Comcast gets ready to encrypt basic cable channels

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Today's post is more public service message than anything. Comcast has announced that it will begin encrypting all its Basic Cable channels. For most Comcast users this will probably have little to no impact, but if you happen to get Basic Cable without any kind of cable box, you're going to have to make some changes.

Comcast says that Limited Basic customers that have no equipment will be able to get two DTAs (digital television adapters) for free for two years if you request them "during the equipment offer period at or around the time of encryption." That means from 30 days before to 120 days after encryption begins (customers will be notified by mail with specific dates).

After two years (or if you don't take advantage of the limited time offer) it'll cost Limited Basic customers 50 cents/month for each DTA. Other subscribers will pay $1.99/month.

If you already have some kind of set-top box from Comcast, this shouldn't impact you. If you want a set-top box (which provides features like a program guide) instead of a bare-bones DTA, Comcast will provide one at a cost. If you have a set-top box in one room but have a second outlet with no hardware on it currently, you'll be eligible for one free DTA. If you have hardware and you return it, Comcast will automatically disconnect your Xfinity TV service since you will no longer be able to take advantage of it.

Clear as mud, eh? Comcast has a help page available with all the specifics but I suspect many customers will be getting on the phone in order to figure out just what offers apply to them.

On the upside...well, there doesn't seem to be an upside for customers. The upside for Comcast is that it'll make it harder for people to steal basic cable.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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