I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
On October 10, 2012, the FCC voted to lift a ban on the encryption of basic cable channels. That ban expired Sunday. Now, cable companies are free to encrypt any and all channels they deliver to the consumer. The FCC has empowered the cable companies to require that every piece of equipment that receives their service receive it via cable a company owned or sanctioned interface.
Get ready for higher cable bills. Some people will be immediately impacted as they are forced to lease additional boxes for directly connected televisions, but all cable subscribers will eventually pay. Removing the option to receive limited service without a device allows the service provider to charge more for every level of service.
The ruling does not require cable companies to encrypt. If enough consumers vote with their check books, the impact of this ruling may not amount to much. Fios and satellite promotions will promise to save you, but remember they already encrypt everything. In the long run, they won’t save anyone anything.
People who only rely on the cable company for high speed internet may also be impacted by this ruling as the cable companies try to erect firewalls between their customers and internet delivered alternatives like Netflix, Prime, and Hulu.
When Georgia-based medical student Cathy Vu called Comcast Corp. last month to cancel her TV service and keep just Internet, she got a shock. Taking the Internet alone would cost her more, not less, a month…her bill would rise by $20 a month.
If you have ever thought about giving broadcast television a try, this may be the best time to do it. An antenna in the attic may give you a lot of hand when the cable company encrypts your basic tier. Investigate high speed internet alternatives as well. If your commuity has only one provider, ask community leaders to bring in alternatives. Competition is good!
Read the FCC ruling and report here.