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ACA Applauds FCC Decision To Grant More Digital Set-Top Box Waivers

Ruling Allows Small Cable Customers to Receive Digital Television on Lower-Cost Devices, Allows Operators to Transition to All- Digital Systems in a More Cost-Efficient Manner

PITTSBURGH, August 25, 2009 - The American Cable Association commended the Federal Communications Commission for granting a new round of set-top box waivers and for making it far less expensive for customers of small cable operators to watch digital television and more cost-effective for these small cable providers to reclaim analog bandwidth and become all-digital platforms built to provide consumers with an array of advanced services.

"The ACA is pleased that the FCC is adopting policies that will allow small, independent cable providers to deploy low-cost digital set-top boxes to their customers. The FCC's approach lowers the cost to offer digital television service to consumers and helps ACA members transition to all-digital networks and utilize old analog bandwidth to provide more HDTV channels, faster broadband access speeds, and feature-rich digital phone service," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

 FCC Media Bureau Chief William T. Lake approved an order that granted three-year waivers for "low-cost, limited capability" boxes built by Motorola, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., Pace Americas, Inc., and Thomson, Inc.

These boxes approved for waivers would not include CableCards, which perform signal security operations on set-tops supplied both by cable operators and third-party vendors.  Prior to its new waiver policy, the FCC required cable operators to rely on set-top boxes with the separate security CableCard. Those boxes are significantly more expensive than the low-cost boxes that manufactures will likely supply under their waiver approvals.

Although the boxes covered by the waivers allow consumers to watch digital programming on analog receivers, they do not support HD programming, DVR functionality or broadband access.  ACA urged the FCC to take the next step by granting waivers for low-cost digital set-tops that can process HD programming to reflect the fact that millions of U.S. TV households have replaced their old TV sets with modern HD screens.

"We encourage the agency to now turn its attention to the pending waiver request for HD-capable, low-cost and low-functionality consumer devices that would permit more consumers to receive HD content at a low cost," Polka said.


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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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