TI Gets a Reprieve



1:00 PM -- The folks at Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) have another reason to be thankful during this week's U.S. holiday: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the chipmaker more time to file comments (likely in the form of a formal opposition) to Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s request that the Commission waive a rule requiring HD cable boxes to contain the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 1394 "Firewire" interface.

In an order issued today, the FCC agreed that a 10-day extension of the original Nov. 30 deadline was appropriate because it would fall on the Monday immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (See Blame It on Turkey Day .)

"Motions for extensions of time are not routinely granted. Nevertheless, we do occasionally grant limited extensions of time when we find that the public interest would be served by doing so," the FCC noted.

With that, the new deadline for comments on Intel's waiver request is now Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, with follow-on reply comments due Monday, Dec. 21.

A final ruling on the matter won't emerge until sometime next year, but Intel is asking for a waiver that would allow it to build set-top platforms with IP-based digital outputs without also having to be saddled with supporting the still-required Firewire interface.

Intel claims that IEEE 1394 is too expensive and rarely used by MSOs, holding that the use of a protected IP interface is the optimal way to allow the sending of video to other displays via a home network. (See Intel Wants In on Set-Top Waiver Action .)

TI's coming comments will likely go deeper, but it has previously argued that the cost of the Firewire interface pales versus the overall costs of a set-top box, and that adoption of the technology has been hindered because most MSO-provided set-tops block some of the interface's capabilities.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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