Security Platforms/Tools

CableCARD Update V

5:15 PM -- In its latest report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said the top 10 "incumbent" U.S. MSOs, which serve roughly 90 percent of the cable subs in the country, have deployed more than 7.8 million "operator-supplied" set-top boxes with CableCARDs since the security integration ban went into effect last July. (See Boxing Up 'Seven-Oh-Seven' .)

The NCTA, which issues these status reports every 90 days, said those same MSOs have deployed just over 374,000 CableCARDs for use in Unidirectional Digital Cable Products (UDCPs), which include one-way "Plug & Play" TVs and some standalone digital video recorders from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO). In its previous report, NCTA noted that 372,000 CableCARDs for use in UDCPs were deployed as of June 23, 2008, so just 2,000 have been added to the total since then. (See CableCARD Update IV .)

"Therefore, in less than 15 months, cable operators have deployed more than twenty times as many CableCARD-enabled devices than the total number of CableCARDs requested by customers for use in UDCPs in the last four years," the NCTA said in its latest filing.

In other words, the market for one-way digital cable-ready products remains super stagnant as the world awaits the emergence of tru2way , which will still use CableCARDs as the removable security element but will likewise be able to support interactive digital cable applications, including video-on-demand (VOD).

Provided that certifications occur soon, companies such as Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) expect to have the first tru2way TVs available at retail this holiday season. (See Panasonic Plays With Live Ammo , What Is tru2way's True Potential? , and Tru2way Troubles?) TiVo is also expected to develop a tru2way-based DVR, but has yet to indicate when such a product will be ready to roll. (See TiVo à la Mode .) At this rate, Charlie Ergen's EchoStar Technologies LLC spinoff may beat TiVo to the punch. (See EchoStar Inks Tru2way Accord .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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