FCC once again denies Comcast waiver request

Comcast is expected to appeal to a federal court in an attempt to overrule the commission.

The FCC has denied a second waiver request from Comcast Cable that would have allowed it to continue buying and deploying three entry-level set-top models with integrated security. The commission first denied the request last January in light of a new mandate for separable security from set-top boxes..

Comcast is now expected to take the matter to a federal court in an attempt to overrule the FCC.

“We are disappointed by today’s FCC decision, but we are pleased that we now have a decision that we can appeal to federal court. It is our intention to pursue promptly judicial review of this decision, which we continue to believe imposes significant additional costs on consumers without any corresponding benefit,” Comcast executive vice president David Cohen said in a prepared statement.

Comcast sought waivers on three basic set-top models by Motorola, Scientific Atlanta and Pace that use integrated security. The FCC, in denying the request, said the Comcast “has failed to show that a waiver is necessary to assist the development or introduction of new technologies or services.”

The commission also noted that the three boxes in question contain advanced two-way functionality for applications such as video-on-demand (VOD) and electronic program guides, and “thus are not the ‘low-cost, limited capability’ set-top boxes covered under the policy.”

Comcast and other operators have criticized the steep price differences between integrated models and CableCARD versions of entry-level set-tops. In addition to the slot and the interface, CableCARD-capable set-tops also contain more memory and processing power.

The cable industry contends it is developing a lower-cost, software-based solution that addresses the FCC’s separation mandate. However, that technology is not yet ready to deploy.