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CableCARD Update IV

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) reported Monday that the top 10 U.S. "incumbent" cable MSOs have deployed more than 6.2 million "operator-supplied" set-top boxes with CableCARDs (most of them pre-inserted) since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) integration ban went into effect last July. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.) That's up from the 4.18 million the NCTA last reported in late March. (See CableCARD Update III .)

While CableCARD set-top numbers continue to rise, the number of CableCARDs deployed in Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready Products (UDCPs) (i.e. one-way digital cable ready TV sets and some standalone TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) boxes with CableCARD slots) has remained relatively stagnant.

In its latest update to the FCC, NCTA said just north of 372,000 CableCARDs for use in UDCPs were deployed as of June 23, 2008, by the top 10 MSOs, which serve about 90 percent of all cable subs in the country. That's up just a mere 25,000 from the March report, and it isn't exactly much of a surprise, despite that 27 consumer electronics companies have had 583 UDCP models certified or verified so far.

So-called one-way Plug & Play devices have pretty much been dead on arrival due to their limited capabilities, though forthcoming "tuning adapters," which will enable these devices to access interactive applications such as switched digital video (SDV), might breathe some new life into the category. (See Cisco Intros SDV Tuning Adapter and As the 'Tuning Resolver' Turns.)

In the meantime, there are seemingly equal parts hope and hype that new interactive TVs that use the tru2way platform will gather much more consumer interest. (See Sony Supports tru2way, Revealed: The Tru2way MOU, and More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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