The chief of the FCC's Media Bureau 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 about five times 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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