii/Puerto Rico mirrors are separate streams on spotbeams not actual same stream mirrors of the ConUS channels. In my opinion these channels should be linked to their Western Arc versions - the same arc that the mirrors are hosted on. If that doesn't work try something else --- but to try and revert over and over? Not logical.

As of January 29th (after the flop) there are 1698 with linked/reference EPG. 168 are linked to a channel on the same transponder, 4 are linked to a different channel number on the same satellite, 1018 are linked to the same channel number on a different satellite and 508 are linked to a different channel number on a different satellite. 1036 EA channels are linked to a WA channel. 399 WA channels are linked to a EA channel. In flip mode: 175 are linked to a channel on the same transponder, 118 are linked to a different channel number on the same satellite, 1018 are linked to the same channel number on a different satellite and 387 are linked to a different channel number on a different satellite. 1133 EA channels are linked to a WA channel. 78 WA channels are linked to a EA channel.

Epilog
After nearly a year of flip/flops the practice ceased. Small flip/flops are still seen when channels are put in and out of preview status.
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