Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) are both seeking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) waivers for simple digital terminal adapters (DTAs) that don't comply with an integrated set-top security ban that went into effect in July of 2007. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven' and DTAs on Parade .)

Short of such waivers, MSOs are required to deploy digital boxes with separable security, usually handled by CableCARD slots and removable CableCARD modules. The granting of blanket waivers to specific devices could be a regulatory game-changer, because, as the theory goes, an MSO that wants to buy and deploy such boxes won't have to seek out separate waivers on their own. (See Boxing Up 'Seven-Oh-Seven' .)

Cisco has requested waivers for three low-cost "limited-capability" channel zappers: the DTA 30, DTA 50, and DTA 70. Motorola, meanwhile, is seeking special dispensation on the DTA-100 and the DTA-100u.

The FCC Media Bureau, which revealed those waiver requests in documents published today, is seeking comment on whether those devices should or shouldn't be granted waivers. The shot clock is already on -- formal comments and any outright opposition against the waivers are due to the bureau by June 26, 2009.

Motorola and Cisco are vying for an FCC hall pass just a couple weeks after Evolution Broadband LLC was awarded waivers for two DTAs: the DMS-1002 and DMS-1002-CA. Evolution, the first supplier to get a waiver (all others have gone to service providers), sought out approval so its MSO customers would not have to do so separately. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs.)

Cisco told Cable Digital News earlier this month that it did not intend to file for any DTA waivers. However, it changed its mind after further study of the Evolution waiver. "We have since determined after full evaluation and consideration that given the nature of the waiver grant, it was in the best interest (for both us and our customers) to seek a waiver for our DTA product line," a Cisco spokeswoman said via email. (See Cisco Won't Join FCC's DTA Dance .)

Motorola and Cisco might look to take the same path as Evolution and use the waiver as a deployment advantage. For now, Moto and Cisco are supplying DTAs for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s all-digital "Project Cavalry" initiative. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Motorola's are already deployed without any content protection enabled, though a scheme called "privacy mode" could be activated later. Cisco's DTAs for Comcast and other operators have not yet reached the deployment stage. Pace Micro Technology and Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) also supply DTAs to Comcast, but have yet to seek out waiver status. (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional .)

Cisco and Moto are going after waivers soon after the FCC Media Bureau indicated it would expeditiously grant or deny waiver requests on devices deemed "no more advanced" than Evolution's DTAs, but would still provide 10 calendar days for public comment.

Evolution has already indicated that it will try to get a waiver on a new HD-capable DTA. Cable One Inc. has already gotten the OK to deploy such a device in one small system in Tennessee. (See Evolution Guns for HD Box Waiver and Cable ONE Snares HD Set-Top Waiver .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:02:37 PM
re: Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers

We asked and promptly got a note back about the different DTA models Cisco is gunning for. According to them, DTA 70 only works in Cisco systems, while the DTA 30 and DTA 50 will work in both Motorola and Cisco digital cable systems.  The DTA 50 and DTA 70 models operate at 57 KHz IR frequency; while the DTA 30 operates at 38 KHz IR frequency. Previously Cisco mentioned to us that Comcast's DTA specs call for the device to use a unique frequency for the remote control.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:02:36 PM
re: Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers

According to Moto's three-year waiver request, the DTA-100 works in cable systems that use Moto security; the DTA-100u will work in systems that use Moto or Cisco security.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:02:30 PM
re: Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers

Update: FCC just put out a notice that Pace and Thomson are also applying for waivers on their respective DTA models. More on this momentarily.

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