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FYI: Comcast digital TV in Cambridge

Bill Bogstad wrote:
> It's clear that some channels which I receive in analog (say Sci-Fi,
> ESPN) either aren't also sent in digital (or are sent encrypted).

I'm quite sure they're carried in digital, just encrypted.

Basically Comcast is saying you can't have access to the programming you 
paid for without renting additional equipment from them. This seemed 
like an acceptable compromise back in the day when a cable box was 
required only if you subscribed to one of a small handful of premium 
stations, but now were talking about the majority of the programming on 
an "extended basic" package is inaccessible.

There's not really a good excuse for this, as the industry has (or at 
least did have) equipment that could provide the channels in the clear 
while blocking the ones you don't subscribe to. They were known as 
addressable taps. Instead of having a descrambler in a set top box, the 
tap out on the pole had electronics to filter out the channels you 
weren't supposed to get. (This was a step up from the old passive filter 
system, where a change in your subscription required a guy to climb a pole.)

The best excuse against this technology is probably cost, and Comcast 
might be able to make a case for that, but it'd be a harder case for 
Verizon to make, as each FIOS tap already has a non-trivial amount of 
electronics built-in to it.

Of course putting the electronics into a set top box and then charging 
the customer to rent it just helps them squeeze more revenue from their 
customers to pay for something that should be a part of their 

> P.S. I also did a scan for over the air (ATSC) digital channels and I
> think I need a better antenna/amp to get much of anything there.  Even
> the stuff I did pick up was somewhat intermittent.

I ran a quick test with "rabbit ears" with an HDHR and had similar 
results. I'd be curious to know if anyone can recommend a good ATSC antenna.

Anyone tried a "smart antenna?"[1] I picked up an RCA DTV converter box 
recently, and I see it has a jack for a smart antenna.



Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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