A Guide to ClearQAM and Advanced Cable TV Configurations

Welcome to QAM.net, the leading information site about QAM related Cable Television issues and guide to High Definition (HD) television configurations that will minimize equipment needs and save you money.

QAM is a standard that provides for the transmission of digital television over analog RF cables.  It’s short for Quadrature amplitude modulation, which describes its encoding method.  Without QAM there would be no digital cable television as we know it today.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for years mandated that Cable companies give their customers access to local broadcast channels (Limited Basic) without encrypting the signal.  The rationale behind this was the government feels that consumers should not be forced to rent set top box devices needed to unencrypt the signal in order to watch local TV.  The HD channels that are broadcast locally over the air (OTA) should also be made available over cable networks unencrypted or “in the clear” as well.

The FCC Decision

Unfortunately for those who rely on ClearQAM for viewing digital cable, the FCC reversed course and ruled in late 2012 that Cable companies can encrypt their Limited Basic offerings.  They cited a reduction in CATV theft and reduced onsite support calls as part of their reasoning.  The decision will supposedly allow Cable companies to increase their bandwidth allocation for high speed Internet by eliminating the analog transmissions over their cables.

Part of deal requires the Cable companies to make the Limited Basic channels available by Internet Protocol (IP) address so 3rd party devices can still access them.  The details of how this will be done are not known yet but will most likely require CableCard use in the devices to decrypt the signal.  The Cable companies will also have a moratorium before they can start charging customers for equipment to unencrypt the Limited Basic channels.