Originally Posted by web1b
I don't see how the box prevents theft if they don't activate the channels on your account unless you pay for them. They could do the encryption on their backend and just turn the channels on and off as needed.
Problem is there would be no way to decrypt the signal on the consumer side or individual Television sets with modern cable technology(digital).
The cable systems that did what you were describing were analog systems. I seem to recall seeing a few like this myself. The Neveda city area may have been this way about 15-20 years ago? Then there were a few smaller systems around usually smaller residential communities or apartment complexes. Since Cable systems have gone mostly digital now this is no longer possible.
For awhile television manufactures who manufactured newer sets that included a digital tuner(qam in cable) sometimes included support for an imperfect technology called cable cards that was able to decrypt a cable signal in the set. You would install the cable card in a slot in the back of the television. But more recently the manufactures have stopped including this mostly because of added manufacturing costs, low acceptance rate, and a lack of a federal mandate(inclusion requirement).
The downside with cable cards is you still had to rent them from your cable company often with monthly fees not much lower then set top boxes. If i remember correctly Comcast locally gives you the first one free then charges an additional fee of $2.99 per card/month. Also cable card never supported things like On demand, iGuide, multiple tuners, etc.