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FCC To Allow Cable Companies To Encrypt Over-the-Air Channels

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the no-free-ride dept.

Government 376

alen writes "The FCC is now allowing cable companies to encrypt free OTA channels that they also rebroadcast over their networks. 'The days of plugging a TV into the wall and getting cable are coming to an end. After a lengthy review process, the FCC has granted cable operators permission to encrypt their most basic cable programming.' Soon the only way to receive free OTA channels via your cable company will involve renting yet another box or buying something like Boxee."

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376 comments

Do Not Want (5, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 2 years ago | (#41662979)

well there goes my HTPC build. For those that like to build their own media centers, dvr's, etc this is utter crap. Of course I can spend $200 to get a tuner card that will accept a M-type cable card but then that is yet another piece of equipment that I have to rent from said cable company.

who wants to bet said FCC people have coushy jobs lined up at some major cable company.

Re:Do Not Want (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41663023)

NO you are just using the wrong recorder....

eztv.it, set up the RSS feed and your torrent catcher.

Screw the cable companies and dish companies. Best $12.95 a month I spend is for a VPN outside the USA to get all the TV shows I want to record off of my DishTV.

Re:Do Not Want (4, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 2 years ago | (#41663139)

My recorder is fine. I cut the cord long ago. But since the line is still active to me having a cable modem this solves the issue of getting a decent antenea in order to get the OTA's. Currently I can just plug my system / TV into the wall and still pickup those said channels as they are broadcast in clearQuam as required under current regulations.

This is just a move that gives me the finger and forces me to put an ugly ass antenea on my roof in order to get semi decent reception as my town of 20k people is at least 50 miles from the nearest broadcast towers which causes all kinds of issues with reception.

Now if they can also encrypt those channels over the same line even though they are free (as i don't need a subscription to get them). Guess i go netflix only and just do the over the interwebs route.

THERE GOES CABLE! (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41663237)

Look! TV just killed itself!

I have two tween kids. They don't know what Cable, satellite or OTA are...

There's YouTube, NetFlix, Amazon and PutLocker.

They also know some suckers who pay for HuluPlus, to watch the unwatchable.

Re:Do Not Want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663423)

Best $12.95 a month I spend is for a VPN outside the USA to get all the TV shows I want to record off of my DishTV.

More, pretty please?

Re:Do Not Want (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663033)

Don't give up on the HTPC, give up on cable instead.

Get yourself an OTA tuner, amazon/netflix/hulu plus and go for it. Unless you are addicted to some sport that is not OTA it really is the way to go.

Re:Do Not Want (3, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41663173)

Don't give up on the HTPC, give up on cable instead.

Get yourself an OTA tuner, amazon/netflix/hulu plus and go for it. Unless you are addicted to some sport that is not OTA it really is the way to go.

HDHomeRun is the way to go; install it in your attic (where the signal is probably strong enough even if you are a ways from the tower) and enjoy it on MythTV...

Re:Do Not Want (2)

Aardpig (622459) | about 2 years ago | (#41663295)

Highly recommend this setup. Have digital antenna up in roof, feed comes down to HDHomeRun in basement, and from there hooks into my Mythbox via ethernet. BTW, OTA digital quality is better than cable, since the cable companies re-compress the datastream and thereby degrade it.

Re:Do Not Want (1)

Jaktar (975138) | about 2 years ago | (#41663355)

I put together my HDHomeRun with a small antenna about a month ago & dropped my DirectTV sub.

MythTV skips a little bit during playback while to MediaPortal works just fine on my old P4 machine. Windows Media Center does an excellent job as well.

My only problem is some FM interference from a local WISP. It works quite well.

I wish I could have installed the antenna in the attic. Unfortunately, whoever ran the cable decided to run it through the wall instead of the attic. I mounted it to the same pole I had a satellite dish on, it works well enough.

Re:Do Not Want (4, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41663425)

47 miles out from the transmitter and i get every major network on an attic mounted $60 antenna. CBS signal looks a bit weak on the meter, but ive never had a drop out yet, and im recording their entire weekday primetime lineup(stress test, dont judge me). Im recording using a Windows 7 VM on ESXi. About once a week I run the batch of Recorded TV through a Quick Sync conversion and throw it on my web accessible NAS.

