Comcast DTA/HDTV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 07-16-2010, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I Just got my Mom an HDTV, she has the Comcast DTA. Is there a way to get the local HD channels via the tuner with the DTA connected?

I know I can get the Stanard Def box and use the composite connections and then connect the cable to the tv. Just want to know if it's possible with the DTA.
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post #2 of 30 Old 07-16-2010, 09:43 PM
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If the HDTV has a QAM tuner, you can split the coax cable, run one side into the HDTV and get the local HD channels.

The other side of the coax goes to the DTA, and the DTA output to the HDTV.

If the HDTV only has one RF input, them you'd also need an A/B switch to go back and forth between the DTA (HDTV on ch 3 or 4) and the direct coax.

A standard cable box will have composite video out, which would go into the HDTV on a video input, and that would negate the need for the A/B switch.

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post #3 of 30 Old 07-16-2010, 11:27 PM
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If changing inputs and using an A/B switch is an acceptable solution for her, and you don't mind spending the money, Radio Shack sells a nice, little remote-controlled model that could make things a little bit less of a hassle.

That way she won't have to get up out of her seat to switch it (also, if she has a learning remote, you can program the buttons into that, so she won't have to deal with having to use another remote).
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post #4 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 01:04 PM
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I just got the dreaded notice of impending migration across the bottom of my screen today while watching the tour de france on Versus (part of the extended basic lineup). Can anyone tell me just what the DTA does? From this comcast FAQ:

http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/FA...a-809307dadb94

it seems like the analog channels are not just being converted to QAM (which would make too much sense since every new TV has a QAM tuner), so I'm left wondering what this DTA device is really doing? Why is comcast going through the expense of giving these devices to everyone, when if they just used unencrypted QAM they'd be completely unnecessary for anyone with a relatively new TV?
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post #5 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mbordas View Post

I just got the dreaded notice of impending migration across the bottom of my screen today while watching the tour de france on Versus (part of the extended basic lineup). Can anyone tell me just what the DTA does? From this comcast FAQ:

http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/FA...a-809307dadb94

it seems like the analog channels are not just being converted to QAM (which would make too much sense since every new TV has a QAM tuner), so I'm left wondering what this DTA device is really doing? Why is comcast going through the expense of giving these devices to everyone, when if they just used unencrypted QAM they'd be completely unnecessary for anyone with a relatively new TV?

Not everyone pays for all the channels that would be out there on QAM...that's the simple answer.

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post #6 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 03:44 PM
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Not everyone pays for all the channels that would be out there on QAM...that's the simple answer.

yeah, I thought that was what encrypted QAM was for, in other words, for those who want premium channels and don't mind a set top box. The analog channels have always been in the clear. I always imagined that was because they couldn't or didn't want to encrypt basic cable. Now that seems to have changed.
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post #7 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 05:46 PM
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The analog channels are being eliminated to reclaim the bandwidth they use, which is much greater than the bandwidth used for the same number of digital channels.

This results in being able to add many more SD & HD channels in the same space as before, with higher, more consistent SD signal quality.

It also allows them to encrypt digital channels from the head end. The DTA will allow subscribers to view the channels previously between 1-99.

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post #8 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 08:55 PM
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I know this is a done deal and complaints will not even fall on deaf ears, but it seems not to occur to anyone in comcast that maybe the point of having a flat screen tv is to HANG IT ON THE WALL and thus any old device of their choosing is not exactly in keeping with that functionality, especially when it is designed solely to meet some imaginary corporate need and PROVIDES NO BENEFIT AT ALL TO THE CUSTOMER.

This DTA does nothing that couldn't have been done with unencrypted QAM that every TV can already decode, and encrypted QAM that every set top box can already decode. The fact that it won't tune in HD channels, and customers must now use two different methods (and two different remote controls) shows just how thoughtless a design this is.

