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Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

I have three Sony LED HDTVs with ATSC/QAM digital tuners and built-in TV guide.

 

I get my FULL BASIC SERVICE as part of my HOA.

 

My TV is fully capable of receiving digital, analog and HD channels with no cable box.

 

But Comcast requires you to use their crappy hardware. Why?

 

If I can get 29.1 FOX HD and 34.1 CW HD, why can't I get CNN, ESPN, CNBC and FOX NEWS?

 

My Sony remote controls all of my hardware including the DLNA streaming media. If I have to use the crappy Comcast remote, I can't use my guide or control my other devices.

 

It's basic service, just stream the digital channels in a format that standard hardware can decipher without your hardware and remote controls.

 

Sad.

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,674
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

If they provided all the channels unencrypted, then they would have to charge all customers for the highest tier of service.  I doubt that you'd like that.  The cable boxes allow for many levels of service at varying prices.

Contributor
alfordj1
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎09-07-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

It seems useless to buy TV's with all these features that we can't use. It is not just comcast, it is the same with satellite companies. I think they could find some other way to provide different tiers of control if they wanted too. Isn't that why new TV's come with a smart card slot, or am I misinformed?

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,674
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

TV manufacturers seem to have abandoned cablecards, which is too bad.  You can still get them with things like TiVo, and avoid the cable boxes.

Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

That's BS. For 6 years I've been getting FULL BASIC SERVICE without a cable box, which means every channel in the FULL BASIC SERVICE was unencrypted. This isn't saying much because 10 channels are local informational channels, 10 channels are religious channels, and 20 are in spanish.

 

Which leaves about 25 channels worth viewing of which 10 are free network channels.

 

So only about 15 channels, like ESPN, ESPN2, CNN and other news channels, and BRAVO, E!, SPIKE were unencrypted channels worth viewing.

 

For over 6 years these were streamed unencrypted. Now they are digital, so they encrypt them. So I need a cable box for 15 channels.

 

I get 22 analog and 28 digital channels as of last week. HALF are spanish channels, which is funny because if anyone is going to steal their neighbor's cable, take a guess at the channels they want to steal. You are encrypting the WRONG channels Comcast.

 

Just send FULL BASIC SERVICE unecrypted in analog/digital like you have been for the past XX years.

 

Or make you cable boxes compatable with major brand remotes. So I don't need your crappy remote.

 

OR, even better, provide a decryption box that just decrypts my subscribed channels in the stream and let my TVs digital tuner do the rest.

 

This is rocket science. It is so painfully obvious. A tiny decryption cable box that takes the place of your stupid cable box, but has no remote and doesn't change channels, it just decrypts and passes the signal on to my TV.

 

You can but 3rd party modems for your internet service, why not allow 3rd party tuners get your cable service.

Recognized Contributor
halfband
Posts: 227
Registered: ‎06-20-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

[ Edited ]

djo_34 wrote: 

Just send FULL BASIC SERVICE unecrypted in analog/digital like you have been for the past XX years.



When they did this, users just signed up for internet and got free TV.  That does not work out for the content providers who demand payment for each subscriber, they thought they were being cheated out of subscribers.

 


djo_34 wrote:

This is rocket science. It is so painfully obvious. A tiny decryption cable box that takes the place of your stupid cable box, but has no remote and doesn't change channels, it just decrypts and passes the signal on to my TV.

 

You can but 3rd party modems for your internet service, why not allow 3rd party tuners get your cable service.


That is what cable cards are for.   However the FCC mandated implementation was pathetic.  The cablelabs rules for cablecards a bureaucratic nightmare.  The TV and other device industry grew tired of the costs and regulations jungle of cable card device certification.  Service providers poorly trained techs and provided pathetic cable card support.  Customers grew tired of the hassle and never bought the cablecard products (nor needed to when they could get free tv from clearQAM and analog signals.)

 

Now that tv is again encrypted the interest in cable card devices is returning but the manufacturers of these devices have mostly left the game. 

Comcast will support (badly, but it is still support) a cablecard device like a TIVO today.  There are also about three cable card PC tuners, but your choices for cablecard equipment are very limited.

 

I do however understand your frustration as the need for cable boxes has been a huge step backward in the "user experience" and functionality of TV equipment.

 

 

 

Gold Problem Solver
BruceW
Posts: 6,418
Registered: ‎12-03-2007

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?


halfband wrote: ... the need for cable boxes has been a huge step backward in the "user experience" and functionality of TV equipment.

And cost. Please don't forget cost.

Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

Apparently, Comcast provides 2 free boxes... which are in the mail. In the meantime I get like 6 channels on my brand new Sony 55 inch LED TV. Awesome!

 

Forget 3rd party hardware manufacturers integrating card slots into their TVs. Make the cable providers supply a universal solution.

 

Comcast and other cable providers should provide a little black box (a cable box without tuner or remote control). All it does it decrypt the signal on the channels that you subscribe to.

 

Then this signal goes to your TV (with digital tuner) and lets the hardware do the job!

