I noticed something interesting a few weeks ago, 2 of the televisions we have that don’t have cablecards or set top boxes stopped receiving some channels. After many calls to Comcast I learned what many people already know, it doesn’t matter if you have a digital TV because Comcast took advantage of the DTV conversion to change their channel package. Channels that were previously on “expanded basic” and required no set top box now require a converter box and more importantly, Comcast’s remote control.
The way cable works, and why it was better for us than satellite, is that you don’t need any converter box to decode the signal for the channels we often watch while in our kitchen, as one example, like cable news. This makes for a very clean installation with no extra hardware or additional control units while giving us exactly the channels we want.
Comcast took something that worked really well, broke it and called it an upgrade… they are really earning a Comcraptic reputation.
What I find particularly aggravating is that Comcast is taking advantage of the federally mandated digital TV (DTV) conversion to push through something they call “digital transition”. Comcast customer support kept repeating the phrase to me “the government is making us do this” and this is patently false and misleading. Comcast’s “digital transition” is a plan to open up bandwidth on their network, it doesn’t have anything to do with the federal mandate.
It’s very clear that the DTV mandate doesn’t force the cable companies to do anything… what Comcast did was a choice they made and part of a larger strategy to get a piece of their hardware on every television their customers have. The timing was deliberate and intended to obscure their actions under the umbrella of what the federal government was doing to over the air full power broadcast station on public airwaves.