A New Battle Brews About Old Set-Tops
To recap, Adams Cable Equipment Inc. (ACE), a distributor of cable gear and refurbished set-tops, is the one asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the waiver. The request replicates the waiver granted to Baja Broadband in 2010 on grounds that the small, cash-strapped operator didn't have the scratch to support set-tops with CableCARDs but still wanted to let its customers purchase the boxes if that was their desire. (See ACE Plan Would Let MSOs Sell Old Set-Tops .)
The CEA opposed Baja Broadband's original request and is now objecting to ACE's as well. In an FCC filing this week, the organization says ACE isn't suffering the financial hardship that Baja was. The ACE waiver, if approved, could be used by any MSO, though it's expected that only Tier 2 and 3 operators would even care to put it into action.
The CEA also wants the FCC to get a fix on how many non-compliant boxes (i.e. those with integrated security) ACE holds in inventory so it has a sense of what the potential supply might be, because the CEA said it was led to believe that the number should be on the decline now that more than four years have passed since the FCC's ban on integrated security set-tops went into effect. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)
The FCC has been granting waivers pretty liberally in recent memory, dismissing the CEA's concerns about rule tweaks that now allow MSOs to deploy simple Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices in support of their digital transition projects. But I'd be surprised if the Commission blesses this one as-is. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs.)
While it's unlikely that an operator the size of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) would give a rip about being able to sell rickety Motorola Mobility LLC DCT2000s to customers for $50 a pop, the ACE waiver should, at the very least, require operators to pursue it only if they can show that money is tight.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable