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TiVo fighting FCC over CableCARD, Verizon's FiOS service

By Bob Norman     Oct 19, 2006 in
TiVo is locking horns with the FCC over CableCARD deployment, the "integration ban" which led to CableCARD, and how Verizon's FiOS service might ruin it for all.
This isn't a simple story. The FCC's set-top box "integration ban" requires cable operators to deploy set-top boxes that meet certain criteria standards, separating proprietary encryption from basic decoding functions. More specifically, this regulation effectively forces cable operators to support CableCARD, a technology incorporated into digital TVs and DVRs that makes such devices compatible with the cable operator's encryption scheme without a set-top box.
The FCC, therefore, has promulgated C.F.R. 76.1204(a)(1), requiring cable operators to implement CableCARD technology into their set-top boxes, so that every box has a CableCARD slot and will need a CableCARD to operate. This eliminates the need for consumers to take any special action to obtain a CableCARD. As it should be!
Verizon recently filed a request for the FCC to temporarily waive 47 C.F.R. 76.1204(a)(1) until an "interoperable, open downloadable conditional access ("DCAS") solution is developed and deployed," arguing that waiver is necessary to facilitate the introduction of Verizon's own FiOS TV service. Verizon argues that this DCAS solution would render CableCARDs obsolete, and making their current set-top boxes compatible with the CableCARDs would be a waste of money. By waiving the CableCARD requirement and speeding Verizon's implementation of its cable service, Verizon argues, the FCC will increase competition in the cable TV market, ultimately helping consumers.
This latest response by TiVo is concerned, in part, with the definition of "low-end" in referring to set-top boxes. TiVo's concern is that the cable companies wish to define "low-end" so expansively as to encompass a wide variety of boxes with seemingly high-end DVR functionality that would compete with TiVo's product.
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