CABLE DIAGNOSTIC AND MONITORING
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
 This application claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/544,601 filed Feb. 12, 2004 to Sadja et al., which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
 A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
 The complexity and scope of present two way digital cable networks eclipse its analog predecessor. The demand for unimpaired service availability and network robustness has been elevated as customer acceptance and dependency has grown for services such as telephony, broadband data services, video-on-demand and extensive channel offerings, all enabled by the digital revolution in cable television. These services provide revenue sources for cable operators, but depend upon networks with high fidelity. The barrier separating error-free reception and complete loss of service is often less than a decibel in signal level.
 Operators faced with the requirement for improved service, reduced downtime and twenty four hour per day network availability are also facing the need to reduce capital expenditure, service calls and personnel costs. Current solutions for extensive network monitoring are both cost prohibitive and have limited scope of information as well as limited observability, often only providing data for a node or trunk and not to each subscriber tap or customer premise equipment (CPE).
 Cable network infrastructures can vary from plantto-plant, node-to-node and trunk-to-trunk. From mode hopping lasers and noisy amplifiers to ranging cable modems, operators are challenged by a diverse set of issues that may seem impossible to troubleshoot with any one existing technology.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 Certain illustrative embodiments illustrating organization and method of operation, together with objects and advantages may be best understood by reference detailed description that follows taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
 FIG. 1 is a diagram of an exemplary portion of a cable network consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an illustrative digital television set top box with integrated modem consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 3 is a flow chart of an exemplary overall polling process consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 4 is a flow chart of an exemplary data processing process consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 5 is a flow chart of an additional exemplary data processing process consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 6 is a flow chart of a service theft detection process consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 7 is a flow chart of an exemplary process for a set top box operation consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 8 is a flow chart of an exemplary process for gathering information for a rating service in a manner consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention.
 While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail specific embodiments, with the understanding that the present disclosure of such embodiments is to be considered as an example of the principles and not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments shown and described. In the description below, like reference numerals are used to describe the same, similar or corresponding parts in the several views of the drawings.
 The terms "a" or "an", as used herein, are defined as one or more than one. The term "plurality", as used herein, is defined as two or more than two. The term "another", as used herein, is defined as at least a second or more. The terms "including" and/or "having", as used herein, are defined as comprising (i.e., open language). The term "coupled", as used herein, is defined as connected, although not necessarily directly, and not necessarily mechanically. The term "program", as used herein, is defined as a sequence of instructions designed for execution on a computer system. A "program", or "computer program", may include a subroutine, a function, a procedure, an object method, an object implementation, in an executable application, an applet, a serylet, a source code, an object code, a shared library/dynamic load library and/or other sequence of instructions designed for execution on a computer system.
 Reference out this document to "one embodiment", "certain embodiments", "an embodiment" or similar terms means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearances of such phrases or in various places out this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments without limitation.
 This document describes methods and apparatus allowing cable operators to gather extensive metrics on their