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post #1 of 21 Old 11-19-2013, 08:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey, I currently subscribe to high speed internet through Comcast. I had my coax cables plug directly into both my TV and my PC, which gave me free basic television. All those channels were suddenly scrambled today, and now I am not getting any TV Channels, not even standard def analog channels.

 

 I have read some places that it's considered "Passive Theft" of cable, but I've also read that it's required to provide the regular, basic local channels to everyone. Regardless, my goal here is not to be a "Passive Thief" per se. My goal is simply to see if anyone can share what my options are moving forward.

 

Are my only options to buy from Comcast? Is an antenna a realistic and viable option? I heard I could get a digital converter possibly from Comast, but not sure what that will do FOR or TO me. Any help, suggestions, tips or tricks are all welcomed and appreciated. Thanks!

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post #2 of 21 Old 11-19-2013, 09:55 PM
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It's not clear from your message whether or not you are also a Comcast TV subscriber. If you are a Comcast TV subscriber, depending on your situation, you may be qualified to rent a set top box (or two) for a year or two. The box will take the cable channel and convert it to one of several possible formats for your TV (or computer), such as NTSC (analog) Channel 3 or 4, composite video, or component video. I don't know if the standard-def cable boxes come with a HDMI port. If you elect to go with a HD package, the HDMI port will come on the HD set top box.

 

Analog cable channels are likely disappearing since the FCC required cable carriers that had hybrid cables to continue providing analog channels until 2012. (I lost my local analog cable channels in October 2002.)

 

The FCC has agreed to permit cable carriers to encrypt local content, having decided that maybe the five largest cable providers in the United States have a case for encrypting all channels: it will reduce cable theft, which reduces unauthorized splitters that weaken the signal for all using the cable, including the paying subscribers. So Comcast has been both dropping analog channels and encrypting digital channels. See the thread: Are All Your QAM Channels Scrambled?

 

So, once Comcast has encrypted all your local channels, the only way to receive a TV signal is to subscribe to Comcast Xfinity TV, and have either some form of set top box from them, one per display device that you plan on using, or rent a CableCARD from them and use it in your CableCARD-compatible equipment (such as a TV with a CableCARD slot, or the appropriate adapter on your computer, but that part is outside of my personal knowledge). Be sure to check with Comcast before going out to buy a TV with a CableCARD slot because with the mix of equipment Comcast has, particularly from acquisition of older cable companies, there's no guarantee that all areas could be handled by CableCARD.

 

Another possibility is that Comcast didn't suddenly kill both analog and Clear QAM channels on the same day, but somehow filtered the feed to your residence to allow just the broadband Internet. They aren't suppose to do that if you subscribe to both Internet and TV service through them, but sometimes a technician will accidentally put a filter on the wrong line. (It had happened to me once.)

 

My experience:

 

I was doing ok with an old analog TV and a pair of VCRs for time-shifting shows ... until October 2012 when Comcast killed our local analog channels. Well, I knew that the days of the VCRs were numbered because there was no local store where I could buy a VCR (though I could buy a VCR/DVD player combo without tuner for a reasonable price), and that TV was already having issues, for the past couple of years displaying a huge orange halo on the right of any bright object on the screen, so I played those VHS tapes in a third VCR (and later a VCR/DVD player combo unit) that I had hooked up to a HDTV. So when we lost our analog channels, I visited our local Xfinity store, got the "Digital Starter Package" and rented a HD DVR from them, which allowed me to record two channels at the same time while playing a third, and on the way home purchased a HDTV for the HD DVR to feed, and that setup is in my bedroom. I knew I was going to do that some day, but the dropping of all the analog channels pretty much set the date of doing that which I was already convinced I would someday do.

 

Edited to add: The HD DVR I rent from Comcast has a CableCARD serial number as well as a DVR serial number, and for "activating" the DVR, I had to have them activate the CableCARD serial number.

 

Added: It took just two days, and then I wondered why I didn't start renting a HD DVR from Comcast a lot sooner! It's far more convenient than VCRs and no worries about having to schedule changing the VHS tapes so I don't run out of tape before running out of programs to record, and no more of this of having to watch all the programs on one tape before I can reuse the tape for another six hours! And HD sure looks a whole lot nicer than good SD, and several orders of magnitude better than the dying TV with the big orange halos I was using in the bedroom!

 

And none of this affected the broadband Internet service and the broadband modem I am renting from Comcast, other than there is a package deal for having both Internet and TV through them.


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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post #3 of 21 Old 11-19-2013, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Mark. I must say, you sound like a Comcast employee ;)

 

I do not currently subscribe to Comcast Xfinity TV service, I currently just pay for high speed Internet and we typically use Netflix & Amazon streaming for our TV shows.

