Charter Communications Inc. has the right to embed conditional access technology in new dual-security set-top boxes for the next two years, following a waiver handed down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The waiver was granted to enable the further development of new downloadable security systems.
Charter sought the FCC waiver because of the cost involved in creating a set-top with support for both downloadable encryption and CableCARD technology. (See Charter Bemoans CableCARD Costs.)
While the FCC is allowing Charter to bypass its 2007 CableCARD mandate, the waiver comes with a host of conditions. Among them, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge has to promise that his company is working with a consumer electronics manufacturer to develop a retail set-top that will work in Charter's cable systems.
The FCC handed down the CableCARD mandate nearly six years ago in an attempt to create retail competition in the set-top market. At the time, the theory was that the industry would continue to develop downloadable security technology in parallel with CableCARD deployments. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)
While progress has been slower than expected, a recent ABI Research forecast predicted that the deployment of cardless conditional access systems will jump 300 percent between 2012 and 2017. The FCC's waiver for Charter should help the industry meet those numbers. (See Cardless Conditional Access Systems on the Rise.)
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable