CableCard Set-Tops Climb To 9.8 Million

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The 10 largest cable operators in the U.S. have deployed 9.8 million set-top boxes that use CableCards to provide security functions since the Federal Communications Commission’s so-called integrated set-top ban went into effect July 1, 2007.

Meanwhile, the same MSOs have distributed around 392,000 standalone CableCards for use in cable-ready devices like TiVo DVRs. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association reported the figures in a letter Monday to the FCC.

The NCTA noted that “in less than 18 months, cable operators have deployed more than 24 times as many CableCard-enabled devices than the total number of CableCards requested by customers for use in UDCPs [unidirectional digital cable products] in just over the last four years.”

The FCC’s policy of forcing MSOs to use CableCards in their own set-tops, known as “common reliance,” is supposed to ensure that the removable cards work well in any retail products that conform to the standard.

The top 10 cable operators serve about 90% of the cable TV customers in U.S. In the last three months the number of CableCard-based set-tops they have deployed increased by about 2 million, or 25%, while the number of standalone CableCards increased 18,000, or about 5%.

The NCTA said that 596 products from 29 consumer-electronics manufacturers have been certified or verified for use with CableCards, as of Dec. 22.

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