Many premium channels such as HBO scramble their signals so that people cannot get these for free on their television sets. A descrambler is a gadget that allows you to restore the picture and sound of a scrambled channel by "unlocking" the signals. A descrambler has to be used in combination with a cable converter. Both these devices are perfectly legal although it may not seem so. You can get a converter from your cable company and attach a descrambler to it or you can purchase both the devices on your own and use them to access channels. What is illegal though is if you do not inform the cable company that you are receiving their signals. If you do not pay for these services, then it becomes illegal. There are many descramblers and converters available in the markets. These also vary in their cost depending on the quality and features that you want and also if you want a new one or are alright with buying an old one. A combination descrambler/converter device is also available. This is a one piece set top box with an in-built descrambler. The converter lets you access the cable channels on a television that is not cable ready, and the built-in descrambler allows you to view premium channels. A descrambler cannot work with any cable signals but has to be compatible to the signals provided by the cable company in your area. So you cannot just pick it up and attach it to a television that is served by another cable service.
1. It is legal to own a cable descrambler. If they were illegal the cable companies would be in trouble. 2. It is legal to use a cable descrambler with the permission of the cable company. FCC regulations prohibit a cable company from frivolously denying a consumer from using a privately owned descrambler. 3. It is illegal to operate a cable descrambler in such a way as to obtain services for which you have not paid.
I guess the answer here is neither. The fact is if you are using the cable descrambler illegally then yes. These devices are out there for sale, however you would have to have some kind of permission thru your TV Provider that says that it is acceptable for you to use a scrambler, this is usually based on the package that you purchase from the provider. You can not knowingly hook up a cable descrambler that will be used to receive free or "pirated" TV.
A converter is a device that collects all the available channels from the cable company and puts it into an RF signal on a particular channel. Some converters can even change the signal to a "Video" format which can then be attached to a VCR for superior picture. A converter cannot be used to receive premium channels which are scrambled as by itself it is just a channel changer and not a descrambler. You can get all the basic channels with a converter if your TV is not the cable ready type. But if you add a descrambler to your converter, you can then access all the scrambled channels. You can get a converter from your cable company and attach a descrambler to it or you can purchase both the devices on your own and use them to access channels. However, it is illegal to not inform the cable company that you are receiving their signals.
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