I have been getting notifications from TWC that I need to get a "free" digital converter to use with my cable TV. Do I really need one of these if I only subscribe to their basic cable. THey also plan to charge me $2.75 per month per box after the first year. Are there alternatives---I am NOT tech savvy . . .
The current problem with Time Warner is that they are now scrambling ALL TV channels, even the TV channels that are on Basic TV including the required local channels. This action by Time Warner may be against the intent of the requirement for cable companies to carry local channels. What is behind the requirement to carry local channels is that the cable companies DO NOT own the land their cables are crossing, nor are they paying rent on using the land to carry their cables and their signals. Most of the land is public land (like streets). In exchange for this uncompensated corporate use, they are required to carry local signals at no cost (I think this is kind of generous considering how much negotiating and purchasing easements would cost the cable companies, not to mention possible rent costs on the land they cross). Requiring rental boxes tries an end-run around the requirement and tries to asses fees against local channels (Maybe the cities should now require cable companies to pay for their cables crossing public lands? Many cities need the money).
This problem will probably wind its way through the courts and/or FCC, with in all likeliness the cable companies eventually losing. Of course cities could unilaterally get involved and order the cable companies to carry the local channels in the open w/out the use of a 'converter', or else they must remove their cables from city public lands (ouch! - cable companies should remember not to bite the hand that helps feed them). I think this whole thing was the idea of some 'bean counter' who thought it was a great idea to increase or maximize revenue with out flying it by the legal department first. If they did fly it past legal, the people in legal may be newer and the old boys familiar with local channel requirements long retired. Unfortunately fixing this issue through the legal channels will take time. Because of the encryption, there is basically no way around the changes TWC has now done except for dropping Basic, paying the added fees (which are ridiculous because most TVs now have cable ready digital tuners in them) or setting up your system to now use Over The Air from a central antenna (kind of going old school but with digital TV signals).
Since I am connect to the cable companies solely for the internet, and was just finding the local channels coming through as being convenient and relatively clean (only get about 6 or so English channels through TWC in San Diego), I am going to change the wiring in the network and cable distribution box (this house was built with Cat 5 and Coax to each room, running from a central distribution box). I am going to feed one cable from the attic to the distribution box. In the attic will be at least one high gain antenna. If two, I'll probably be pointing one towards Los Angeles, the other between Mt San Miguel and Mt Soledad, running both through a low gain amplifier (to prevent cross feeding the signal between the antennas), into a mixer and then down the cable to the distribution box. In the distribution box, the cable from the attic antennas will run through a splitter (possibly with amp) to all the room cables with cable from TWC going solely to the modem->Router/Firewall->Cat 5. Two WiFi(s) will sit, one on each side of the router to allow Guest access w/out letting Guests into the internal network.
The antenna setup would be similar to this (http/www.fota.net/antenna/), but the antenna would not be as directional and will be larger. More on the build possibly later... maybe.