So, Comcast are going (mostly) digital – see http://www.comcast.com/digitalnow/. This is both good and bad. Good: better picture quality. Bad: Pay up or you loose channels.
Let me explain.
It is fairly common that subscribers have a single digital cable box, and then connect the cable thru a splitter to a VCR (or, more recently, a Tivo, ReplayTV, DVD Recorder etc) and other TV’s in the house. With the digital change that’s being rolled out – quite simply you will not be able to do this and still view anything other than the most basic of channels. You will need a DTA (Digital Transport Adapter).
Until yesterday – such a DTA could not use encryption. This was good – I could access the channels using any Clear-QAM receiver. However, Comcast has petitioned the FCC and obtained a waiver to allow them to turn on the restrictions in these devices. So – I’ll likely be locked out from doing this.
The problem is this: For years, as a customer, I’ve been paying for service that included as many STBs as I want (each with a monthly fee) – + as many recording devices and/or TV’s as I want with no additional fee – on the understanding that I cannot access ‘premium’ content on them. This is now changing. To continue accessing this non-premium content we need one DTA device PER TUNER. This means – one DTA per TV, VCR, DVD Recorder, Tivo and tuner input on a HTPC. For me this adds up to 6 tuners. But Comcast are only offering 2 DTAs for free – and are telling me that each additional one will be $1.99 per month.
This adds up to an additional $143 per year – just to keep watching what I am able to watch now. No option to opt-out. Pay up – or loose access.
This sucks. I realize that this is progress. I realize that this change means more network capacity and, therefore, more services they can offer (and profit from). But why not allow existing customers enough DTA devices to cover their direct needs at the time of the switch?