The old way of watching cable is going away forever

Clear QAM. Seems like just a few weeks ago you learned what it was. Now comes the stark realization that it’s going away forever. We gave you a hint of that information way back in October when we told you about the FCC’s decision to encrypt basic cable service in a way that was still friendly to products like Boxee.

Now that cable systems have gained the right to encrypt all their systems, clear QAM, that unencrypted, tv-friendly way of connecting without a cable box is quickly becoming ancient history. Light Reading reports that Comcast, Charter, and RCN are moving as fast as possible to eliminate Clear QAM. You can’t blame them, as you know they want to charge you for that extra cable box.

As part of the compromise that gives them the right to encrypt all signals, cable companies will need to provide a friendly way to give access to streaming boxes. It’s been tried before with systems like CableCard and Tru2Way that promised to liberate cable customers from expensive box rental fees but it hasn’t ever worked. Hopefully this new standard, called E-DTA, will stick. Cable companies must provide E-DTA adapters to customers who request them for two years after encryption starts, giving the world time to build this technology into streaming and recording devices.

Ah, Clear QAM, we hardly knew ye!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.