Re:Do Not Want (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663145)

For the money you were going to spend on that HTPC, you could easily rent the cable company's latest greatest DVR's for literally years before you got back to even. If you want to roll your own to satisfy your inner geekiness that's one thing, but if the cable company can rent you a box that does the same thing for cheaper, you will receive no sympathy from me.

Re:Do Not Want (2)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41663183)

Cable company's DVR won't skip ads, and I value my own sanity.

Re:Do Not Want (1)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 2 years ago | (#41663267)

not to mention way better storage options. Plus I built my box almost 2 years ago and still running strong. Most of it was off spare parts I had from prior systems lying around.

Re:Do Not Want (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663293)

How much are you spending on computers these days?

$10 a month would mean in two years a fairly reasonable HTPC would be paid for.

Re:Do Not Want (4, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | about 2 years ago | (#41663335)

Except that when people build or buy an HTPC, it's usually not just for recording TV shows, it's also for playing games, music, ripped DVDs or Blu-Rays, Netflix, and other uses. The cable company's box won't do that.

Re:Do Not Want (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41663467)

You REALLY dont want to have users doing random computer actions on your recording device. Play blu-rays, netflix, etc is fine as long as its a specified action, but once you throw gaming into the mix, recording reliability falls right off the chart. Treating your recording device as a general purpose computer is just bad planning.

OTA (4, Insightful)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about 2 years ago | (#41663261)

I know it's not an option for some, but I live where I can get New York OTA channels, and even Philly stations if I want, with my roof antenna and rotor. I record everything we watch on a MythTV system with a TB of disk space. I haven't had pay TV in 25 years.

I have cable for internet only. Every time the cable company calls me trying to sell me a TV package, I tell them exactly what I'm currently using, and exactly why I want no part of their any-consumer bull shit. I wish more people would do the same thing.

What sucks of course is that, because all the available internet providers are TV providers, you pay a premium for internet when it's not part of some fucking package. The whole situation just blows to put it mildly...and the fucking FCC, whose supposed to be working for us, can go straight to fucking hell too.

Re:Do Not Want (1)

Burdell (228580) | about 2 years ago | (#41663385)

Aside from the fact that this decision is crap (I agree), and you'd have to spend $$$ to get a tuner card, you might not have to pay your cable company anything for a CableCard. For example, I have Comcast (sucks, but beats my other local cable company in every way: price, channels, and quality), and they include the cost of a tuner box in many of the packages. I have a TiVo instead of one of their boxes, and I get a $2.50/month credit for customer-provided equipment.

Re:Do Not Want (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41663503)

Uhhh...why would it affect your HTPC? Simply use the net and get all the shows you want WHEN you want and with less commercials to boot. I have built several HTPCs for customers and between Win 7 MC Internet TV, Hulu Basic, and YouTube they have so many shows to choose from they could watch TV from sun up to sun down and never watch all the great shows out there. And that of course isn't counting using BT to get shows, this is just the legal means.

As a nice bonus you can get an E350 barebone which since you won't have to be encoding like a DVR will work great and only costs $130 for the barebone with nice case and PSU [amazon.com] and for those that don't want to spend the money on Win 7 HP you can just download OpenELEC [openelec.tv] which has the XBMC 10 foot UI and has a prebuilt build for AMD Fusion chips like the E350, couldn't be simpler.

So I see no reason why this should affect your HTPC, its just one more reason to just buy bare cable for the net and say screw their TV offerings. I personally haven't bothered plugging in the free converter they handed me or my capture card because with Internet TV and all the shows on the net frankly there is more TV than I have hours in the day. Lately I've been on a classic kick so I'm watching Kolchak and Night Gallery here at the shop while I work. Its nice, less commercials than I deal with on cable, and couldn't be easier to do.

I'll take a third option... (2, Informative)

edcalaban (1077719) | about 2 years ago | (#41662983)

And cut the cord. The streaming services out there are good enough for me.

Re:I'll take a third option... (2)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 2 years ago | (#41663083)

Me too. Most stuff is streamed plus an HD antenna for the OTA channels. Works even better because the "OTA" basic Comcast isn't HD.

Re:I'll take a third option... (1)

2starr (202647) | about 2 years ago | (#41663191)

Works even better because the "OTA" basic Comcast isn't HD.

You need a CableCard, but you can get OTA channels in HD with basic Comcast service... although my understanding is there may be differences in some regions.

Re:I'll take a third option... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663393)

And who owns the pipe your media streams through?

Oh right, Cable Companies

One more reason to cut the cord. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662985)

Do they not realize they're screwing themselves by doing this. How many people are going to at least go OTA. I did that a year ago and between OTA, netflix, internet etc. I haven't missed it at all. Besides most of the cable channels are crap.

Re:One more reason to cut the cord. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663019)

Outside of nerds? Almost no one. The average person won't know or care.

CableCard, to the rescue! (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41662993)

Wait, 99% of TVs sold today don't bother supporting it... Shit!

Re:CableCard, to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663059)

Do any TVs sold today have a cablecard slot?

My bedroom TV has a cablecard slot and I love not having to juggle space for an ugly tuner box in the bedroom, but I got it in 2006 and I'd love to have a modern replacement waiting in the wings.

So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662999)

Or you could just use an antenna to receive the free OTA channels directly without involving the cable company at all. You can get some pretty diminutive aerials these days for inside use if you can't mount one outside.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#41663057)

There are many places in this country that the OTA signal is not reliable unless you have a massive antenna due to LOS issues.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663129)

Any good antennas you can suggest? Indoor or outdoor would be fine. I would prefer not to have to move it though. Multiple would also be better than having to move one.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663233)

Antennas Direct DB8 UHF Multi-Directional HDTV Antenna

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882790012

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663255)

Do you think this unit would be suitable to place in the attic?

I would prefer not to put it on the roof so there is less wife opposition.

WHOA...watch out for UHF only! (4, Insightful)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about 2 years ago | (#41663481)

These so-called "HDTV" antennas were sold for years with the incorrect assumption that digital TV would stay on UHF and it most assuredly did not!

In the New York area for example, several of the UHF digital networks moved their digital signal to their original VHF frequency when the switch over occurred.

Don't buy one of those unless you're sure that all the digital networks in your area are on UHF. If any are, you'll need a combination UHF/VHF antenna.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41663493)

Antennas Direct also sells them directly at http://www.antennasdirect.com/ [antennasdirect.com] Great customer service, too.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#41663327)

Here [amazon.com] ($20) is a great one for indoor/outdoor use. I have mine mounted indoors on the pole of my TV stand.

It's is a clone of the Antennas Direct DB2. There's also a 2-panel DB4 and a 4-panel DB8 [amazon.com] .

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41663435)

Whoa! This antenna looks dangerous. From the Amazon description: "Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs."

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663369)

For about two years I used a coat-hanger antenna, as described here:
http://makeprojects.com/Project/Digital+TV+Coat-Hanger+Antenna/722/1

Then, about 3 months ago I moved to a new house that got poorer reception, so I tried building a Single Bay Gray-Hoverman (SBGH) antenna. This antenna performed better than the coat-hanger antenna but is a bit larger.
http://www.diytvantennas.com/sbgh.html

Both antennas were placed in the top level of the house, indoors.

I've also added in a Channel Master CM-7778 preamplifier and now can pick up all of the channels in the area nice and strong.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41663429)

Any good antennas you can suggest? Indoor or outdoor would be fine. I would prefer not to have to move it though. Multiple would also be better than having to move one.

OK, truth time: I was trying to find some ridiculously massive, hopefully homemade mess of an antenna to post for kicks, when I came across this gem:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005US5M50?tag=wppk-20 [amazon.com]

Motorized, 360 degree rotation, multiple outputs, and comes with a remote?

Count me in!

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41663479)

Any good antennas you can suggest? Indoor or outdoor would be fine. I would prefer not to have to move it though. Multiple would also be better than having to move one.

OK, truth time: I was trying to find some ridiculously massive, hopefully homemade mess of an antenna to post for kicks, when I came across this gem: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005US5M50?tag=wppk-20 [amazon.com] Motorized, 360 degree rotation, multiple outputs, and comes with a remote? Count me in!

