Comcast Is Going to Start Encrypting Basic Cable Data

There are about to be some very unhappy Comcast customers scattered around the country—because the cable provider has just begun to notify customers in several of its markets that it's about to start encrypting basic cable data. In other words: time for a new box, suckers.

In an email to GigaOM, Comcast confirmed the change:

We are beginning to proactively notify customers in select markets that we will begin to encrypt limited basic channels as now permitted by last year's FCC B1 Encryption Order. While the vast majority of our customers won't be impacted because they already have digital equipment connected to their TVs, we understand this will be a change for a small number of customers and will be making it as convenient as possible for them to get the digital equipment they may need to continue watching limited basic channels.

Now, to Comcast's defense, this is a smart move for them. They're making it considerably more difficult for rogue television enthusiasts to steal cable. Plus, it's offering up to two digital adapters free of cost—for two years, that is. And if you're a Comcast customer who already uses their set-top boxes on your TVs, you won't notice or have to change a thing. Still, not everyone is getting off so easily.

The adapters won't be compatible with Boxee's old live TV dongle, and anyone else who uses a digital TV adapter based on coaxial inputs will find themselves equally screwed.

But as Comcast noted in their statement, most people really aren't going to have to worry about anything. Everyone else: welcome to the modern day TV-scape, whether you like it or not. [GigaOM]

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