[mythtv-users] The demise of analog cable...

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Sun Mar 11 18:25:26 UTC 2007

On Sunday 11 March 2007 12:59, Larry K wrote:
> I heard that my cable company (Comcast), as well as most others, are in the
> process of phasing out analog cable with the intent to support only digital
> cable.  Since so may of us depend on PVR capture cards and analog cable, it
> looks like we are pretty much screwed, unless I missed something.  Firewire
> capture seems flaky at best, and when it does work, we are at the mercy of
> the cable company to leave the content unencrypted.  There is always OTA HD
> capture, but that just delivers a handful of channels.
> Is the day coming when we will have to scrap our Myth boxes and use those
> crappy DVRs provided by the cable companies?

We most likely won't get locked in, for three reasons:

1) Digital tuners already exist. These tuners can tune unencrypted signals
   from cable systems. My understanding is that cable companies are SUPPOSED
   to deliver your locals in unencrypted form, but most encrypt other
   channels and some ignore the rules and encrypt locals, too. In any event,
   the existence of current digital tuners provides a minimal lifeline, and
   in some markets more than that.

2) Cable companies will continue to offer set-top boxes to convert from
   digital signals to analog format for a good long time. Even if your cable
   company drops support for these, you should be able to buy one that uses
   a CableCard yourself and use it to decode the digital signal into analog
   form and capture it using a current NTSC (or PAL or SECAM) tuner. You won't
   get HD quality, or even quality to match direct digital captures of
   lower-resolution digital signals, but you'll get something.

3) Future products may support more direct capture of encrypted digital
   signals and/or the digital output of digital set-top boxes. The only
   specific I can offer is a hint in an interview with Jack Kelliher, the
   head of pcHDTV: 
   http://www.openaddict.com/interview_with_pchdtv_jack_kelliher.html. The
   relevant bit is near the end of the interview; search for "encrypted
   cable." I certainly wouldn't bet big money on any specific product
   coming to market, but something is bound to. (OTOH, Hollywood would love
   to prevent this from happening, and may push such products into black
   market status.)

Rod Smith

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