Waiver Winners & Losers
The Public Knowledge group also complained that it did not get access to the "full specifications" of the DTAs in question, arguing that they could be transformed into more advanced devices through software downloads. The vendors countered that such a suggestion was not technically feasible, and even if it was, upgrading a DTA to handle more advanced features would violate the terms of the waiver grant or cause those suppliers to seek out a new, entirely different waiver. (See Cable Circles the DTA Wagons .)
The FCC bought the vendor's explanation: "We clarify that such a modification would effectively make the Subject Boxes different devices, and this waiver only applies to the devices at issue: namely, the one-way, non-HD, non-DVR devices specified in the Waiver Requests."
The FCC also chided the DTA waiver opposition to a degree, noting that the Commission specifically sought out comments about whether the devices were more advanced than the Evolution Broadband LLC .)
The CEA, Click!, and the Public Knowledge group "filed comments that addressed only the policy implications of issues that were discussed and resolved in the Evolution Order," the FCC explained.
Although cable won this round, the fight may not be over. It's possible that the CEA could seek out a full Commission review of the matter. We've asked the CEA for a comment and will relay their reaction as soon as possible.
However, they might be getting a bit used to losing these types of regulatory skirmishes. They also opposed the original Evolution waiver request as well as a request from Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which sought out a extension so it could finish developing and deploying a new downloadable conditional access system. The FCC sided against the CEA's wishes on both counts. (See Cablevision Scores Set-Top Waiver Extension and Cablevision Waiver Catches More Heat.)
UPDATE: The CEA did indeed respond, noting that it's "disappointed with the Bureau's decision to continue policymaking through granting waivers," and claiming that consumers are the ones that come out on the losing end.
Further, it said this latest decision, as well as the earlier one involving the Evolution DTAs and a recent reversal of a ruling centered on switched digital video (SDV), "raise serious questions about the Commission's commitment to assure the development of a market for competitive retail set-top boxes." (See FCC Reverses SDV Ruling.)
The CEA, however, didn't come out and say whether it would seek out a full Commission review of the latest waiver awards, but did note that the organization does "look forward to working with the new Administration and the Congress to reverse this troubling trend."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News