Author Topic: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company  (Read 5085 times)

Homey The Clown

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Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« on: December 21, 2014, 05:36:59 AM »
We have cable based internet. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper with cable than without. In fact, the difference is more than the lowest tier of cable, which is pretty much just the local networks, plus CSPAN, Weather, WGN, and the shopping networks. We pay approximately $13 for the cable portion, which gets us internet for about $16 cheaper.

All that is not the badassity part. About 2 years ago our cable company (it's the biggest and most hated) sent us a tiny box in the mail and told us we needed said box to keep viewing cable. It was a lie. The cable companies are required to send you the high definition signals from your local affiliates at no charge. When we plugged in this little box, you could no longer get the stations in HD, just the crappy LD signal. Conveniently, they moved all the stations around at the same time so it seemed like you didn't get them any more. We took out the box and did a scan on our television and voilą, all the HD network channels are still there. They even still move them around every so often so that you have to rescan.

Here's another nifty benefit we get. Almost all cable networks stream their video. ESPN, Turner, USA, etc. None of those are included in our package, but a couple years ago we upped our package for the Tour de France and Olympics. We lowered it again after the Olympics ended, but ever since, when we log into the cable network websites with our cable TV email, they recognize our account and we can stream. This is particularly nice for ESPN and other sports stations, as those would be the only reason we would expand our cable (my wife is actually the bigger fan).

So in summary, the very lowest tier of cable comes with HD versions of the major networks, and if you bump up your cable and drop it down again, you may be able to stream networks that were in the upgraded cable. All for a cable price of about $13. The downside is that the internet is over $50, which puts us at $72 all in with taxes, etc.

shuffler

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2014, 06:49:19 AM »
The cable companies are required to send you the high definition signals from your local affiliates at no charge.
That used to be the case, but it's not true any longer.  At least not in-the-clear without requiring extra hardware.
http://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-allows-cable-operators-to-encrypt-basic-cable-tv-signals/
http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cable-system-encryption

Here's another nifty benefit we get. ... if you bump up your cable and drop it down again, you may be able to stream networks that were in the upgraded cable.
If theft-of-service doesn't weigh on your conscience, then that does sound nifty.

Khaetra

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2014, 08:07:18 AM »
My cableco has scrambled everything, so now a box is required for even the basic channels.  I did try plugging in from the wall after folks said it was a ploy to get you to pay more, but I can attest that it was indeed true, zero channels were available.

ascZend

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2014, 09:35:58 AM »
Depending on your location, another option is to cut your cable service entirely and purchase an over-the-air (OTA) antenna.  That's what I did.  Mine is omnidirectional (radiates/intercepts radio waves uniformly in all horizontal directions) and is amplified with a 50-mile range.  OTA antennas can also be made quite cheaply at home with some spare parts, if you were so inclined.

I will never pay for cable service again, especially from Comcast or any of the other major cable providers.

shitzmagee

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2014, 09:46:13 AM »
Local channels can be picked up in HD by anyone...for free (or just the cost of an antenna). Hook up an antenna, change your TV's input, and voila. In my area I get about 20 free HD channels without cable service...granted more than half are useless. I still get ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW, and PBS. That's more than enough TV to watch.

Even better, these free HD channels are higher quality (visually) than what the cable companies give you because they compress the crap out of their channels in order to cram as many as possible onto the wire that comes into your house.

There's even devices and services out there that give you DVR functionality for these free channels (if DVR is your thing).

I don't mean to turn this thread into cable vs no cable (paying for cable is a personal choice), but the cable companies never give you anything for free.

Homey The Clown

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2014, 08:51:20 AM »
If theft-of-service doesn't weigh on your conscience, then that does sound nifty.

I downgraded my service. When I try to stream through a network website (USA, TBS, ESPN, etc.), they require me to login through my cable id and password. I do so and the streaming starts. Some networks (that weren't in the particular package I had upgraded to) say their network is not part of my package. I'm not getting these networks through cable, I'm streaming them. I don't see how that's theft of service. Am I supposed to go through the cable company's byzantine customer service to tell them my account is allowing me to stream networks I'm not subscribed to? I would see it as theft if I was using someone else's account to access these, but I'm signing in with my own account and being allowed to stream. That's not theft any more than people who are getting cable because the company forgot to turn it off. I would call it theft if you're doing something that could leave you liable to criminal prosecution or civil penalties. This is neither.

I do realize that you can receive the over the air signals, but we are in a valley and can't get all the networks well, and would need an annoying cable switcher and visible antenna to receive stations that we are effectively being paid to receive, internet plus cable being less expensive than internet alone.

Homey The Clown

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2014, 08:53:35 AM »
I will never pay for cable service again, especially from Comcast or any of the other major cable providers.

If only there were a cheaper option for decent internet. DSL is the same price for the same speed. They only charge less if we bundle telephone service, which we don't want.

shuffler

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2014, 02:45:53 PM »
I'm signing in with my own account and being allowed to stream. That's not theft any more than people who are getting cable because the company forgot to turn it off.
That is also theft-of-service.  If your neighbor forgets to lock their door, you're not allowed to walk in and take whatever you want.  Same thing goes for the cable-company forgetting to lock their door by turning off service or encrypting channels or denying streaming.

Am I supposed to go through the cable company's byzantine customer service to tell them my account is allowing me to stream networks I'm not subscribed to?
Sure, you could do that.  Or you could decide not watch the for-pay channels you're not paying for.  Or you could decide not go to a web-forum and advocate for other people to raise-and-then-lower their subscription just so they can get channels they're not supposed to get.

