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Cable Operators

CableCard Set-Tops Top 22.75 Million

10/04/2010 4:30 AM Eastern

The 10 biggest U.S. cable
operators have deployed more
than 22.75 million leased set-top
boxes with CableCards since the
Federal Communications Commission’s
integrated set-top ban
went into effect in July 2007 — a
rule the cable industry claims
has cost more than $1 billion to
no discernable effect.

Meanwhile, those same cable
operators have deployed approximately
531,000 CableCards
for use in retail devices such as
TiVo DVRs, according to figures
supplied by the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association
to the FCC Thursday.

The FCC — which has acknowledged
the CableCard regime
hasn’t achieved the aim of fostering
a retail set-top market — has
proposed “fixes” to CableCard
rules and tentatively added the issue
to its Oct. 14 meeting agenda.

The agency has proposed adding
new requirements on MSOs
with respect to CableCards, including:
“more transparent” billing
for CableCards; a simplified
installation process; CableCards
that can tune multiple streams;
and a streamlined CableCard device-
certification process.

The NCTA has argued that the
integrated set-top ban should be
nixed, particularly because the
FCC is looking at adopting an “All-
Vid” requirement applying to all
pay TV providers that would supersede
CableCards. But the industry
will continue to support
CableCard-based consumer-electronics
devices.

“[T]he integration ban has imposed
more than a billion dollars
in costs on cable operators and
consumers, yet there is no compelling
evidence of any correlation
between CableCard use in leased
devices and the adoption of retail
CableCard devices or other consumer
benefi ts,” NCTA said in comments
to the FCC in June. “But even
if there were such evidence, there is
certainly no evidence that consumers
would receive a commensurate
incremental benefit from continued
imposition of the integration ban on
devices over and above the 20 million
CableCard devices cable operators
have already deployed.”

September