FCC kills clear-QAM

The FCC just released an interesting Order in which they granted the cable operators the right to encrypt basic channel packages on digital systems, IF they comply with certain consumer-protection measures.  Under the auspices of gaining provisioning efficiencies for the cable operators, the FCC goes on to point out that the ruling will have an impact on a “small number of subscribers who currently view the digital basic service tier without using a set-top box or other equipment”.   This ruling also impacts Cord Cutters that pull local channels off their cable line.  Protecting that “small number of subscribers”, they went on to say that if the cable operator decides to encrypt this tier, they (the 6 largest incumbent cable operators) will be required to comply with additional measures to ensure compatibility with third party equipment currently being used to view basic packages now.  Boxee, HTPC, Hauppauge users, this FCC order will have to be addressed sooner rather than later it seems.

The FCC Media Bureau hypothesizes that allowing encryption of the clear QAM signals would reduce cost, improve customer service, and reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, via the newfound capability to remotely handle connect and dis-connects.  All you cable folks should start seeing lower cable bills and improved service soon…keep waiting.

Consumer Protection Measures were implemented by the FCC to “reduce burden’s on subscribers” during this transition period.  This is where things get interesting for us Cord Cutters.  The FCC is requiring cable operators, again the 6 largest incumbent, to provide equipment that is compatible with IP-enabled clear-QAM devices provide by third parties.

Boxee has been fighting the good fight for us here…or at least it seemed that way early on in the banter.   Letters sent to the FCC by Boxee advocated an approach that would “guarantee that by July 2013 Boxee devices can access basic tier signals without additional hardware”.  Essentially, the FCC ignored Boxee’s request for compatibility by means of a hardware-free solution.  The FCC states “Under the equipment measure we adopt today, the vast majority of consumers will be able to access service that is encrypted using a commercial available security technology or via equipment with standard home-network capability in much the same was as they do today.”

What this all means for Cord Cutters is a little unclear at the moment.  What’s evident, is that our beloved clear QAM signals pulled off that cable line for free are soon to be gone.  Boxee, Hauppauge, and HTPC owners listen up. Installing an HD Antenna may be your only option to receive broadcast quality local channel content.

We’d love to hear your comments on the FCC clear QAM encryption ruling and how you feel it will affect your content viewing.



About Victor

Victor cut the cord and canceled cable in 2008. He got tired of consistently poor customer service and even poorer programming options. Working experience in IPTV and antenna installation made the transition to off-air TV and streaming internet services a natural progression for his broadcast reception at home. Here at KickOutCable.com, Victor is right at home, continuing the effort to share the secrets of cord cutting that the cable companies don't want you to know.

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