Cable Tech

DTA Opposition Mounts

1:05 PM -- A handful of waiver requests from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), and Pace Micro Technology may end up passing muster at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , but it's far from a slam dunk. (See DTA Waiver Mania and Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers .)

Following recent comments from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , a group comprising Public Knowledge, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Open Technology Institute, and U.S. PIRG filed joint comments yesterday (they appeared electronically in the FCC docket today), urging the FCC to reconsider the original three-year DTA waiver granted to Evolution Broadband LLC earlier this month. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs and CEA Presses for CableCard Successor.)

It's an 18-page doc, but, boiled down, it lists concerns similar to the CEA's -- that granting a bunch of DTA waivers will undermine adoption of CableCARD-capable set-tops and the development of an open retail market for interactive digital cable set-tops and cable ready TVs.

They suggest that filings from Moto, Cisco, and Thomson (they forgot to add Pace) "does not suggest a niche market unlikely to undermine development of CableCARD and other 'common reliance' technology. To the contrary, this strongly suggests that manufacturers perceive cable operators are extremely interested in purchasing such boxes for widespread deployment."

They continue: "The flood of applications in the short time since the Commission granted the waiver [to Evolution Broadband] strongly suggests the Commission erred in brushing aside CEA's objections."

The American Cable Association (ACA) , a pressure group that represents small and mid-sized MSOs, quickly defended the original Evolution waiver and urged the FCC to refrain from reversing it.

That waiver "was pro-consumer in every respect," said ACA president and CEO Matthew Polka, in a statement. "The price tag for overturning the FCC's very thoughtful ruling by the Commission would mean that small and medium-sized operators would have to purchase set-top boxes that would cost hundreds of dollars more per-unit than the expected price of the Evolution boxes."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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