Spectrum cable encrypting its signal, angering its customers - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Spectrum cable encrypting its signal, angering its customers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville cable customers are seeing big changes to their TV service, and many are not happy about it.

Spectrum cable has begun scrambling its TV signal. That means more trouble and eventually more expense for cable customers.

There was a steady stream of traffic going into and out of the Spectrum cable office in St. Matthews Thursday afternoon. Sekou Davis had his arms full of electronic equipment, including a phone modem and a DVR box. He was turning it all in, and cutting the cord after more than 20 years with cable.

“For one, the cost of the service, and, two, just the quality,” said Davis.

Davis says Spectrum's latest change is the last straw. The company is encrypting, or scrambling, its signal in Louisville. It means customers must now have cable boxes for every TV set. They can no long plug cable-ready TV sets directly into a cable outlet.

Spectrum says the change is actually good for customers.

“We want our customers to have the best quality, most reliable video experience, and part of that process is upgrading our technology,” said spokesman Mike Hogan.

Customers outside the Spectrum office told WDRB they did not appreciate the so-called upgrade.

“I don't like it. I haven't liked it since January,” said Paul Johnson. “They raised my bill $30 a month.”

“For right now, I'm just not going to have one of the TV's hooked up. That's all I can do,” said Paul Wirth.

Metro Council members questioned the move when Spectrum appeared before a special meeting of the Labor and Economic Development committee on Wednesday.

“Everyone got cable-ready TVs. We were able to get rid of those boxes, and now we're going back to a box. So, it sounds like the technology is going backwards not forward,” said Marianne Butler (D-District 15.)

Ellen Call, a former member of Metro Council, and now Spectrum’s director of government affairs, said encryption is the wave of the future.

“There is not a major cable operator that I can think of anywhere in the country that does not encrypt its signal,” she said.

Metro Council has no authority to regulate Spectrum, but some customers are taking matters into their own hands.

“I'll just have to go AT&T and see what they've got,” said Paula Johnson.

 “Just using the internet to stream cable content,” said Sekou Davis.

“That is an option to cut the cord,” said Paul Wirth. “That's what happens when you have a monopoly.”

Spectrum is offering customers with no equipment two free boxes for one year. Customers who already have any equipment (digital customers) are being offered one box free for one year. Customers with no equipment who are Medicaid eligible may receive two boxes for five years. After that, it will cost $5.99 a month for each box.

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