...aaaaaaand upon reading the reviews, never-fuckin-mind...

Man, what did we do for ensuring we were purchasing quality goods before peer review? Oh, right - we actually made quality shit ourselves.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41663197)

Sorry, I've got a DTV antenna, live outside of the downtown area of the largest city in my state, and OTA TV still breaks up every time a car passes by. I watch SD analog cable even when I get the same channel in HD OTA, it's that bad.

Re:So ... why not use the OTA signal directly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663477)

I don't think you understand what cable TV is really for. The term CATV originally stood for "Community Antenna Television", and was created for people who had difficulty getting OTA channels with an antenna. The idea is that the community would put up a single large antenna and then distribute the signal to the subscribers (those who paid to put up and maintain the antenna) via coax.

If you're one of the people that the cable television industry was created to support, there is no real way to receive free OTA channels without involving the cable company.

dom

An Antenna... (4, Insightful)

John Bresnahan (638668) | about 2 years ago | (#41663015)

will also work for many people. I recently cut my cable TV service when I realized that almost everything I was actually watching was programming being broadcast over-the-air. A $50 antenna and I'm all set

Re:An Antenna... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#41663509)

I couldn't agree more. A TV antenna gets me most of my content, and for the rest (a couple cable shows I watch) Hulu is free, and doesn't even use up a significant chunk of my internet bandwidth.

And this helps the consumer how? (3, Insightful)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about 2 years ago | (#41663021)

Seriously, +1 Internets to the first person who can put a positive spin on this one. Wow. Just wow.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (5, Funny)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about 2 years ago | (#41663071)

Cable exec makes more money. Cable exec buys new car. Consumer gets to wash that car, earning cash to pay current month's cable bill. Win-win!

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (0)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about 2 years ago | (#41663103)

It's the cable company's line, they should be allowed to do with it what they wish. Why should the cable companies be forced to deliver free services in any way?

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663159)

So when will I be getting that check for their line that crosses my property?

They can do what they like when they start paying their own way.

Also this is not a free service, merely a requirement that any OTA channels they carry for their subscribers be broadcast without encryption.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663213)

That was the tradeoff for the right of way through both public and private lands. I have a Comcast line running through my yard that supplies the whole neighborhood. I can't legally remove it because of these regulations.

1. They get to use our land and airwaves.
2. We get limited 'free' services.

Scratch #2. Does that mean I get to dig up that line from my taxed property?

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663453)

I know you are just trolling, but you'll find it doesn't cross "your land" to get to the whole neighborhood. It is more likely in the city street under the pavement. There may be a splitter / junction box along the city owned "parkway" between the street and the city owned sidewalk (this is how it is laid out in many areas; I am fully aware that it differs in some - for instance places with no sidewalk, no parkway, etc.). The part that goes on your land probably goes to your house. Although it may also head through "your land" to go to your direct neighbor's house too. Pull it out if you want; your neighbor may complain and then it will get routed over his land.

Now, the REAL question is how they can get a publicly granted right of way along with a publicly granted local monopoly without giving at least something in return. This was about the last of thing questionable things they could point to that they were "giving back". Now - nothing.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | about 2 years ago | (#41663331)

Wish there was a "-1 Stupid Shilling for Corporate Moochers" mod. 'Cause you just earned it.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663153)

Anyone interested in joining me at the campfire tonight? We tell stories and sing songs and maybe do a little dancing. It's free.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41663419)

Have you paid your license fees to ASCAP for those songs you will be singing?

Google for girl scouts happy birthday.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41663433)

Pardon me. Google for

girl scouts happy birthday copyright

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (0, Troll)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41663167)

JOBS. The cable and media companies are suffering innumerable loses due to piracy, of cable content. This is costing America innumerable number of jobs. Encryption alone will save tons of jobs, while affecting no legitimate cable watcher.

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663337)

Innumerable? I doubt it, we stole 0 from the muslims during the crusades.

What about all those legitimate cable watchers who don't want to rent a box?

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663427)

This is a parody of the cable executive's rationale, right? Because whatever losses they recover by getting rid of pirates will be offset by the people like me who are on the threshold of quitting the over-priced, poor-quality crap they sell on cable. Having to add a new, expensive box to the system will be the tipping point for me to say "No thanks. I'll just cancel it."

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (4, Funny)

Linsaran (728833) | about 2 years ago | (#41663281)

Seriously, +1 Internets to the first person who can put a positive spin on this one. Wow. Just wow.

By requiring all TVs to use one of our new Freedom Choice cable boxes we can provide a better over all customer experience, features such as our on screen channel guide can now be utilized on all your TVs. Think of it as an upgrade for your TV.

Sincerely,

Your friendly local cable company

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

rasjani (97395) | about 2 years ago | (#41663377)

Check Boxee's twitter account & blog and you spot one atleast one person behind it thats happy about this ..

They even claimed that they had influence on fcc that ruling turned out like it did.

http://blog.boxee.tv/2012/10/14/boxee-welcomes-fcc-rulemaking-that-opens-door-for-innovation/ [boxee.tv]

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41663465)

Why does it have to help the consumer?

Re:And this helps the consumer how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663471)

You can get back to using an antenna and discover over-the-air TV. Yes, local carriers provide these channels...at their discretion. Bright House has a certain manner of pick-and-choose with those channels. Suppose you live half-way between two metro areas, Metro A and Metro B. Bright House might pick up ABC from Metro A, then CBS and NBC from Metro B. It will throw their subchannels somewhere like channel 836-2 and 899-5 where you might not bother to find it. As for HD, I'm still shacked to the HD box anyway for the non-free cable channels, and to get them on additional TVs means buying additional HD boxes. So I'm trying to figure out what has changed here. The period of getting all of my programming the same way whether using a set-top box or not, that died years ago along with analog TV. It really is 1985 all over again, but the audio is scrambled along with the picture this time.

Anyone want me to call the waaaabulance? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663025)

Cry babies, cry! Fools who think that watching The Mentalist is a basic human right.

Install costs going down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663037)

While this sucks for HTPC's, they don't tell the main advantage of this, Install costs "should" shrink (or Cable profits will be padded more). Because everything is encrypted, turning on/off cable for a household is as simple as a Authorization Database entry. No more truck rolls, cables are always live and just need an authorized box to get cable.

Re:Install costs going down. (1, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#41663277)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Bring down prices! Hilarious!

No, seriously, hahahahahaha.

My guess (1, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 2 years ago | (#41663041)

Having worked at Comcast previously, my guess is their main motivation is to save bandwidth and being able to digitize every single channel. (Analog channels take up more bandwidth.)

Re:My guess (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#41663079)

Except they already digitize these channels - they just must preserve them "in the clear" without encrypting them.

Re:My guess (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41663081)

You can encode without encrypting.

Re:My guess (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41663333)

I suspect that the legal definitions of encode and encrypt might differ from those used in technology. Even ignoring that in technology encode can have many meanings, of which encrypt is just one.

Cable TV, for example, generally uses crappy video encoding technique and works around this by simply using a really high bitrate. For practical reasons - it's easier to just accept the higher bandwidth need than deal with the very complex business of non-realtime encoding, which involves coordinated extensively with the channel owners.

Re:My guess (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663093)

You can digitize without encrypting. That is what clear QAM is for.

What this is really about is that they won't have to roll a truck for a cable install. Heck, they can fire all the techs too, or at least most of them. They will leave all the cables live all the time and make you come get a box to do the decryption. When you leave you give the box back, or if you don't pay they deauthorize it on their end.

Re:My guess (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41663163)

Most comcast locations already fired all the techs. They use independent contractors. Most of the guys did dish installs, Direct TV installs and Comcast installs all in the same day.

Re:My guess (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663185)

Well now those guys will only be doing dish and direct.

Re:My guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663123)

Analog vs digital has nothing to do with encryption. you can make the signal digital without encrypting so my GUESS is that it has nothing to do with saving bandwidth. It has to do with locking in the customer.

Re:My guess (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#41663131)

They already do digitize all the channels and they already over compress them as is.

