What Happens to Cable Television When We Go Digital?

March 1, 2008 – 1:58 pm, posted by Shannon

With all of this switching over to digital television, you might be wondering where this leaves you if you are a satellite or cable subscriber. If you have a satellite dish, you should be in a pretty good position because you already have what you need for digital services. Most satellite companies also have the terrestrial ATSC tuner that is needed to get local channels for free with a VHF/UHF antenna. If you are a DirecTV customer, you don’t even have to worry about that because the local channels are fed through the satellite feed.

If you are a cable subscriber, you are in a bit of a different situation. Once the analog feed to your house is disabled by the cable company, you are going to need a digital-to-analog cable STB in order to watch digital channels on the analog televisions you still have in your home. That means you will need to either purchase or lease a cable STB from your provider.

If you are someone that is going to be adversely affected by this change, you will be glad to know that cable companies did get a waiver from the FCC late last year. According to this waiver, they can continue providing analog feeds to consumers up to 2012 if they wish to do so. At the same time, they are not required to do this. Therefore, you will have to check with your provider in order to find out what route they have decided to take.

In essence, cable companies have to choose one of two different possible paths. First, if most of their subscribers are into digital broadcasting, the company may make an investment into digital STBs in order to convert the analog subscribers right away. This would free up the bandwidth they have to use for their analog broadcast, which would make it possible for them to add more digital channels. This also means they can ultimately increase their revenue by offering more pay-per-view and premium channels.

The other option is to keep a mix of analog and digital, particularly if most of their customers are still analog. This, of course, means that the cable company will have to put growth on hold. This option will not cost the cable company a large sum of money upfront and it costs less to their customers since they wouldn’t be forced to switch to digital for each of their analog televisions.

Which route will your cable company take? It is really a matter of the direction the company wishes to move and whether or not the company is willing to spend more money now in hopes of bringing in more money later by offering more channels and options to subscribers.

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  1. One Response to “What Happens to Cable Television When We Go Digital?”

  2. Apparently, DISH has more than doubled the price since we’ve all gone to HD. It was 38.xx per month and is now 78.xx per month. That sounds like a bit much to me but it has definitely occured. Naturally, I would not suggest anyone go with DISH.. After your initial introduction price they’re gonna hammer you, too!! BTW 38.xx was not an introductory price, we’re in the second year of the contract.

    By Don Riley on Dec 4, 2009

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