 

Then you can use your TV's remote control, the TV's built in EPG and tuner. And Comcast gets to encrypt their channels and monitor your content.

 

It would probably be a fraction of the cost of cable boxes. And allow TVs do the job they were build to do.

 

Of course then they couldn't charge for the cable boxes and get you to buy PPV, but they would still save so much money.

 

I am going to investigate negotiations with Uverse or Directv for the developments we manage. That's 8000 customers. If our residents have to get cable boxes for basic service, we can get better hardware and support for less money with another provider. 

 

It kills me when you see commercials for these wafer-thin TVs hanging on the wall... what they don't show is the massive archaic cable box sitting on the floor with coax all over the place.

 

It is only a matter of time when all stations will provide internet subscription for broadcast of their content. Then cable providers will be done. No more paying for a package of 200 channels when half are Spanish or undesirable. A la carte subscription of only the channels you want streamed via Internet directly to your TV. Netflix is already looking at picking up dropped TV series and broadcasting them. Soon, everyone will do that. And I'll be in heaven.

Recognized Contributor
halfband
Posts: 227
Registered: ‎06-20-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

[ Edited ]

Your decryption box solution does in fact describe the function of a cablecard.  There just isn't an interface on most current TV sets for them.  

 

While online distribution is probably the wave of the future, there is going to be an issue with caps and limits on HSI service.  It is going to be a long and somewhat painful transition as the entertainment and content power brokers are not likely to cede power easily.

 

The two free boxes are DTAs.  While they will decode the digital starter channels, they do not output HD, for that HD boxes are require (along with the associated fees)

Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

I already get 5.1 NBCHD, 12.1 CBSHD, 29.1 FOXHD and a couple of other HD channels with direct cable to the SONY QAM tuner.

 

If I use the DTA box, will I still get my HD channels? I just want exactly what I was getting for the past 6 years, my 6 HD channels and the basic cable channels like ESPN, BRAVO, CNN, FOX NEWS, CNC, SPIKE, etc.

 

That is exactly the function of the old cable cards. But if they are going to send me 2 DTA boxes, why not send me 2 decryptor boxes like I suggest. These would be proprietary to the provider like Comcast. There would be NO interface. Coax in and coax out, it would decrypt the channels you subscribe to and spit them out for your QAM tuner to deal with.

 

This would mean that TV manufacturers would have to do NOTHING.

 

Comcast would create cable boxes with a fraction of the functionality... simply decrypt and spit out the resulting stream.

 

No extra remote controls or tuners. Comcast wins. TV manufacturers win. Customer win, because we don't need extra remotes and junk.

 

You are correct about bandwidth issues. Caps are just part of it. I download tons of stuff to my server and stream it with my DLNA server to my TVs and Bluray players. Most people download a fraction of what I do. I have business DLS service because I need to change IP addresses for work (on-demand). This also has no caps, which is nice because I download about 300GB per month.

 

Once these content providers begin broadcasting their live streams to subscribers, bandwidth demand is going to be an issue.

 

My new Sony TV has tons of built-in Internet Content. And my DLNA server can stream anything on the web to my TVs. I still cannot wait for the day. A la carte HD channels with no cable or satellite providers!

Gold Problem Solver
BruceW
Posts: 6,418
Registered: ‎12-03-2007

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

[ Edited ]

djo_34 wrote: ... If I use the DTA box, will I still get my HD channels? ...

The DTA outputs Standard Def only. To continue viewing your clear QAM channels in HD you will have to use the hookup described here: http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/FAQViewer.aspx?Guid=9a4bb3b8-338f-4255-affa-d80e2dce1589. If your TV has 2 coax inputs you'll still need the splitter, but you can skip the A/B switch

Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

OMG, what a complete scam.

 

I'm ordering Directv tomorrow.

 

My goal is to get every resident in any of our managed developments off of Comcast.

 

8000+ customers... gone.

 

I'm done with their scams.

 

I love when you look at new customer prices vs existing... as if existing customers shouldn't get promotional prices or discounts. Screw 'em, they're already on our crappy service. You think loyal customers would get BETTER promotions and discounts.

Silver Problem Solver
rog286713
Posts: 13,999
Registered: ‎06-17-2008

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

well direct tv also requires boxes to ge all thier programming so what is the difference.?

New Visitor
MrVinny
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-23-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

I am with you, fed up about these stupid little boxes that give me less service than I was already receiving for more money.  Just looked at last bill and now I get a charge of $4.99 for a Lincoln Lawyer, what the heck is that.  Comcast is out of control and ready to lose some long time customers.  This is crazy and I will be looking @ other options for my programming.  Sometimes this is tough with were you live, can someone say Monopoly.

Silver Problem Solver
rog286713
Posts: 13,999
Registered: ‎06-17-2008

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

lincoln lawyer at 4.99 is an ondemand movie they are telling you, you ordered.  If you did not then call them up and tell them.

Contributor
djo_34
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-09-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

The difference is that I already pay for FULL BASIC SERVICE. I'm supposed to get about 70+ channels including 8 HD local channels. For over 6 years I was able to get these channels directly with no cable box.

 

Now, my channels are gone. Comcast's solution is to give me a little black box. Which would be fine, but you can't use the TV's tuner, or EPG, or remote control. And the little black box doesn't have a guide or support HD for my 8 local HD channels including FOX, NCB and PBS.

 

They could simply make that tiny black box decrypt the entire stream and pass the channels to the TV and allow the TV's tuner and EPG to do the rest. But they don't.

 

They want you to pay $20 for crappy cable boxes with HD support.

 

If I have to get a STB, I'll go with Directv for $35 a month. I won't buy into Comcast's racket. They can easily provide a solution for digital-ready TVs, but choose not to in order to extort money from their customers.

 

At some point, they won't be the only game in town. And then the mass exodus will occur. Until then, I won't give them a penny of my money to provide horrific quality products and even worse service.

 

 

New Visitor
whizatit
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-13-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

[ Edited ]

I think its utter bull that we can recieve local channels in HD over an antenna yet we have to either have a hornets nest of a setup with a basic A-B switch to go inbetween antenna and cable or PAY EXTRA FOR A BS BOX to give us the HD we already have locally? Really? The migration to HD was to give stations the chance to have (inbetween channels eg. 12.1 12.2 12.3 etc) as well as the upgraded picture and surround sound. YET the cable and sattelite companys are charging for the SAME CHANNELS by forceing you to buy/rent HD boxes to watch the same thing you had in SD? It's got scam wrote all over it! Not to mention "fees" oooo the magis word!  Franchise fees, regulation fees, federal fees, the list goes on and on. It seems like every 6 months to a year they either hike a "fee" or hike their "services" which would make more sence due to inflation etc. but "fees"?

Recognized Contributor
Posts: 55
Registered: ‎11-13-2008

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

My answer to this question is "profit over customer service".  I have Basic also and was quite happy with it until Comcast required me to get a DTA or else get a blue screen with an error message.  Yes, the DTA box was a "free loaner" (it it was "free", I'd own it and not have to return it) but now I cannot record one show with my VHS/DVD recorder (not a DVR) and watch another one on the TV like I was able to do before the DTA.   Comcast suggested I upgrade to their rented DVR.

I will credit Comcast with spelling that out for me in the mailings and FAQs on their website so I didn't waste time trying to fix a problem they intentionally instituted.   But I still won't rent a DVR from them.,   Luckily most of the basic channels repeat their shows at least once the same week at a different time, often the same night so with a little planning, I can do a workaround.

One final point:  the idea that Comcast had to do this because customers were getting basic for free if they ordered internet does not comport with my pricing experience.  In my area, getting the Basic TV package added to my former Internet only service actually lowered my internet charge enough to pay for the TV package entirely the first two years of the promotion.   Even now, it only adds about $5.

Just be glad Comcast currently allows you to use your own modem or router for the internet -

perhaps that will be their next profit center.

 

 

 

Bronze Star Contributor
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎11-22-2009

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

wow I just watched  a youtube video from Reed Hastings the CEO of netflix appalogizing and making clear Netflix's intention for it's new market for DVD rentals and video streaming. 

 

I could only imagine Brian Roberts the Comcast CEO giving a honest, up front view of the comcast business model.  

 

 

New Visitor
gamegenie
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-27-2011

Re: Why does Comcast require cable boxes?

there's no way Comcast would be able to totally prevent you from using a router, because even though technically they have, routers are smartly design with features to replicate the MAC of a registered computer and manage the sharing of that internet connection with other devices connected to it.

 

to the OP, yeah this sucks, this happened last year when Comcast and other cable operators began encrypting basic cable channels forcing consumers to use their cheap little converter box over their television's existing tuner.

 

I honestly don't see the need for encrypting the basic because it's not like basic carried any premium channels, and if you paid for basic cable, you should be receiving it regardless. 

 

But like others said, control is key. 

 

I figure Comcast either wants to cut cost of having to use blocks on cable lines.  -- weak

 

Comcast wants to take advantage of the free HD broadcast of networks and in turn charge you a premium to view them.   So while FOX HD, NBC HD, etc. which are new and FCC manadated as a replacement to the old analog channels which are now in beautiful clean high res quality that you view freely if you use the Over-The-Air antenna with an HDTV, these same channels are being scalped to you view a subscription tier from your cable company like Comcast or ATT.

 

What's even more disheartening about this was as technology shifted from analog television, recording devices, PC tv tuners over to digital versions. Most electronic companies made it capable to easily adapt the new digital formats. So we got digital technology like cable cards and QAM, but instead of cable companies decided to force the consumer to use their propreitary converter boxes than our own equipment. 

 

Imagine if cable companies done this in the 90s and sent a signal that prevented your VCR from being able to record anything. All your recordings would just be a solid blue screen. People would have been livid.  But sadly today there's not much cries from the masses on this restriction cable provider companies have snucked in.