Help! Confused about comcast cable.

We have "extended" basic cable under a senior plan and have had it for years and have never had a cable box. When all the hoopla occured a few years ago about digital signals, we fell for buying those digital converters to be able to receive over the air signals. Since we are in a rural area, we could no longer get ANY tv at all without cable and were then told we needed a fancy antenna installed on top of our house. Even with the antenna, we would only get one or two channels. So those boxes are still sitting in the garage untouched and wasted my money and the gov't coupon money.

We did notice that our big screen HDTVs pictures seemed better and we even get some hi-def channels like the local stations. I was more than happy. Then I got a letter from Comcast last month that said if we had any old tube type tvs, those wouldn't be able to get the new digital signal so I had to order 3 DTA but they will be free. They arrived today and worked fine and the picture on those tvs looks the same and it all makes sense to me that we would need to convert the digital signal to analog for those tvs.

Here is where my question comes in and why I am so confused. NOW, Comcast is saying that I need to have these DTAs on ALL of my tvs, even those with the built in converters? I have 5 tvs with built in converters. Why would I want to convert the digital tv signal back to analog? Is it simply so Comcast can get more money because now they require an additional monthly payment for each of these DTA? I'm not happy with having to pay more but what's worse, the picture is fuzzy and nowhere near as good without the DTA and there is no more Hi-Def local channels that we were promised would always be free. And it means having another not very nice remote. Can this really be what was intended all along and is there anyway around this for a normal person who doesn't have big bucks to get TV?

Today, when I called I got a lot of different answers:
1)You won't need the DTAs and will still get all the channels
2) You must purchase additional DTAs for ALL your tvs-monthly charge per TV and not allowed to have more than 4 tvs total hooked up.
3)You will lose 1/2 your channels if you don't buy the DTA.
I finally called the service line thinking they might know more than customer service and they told me I had to call the manufacturer of each tv to ask them if the built in converter worked with Comcast and then they hung up on me! Does anyone know? The date on the message on our TV says 5/7 so I want to be ready for whatever I need. Would you guess that I will lose only the channels that have the message on them? That would be pretty bad because there are a lot of those including Disney channel, ABC Family, and quite a few that my family does watch.

From my reading here, I understand that some have purchased switch matches to go back and forth between the supposedly free hi-def channels and you can even get a remote switch match that means yes, another remote making 3 for each TV just like in the olden days. Really? This can't be true! Help me understand this and tell me if I really will need 5 more DTAs?!

Thank you in advance for any replies and special BIG thanks if you even know what I am talking about because Comcast doesn't seem to know
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  1. Let me preface this by saying I don't know for sure this is what is happening, but I think what Comcast is doing isn't so much saying you need to purchase new DTAs, but you need to get their DTAs/Set Top Boxes. What is probably happening is Comcast is encrypting some of their channels that are not currently encrypted and this is taking place on May 7th. The DTAs you purchased with the government coupon were strictly for Free Over-The-Air broadcast stations (your local channels). They were never intended for use with a cable company and simply do not have the capability to decrypt the changing Comcast signal. This is why you need to Comcast set top boxes. Only they can handle the signal decryption.

    In short:

    Today, you have an unencrypted digital signal coming from Comcast. Your current DTAs can (coincidentally) change this unencrypted digital signal to analog for your older TVs.

    On May 7th, you will be receiving an encrypted digital signal from Comcast. Your current DTAs cannot decrypt this signal and you will need to replace them with Comcast DTAs.

    This is legal for Comcast as the government DTAs were never intended for use with a cable company signal.

    Hope this clears things up for you, but yeah. It really does suck.

    -Wolf sends
  2. Thank you. Yes, I "get it" now and understand that we would have to get DTAs for ALL the TVs in the house if we want to keep watching all the channels we are paying for. The extra expense while not that great is annoying and worse, the picture with the DTA is bad and we lose the HD channels. They will "rent" us the new needed DTA's, each for $2 every month.

    I am searching for a NEW provided that I can bundle with the internet and phone because we are paying too much for what we are getting and to add the extra costs for the additional DTAs and losing the local Hi Def channels is the push we needed to dump Comcast!

    Still, I will NEVER understand WHY on earth anyone would want to take the new fancy digital signal and turn it into analog. I'm sure that was not what was intended at the time the digital technology came about. That is just silly to me. I have 4 more days of good tv and then who knows what we will do!

    Thanks so much for your reply!
  3. I think you might be confusing digital with High Definition. You shouldn't lose anything. The set top box you get from Comcast for your HDTV *SHOULD* have a high-definition output (HDMI or Component) and your HDTV should have an HDMI (digital) or Component (analog) input. This should allow you to watch whatever digital, encrypted, high-definition channel/program you subscribe to.

    If your other TVs are not HD capable i.e. their native resolution is less than 1280x720 (720p), you will still need the Digital to Analog (DTA) boxes from Comcast, but those boxes do not need to be HD capable.

    The analog to digital transition came about when the local over-the-air broadcasters where required to start broadcasting the new high-definition video (for all the new HDTVs being sold) AS WELL AS the standard-definition video they've sent out since the 1950s for all the older TVs that are not capable of displaying the new HD video. The old analog signal (NTSC) did not have enough bandwidth to carry all of the data required from a high definition broadcast.

    -Wolf sends
  4. Yes, thank you for your response. I have to just bite the bullet and rent 3 more of those DTAs.

    I am trying to hook up one of the tvs now so I'll ask on a different thread how to do it.
  5. I'm a basic Comcast cable customer in Pennsylvania who, until recently, was able to access limited HD broadcast channels through an A/B switch that was recommended when we were "migrated" to the all-digital lineup a while back. In the past few days, I've been unable to pick up those channels - even when I rescan the lineup, I get only the Comcast notice that I'll need a DTA ... which I already have. It's not in the budget to upgrade my digital service; just trying to recover those now-elusive local networks in HD. Thanks so much!
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