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Cable Descramblers - What They Do and How They Work

Updated on June 14, 2010

What Is A "Cable Descrambler"?

A gadget which decrypts a cable TV signal, so that is can display on your TV, is called a cable descrambler. Generally when you subscribe to a cable service the cable company will provide you with a legit cable descrambler. Based upon the subscription they select, certain channels are descrambled while others remain scrambled. There may be additional features to permit cable customers to watch "pay per view" or "on demand" shows and movies.

It is also possible to purchase cable descramblers as well as cable descrambler plans. If all the things required is above board - subscription paid, and you're using an acceptable descrambler, then there are rarely any problems. However, if the gadget is a "pirate box descrambler", which unscrambles cable TV without authorization or payment, that use is illegal.

Picture of a typical cable descrambler

This is a picture of a cable descrambler
This is a picture of a cable descrambler

The Legalities Surrounding Cable Descramblers, Legal or Not?

If you use an illegal "pirate box" cable descrambler - usually this will be sufficient for both criminal and civil court action against whoever has the cable descrambler in their possession.

What ways are Illegal Cable Descramblers Found?

Occasionally a cable company's techie will detect an illegal cable descrambler when performing a service. policeactively search and bust illegal cable descrambler merchants, and during this process, occasionally a list of those who have purchased illegal boxes is obtained. Special technology can allow the cable company to see whether or not you are using the type of cable descrambler they supply - or if the cable descrambler you are using is illegally allowing you to view their transmission.

Illegal Cable Descrambler Consequences

The consequences for being caught with a pirate box descrambler depend upon the amount of evidence possessed by the police or cable company. Sometimes, even when the cable company has contacted police with evidence of an illegal descrambler being used, or your name been obtained by police after purchasing an illegal cable descrambler - this is not enough evidence for the courts to issue a search warrant. police action is rarely taken is cases where the cable descrambler could at all be connected to the cable line for a legal purpose. While the cable company can file a civil court case for "signal theft", they will likely not file a lawsuit unless they are confident that they can demonstrate that the box was used illegally.

If there was no cable subscription in a place where an illegal cable descrambler was found, or the cable descrambler is found attached to a live cable transmission line it is highly likely that the cable company will push for a civil lawsuit and equally likely that the authorities will become involved as well.

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