Starting tomorrow (Dec. 10th), cable operators can begin encrypting their digital basic service tiers (after providing customers 30 days advance notice):
Cable subscribers are about to get a sneaky fee
By Herb Weisbaum, NBC News - December 9, 2012
From the article:
If you have cable service, you probably have at least one set-top box. On Monday, a federal rule change takes effect that could eventually force you to rent more cable boxes.
The Federal Communications Commission had prohibited the encryption of basic cable since 1994. But in October, the commission voted to allow it, starting on Dec. 10.
None of the six major cable companies in the country has announced a date to encrypt basic channels.
When asked what it planned to do, Comcast, the countrys largest cable service provider, said in a statement:
Currently, we do not have any announcements to make. Should we plan any changes in the future, we will notify any impacted customers well ahead of time.
Before a cable company can encrypt basic service, it must give customers 30 days advance notice. The FCC rule requires them to give two free converter boxes to customers with only basic service for two years and one free box to everyone else for one year. After that, the cable companies could sell or rent the boxes.
The FCCs decision does not require those free converter boxes to deliver high-definition signals. For basic service in HD, customers would have to rent an HD box which could cost as much as $10 a month.
Consumer advocates say these box rentals will become a new revenue stream for cable companies.