Armed with its FCC waiver to use their Digital-To-Analog set top boxes (whoops, I think they want us to call them "Digital Transport Adapters," still DTA though, right ;-), I believe they will finally shrink what was visible with your HDTV's QAM tuner down to: (1) the legally-mandated handful of local broadcast stations; (2) a few public access channels retained as an ongoing sop to local and national politicians who make the rules and approve price increases; and (3) shopping channels they get a cut from. Oh, and (4) a regional sports channel they can exploit for revenue from the Grizzlies and Memphis State basketball.
This was done to recapture the bandwidth formerly used for their Enhanced Basic product, so they can squeeze more digital channels into their pipe. It will be interesting to see if the federally required-to-be-non-degraded local digital broadcast stations' signals even survive as such via clear QAM.
For the life of me, I can't see how Comcast can describe bringing you local digital broadcast channels as digital when their free, FCC-waivered DTA's only output analog. Let's put it this way: these devices RECEIVE digital; but they only output ANALOG.
Perhaps Comcast will at least leave the undegraded true digital signals from our local broadcast stations on the cable in the locations as listed in another post of mine or some new locations, but I'm not holding my breath, and I'm not going to be doing any testing from now on, because:
I cancelled all TV service from Comcast last week. I figured, with Limited Basic being limited to channels 2-19 and the price going up to $20.95 per month, I'd try plugging a VHF/UHF antenna in and have a look and see how much I missed the public access stuff. I did ask the agent what it would cost to get Enhanced (now renamed "Expanded") Basic, and she told me I'd have to get one of the digital packages, Digital Starter, I think, at $55.00 per month! This was after seeing the better pictures that come to me less compressed when broadcast than when carried over cable's QAM scheme.
Check this out yourself: borrow a VHF/UHF antenna if you have to, unscrew the cable connector from your HDTV, and screw in the antenna connector. Change your HDTV's tuner to Air instead of Cable, let it scan for broadcast channels, and have a look. Wow! And the channels are numbered the way it makes the most sense, the FCC-mediated way, not the greedy cable corporation way: sticking subchannels and even main channels up at some strange ungodly number, and then haggling over numbering, subchannel carriage, and retransmission consent fees with local broadcasters, who themselves are trying to get in on some of the cable oligopolies' gravy from lazy customers, to go along with their traditional advertising revenue that cable cannot deprive them of.
I still have Comcast for broadband and will likely stick with them until AT&T builds "last mile" fiber optic to the customer or a wireless broadband company like Clearwire moves into the market here as it has into Nashville.
Meanwhile, I am WAY happier with the commercial-free movies and documentaries I get over my Roku box and Netflix subscription and the growing multitude of free or reasonably priced à la carte program sources, than I ever was with any of these cable company bundles.
It's called "cord-cutting", people; and it's what's happening. Look into it. Save bundles on cable's absurd bundles. Stop renting equipment from them too that you have to have to access all those channels. Oh, and did you know you can buy your own cable modem cheap and Comcast has to let you use it if it's compatible and on their extensive approved list? Read about THAT here!
UPDATE: What I describe above was done with an HDTV with the modern, ATSC tuner ready to receive digital broadcasts. The same can be done, however, using one of the broadcast digital to analog converter boxes the U.S. government subsidized to ease the adoption of digital broadcast television. There are lots of those boxes floating around as people replace analog TV sets with HDTV sets and no longer need the boxes.
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This list will change as Memphis Comcast engineers move channels around from one number to another and scramble and unscramble and even remove some of them from time to time. Click this term "Clear QAM" for a Wiki introduction to the subject. If you have a fairly recent cable-ready HDTV, it can probably tune these channels in. Just bypass any Comcast set-top box you're using and screw the cable connector straight in to your TV. The best discussion of this Clear QAM on Comcast thing I've found is at this link. If you're ready to change the way you consume and pay for entertainment, emphasizing choice made possible by broadband Internet, this may be the a useful method not to "cut the (cable TV) cord" entirely. Experiment!
UPDATE: This article will explain what's going on technologically and legally.
The virtual channel numbers without decimal points are analog channels. The Clear QAM channel numbers with decimal points are digital and sharper than their analog versions. The whole number channels above 69 are not tunable without one of Comcast's set-top boxes.
|107.4||1||On Demand||small box only, no functionality|
|3.2/63.4||930||WREG2-SD||News/Weather 24/ 7||4x3|
|66.5||919||WREG DT3||Antenna: old series & movies||4x3|
|5.3||905||WMC3-SD||This TV: old series & movies||4x3|
|79.4||6||C-SPAN||U.S. House & public affairs||4x3|
|81.5/112.13||915||WPTY-DT2||TheCoolTV: music videos||4x3|
|65.14||911||WLMT2-SD||MeTV: old series||4x3|
|63.5||10||WBUY||Trinity Br. Net. (Christian)||4x3|
|79.6||13||QVC||Quality Value Channel||4x3|
|65.4||14||WTWV||Christian Worldview Br. Corp.||4x3|
|65.1||15||WTWV-DT2||Flinn station; old B&W||4x3|
|79.5||16||HSN||Home Shopping Network||4x3|
|98.5||17||PubAc||Local public access||4x3|
|75.7||18||LIBRARY||Memphis Public Library||4x3|
|98.6||19||SCHOOL||Memphis City Schools||4x3|
|65.5||89||ShopNBC||Yet another shopping channel||4x3|
|65.11||101||RADAR||Comcast Weatherscan local||4x3|
|74.26||727||MCKID||Music Choice Kidz Only!||4x3|
|65.6||Corner Store||Infomercials 24/7/365||4x3|
|98.8||KATV||Little Rock, AR (ABC)||4x3|
|98.9||Local||West Memphis weather/info||4x3|
|98.10||MSCC||Mid-South Community College||4x3|
|98.11||KVTJ||Jonesboro, AR (Christian)||4x3|
For a printable list, click here.