Ask Laz: Can you go to Best Buy for Time Warner Cable’s new box?


Natosh needs an adapter to receive Time Warner Cable’s digital signal. He’s wary of paying high prices to the cable company.

“If I get a digital adapter from Best Buy, will that work to unscramble the digital channels?” Natosh asks.

The answer: Some, but not all.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions


First, a little background. Time Warner Cable shut down its Los Angeles analog service in July. The company said the move frees up bandwidth for faster Internet and more high-definition channels.

Anyone with a digital TV and a digital set-top box was unaffected by the changeover.

But those who circumvented the box and ran their cable line straight into their digital TV have a problem. That’s because Time Warner Cable is now scrambling its digital signal to deter piracy.

The company is providing free digital adapters to customers who need them through the end of next year. Beginning in 2016, however, customers will have to pay $1.50 a month for the device.

Natosh is hoping to avoid that fee with his own box. But Time Warner Cable has anticipated such penny-pinching.

“There are digital converters that you can buy at retail for receiving over-the-air broadcast signals,” said Dennis Johnson, a spokesman for the company. “They aren’t for encrypted channels.”

In other words, if you want to unscramble Time Warner Cable’s digital signal, you need a Time Warner Cable box.


Johnson said if subscribers want to know more, they can check out this online video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz