Please explain why I need this digital box from my cable company?

Our cable company gave us 3 free digital boxes but never explained why we need them. I think I've finally started to understand but I just want someone else to confirm it! First, I want to say that I understand that this has nothing to do with the OTA transition so please don't tell my I will be... show more Our cable company gave us 3 free digital boxes but never explained why we need them. I think I've finally started to understand but I just want someone else to confirm it!

First, I want to say that I understand that this has nothing to do with the OTA transition so please don't tell my I will be unaffected by that! I know. I'm affected by something else....My cable company (CC from here on out) is going all digital on April 1, 2009. There is something about a QAM tuner that many TVs don't have--even newer TVs, and this is basically why we need the digital box, right? (I sure hope so).

If I find a TV that has a QAM tuner will I need the box? Also, what happens if I don't use a box on a non-QAM TV? Will I absolutely get 0 channels? For either TV situation will I maybe get some channels and not others? My family only plans on getting basic digital, nothing premium but I read somewhere that CC's can decide which channels are premium (and it's these "premiums" that are making the digital box necessary).

Can anyone confirm that?

Also, I keep reading about how CCs still need to allow analog signals until 2012. Are there any CCs that have an exemption to this rule? Ours is just a local company serving MAYBE 13,000 (and that's only if the local college is in session). If ALL CCs must continue to allow analog is it only required for certain channels (i.e.: ones that provide local information, news, etc.)?

I'm sorry for so many questions--especially ones that probably have been asked before. In my online searches I seem to keep finding bits and pieces to my answers in different places so I wanted to ask everything in one place and have it confirmed (or not). I keep reading people who ask about digital boxes but they are shot down immediately by others who say "The digital transition doesn't affect cable users!!" I think some people are misreading the question. I get that already! But my CC transitioning to all digital IS affecting my cable, apparently.

Thanks in advance.
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