Starting today, Comcast will be encrypting all available channels, including free broadcast channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CBS. This means that all pay TV subscribers will need a box from Comcast in order to watch any channel in their TV package.
For now, customers can get up to 3 adapter boxes at no extra charge for 2 years, with a small additional fee for any additional box after that. The move to complete encryption was only a matter of time since the cable giant successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow encryption, on the grounds that it was more efficient and prevented service theft.
The adapter box allows basic cable customers to channel surf using Comcast’s channel guide, and features some on-demand programming which should be a boon to basic cable customers who would like to experience the perks other subscribers already enjoy. In addition, basic DVR functionality and the ability to stream videos on mobile devices will become standard even for basic TV plans.
However, the transition may be a bit rough for customers who liked things the way they were before the need for adapter boxes. Though the adapter boxes will be free for at least 2 years, there is some concern as to what Comcast will charge per box once the 2 years is up. From the looks of it, it’s doubtful that any new charge would be costly since pay TV companies would rather keep customers than lose them to cord cutting.