DTA Waiver Mania

1:40 PM -- To no one's surprise, two more set-top makers are riding Evolution Broadband LLC 's coat tails by applying for special waivers from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) .

A day after Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) officially sought out waivers for their digital terminal adapters (DTAs) -- simple one-way devices that convert digital video signals to analog -- new FCC documents published today show that Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) and Pace Micro Technology have joined that party as well, taking advantage of a new "streamlined process" at the Commission that came about after the the FCC awarded waivers to two products from Evolution earlier this month. (See Cisco, Moto Go for DTA Waivers and FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs.)

Pace submitted two low-cost, "limited-capability" DTAs -- the DC50X and the DC50Xu. Thomson put in the DCI104 and the DCI105. We haven't seen the official waiver request documents from those manufacturers yet, but given what Moto and Cisco filed earlier, it's a good bet that one model is for Motorola-based cable systems, and the other is outfitted for Cisco-based cable networks.

Perhaps not coincidentally, all of these vendors are supplying DTAs to fuel the aggressive "all-digital" strategy of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), an MSO that had a world of trouble attempting to obtain waivers on its own when former FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin was still in power. If this equipment passes muster, other MSOs may jump on analog-reclamation strategies that use these simple channel zappers alongside more advanced two-way, CableCARD-capable digital boxes. (See Comcast Denied Set-Top Waiver (Again) and Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Comments and oppositions on the Thomson and Pace filings are due June 29, 2009. We expect to see an opposition filing from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in T-minus-PDQ.

All of the DTAs submitted to the FCC are capable of implementing integrated security, a method that was banned by the FCC (short of a waiver, that is) in July 2007. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven' and Verizon & Others Get Their Waivers.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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