I think it's important that our mustachian community try to keep frugality and badassity on the up-and-up.  I suppose that's why I responded to your post.  It's no big deal to me whether you personally pay for your channels or not, but I would prefer that this sort of thing isn't viewed as legitimate badassity.

Bob W

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2014, 08:54:13 AM »
Roku

Jack

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2014, 11:46:45 AM »
My cableco has scrambled everything, so now a box is required for even the basic channels.

Although it's true that you need some kind of box, it's not true that you have to get it from the cable company (no matter how much they want you to think that).

If you're going to have cable and use it, I recommend getting a HDHomeRun and forcing the cable company to issue you a CableCard. At least then they won't be able to charge you an extra fee (and even if they claim that the first box on the account is free, it isn't -- if you get a CableCard instead, they have to give you a discount).

Even if you have cable only because it's cheaper than Internet by itself and don't use it (and you've managed to avoid getting issued a box), I recommend demanding a CableCard just out of spite!


I'm a red panda

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2014, 12:49:51 PM »
I'm signing in with my own account and being allowed to stream. That's not theft any more than people who are getting cable because the company forgot to turn it off.
That is also theft-of-service.  If your neighbor forgets to lock their door, you're not allowed to walk in and take whatever you want.  Same thing goes for the cable-company forgetting to lock their door by turning off service or encrypting channels or denying streaming.


I disagree this is theft. It is like a magazine you canceled still being sent to your house. It is their responsibility to stop sending it once you have canceled. You aren't entering their property- they are entering yours.  (Is it theft to use the cookie tray your neighbor left at your house? Perhaps it is rude to not return it, but they never asked for it back...)

If you go out and hook up wires to connect yourself into a system you aren't a part of, that is theft of service.

Spork

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2014, 12:56:18 PM »
My cableco has scrambled everything, so now a box is required for even the basic channels.

Although it's true that you need some kind of box, it's not true that you have to get it from the cable company (no matter how much they want you to think that).

If you're going to have cable and use it, I recommend getting a HDHomeRun and forcing the cable company to issue you a CableCard. At least then they won't be able to charge you an extra fee (and even if they claim that the first box on the account is free, it isn't -- if you get a CableCard instead, they have to give you a discount).

Even if you have cable only because it's cheaper than Internet by itself and don't use it (and you've managed to avoid getting issued a box), I recommend demanding a CableCard just out of spite!

While I, too, prefer a cable card...  They are allowed to charge for cable cards.  I think I pay about $4/month.

shuffler

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2014, 07:03:39 PM »
I disagree this is theft.
Well, firstly there is the cable-companies' opinion on it.  A link as an example:
    http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/support/tv/topics/cable-theft.html
... I wouldn't expect you to (nor would I) take the cable-company to be a neutral party, but at least their calling it "passive theft" should show that they're unwilling to just be giving away cable in this fashion, and should weigh against this sort of passive receiving of cable being considered moral or badass.

Beyond that, here's the applicable law (I believe) for "Unauthorized reception of cable service":
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2009-title47/html/USCODE-2009-title47-chap5-subchapV-A-partIV-sec553.htm
In particular, it covers simple reception (without further explicit action):
Quote
No person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable operator
... and it even provides specific damage guidelines in the case that the infringer was unaware:
Quote
In any case where the court finds that the violator was not aware and had no reason to believe that his acts constituted a violation of this section, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of damages to a sum of not less than $100.

The state of Massachusets has a web page that explains that passive cable theft is theft:
    http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/government/oca-agencies/dtc-lp/competition-division/cable-tv-division/consumer-rights-fact-sheets/consumer-rights-fact-sheets/cable-theft.html
... the Massachusetts page is interesting because it specifically says that receiving service due to "faulty cable operator procedures" is still theft.

I feel that it's pretty clear that receiving unpaid cable service in this manner is theft and is illegal.

This forum had the same discussion two years ago:
    http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/get-free-cable-tv/
... I don't think anyone's opinion was changed there, nor do I really expect to change anyone's opinion here today.  But as I said earlier, I do think it's important to keep our frugality and badassity on the up-and-up.

Jack

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2014, 07:43:27 PM »
From an absolutist perspective, I agree that streaming cable you're not paying for is theft-of-service and wrong.

However, from a utilitarian perspective, I'd argue that, since Comcast and Time Warner do a huge amount of harm to all Americans* and that harm is funded by cable subscriptions, anything that a person can do to avoid giving them more money than absolutely necessary is good!

* Harms include: aiding and abetting unconstitutional spying, opposing net neutrality, using monopoly power to suppress faster and cheaper broadband, supporting more and more draconian copyright law, simply having shitty customer service -- need I go on?

shuffler

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2014, 08:30:15 PM »
However, from a utilitarian perspective, I'd argue that, since Comcast and Time Warner do a huge amount of harm to all Americans* and that harm is funded by cable subscriptions, anything that a person can do to avoid giving them more money than absolutely necessary is good!
It sounds like you're arguing to justify this sort of theft b/c these companies are bad actors.  Though I may agree with your grievances, two wrongs don't make a right, and this sort of vigilante-style justice isn't really defensible when we're taking about luxury goods like cable-tv and high-speed internet.
A boycott could be a good idea though.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Free HD and Streaming Through Unnamed Cable Company
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2014, 07:08:41 AM »
Re: Passive theft.

It's a moot point to me, as I haven't had cable in years, and never in my current house.

But if someone sends something to my house, it's their problem not mine. They should stop sending it.