 

I thought it was federal law that basic local channels were to remain free, so maybe I'm wrong on that. And yes, both the digital and analog channels all stopped working today, coincidentally the same day Xfinity sent me a letter with an AMAZING deal for TV packages with rates that won't change for 12 whole months!!! I honestly hate Comcast due to the fact that they consistently raise rates on you month after month until you're paying $200+ per month for Internet and TV. If they didn't have the fastest Internet I definitely wouldn't be using them at all.

 

So, based on that, I don't want to give Comcast my money for television because I abhor their constant price raising business tactics. Therefore, my only remaining options then are to use a different provider or pay for a multi-directional antenna and put it on my roof to get the free local channels that Comcast just started blocking is that right?

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post #4 of 21 Old 11-19-2013, 11:49 PM
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No, I am not a Comcast employee.

 

Actually, I would rather have basic cable channels be in the clear ("Clear QAM"), but that's not to be.

 

I don't know of any requirement that a cable provider provides local channels for free, at least I haven't heard of such in the United States. And they were required to carry local channels in the clear until just a year or so ago.

 

There are sites for estimating which channels you may be able to receive with an antenna, but I don't have any handy at the moment. Googling turned up http://www.tvfool.com/ and http://www.antennaweb.org/ but I have never used the information on these sites.

 

You might want to take a look in the "Local HDTV Info and Reception" section of the forums, looking for your city, state or at least for a major city near your location to see what others have written. (The sticky links before the index of threads may make this a lot easier.)


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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post #5 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 12:25 AM
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I thought it was federal law that basic local channels were to remain free, so maybe I'm wrong on that.

Comcast (and the other cable companies) lobbied hard to reverse that. The FCC granted them the ability to encrypt limited basic channels if they used things like DTAs to assist reception. If you're not subscribing to TV, you're stuck in regards to getting channels from Comcast.

Antenna or net delivery are your best options.

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post #6 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 12:36 AM
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Quote:
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I thought it was federal law that basic local channels were to remain free, so maybe I'm wrong on that.

Comcast (and the other cable companies) lobbied hard to reverse that. The FCC granted them the ability to encrypt limited basic channels if they used things like DTAs to assist reception. If you're not subscribing to TV, you're stuck in regards to getting channels from Comcast.
 

 

I am unaware of the cable companies ever being required to provide local channels for free. That's a separate issue from previously being required to have local channels unencrypted.


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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post #7 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 01:21 AM
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Even the issue of carrying local channels is more complicated than most probably realize.

 

A TV station may designate themselves as a "must carry" station or a "pay to carry" station, and can make that election once every three years. If the station declares itself a "must carry" station (which a PBS station must be a "must carry"), then that station cannot charge the cable company for carrying it. However, if a station elects instead to be a "pay to carry", it can negotiate a price with the cable companies for how much the station will receive for the cable company to carry that station and, if they don't reach a mutually-agreed set of prices and conditions, the cable company can't carry that station. No station can be both a "must carry" and "pay to carry" at the same time.

 

But as I emphasized in my immediately preceding message, cable companies have never been required to provide services for free; if you want to receive cable TV, even if it is just local channels, one must pay.


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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post #8 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 10:09 AM
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I thought it was federal law that basic local channels were to remain free, so maybe I'm wrong on that.

The law required them to provide local channels for free to Cable TV subscribers. You were/are not a Cable TV subscriber. They owe you nothing.

If you don't want to pay for TV, get an antenna. End of discussion.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #9 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 10:23 AM
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Is OTA a possibility for you?
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post #10 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help & feedback everyone! I really appreciate it. I'm still new at this whole HTPC & some of these getting rid of your Cable company strategies I keep reading about.

 

I am not sure what you mean by OTA?

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post #11 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 01:55 PM
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^^^

OTA = Over The Air = Antenna

Free, Legal, and better picture quality than Cable or Satellite . . .

Don't ever make the MISTAKE of buying a Samsung TV..
They consider THIS
normal on a two month old set..
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post #12 of 21 Old 11-20-2013, 02:45 PM
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Thanks for all the help & feedback everyone! I really appreciate it. I'm still new at this whole HTPC & some of these getting rid of your Cable company strategies I keep reading about.

A lot of people have modified their viewing habits to get rid of cable. Sometimes you have to wait for shows to appear on internet providers, sometimes you have to do without certain programming (non-local sports, most commonly.)

Try the TV Fool link provided above. You plug in your location (street address is best; it won't reveal it to others beyond zip code) and it'll give you a graph of what is available and the general direction of the transmitters. Anything in green can probably be received by good ol' rabbit ears. Yellow and red might need more sophisticated antennae.

