If you live in the San Diego County area and have Cox Cable, you might have noticed this week that any channels you were receiving from a direct-to-coaxial connection has suddenly gone off air. We have received many calls and inquiries about the issue.
Unfortunately, this transition was something that was inevitable and has been in the works for a few years. In late 2012, the FCC ruled that cable providers would be allowed to shut down unencrypted basic channels, including those considered public access, such as PBS [FCC-12-126; FCC Cable System Subscription Guide]. The purpose of the ruling was to restrict the ability for signals to be shared or stolen.
The new converter boxes and cards (called the mini box or CableCARD), which are now required for even basic television subscriptions, are decoders which are used to decipher the now entirely encrypted cable signal. This also means that analog signals will now be digital and should result in noticeable improvements in picture and sound quality on standard definition channels.
Some areas of San Diego County will have more time to prepare for the transition, with all digital transmissions being completed by the end of this year. For a period of up to two years, some customers will be provided up to two boxes or cards and then charge regular rates afterwards.
In short, direct-to-coaxial connections will no longer work, with some areas of the county not being affected until later this year.
We have also suggested the use of rooftop antennas for those who wish to take advantage of over-the-air digital signals.
The problem is there is no guarantee for quality reception and weather conditions can affect the signal. Antennaweb.org has a signal strength calculator, which will allow you to get an idea of what over-the-air channels you may be able to pick up.