Arlington, VA--The FCC has officially launched the national "plug-and-play" digital cable standard, which will deliver digital and high definition television (HDTV) via cable for the first time without the need for a cable set-top box.
The new standard, already built into several digital HDTV models now coming into stores and catalog retailers from multiple TV manufacturers, will give cable subscribers direct access to their local cable operator's digital basic, premium, and subscription program services by directly connecting their digital cable into the DTV.
Under the FCC regulations that have now taken effect, consumers across the country can now enjoy the benefits of digital cable ready products as cable operators make "CableCARD" security modules available to allow customers to receive HDTV programming without a set-top box. Like a key, the CableCARD is inserted into a slot in a digital cable-ready product--HDTVs, recorders, computers, and soon other consumer electronics--to unlock a local cable system's "conditional access" security protecting its programming.
"Plug-and-play is as simple as 1-2-3--buy it, plug it in, turn it on, and enjoy the wonders of HDTV--thanks to digital cable ready HDTV," said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. "Millions of cable subscribers nationwide now have an easier path to join the HDTV revolution. Consumers who love their cable programs will love the ease and simplicity of CableCARD, and they will want their CableCARDs from their local cable operator in a timely manner and at little or no cost. Subscribers or those who want to sign up for digital cable can call their local cable operator for their CableCARD, or use the cable industry's website, www.cpss.go2broadband.com, to get more information."
The cable industry reports that half-approximately 35 million of all cable subscribers do not use a set-top box today, relying instead on their analog cable-ready TVs to receive a limited number of analog channels. In addition, millions more have second, third and sometimes more TVs in their homes, which also do not have cable set-top boxes. While none of these cable homes today can access digital cable programming, the new CableCARD can give them first-time access to digital and HDTV on cable.
CEA reports that 54 percent of consumers surveyed said they would be more likely to buy an HDTV if a separate set-top box was not required. Digital cable-ready products allow these customers to move seamlessly into the digital world, enjoying all that HDTV has to offer through the cable connected directly to the back of their digital cable ready HDTV.
"The DTV transition goes into high-gear today, considering that 70 million U.S. households rely on cable for their primary TV reception," said Shapiro. "Digital cable-ready HDTVs offer cable consumers a variety of features and benefits, including access to premium services and, in many cases, program guide capabilities built right into the new HDTVs.
"Not only do they offer cable DTV reception," Shapiro said, "they include an ATSC tuner for off-air DTV reception, as well, further advancing the analog to DTV transition. For its part, the consumer electronics industry is committed to working with retailers and cable operators to ensure that consumers understand and have access to CableCARDS to receive HDTV and other premium cable programming without a set-top box."
Consumer Electronics Association