Originally Posted by QZ1
If it wasn't clear from before, whether they itemize a fee for one or more boxes is just a shell game by the MSOs. For example, with Comcast there is Standard service, add a box to it and it is called Digital Starter. I think the price difference at one point might have been the cost of the box, ~$4, but, I know for sure in January it was a $1 difference, and now there is no difference. The boxes aren't free, they just appear to be. People without boxes are partially subsidizing those that do have boxes.
BTW, now Comcast in this area will not activate Standard, it has to be Digital Starter, if one wants those channels. I would imgaine, though, that one only has to get one box, but I may be wrong.
I have had the Comcast "expanded" ? service for several years. This is the one where you get all of the non-premium channels and you don't have to have a set-top box.
At the time I had it installed I had an outdoor antenna feeding into a 4 way amplifier. After the amplifier, there were a few more splits. Technically I had 5 TVs total in the house, but since a few of those also had VCRs, the signal was ultimately getting split over 8 devices. Since my daughter moved away to college, I think I'm down to a total of 6 devices now.
I told Comcast that I had 5 TV's. When the installer came and saw that my amplifier and all of the cable which I had run myself was all done very well in a professional manner, he said (I'm paraphrasing a little):
"I'm just going to put on this form that you have 4 TV's. If we say that it is split more than 4 ways, then we have to provide an amplifier and I have to charge you for it. However, the amplifier you already have is honestly probably better than the one we provide, so let's just say that you have 4 sets."
Anyway, there may have been an initial one time charge for the fact that I had "4 sets" - but there was no additional monthly charges.
Now, fast forward to the present. Comcast said that it was converting some channels to digital that were previously available without a box on my plan. I think "Hallmark Channel" was one of these - which I never watch anyway. So, they said they would send me a "digital starter" box so that I could continue to watch those channels. Of course, they also play up the fact that I would also have "video on demand" which is another way to get you hooked and make money off of you. This ONE digital starter box is provided free of charge.
The catch is that if I want to have a "digital starter box" on the other 4 TV's, it will cost me an additional $4.95 per month per box -- almost $20.00 more per month!
There was a short article in a recent Consumer Reports about this very issue. They said that what the Cable companies are doing is really violating the intent of the digital conversion law passed by Congress. The digital conversion was not supposed to cost people anything. (Of course, for over the air they are only providing for a maximum of 2 $40.00 coupons for converter boxes which usually cost around $49 -- so I guess that isn't really free.)
Anyway, Consumer Reports said that everyone should write their congressman and complain about how this is being implemented.