Re:My guess (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41663147)

Digitize for Clear QAM takes no more bandwidth than Encrypted QAM. Most areas have not had analog at all for 2 years now.

I used to work for Comcast in the headends and OTN locations, I know more about this than the CSR's or installers ever hope to know.

Re:My guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663155)

Yes analog channels take up more bandwidth but this isn't what this is about.

They already have digitized the OTA channels - via in the clear QAM. What this does is allow them to encrypt them such that a QAM tuner is worthless and you will HAVE to rent a box or cable card.

Re:My guess (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | about 2 years ago | (#41663193)

It is already digital (QAM). That is not what this about. They are now going to encrypt those digital broadcasts.

Re:My guess (1)

Ghostworks (991012) | about 2 years ago | (#41663209)

That was my first thought as well. With the increase in On-Demand content, they're already running pretty low. (Ever come home and find a "this channel is temporarily unavailable" message?) It's also a good reason to start phasing out non-HD boxes (provided your provider doesn't still charge more for an HD box). Eventually getting rid of the low-res channels and carrying only the HD channels would free up a little more bandwidth.

comcast is loaded old MPEG 2 only hardware (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41663501)

Comcast is loaded old MPEG 2 only hardware and lots of old HD boxes that even have HDMI out at best the old ones have DVI out.

Directv is talking about going all MEPG 4 by 2015.

Equipment fees (2)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41663073)

So, after two years they can charge an equipment fee. If you have three televisions,each with a decoder and a $5/monthly fee, the cable company starts taking in $180/year in extra revenue from the lowest paying customers.

Still Waiting (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663085)

I'll get cable when they make good on their original promise: Pay for TV, so no ads. Part (most) of the money you pay goes to the show to replace their ad income.

For all you young-lings, TV used to be completely free. To get people to pay for cable, their sales pitch was that you wouldn't get any ads.

They can pry my torrents from my cold dead heads or stop being lying, greedy assholes. Their choice.

Cable companies racing for irrelevance (4, Insightful)

claytongulick (725397) | about 2 years ago | (#41663117)

You'd think that in today's era of streaming video, netflix, hulu, amazon and iTunes, the cable companies would be doing everything in their power to increase viewership numbers (for advertising revenue).

Adding obstacles to folks trying to watch their programming seems insane - like they are actively trying to go out of business, driving more folks (like me) away from traditional add supported media. My wife and I do all our watching on Netflix (or Amazon, if there's a show we're willing to buy). I can't imagine going back to the bad old days of television ads.

Not that I mind, given the advances in cell technology, I think we're less than 10 years away from cable companies being nothing more than legacy internet providers anyway, like dial-up.

Comcast = Earthlink in ten years.

Re:Cable companies racing for irrelevance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663341)

Do the cable companies get any advertising revenue for the OTA channels?

Re:Cable companies racing for irrelevance (3, Funny)

twmcneil (942300) | about 2 years ago | (#41663463)

That's a nasty thing to say about Earthlink.

Fuck (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663127)

This move will only make pirating television more appealing.

Thanks for nothing, FCC. I'm tired of every last fucking thing on Earth being monetized for no reason other than greed, and the so-called "regulators" doing nothing as the are getting huge sums of money from the parties behind the changes.

Piracy: The Better Choice(tm) (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | about 2 years ago | (#41663181)

That is all.

It seems most have missed the other part of this (5, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | about 2 years ago | (#41663211)

The way this was agreed was if the cable company is encrypting their channels, they have to make them available unencrypted over IP, so devices like Boxee and others can still receive them, or work with PVR makers to make "Software updates" available so they can decrypt the streams.

Given that the daddy of all open-source PVR projects, MythTV, already supports IPTV systems (after a little careful setup), this is actually a good thing. And while it is basic channels only for now, hopefully the practise will expand into premium channels later on.

Re:It seems most have missed the other part of thi (4, Insightful)

tapspace (2368622) | about 2 years ago | (#41663459)

Making money off the elderly and out of touch, the way God intended.

Re:It seems most have missed the other part of thi (1)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about 2 years ago | (#41663495)

Last I checked broadband internet was not free.

This is actually a bad thing.

Is it worth it for them? (1)

gauauu (649169) | about 2 years ago | (#41663215)

Well, it'll be interesting to see if Comcast does this in my area. I'm not going to buy/rent a cable box. If they encrypt my channels, and thus make it so I can't watch their cable with my setup, then I'm dropping my service (both the $7 basic cable, and the $55 internet). Over the air and DSL will be good enough.

I guess I should write them a letter. As if anyone would read it or care.

Dish, Direct, Antenna, or cut the cord (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41663227)

All are better options then the cable companies.
We switched from Comcast for TV and net, and now use qwest (centrury link) for FASTER internet, and dish for TV. However, once my kids get older, I want to kill even dish. In the meantime, we will never go back to comcast. Just a plain evil company.

Re:Dish, Direct, Antenna, or cut the cord (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41663365)

Dish, direct, antenna... you forgot torrent.

Re:Dish, Direct, Antenna, or cut the cord (2)

prestonmichaelh (773400) | about 2 years ago | (#41663375)

If your kids are young, then cut it now. A few Rokus and a Netflix streaming subscription and you are set. I have a 4 year old and if needed, she can work Netflix on the Roku herself. Doesn't mind watching the same seasons/episodes of Dora, Fresh Beat Band, Franklin, Barney, etc. over and over and over. I find most kids to be like that.

People like to complain a lot about Netflix content (or lack there of), but they actually have quite a bit of kids content.

Dissolving reality into a base solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663259)

Well I suppose I could engage in the inevitable, this evil, that evil, but I'd rather address the issues any solution will have to deal with. One lack of any kind of global program guide with IMDB level detail. Lack of any vetting of content for quality. Output devices that hide the various disparate nuts and bolts that result from too many standards and not enough consensus. Reasonable price for something that's suppose to be for the masses.

No difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663273)

I suppose I should be mad (as a cable modem subscriber who refuses to pay for cable tv, I am one of the few people who can actually recieve OTA channels via cable without (technically speaking) paying the TV company for any *TV* service or box rental). In the past, I have had my TV plugged into the cable to recive the free digital feed of the OTA channels.

However, I haven't used this in a while. To be honest, there is no advantage to doing so. I built myself a $10 antenna (google "2 by 4 DIY antenna") that gets them all over the air. In fact, I can even get a few OTA channels that the cable company wouldn't give me, because I'm not technically in the broadcast area, although the large city 20 miles away is. Additionally, while the video feed certainly came through unencrypted, all the broadcast info was scrubbed, so I couldn't look up show listings or anything else, and the channel numbers were being fed through some random channels that were in no way affiliated with the broadcast signal.

Two points (2)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#41663305)

1. When I was buying my first flat-panel TV, I went into a 'high-end' retailer (no, not Best Buy) and wanted to see the picture on one of the midrange sets. After realizing there was no OTA cable atached, the salesperson admitted they couldn't show me a picture. I found a paper clip, stuck in the jack, and got 3 channels. OTA is not always to hard to get.

2. MY cable box now is an SA Explorer 3xxxHD something. It has, for a tuner, you guessed it. A CableCard. Next tiem I hear Cox jerming someone around for getting their CC working, I'll send them the spec. Cox knows CableCards, they USE it.

So I guess I am getting satellite after all. And OTA. Almost everything we want to record is OTA anyways.

Glad I live in an area with good reception (1)

archer, the (887288) | about 2 years ago | (#41663329)

90%+ from a DB4 in the attic. I wonder how much my cable bill will shrink when I switch to just data and voice?

Oh, right. It won't shrink at all, will it.

Re:Glad I live in an area with good reception (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41663461)

If you have a cell, drop the voice.

It should shrink quite a bit though. I used to have cable and internet then I went just internet and it saved me about $30 a month.

Re:Glad I live in an area with good reception (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663499)

90%+ from a DB4 in the attic. I wonder how much my cable bill will shrink when I switch to just data and voice?

Oh, right. It won't shrink at all, will it.

You got that right. You will loose you bundle discount making each of the remaining services more expensive.. The only really question is will the bill for the 2 services equal or exceed the bill for the 3 bundled services.

Fuc4! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663421)

to die. I will Jam
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