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COMCAST forcing digital cable boxes down suscribers' throats!!! (Merged)


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#1 of 81 MielR

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Posted May 23 2009 - 04:13 PM

I currently only have basic-expanded cable in one room with no box, which works out perfectly for me. My HDTV's QAM tuner receives about 6-7 hi-def channels, and I supply my VCR and DVD-recorder with a cable signal with a splitter.

Well, I get a letter yesterday telling me that Comcast will be requiring everyone to get a digital cable box (in order to keep receiving channels 31-78 starting July 14th) which is going to totally screw up my TV watching-recording habits.

The box that we will be provided with does not provide any hi-def channels (you have to pay extra for that, of course) so I'll have to use a splitter and an A/B switch to watch any hi-def stations. Plus, I won't be able to watch one channel while recording another now, unless maybe the channel I want to watch is on channel 2-30 and the channel I want to record is on 31-78.

Plus, I'll have to program the cable box to the desired channels, in addition to my DVD-recorder every time I want to record programs while I'm away.

My VCR probably won't fit into the mix, so I won't be able to record 2 shows at the same time anymore. I can always bring the VCR into my bedroom where I have an antenna and a digital converter box, so I can record a broadcast station in there, but if I want to watch the tape in the den, I'll have to disconnect the VCR and move it.

...and this is assuming that the equipment and connections work as they're supposed to.

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#2 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 23 2009 - 11:39 PM

Note that all of Comcast's competitors, here (four competitors in total), already require STBs (or CableCARD) for expanded basic service -- and those competitors derive a substantial competitive advantage from that requirement. Comcast has had to ride a very fine line between continuing the service that they've always had and as a result losing many of its most lucrative customers to its competitors.

#3 of 81 Mikah Cerucco

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Posted May 24 2009 - 12:51 AM

You have four cable companies that will provide service to one address? Or are you perhaps talking about things like Dish Network, DirecTV, and Verizon FIOS?

Can you explain the competitive disadvantage that Comcast has by giving customers more flexibility? Personally, I've already pretty much given up on being a true Comcast customer as I've seen the writing on the wall as to what their intentions are. I hate STB's. If I have to, I'll just go back to OTA HD pickup for locals and do my other viewing using other methods. I'll treat them just like they treat me -- with little regard.
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#4 of 81 Scooter

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Posted May 24 2009 - 01:18 AM

Cablevision here advertises that HD is free...but that's bogus. I just bought an LCD with qam tuning and I only get the broadcast HD channels. To get basic cable HD (i.e. Comedy Central, Fox News, Cartoon Network, etc.) I need a box or card.

#5 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 01:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
You have four cable companies that will provide service to one address?
By definition, there is always only one legacy cable company. The five subscription television competitors serving our town are Comcast, RCN, FiOS, Dish Network and DirecTV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
Can you explain the competitive disadvantage that Comcast has by giving customers more flexibility?
Yes: It limits their available bandwidth, thereby preventing them from offering more HD channels, which is what all the other competitors tout as one of their big selling points, and one of the main reasons why the most lucrative customers switch providers.

There is no doubt that offering analog in-the-clear for expanded basic is also a competitive advantage, one that the legacy cable provider in many areas still retains. The question is when the competitive advantage that all-digital service affords (see above) trumps the competitive advantage that analog in-the-clear for expanded basic affords. That is probably already the case, and the legacy cable providers are working as fast as they can to catch up with the new reality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
Personally, I've already pretty much given up on being a true Comcast customer as I've seen the writing on the wall as to what their intentions are. I hate STB's. If I have to, I'll just go back to OTA HD pickup for locals and do my other viewing using other methods.
Then you're a lost cause with regard to the whole industry. They have to weigh the value of retaining customers like you against the value of customers willing to pay for the highest level of service with FiOS, because it offers a bunch more HD channels. The real shame of it is, in my opinion, that that bunch of HD channels is pretty much worthless, but that doesn't matter to many customers, who just see the advertisements and are sucked into switching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
I'll treat them just like they treat me -- with little regard.
Maybe you're misunderstanding their regard. You're not their only potential customer, and do be assured that their offerings aren't a personal insult directed at you, but rather reflects a weighing of how their offerings will be responded to by all their potential customers.

#6 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 01:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooter
Cablevision here advertises that HD is free...but that's bogus. I just bought an LCD with qam tuning and I only get the broadcast HD channels. To get basic cable HD (i.e. Comedy Central, Fox News, Cartoon Network, etc.) I need a box or card.
You've misread Cablevision's advertisements. Here is what they actually say:

Quote:
HD is Free with iO!

* iO offers over 100 HD channels** in all, including NY sports, movies, and local channels in HD for FREE!
[Emphasis added.]

You can see it right HERE.

#7 of 81 Shawn.F

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Posted May 24 2009 - 01:34 AM

One of the many things I hate about Comcast, and there are many, is that I have to subscribe to the non-HD channels in order to get their flimsy HD selection (they haven't added a new HD channel in my area in months). As for the digital cable box being forced on subscribers, I hope it will actually be one that works. The Motorola one I have had is a crap-a-rola.

#8 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 01:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn.F
One of the many things I hate about Comcast, and there are many, is that I have to subscribe to the non-HD channels in order to get their flimsy HD selection (they haven't added a new HD channel in my area in months).
Yes, that's precisely the point I was making to Mikah: There are a lot of customers like you who would prefer the limited bandwidth available be used more for more HD channels rather than for analog in-the-clear. And that's why Comcast is doing what MielR was concerned about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn.F
As for the digital cable box being forced on subscribers, I hope it will actually be one that works. The Motorola one I have had is a crap-a-rola.
The cable and satellite companies always have to offer an affordable (read: lower quality) option. Otherwise, consumers would complain even more about the (higher) prices (for rental of the higher quality devices).

Cable companies are also required to allow you to buy your own, higher quality host device, renting only a CableCARD from the cable company to support decryption of advanced services. So if you want a better digital cable box, you should buy your own. (However, do recognize that so few people feel that the lower quality cable boxes are such that buying their own higher quality cable box is worth it, so manufacturers don't have much incentive to offer boxes that the regulations say cable companies must support. If consumers were willing to pay more, then perhaps manufacturers would be more willing to offer you what you want. However, even though higher quality STBs are not available [yet], you can readily buy a high quality DVR, which will satisfy your need, and more.)

Note that the satellite companies got themselves exempted from the regulations that allow you to buy your own higher quality boxes, so you're stuck with what they offer themselves. Hopefully, the FCC will revoke that waiver someday.


#9 of 81 Scooter

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Posted May 24 2009 - 02:49 AM

This is from Cablevision's page:
iO offers over 100 HD channels** in all, including NY sports, movies, and local channels in HD for FREE!

And the TV ads don't have that mentioned either. They just say it's free. What's disingenuous about that is, they say that as regards FiOS which needs a box on every TV and the HD box is a bit more per month.

#10 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 03:11 AM

You apparently misread their advertisement again.

Read it more closely. It only says that the local channels in HD are for free.


#11 of 81 Scooter

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Posted May 24 2009 - 03:19 AM

Please show me where it says that. That sentence I quote is linear, no exclusions or seperation of service. And again, the commercials pump that HD is free with them.

#12 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 03:27 AM

There are commas in the sentence, that you are overlooking the ramifications of. If what you were saying was logical, then the sentence could be read to mean that they have 100 HD sports channels, for example. Rather, there are four parts of the sentence:

1) 100 HD channels in all,
2) including NY sports channels (like MSG?),
3) including movie channels (like HBO and Showtime), and
4) including local HD channels for free.

The commercials probably have the same statement, either verbally or in small print at the bottom of the screen, or a reference to "full details" elsewhere.

I understand you wish that they were staying that all HD is free. They're not saying that. You've misunderstood.


#13 of 81 Scooter

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Posted May 24 2009 - 03:38 AM

YouTube - Re: IO Digital Cable Rap (full version)

#14 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 04:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooter
Did you watch the video?

Quote:
"For service limitations, details and restrictions, see optimum.com."


#15 of 81 Patrick Sun

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Posted May 24 2009 - 04:25 AM

This Comcast development mainly screws me in not being able to record ESPN's Pardon The Interruption with my old ReplayTV on the analog cable feed (channel 46 in my area) in my bedroom, as it's the show I put on the TV when I go to sleep with a 30 minute TV timer. Sigh.

