Samsung Embraces CableCARDs
Who says CableCARDs are a lost cause? Not Samsung Corp. , which is planning a new "Smart Media Player" set-top for the U.S. fall holiday shopping season (October through December) that will combine access to cable services with OTT video apps.
The retail box will come with an embedded CableCARD and Samsung's own proprietary program guide, according to a report from Zatz Not Funny. The company is seeking an expedited waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to let it forego the inclusion of an analog tuner.
Samsung's waiver request is closely tied to similar requests by TiVo Inc. to pass over the shrinking analog cable TV market. Justifying its move, Samsung argues that "the type of customer interested in purchasing third-party retail set-top box equipment (particularly Internet-connected devices) also will have embraced digital cable." Further, Samsung says, "it will be only a few years until unique analog transmissions have disappeared entirely."
The company estimates that a base analog tuner would cost approximately $10 to include in the new set-top. It contends that the tuner would drive up the retail cost of a new media player even more, due to design and production costs.
Samsung says it would label and market its new media player appropriately to prevent consumer confusion over which cable services the device could support.
Separately, Charter Communications Inc. recently received a waiver from the FCC allowing it to use embedded security again, rather than CableCARDs, in its new set-tops. (See Charter Awarded Set-Top Waiver.)
Charter sought the waiver to help speed the development of downloadable conditional access technology, which it claims would be too costly to bring to market if it also had to support pricey CableCARD technology in hybrid boxes.
Why this matters
The proposed new Samsung set-top would breathe new life into the retail CableCARD market. Ceton also recently launched new TV tuning hardware with CableCARD support. (See Ceton Boosts CableCARDs.) TiVo remains the only company to offer a retail CableCARD device with DVR functionality. — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable