FCC extends set-top box requirement date

March 20, 2005

The FCC handed the cable television industry a victory last week by delaying until 2007 a ban on integrated set-top boxes. The ban was created to break Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta’s duopoly.

Microsoft sided with the cable industry in asking for more time to implement a more flexible technology.

The FCC’s order keeps the ban on cable operator deployment of integrated set-top boxes, but defers the effective date of the ban by 12 months from July 2006 to July 2007. The 12-month deferral is intended to afford cable operators additional time to investigate and develop a downloadable security solution that will allow common reliance by cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers on an identical software security function without the additional costs of physical separation inherent in the CableCard solution.

The decision drew the strong opposition from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The group’s president and CEO, Gary Shapiro, urged the FCC to deny repeated efforts by the cable industry to delay a competitive market for cable set-top boxes.

Cable operators complained that the 2006 deadline would have forced them to raise monthly lease rates for new set tops, a move that could lead to a loss of subscribers.

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