I just heard through the grapevine that apple is putting the finishing touches on a massive data center, the purpose of which is most likely to make apple TV the next killer app. All the "extended basic" channels are available via the web ala hulu or just by going to their web site. So, remind me again why I need this DTA?
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post #9 of 30 Old 07-20-2010, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mbordas View Post

I know this is a done deal and complaints will not even fall on deaf ears, but it seems not to occur to anyone in comcast that maybe the point of having a flat screen tv is to HANG IT ON THE WALL and thus any old device of their choosing is not exactly in keeping with that functionality, especially when it is designed solely to meet some imaginary corporate need and PROVIDES NO BENEFIT AT ALL TO THE CUSTOMER.

This DTA does nothing that couldn't have been done with unencrypted QAM that every TV can already decode, and encrypted QAM that every set top box can already decode. The fact that it won't tune in HD channels, and customers must now use two different methods (and two different remote controls) shows just how thoughtless a design this is.

I just heard through the grapevine that apple is putting the finishing touches on a massive data center, the purpose of which is most likely to make apple TV the next killer app. All the "extended basic" channels are available via the web ala hulu or just by going to their web site. So, remind me again why I need this DTA?

?

First, if you have a flat panel hanging on a wall, odds are good you're going to want more than just a few local HD channels; you're going to want lots of HD. And that being the case, you'll need an HD box, regardless of your provider being cable, DBS, fiber, or IPTV. There is no getting around this fact. And, if you have a hanging flat panel, all you need is 1 HDMI cable in the wall for a proper installation. If you hang or can afford to hang an HDTV on the wall, this is no big deal. The cable box sits right next to your audio equipment and BD player, wherever that happens to be.

The imaginary need you refer to is the ability to offer a competitive number of HD channels to other alternatives. Without eliminating analog channels, Comcast was limited to ~40 HD channels in most areas. Now they can offer over 100.

Second, the DTA isn't a product intended for those interested in HD; it's for those with older analog TV's that still want standard cable channels 1-99. If all SD channels were in clear QAM, what stops a Limited Basic customer paying less than $20 per month from getting all the SD channels, which is $40-$50 a month worth of programming? The answer is nothing. Comcast is in business to make money, not give it away.

Third, the next killer app for TV viewing has been coming for quite some without any success. Ask any number of those companies who have attempted it, including Apple TV which has already failed once. If I had a nickle.....

It's very simple. Every provider uses a box for HD. Cable is no different. Every provider, except cable, uses a box for SD. Cable will soon be no different.

Just to humor you, let's say you start watching TV from the Internet instead of from a multichannel provider. Let's say Apple TV is a big success. The amount of programming available right now on any of the current HDTVs is extremely limited, and will be into the indefinite future. For Apple TV, your still going to need an external box to continue to get anywhere close to the SD & HD programming that Comcast offers right now. As we speak, wireless HD is on the verge of becoming not only possible but functional and affordable. At that point, having a box hidden somewhere will be no big deal to anyone.

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post #10 of 30 Old 07-21-2010, 08:23 AM
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I realize I'm late to this because apparently this all happened last summer:

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r229...to-ComcastPace

And so this is a pointless argument. I understand it's a done deal. I just wasn't aware of it because I've been happily receiving extended basic for years and only now get notice of the "digital migration".

I also understand that analog had to go away eventually. But it seems to me that eventually is coming a lot quicker that it should have - when the OTA transition occurred last year, comcast made a big deal out of the fact that their customers weren't affected.

The problem is the DTA IS A BAD DESIGN.

Perhaps this seems unusual, or uncommon, but I don't have any "audio equipment or BD player" next to my TV. It's a flat panel, it hangs on the wall. The entire point is not to have a bunch of wires and electronic junk exposed in my living room. I've gone to the trouble of placing that stuff out of sight. Do you really think that is such a weird thing to do? Apparently comcast does. Every advertisement I see for TVs shows a bunch of happy people in front of a pristine flat panel. Every ad touts how thin each latest model is. Why does comcast get to say no you can't really do that?

So, problem number one is, now I have a DTA that has a remote. I use windows 7 media center. Like a lot of people. Now I have to figure out how to run wires so this device, that adds NO VALUE FOR ME, can change the channel. Thanks for breaking my entire system comcast.

Oh and I wonder, since I haven't received this DTA yet: how does it control the volume? Or doesn't it? Did that not perhaps occur to the people who came up with this idea?

Problem number two is, is since the DTA won't tune in HD, I have to use my QAM tuner, with its own remote, to get the local HD channels. Thanks for breaking my entire system comcast.

As for how comcast should distinguish between limited and extended basic, I'd ask how are they doing it now? Switching from an analog to a digital transmission method somehow translates that they got all worried people might get channels they're not supposed to?

And don't tell me the quality is better: the channels are the same, they're not in HD, there's really no difference to the customer. A few extended basic channels have been available in clear QAM on my system, and I can't tell the difference between those and the analog ones.

They charge a little less than $20 for extended where I live, not the $40-$50 you mention. So there's no great differential between limited and extended. They could just have put the extended channels in clear QAM, a feature that every new TV has, and it wouldn't have changed a thing. Not a single customer would have been inconvenienced or even noticed a change. There would have been no need for a "digital migration". Except maybe they would have saved millions of dollars not producing and distributing a bunch of DTA dongles.

What it comes down to for me, and I suspect others, is the following: if it becomes more of a hassle to get extended basic than it is worth, I just won't bother with it, I'll watch those channels on their web sites. And since I'm not going to pay the same for less service, I'll probably just ditch the cable altogether.

Like a lot of people, I already have Netflix, I already have Hulu, Boxee, etc. None of these require converters and wires and additional remote controls. There's getting to be more choice every day.
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post #11 of 30 Old 07-21-2010, 09:51 AM
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The problem is the DTA IS A BAD DESIGN.

How is it a bad design? It's not much bigger than a deck of cards. Most cable boxes are the size of a computer. The box comes with screws and tape so you can hide the box behind the tv. It also comes with an IR extender, so you can put it in another room, and just run the IR cable out to the TV.


Quote:
Perhaps this seems unusual, or uncommon, but I don't have any "audio equipment or BD player" next to my TV. It's a flat panel, it hangs on the wall. The entire point is not to have a bunch of wires and electronic junk exposed in my living room. I've gone to the trouble of placing that stuff out of sight.

So you already have a hole in the wall behind the TV that all your cables come through? Why is it that big of a deal to run ONE more cable? Or you could get an HD cable box, like most of the people that have HD sets use.

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Oh and I wonder, since I haven't received this DTA yet: how does it control the volume? Or doesn't it? Did that not perhaps occur to the people who came up with this idea?

Maybe you should do some research on comcast's site before you come on here. The DTA remote controls the TV's volume, just like you do now. No change.

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Problem number two is, is since the DTA won't tune in HD, I have to use my QAM tuner, with its own remote, to get the local HD channels. Thanks for breaking my entire system comcast.

So you already have a separate QAM tuner? Whats the big deal then? You obviously already have a remote for the tv, and one for the tuner.

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They could just have put the extended channels in clear QAM, a feature that every new TV has, and it wouldn't have changed a thing.

Not everyone has a new tv. And those that do have a new HDTV, usually have an HD box. I dont see the point why people buy a new HDTV, and connect it to standard cable. That's like buying a Ferrari, but never going faster than 40 mph.
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post #12 of 30 Old 07-21-2010, 10:29 AM
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I applaud the cableco's for converting to digital. Supposedly a win/win for everyone. But... I agree that expanded basic should be unencrypted to be enjoyed on a clear QAM capable TV as it was in the past with analog "cable ready" TV's.
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post #13 of 30 Old 07-21-2010, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by sitlet View Post

I don't see the point why people buy a new HDTV, and connect it to standard cable. That's like buying a Ferrari, but never going faster than 40 mph.

Some of us are happy with the 6 networks in HD via clear QAM, and out DVDs upscaled by our BluRay players. That saves the hot, high watt cable boxes. There is no requirement for special or multiple remotes, either.

More HD ... be nice, but not at those costs FOR ME. I'm amazed at how good pictures are in SD with a good set. MOST of my complaints are the stretched garbage some of my friends like to watch on 4:3 channels.
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post #14 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

I applaud the cableco's for converting to digital. Supposedly a win/win for everyone. But... I agree that expanded basic should be unencrypted to be enjoyed on a clear QAM capable TV as it was in the past with analog "cable ready" TV's.

