updated 03:34 pm EDT, Mon April 15, 2013
Third party devices need adapter, Comcast set-top boxes unaffected
Comcast will start encrypting its basic cable service in the coming months. Though users with a Comcast-provided set-top box will be able to decrypt the new signals without any problem, customers with either a third-party cable box or devices that directly connect to a cable outlet will need to request some equipment.
Affected customers with non-Comcast boxes will have to order a digital TV adapter from the cable provider. Comcast will contact customers in advance, offering two small digital TV adapter for up to two years at no charge, reports GigaOM. The adapters will connect to a TV through a coaxial connection, and have their own remote controls in order to function. Pay-per-view content, premium channels, Xfinity On Demand, and the on-screen channel guide will not be usable on the digital TV adapters, but will continue to do so on the Comcast set-top box.
The move to encrypt the channels stems from the FCC B1 Encryption Order, enacted last year. By encrypting even the basic channels, Comcast hopes it will be a deterrent, stopping people from committing cable theft, as well as making device management easier for the company.