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Did the FCC Just Give Big Cable Permission to Bend Us Over? – Tech Tuesday

News out of the FCC this week is that they gave the cable companies, permission to encrypt their basic cable channels. This means in the near future you won’t be able to just hook up your TV to the cable in your house or apartment and see a picture. You’ll need something that decrypts the signal. But will you have to pay for that?!

Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers

The cable companies are not saying but the FCC says they can charge a fee for the new boxes you will need 2 years after they roll it out. So even the most basic cable where we can get channels 6, 10 and 13 along with WMHT will require a converter box for all your TVs at some point, and the cable company may charge you.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like that. Some will say to just put up an antenna and get them for free over the air. Yes, there are many that could do that. I did when Iived in Gloversville. I invested in an antenna, put it up, directed it and got just about all the channels. That’s the trick though. You may not get all the channels. And you would still need a box for all the non-over the air channels for all your TVs.

But the FCC gave big cable 2 conditions though, one being a hardware fix, that they can’t charge for for 2 years, which is what I just talked about, and also a software fix, which they could license to include the decryption in TVs or little set top boxes, like my Western Digital, or a Boxee.

The reason cable companies are citing for wanting to do this is to do to an all digital system. Part of it is analog and costs more money. When you subscribe to cable, they have to send a truck to run a “drop” to your house. When you move or cancel, a truck needs to be sent out. This costs them money, that they promptly will charge us all for. Not with the new digital system, they just “flip a switch” on a computer and your service is off or moved to your new address. This saves them money. Now how about us the customer? Will we get this savings in our bills? Will the price go down? That is the $64 Billion dollar question. I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. History shows that cable bills don’t go down. They are one of the universal constants that defy gravity and go up, all the time.

Thursday I’ll talk about the new Boxee set top box and how it could be a solution to this.

$>/usr/bin/staytuned -w

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