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post #13 of 21 Old 11-23-2013, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help everyone! I just purchased a multi-directional antenna. Once I figure out how to run the Coax from the attic down to my basement I'll be good to go! lol But this thing is supposed to offer an awesome reception. And since I'm not getting the free local channels through Comcast anymore, I don't need them for Internet either. Sounds like it's time to switch out using them for Internet also, that way they quit raising the price on me every other month until I get fed up and drop them . . .

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post #14 of 21 Old 11-25-2013, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for the help everyone! I just purchased a multi-directional antenna. Once I figure out how to run the Coax from the attic down to my basement I'll be good to go! lol But this thing is supposed to offer an awesome reception. And since I'm not getting the free local channels through Comcast anymore, I don't need them for Internet either. Sounds like it's time to switch out using them for Internet also, that way they quit raising the price on me every other month until I get fed up and drop them . . .

If you have forced air heating and air conditioning, then easiest would be to run the coax through the return duct. They are usually straight, and go up and down.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #15 of 21 Old 11-25-2013, 01:26 PM
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That would be easy. But many (most?) don't have duct work in their attic. wink.gif

Even if the poster goes through the effort of finding a way to easily run a coax from the attic/antenna to the TV, he may be disappointed to find out that:
1) mutidirectional antennas typically don't work well
2) multidirectional antennas in an attic, well... typically, don't work. biggrin.gif
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post #16 of 21 Old 12-05-2013, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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If you have forced air heating and air conditioning, then easiest would be to run the coax through the return duct. They are usually straight, and go up and down.


Thanks for the tip, though it looks like I'm able to avoid mounting it in the attic for now. I actually have my TV in my lower level, which is half way underground, with the other half opened up to a sloped backyard. I just wanted to test the antenna, so I hooked it up directly down in my basement. I am about 30-35 minutes away from Minneapolis, and I get excellent reception. The funny part is looking at where I have it mounted. I had to provide a picture, to each his own, but I just thought it looked cool right there on the wall!!! lol. Excuse the cable management. I haven't mounted my sound bar yet, and I just built my HTPC, so I haven't positioned that as well. But yeah, I hung my antenna on the wall because I liked it lol.

 

 

 

We've found our multi-directional antenna actually works extremely well! Paid $99 for it at Best Buy.

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post #17 of 21 Old 12-05-2013, 08:32 PM
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I've seen worse-looking setups.

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post #18 of 21 Old 12-06-2013, 06:22 AM
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We've found our multi-directional antenna actually works extremely well! Paid $99 for it at Best Buy.

You know, I had a brain fart. I really meant to refer to "omni-directional" antennas in the earlier post (#15). redface.gif
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post #19 of 21 Old 12-06-2013, 08:55 AM
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That would be easy. But many (most?) don't have duct work in their attic. wink.gif

Even if the poster goes through the effort of finding a way to easily run a coax from the attic/antenna to the TV, he may be disappointed to find out that:
1) mutidirectional antennas typically don't work well
2) multidirectional antennas in an attic, well... typically, don't work. biggrin.gif

No they don't. but you can drill through the top plate right into the duct. I actually pushed a 1" conduit through a return duct from the basement into the attic in a 2 story colonial. I have run all my wires through it, ethernet, coax, phone... It is getting full. Should have went with 1 1/2" conduit.

You just spray some insulating foam around the hole where the conduit goes through the top plate to prevent HVAC sucking attic air into the return.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #20 of 21 Old 12-06-2013, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jerdoggmckoy View Post


Thanks for the tip, though it looks like I'm able to avoid mounting it in the attic for now. I actually have my TV in my lower level, which is half way underground, with the other half opened up to a sloped backyard. I just wanted to test the antenna, so I hooked it up directly down in my basement. I am about 30-35 minutes away from Minneapolis, and I get excellent reception. The funny part is looking at where I have it mounted. I had to provide a picture, to each his own, but I just thought it looked cool right there on the wall!!! lol. Excuse the cable management. I haven't mounted my sound bar yet, and I just built my HTPC, so I haven't positioned that as well. But yeah, I hung my antenna on the wall because I liked it lol.





We've found our multi-directional antenna actually works extremely well! Paid $99 for it at Best Buy.

Looks good. Put the TV on an articulating Arm in front of the antenna and no one will know it is there. biggrin.gif

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #21 of 21 Old 01-01-2014, 02:36 PM
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sounds like your tap may have been audited and since you were only setup for internet services a data trap was installed thus causing all your video signals to be filtered.
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