For my living room Comcast HD DVR, I'll have to pick up later showings of my non-broadcast network shows (from FX, TNT, USA, etc) since I now can't use my other ReplayTV to record above analog channel 30 once the switchover occurs. Boo. Nothing lasts forever.
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#16 of 81 Joe_H

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Posted May 24 2009 - 04:32 AM

Honestly, my opinion on it is that getting rid of analog cable is fine.

However, if they're going to do that, they need to offer those same channels that you were getting through analog on unencrypted QAM. Unfortunately, that's not how it appears that they'll be doing it. It seems to me so far that when they've taken away channels from my analog cable, that the digital equivalents have been encrypted.

#17 of 81 Mikah Cerucco

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Posted May 24 2009 - 07:12 AM

Quote:
However, if they're going to do that, they need to offer those same channels that you were getting through analog on unencrypted QAM. Unfortunately, that's not how it appears that they'll be doing it. It seems to me so far that when they've taken away channels from my analog cable, that the digital equivalents have been encrypted.

Finally, someone who gets it. I don't mind them converting from in-the-clear (ITC) analog to ITC (Clear QAM) digital. What I mind is them converting from ITC analog to encrypted digital, and thus requiring me to use a STB on every TV.

I'd go into the number of reasons why it's an inconvenience, but I'm sure folks would just respond with telling me to get harmony remotes, ad infinitum just to watch TV. Rest assured I don't waste any energy trying to whistle into the wind, but when there's a thread dedicated to discussing how we feel about these things, you can be sure I'm going to let my feelings be known. Lost cause? Sure. But as I said, I expend no energy in trying to fight that lost cause because I already have alternative options that more than meet my needs. That's meant to represent my situation and feelings on the subject, and nothing more.
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#18 of 81 Patrick Sun

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Posted May 24 2009 - 07:50 AM

Eh, I more perturbed by the time-shifting changes that this new development entails because it will impact a lot of people's recording capabilities, costing them more for the "same" content to upgrade their recording gear.
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#19 of 81 MielR

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Posted May 24 2009 - 08:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
This Comcast development mainly screws me in not being able to record ESPN's Pardon The Interruption with my old ReplayTV on the analog cable feed (channel 46 in my area) in my bedroom, as it's the show I put on the TV when I go to sleep with a 30 minute TV timer. Sigh.

For my living room Comcast HD DVR, I'll have to pick up later showings of my non-broadcast network shows (from FX, TNT, USA, etc) since I now can't use my other ReplayTV to record above analog channel 30 once the switchover occurs. Boo. Nothing lasts forever.

Comcast says they'll provide (for free) one set-top box and up to two digital adapters.

I'm wondering if I should order an adapter in addition to the set top box, and using a splitter, use the adapter to feed my VCR and the set top box to feed my DVD-recorder? Would this work? I've spent the last few hours going through all of the wiring manuals that Comcast has on their site, trying to figure out how I'm going to have to hook up everything....ugggggh!
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#20 of 81 Brian^K

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Posted May 24 2009 - 10:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
Finally, someone who gets it. I don't mind them converting from in-the-clear (ITC) analog to ITC (Clear QAM) digital. What I mind is them converting from ITC analog to encrypted digital, and thus requiring me to use a STB on every TV.
So switch to one of the competitors.... except that they are all already operating that way. I think instead of condemning Comcast for switching to the new technology, it would be appropriate to acknowledge the fact that they've kept in-the-clear analog as long as they have. That's a balanced perspective regarding this development, rather than a one-sided consumerist perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikah Cerucco
I'd go into the number of reasons why it's an inconvenience, but I'm sure folks would just respond with telling me to get harmony remotes, ad infinitum just to watch TV.
Let's be clear: It is a big inconvenience. I use in-the-clear analog on three televisions. When Comcast does this in my area, I'm probably going to switch to FiOS. Not because Comcast did anything wrong, but just because at that point they would be no better for me than FiOS, and so I can switch back and forth to whichever supplier is currently offering the best price.


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