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As you might expect, the cable industry has been taking measures to protect its business by asking the FCC to allow encryption of basic cable -- something that has never been done and that many have rightly opposed. The FCC responded by releasing new rules on Friday and while cable operators will be allowed to encrypt all its channels, it isn't without a few strings. The Boxee blog voiced its approval of those strings, which basically amounts to a requirement that when an operator encrypts, it also needs to make basic channels accessible via IP -- with or without some hardware in your home -- so that Boxee and others can still tune in. The other, less interesting stipulation, is that you might be entitled to at least one free set-top box or CableCARD for up to five years, depending on what package you subscribe to or if you are on Medicaid. The free hardware will only be for existing customers who apply within four months of when your provider rolls out the basic cable encryption. The real loser here are those few who actually use the Clear-QAM tuner in their TV, or perhaps those that use HTPC software that'll never get an update.

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FCC to allow encryption of basic cable, with a few strings that Boxee approves of