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CableCARD Update

Jeff Baumgartner
12/23/2009

3:15 PM -- Action at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and organic moves toward a less kluge set-top security scheme may eventually put the CableCARD out of its misery, but there will be a mountain of them out there whenever that day arrives. (See Whither the CableCARD?)

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) , in its latest CableCARD update, said more than 17.75 million "operator supplied" modules (i.e., those that have been pre-paired with digital set-top boxes) have been put into play since the FCC's ban on integrated security went into effect on July 1, 2007. However, just 456,000 CableCARDs for use in retail devices by those same MSOs have been deployed -- so nothing really new there. Just 443,000 CableCARDs were deployed in retail devices when the NCTA released these numbers in September. (See CableCARD Update .)

So a grand total of 13,000 more CableCARDs were deployed in support of TVs and retail set-tops (from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and Digeo Inc. ), while more than 1 million security modules were sent out in leased boxes during that period.

So, yes, to say the CableCARD regime has come up short in spurring a vibrant retail model for cable-ready devices would be quite the understatement. But what's to blame? The klunky CableCARD? The absence of a baseline retail spec that would apply to cable, telcos, and satellite TV providers? A complete lack of demand for a retail model?

I didn't exactly see a swarm of consumers hovering over the lonely stack of DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) HD-DVR receivers for sale at the local Best Buy last night, which is probably how the satellite TV giant likes it, based on its recent comments to the FCC. (See DirecTV Disses Cable's 'All-MVPD' Plans.)



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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