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CableCARDs Used In Retail Devices Dip To 600,000

As Security Modules Deployed In Operator-Leased Set-Tops Rise to 44 Million 11/03/2013 10:50 AM Eastern

The latest CableCARD deployment report from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association offered another verse of the same song – security modules in leased boxes continue to rise, while CableCARDs deployed in retail devices, such as TiVo DVRs, continue to erode.

According to a report filed on October 31, the NCTA said the top nine incumbent cable operators have deployed 44 million CableCARDs in MSO-leased set-tops since the integrated set-top security ban took effect July 1, 2007. That up from 42 million reported by the NCTA on August 1.   

By comparison, those same operators currently have 600,000 CableCARDs deployed for use in retail devices, versus 603,000 in the last report.

The latest report comes amid the backdrop of legislation introduced by Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) on September 26 that aims to “remove the unnecessary and costly” set-top security integration ban, putting forth an FCC estimate that the mandate has cost cable operators and consumers more than $1 billion. Although the bill would allow cable operators to deploy devices with integrated security, MSOs have also pledged to continue supporting retail CableCARD devices.

The NCTA, which has repeatedly called on the FCC to end the set-top ban, and the American Cable Association cheered the introduction of the bill.

Among detractors of the legislation, TiVo fears that the elimination of the ban would put it and its products, which rely on CableCARDs to deliver cable digital TV services, at a significant disadvantage. TiVo has also reaffirmed a commitment to work with the pay-TV industry a successor to the CableCARD that could be applied to all forms of multichannel video programming distributors.

Samsung, meanwhile, has continued to push forward with a retail CableCARD device of its own. The $149.99 Smart Media Player, launched last month, is a hybrid IP/QAM box that supports digital cable TV services as well as over-the-top apps from Netflix, VUDU, and Amazon Instant Video, among others.