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FCC delays cable ban on integrated set-top boxes

The FCC last month delayed the effective date that a ban on cable operator deployment of integrated set-top boxes would take effect from July 2006 to July 2007.

The commission issued the delay in its Second Report and Order in the Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices proceeding March 17. The 12-month deferral is intended to give cable operators more time to investigate and develop a downloadable software security solution without the need of a CableCard.

The commission also setup reporting requirements to ensure progress, including:

  • The cable industry must report to the FCC by Dec. 1:
  • Whether development and deployment of downloadable security is feasible. If feasible, develop a timeline for deployment and state that it will use downloadable security in its own devices. Draft licensing terms for the downloadable software solution.
  • By August 1 and every 60 days thereafter:
  • The NCTA and CEA must file joint status reports and hold joint status meetings with the FCC about the progress of a bi-directional “plug and play” agreement and software-based security agreement.
  • By August 1 and every 90 days thereafter, the six largest cable operators (Comcast, TW, Cox, Charter, Adelphia and Cablevision) must file status reports on CableCard deployment, including such issues as:
  • The number of CableCards in service; Whether service calls are required for installation; The monthly price for CableCards; Problems encountered with CableCards and how they have been resolved; Progress on the development, and a timetable for deployment of multi-stream CableCards.

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