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CEA Celebrates Cable Security Milestone

7/02/2007 01:02:00 PM Eastern

Arlington, Va. — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) celebrated Monday the start of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforcement activities for cable set-top box “common reliance” rules, which require the separation of conditional access security systems from cable set-top equipment.

The CEA said the milestone means that consumers will soon be “free from being forced to lease a set top box from their cable company.”

CableCARD rules, which went into effect on July 1, require cable operators to make operational CableCARDs for their own set-top boxes leased to consumers.

“The FCC has repeatedly found that its rule provides cable companies with the necessary incentive to ensure that the CableCARDs are fully functional when used in competitive equipment, including set top boxes and digital cable ready televisions,” CEA said. “Manufacturers have already shipped over eight million such competitive devices.”

The milestone date also “follows the FCC’s release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on two-way plug-and-play and its denial late Friday of a blanket request from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to waive these important pro-competitive rules for the entire cable industry,” CEA said.

Regarding the NPRM on two-way cards, the NCTA’s president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said, “We applaud the FCC for agreeing that comment should be sought on all proposals for digital-cable-ready two-way devices, including our proposal of November 2005. That proposal is based on the OpenCable platform, which was developed in cooperation with TV and PC manufacturers, application developers and content providers and is the only approach that is immediately ready to begin being deployed nationwide today.

“We’re also pleased that the commission, as we suggested, is seeking comment on other approaches that ensure ‘plug and play’ products can be used by subscribers to all video providers, not just cable customers, since more than three in 10 customers today subscribe to multichannel video services other than cable.”

The FCC’s rules requiring common reliance implement a congressionally mandated competitive cable equipment marketplace. The rules require cable companies to provide customers who lease set top boxes from their cable provider, and those who choose competitive equipment available at retail, with the same security module, called a CableCARD, CEA said.

“We have finally arrived at the July 1 implementation date, and soon consumers will be offered the widest choices in both equipment and services,” said CEA president/CEO, Gary Shapiro. “Between this momentous milestone and last week’s action by the FCC to bring two-way plug-and-play devices to market, consumers will soon reap the benefits of the competitive marketplace that Congress envisioned over a decade ago.”

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