Comcast DigitalNow

Comcast has not achieved even my low expectations.

We get “Limited Basic” cable, which means we get the local broadcast channels plus a couple of things like New England Cable News. After the conversion to broadcast Digital, Comcast was sending these channels in analog (SD) format, but also sending QAM unencrypted digital versions of them.  The local broadcast HD signals were also being delivered.  Since we have a modern TV with NTSC, QAM, and ATSC tuners, life was fairly pleasant.  Our old Replay TV works with the analog channels, and we can watch the digital or HD digital versions live.

Now, Comcast is completing their “digital conversion” and taking away the analog signals.  This is fine.  They are providing “Digital Transport Adapters” so you can convert the digital versions (SD) to analog on channel 3, for analog sets or our old ReplayTV.

However, they are (evidently) also taking away, or encrypting, the local broadcast HD channels!  The only way to continue to receive them is to get a Digital Set Top Box, for which they will charge an extra $10/month.

Hello!  The HD signals are broadcast and free.  The real effect of this will be for us to drop Comcast altogether in favor of over the air HD.  Our ReplayTV will stop working, but I have a nice HDHomeRun digital tuner, and I can assemble a (free) MythTV box to record things.  I had this working already, but converted that box for the kids to do gaming.  I can make another one.  And it will work for the internet streaming TV as well: Netflix, crackle, hulu, youtube, etc.

Comcast’s only value to me was convenience, and they are making it rather less convenient and rather more expensive.

The right thing to do is just to transcode the local broadcast signals from ATSC to QAM, and to leave them alone. No DTA, no extra box, no extra remote.