Yes, and the dumb part is that they moved the expanded basic SD digital channels into the same trapped out range that they used for analog (30-79) in our area, so if they wanted to send them in the clear it would be just like the old days.

But you know they don't want to maintain traps anymore, right? That's why they encrypt these after the migration.
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post #15 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

But you know they don't want to maintain traps anymore, right? That's why they encrypt these after the migration.

True, but I'm certain that digital channels can be encrypted selectively at the head-end. No need to encrypt everything.
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post #16 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

True, but I'm certain that digital channels can be encrypted selectively at the head-end. No need to encrypt everything.

I think the issue is basic vs expanded basic; if they don't encrypt expanded basic, and don't have a trap, then basic subscribers with tuners capable of clear QAM reception have the same reception as expanded basic subscribers.

I'm a Charter Bundle subscriber in upstate SC; rumor is that we will be getting switched video this fall or winter. I presently enjoy much of the expanded basic I pay on 3 sets for without those power hungry space consuming boxes. I won't be a happy camper when that is dropped.

NOTE that there are MANY expanded basic channels I do not receive which are already encrypted and require their box. I do receive the 6 networks in HD. There are some expanded basic channels (specifically C-Span2, Inspirational, and Univision) in clear QAM and occasional others for various periods.
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post #17 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 08:11 AM
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Either way, I still don't agree with the "policy". In other words, traps have blocked channels (frequencies) up to ~channel 22 for years. If you are a limited basic subscriber, I'm sure the cableco can technically provide a method to block unsubscribed channels if/when they go 100% digital.

IMHO, this makes all internal QAM tuners obsolete (except for limited basic subs) and is nothing more than a tactic for cableco's to generate revenue by unnecessarily forcing the consumer/subscriber to "rent" a cable box and laziness on their part.

It's 2010. With all of the compitition today (D*, E*, FiOS, internet), you would think that they would apply the technology appropriately and make it convenient and cost effective for the subs. Especially the long time subs (+25 years).

This type for logic (force feeding?) leaves me (or many others) no reason to retain cable if I'm required to rent a cable box.
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post #18 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 09:02 AM
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AFAIK the cable companies that have switched to all digital tranmit all the channels thy carry according to the FCC's must carry rules in clearQAM with only a basic cable subscription. The DTAs then receive all the clear QAM channels and convert them to SD analog for receipt by any TV just like the CECB boxs do for OTA digital. I am not aware of any TVs that have QAM tuners that cannot receive these clear QAM channels in their broadcast resolution be it SD or HD.
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post #19 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Either way, I still don't agree with the "policy". In other words, traps have blocked channels (frequencies) up to ~channel 22 for years. If you are a limited basic subscriber, I'm sure the cableco can technically provide a method to block unsubscribed channels if/when they go 100% digital.

I don't get how you say they can do this - the channel is either encrypted or not for all subs, and the box decides if you can view it (i.e., is authorized) if it is encrypted. There's no way to do what you're proposing without a box using current RF channel tech, because they can't selectively provide channels in the clear for each subscriber. IPTV (SDV) is a different story, but I'm talking about clear QAM.
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post #20 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 09:30 AM
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The DTAs then receive all the clear QAM channels and convert them to SD analog


Your lips to god's ears. If that's the case, we don't have a problem.

I'm afraid that everything coming in is encrypted QAM, which the DTA decrypts and converts to SD, in which case we have to use the DTA for one set of channels (expanded basic) and our own QAM for the local HD channels. Two different remotes, and a constant delay switching from one set of channels to the other. Which would suck.

Can you or anyone really verify from experience which is the case?
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post #21 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by walford View Post

AFAIK the cable companies that have switched to all digital tranmit all the channels thy carry according to the FCC's must carry rules in clearQAM with only a basic cable subscription. .

I'm not concerned with "must carry channels". If you can pass them, you can pass the other ~60 channels to which is subscribed without an external STB.

It may be an "easy" arguement to those that have always had and/or desire an STB. For others that have a new HDTV with an internal QAM tuner and no desire whatsoever for additional hardware or rental, PPV, channel guides, on-demand, etc... I would expect the cableco to accomodate and retain a "loyal" customer.

IMHO, it's only a WIN for the cableco. They convert to all digital to reacquire bandwidth and rent more hardware. All due to laziness on their part beacuse they won't/can't properly block channels below 99 (for expanded) or 22 (for limited).
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post #22 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 11:26 AM
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With all the rampant cable theft going on here in the Chicago metro area, I figured it was just a matter of time before they did something like that, even if for no other reason than that.
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post #23 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 12:30 PM
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Since the other ~60 channels to which a user has subscribed to are encrypted you need either a cable box or a cable card tuner in a PC to unencyprted them since they are not free with basic cable service of about $20 per month.
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post #24 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 01:17 PM
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If I get them today without a box, I should be able to get them tomorrow without a box. Again... I'm not addressing "limited basic" with a clear QAM tuner. I'm addressing expanded basic with a clear QAM tuner. I am also aware of the pricing structure(s).

Nor do I want to upgrade my PC tuner adapter to accept a cablecard to make things easy for the cableco.
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post #25 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

If I get them today without a box, I should be able to get them tomorrow without a box. Again... I'm not addressing "limited basic" with a clear QAM tuner. I'm addressing expanded basic with a clear QAM tuner. I am also aware of the pricing structure(s).

Nor do I want to upgrade my PC tuner adapter to accept a cablecard to make things easy for the cableco.

Explain how the cableco's can do this affordably without a box of any kind, and you'll be a rich man. All the while keeping in mind that not everyone has the same package of channels.

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post #26 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mbordas View Post

Your lips to god's ears. If that's the case, we don't have a problem.

I'm afraid that everything coming in is encrypted QAM, which the DTA decrypts and converts to SD, in which case we have to use the DTA for one set of channels (expanded basic) and our own QAM for the local HD channels. Two different remotes, and a constant delay switching from one set of channels to the other. Which would suck.

Can you or anyone really verify from experience which is the case?

Everything might be in the clear for a few weeks during the transition, but eventually all the expanded basic channels will be encrypted.
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Explain how the cableco's can do this affordably without a box of any kind, and you'll be a rich man. All the while keeping in mind that not everyone has the same package of channels.

Addressable traps in the neighborhood distribution box. You subscribe to expanded basic, they disable the trap on your line. You drop to limited, they enable the trap. Already possible with existing technology, but it's cheaper to use DTA boxes since they don't have to roll trucks for most of them, and can bill customers who need more than whatever number they decide are free.
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post #27 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 01:46 PM
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Perhaps someone can explain where my thoughts are wrong. They send clear QAM today for limited basic. Why couldn't they do the same for expanded basic after conversion?

If the only reason is because they don't want to trap/filter for limited basic, then refer to previous comments. It should work the same as today, anything above expanded basic and/or premium subscriptions requires a box.
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post #28 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 03:06 PM
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Many Cable suppliers especially Comcast were not encrypting the expanded basic channels until recently even though they have to pay the providers of these channels(normally channels 31 and above) a per customer license fee, needless they decided to stop giving them away at a loss.
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post #29 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 04:56 PM
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Oh... okay.
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post #30 of 30 Old 07-22-2010, 05:35 PM
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Almost all cable providers have always had the expanded basic digital channels encrypted from day 1. Comcast removed the encryption in DTA areas for a while because at the time when they started the transition, they could not legally encrypt the channels due to separable encryption requirements. The FCC has since granted a waiver allowing the use of limited encryption with DTA boxes. As a result, all existing areas have now turned on encryption, and any new transitions only have the channels in the clear for a brief period while the encryption is changed from the full setup used on other channels to the limited "privacy mode" supported by the DTA boxes.

They want to do away with traps. Traps cost money, rolling trucks to add, remove, or troubleshoot traps costs money, and replacing dumb traps with addressable ones costs a lot of money. Traps are also easier to bypass to steal cable.
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