Back in Mass, USA Comcast went to all digital encrypted in my town and you had no choice but to get their box(es).

As to the odd channel numbers, that's Digital TV for you. Nothing new unless someone just arrived from a few year hiatus and were not exposed to the new channel numbering. It's Comcast's choices to put what on what channel so part Comcast and part how the new world order of HDTV is.

Comcast usually installs such things and you ask questions like that of the tech or just use google. However once in a while you find an old school client that tears into anyone that suggests that we research such things online.