Swiss cable operator lifts basic encryption

Swiss cable operator GA Weissenstein has removed basic encryption from its digital free-to-air offer.

The package, comprising more than 220 television and radio stations, can now be received with any set-top-box or TV set with a built-in digital receiver. There is no need to purchase a specific receiver from the cable company. Also, no smartcard is necessary. However, GA Weissenstein recommends using a box suitable for encrypted channels so that additional thematic and foreign-language packages offered as pay-TV services can be subscribed to if desired.

With the move the company, which supplies the city of Solothurn and its surrounds, is following a different strategy to the large cable operators such as Cablecom, which only allow the reception of their digital offers with a certified set-top-box distributed by them.

Consumer protection groups, which have long demanded an end to prescribed boxes, have greeted the move: “GA Weissenstein realises that the switch to digital television can only be accelerated in a sensible way by waiving the need for a specific set-top-box to receive the basic package,” said Sara Stalder, managing director of consumer protection organisation Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz.