& cplSiteName &

FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'

Phil Harvey
LR Cable News Analysis
Phil Harvey
1/11/2007
50%
50%

LAS VEGAS -- Consumer Electronics Show (CES) -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears determined to enforce its rules requiring cable operators and consumer electronics makers to use the same type of separable security in set-top boxes and cable-ready TVs.

On Wednesday night the Commission announced it had denied a waiver request filed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), though the agency added that Comcast could amend its request. (See FCC Denies Comcast Waiver.)

Only hours earlier, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made it clear to reporters at CES that he was not in favor of "blanket waivers" and mentioned Comcast by name. "Comcast has a waiver in front of us where they're asking for a waiver, for a delay, without any kind of a date certain on when they'll be able to develop downloadable security," Martin said.

Under the FCC's rules regarding set-top security, cable operators have until July 1 to start relying on CableCARDs -– removable security modules -– to provide conditional access security for TV content. This, the FCC says, is intended to spur competition, providing an even playing field between cable set-top boxes and retail-bought, cable-ready TVs. (See Comcast & Cox Deal Set-Tops at CES and Cable MSOs Fight for Set-top Status Quo.)

"We've got a series of waivers in front of us, and I think that the Commission shouldn't just provide blanket waivers for further delay of a rule that was adopted back in 1998," Martin explained, while chatting on stage with Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president Gary Shapiro.

Martin's point is that this separable security rule has been delayed for years, and more delays will only stall innovation on the part of device makers.

In his remarks to the media on Wednesday, Martin drew a parallel to the innovation in telephones that occurred when standards were set for all home phones to use the same kinds of wall plugs, etc. Once the end user device was no longer solely provided by the phone company, innovation flourished, Martin said.

A few hours later, the FCC put out statements that Comcast's waiver had been denied and that it would be held to the July 1 deadline for implementing CableCARD security in its set-tops. That means the operator needs to replace any set-tops in its network where the security features are not a removable part of the device's hardware by July 1.

The Commission also commented on two other waiver requests. One was a limited waiver granted to Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which is using a SmartCard system that doesn't comply with the FCC's rules. However, the Commission found that "there is good cause to temporarily grandfather Cablevision's use of its separated security solution until July 1, 2009."

A third waiver request, made by Central Oregon's BendBroadband , was granted. The Commission noted that Bend is migrating to an all-digital network by 2008, and that the migration will necessitate set-top technology changes. Also, the FCC was sympathetic to smaller operators in its comments, noting the difficulties that "small cable operators may face in complying with the July 1, 2007, deadline for separated security because manufacturers prioritize orders from the largest providers."

Martin, though, wasn't all smiles following the FCC's work on these waivers. The CableCARD security method only allows for one-way security, and so doesn't address the interactive applications that are becoming more popular with cable operators.

Chairman Martin says he'd prefer the MSOs and consumer device makers to agree on a two-way security method, and not just something that would benefit regular TV viewing.

But that hasn't happened so far, and Martin is determined that shouldn't hold up the set-top rules enforcement. "In the absence of real progress on either of these issues, however, I think the Commission needs to move forward with its current rules," he said in a prepared statement released Wednesday evening.

— Phil Harvey, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:41 PM
re: FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'
From David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast:

GÇ£We are very disappointed in this regrettable FCC Media Bureau decision. The rejection of this waiver means millions of American consumers wonGÇÖt have the opportunity to enter the age of digital television easily and affordably. Access to digital programming services like VOD, the family tier and electronic program guides will be denied to countless cable customers. This amounts to an FCC tax of hundreds of millions of dollars on consumers with no countervailing benefits. We will seek full Commission review immediately.GÇ¥
Michael Harris
50%
50%
Michael Harris,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:40 PM
re: FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'
Thanks seven. Sports are indeed only part of the issue, but an easy target for industry columnists. :)

Programming line-up expansion is a major part of the equation. As are requirements from programmers that MSOs, DBS providers and telcos carry networks -- often multiple channels -- on their basic or digital tiers.

As long as this is the competitive basis then costs will continue to soar.

Well said!
paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:40 PM
re: FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'

The CDN post on cable scapegoatting does not allow for messages. So, I am posting it here.

I agree and disagree. Clearly Michael has an issue with sports programming. He needs to set that bias aside. Remember, DBS satellite has doubled in penetration basically due to the NFL Sunday Ticket.

So, I agree programmming costs have gone up and that is both a push cost and a pull cost. Go back to 1995 and go find yourself a 150 channel digital cable system. You can't. They didn't exist. Cable and Satellite have set the competitive landscape around the amount of content available. Programming has become more important as you have to fill up 3x the number of channels that you used to. It is scarcer now by a large degree than 10 years ago.

Take a look at U-verse. What are they selling? More channels? Are there more targeted packages? Not really. There are simply more channels. As long as this is the competitive basis then costs will continue to soar.

seven
burn0050
50%
50%
burn0050,
User Rank: Light Bulb
12/5/2012 | 3:16:39 PM
re: FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'
I'm sick of Comcast whining about the consumer. They don't care about the consumer, they care about their bottom line.

Comcast is putting off CableCard as long as it can so they can continue to charge for their set top boxes. They want to go all digital so they can add monthly fees for all the boxes they can install. And having to support CableCard means that can't do that, and they have to spend money on infrastructure to support it.

Comcast, don't cry for the consumer when it's just tears for yourself.
Michael Harris
50%
50%
Michael Harris,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:16:37 PM
re: FCC to Comcast: 'No Waiver for You'
It's fair to say that consumer-centered altruism is not likely to be Comcast's primary motivation here. However, this issue isn't really about their ability to charge consumers set-top rental fees. The amount MSOs can charge for boxes is regulated through cost-basis calculations. The deeper drivers are 1) MSOs wish to keep control of the consumer interface. While there is a dark side of this, the legitimate concerns are ensuring a consistent experience and minimizing support costs. This is why you can only by a cell phone that is pre-integrated with a particular mobile carrier. 2) Implementing CableCARD increases set-top box costs, hitting MSOs in the pocket. So, as an alternative to CableCARDs, MSOs like Comcast are advocating downloadable conditional access technology (DCAS). The problem is, it's not ready for deployment.

The whining about this is somewhat disingenuous as the FCC issued its set-top security separation rules in 1998, calling for a July 2005 implementation deadline, which the FCC postponed until July 2007. So, it's not like Comcast and the rest of the industry hasn't had time to work on the issue.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
,
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
Cisco Throws 5,500 Overboard on Cruise to Richer Waters
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/17/2016
VoLTE Can Drive 4G Small Cells Adoption
Ravi Narayanan, Senior Analyst – Cloud & Next Generation Mobile Networks, Heavy Reading, 8/18/2016
Rocket Fiber Lights Up Detroit With Gigabit
Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, 8/22/2016
'Most Wanted' Kobi Comes Home
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 8/23/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.