CEA, NCTA Agree on Set-Top Energy Efficiency

Groups Say New Box Energy Standards Will Save Consumers $1.5 Billion

Equipment manufacturers and cable operators may not be on the same page about what kinds of set-tops should be in the home, but they are in agreement on the color: green.

The Consumer Electronics Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association have struck a voluntary agreement on set-top energy conservation that they say will result in $1.5 billion in residential energy savings.

Participating companies make up a who's who of the top MVPDs: Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink, as well as consumer equipment companies Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar and ARRIS.

According to the agreement, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, at least 90% of all new set-tops bought and deployed by cable ops will meet EPA Energy Star 3.0 levels, which the EPA says make those boxes 45% more efficient than boxes that don't meet that standard, according to CEA and NCTA. In addition, "light sleeper" mode software will be employed by cable ops to more than 10 million DVRs already in use, and satellite operators will include a power-down feature in 90% of the set-tops they deploy.

"A deep sleep" mode is also being tested for next-generation set-tops.

"Providing American consumers with innovative services that deliver great video content and reduce in-home energy costs is win-win for customers and participating companies," NCTA president Michael Powell said. "Multichannel video providers and device manufacturers are proud to participate in this unprecedented initiative, and we will continue to pursue even more ways to reduce the overall energy footprint of our services."

The companies involved in the initiative will meet regularly to update the program as needed, said Gary Shapiro, president of CEA.

The initiative is on top of projected energy savings from the FCC's decision to allow cable ops to scramble the digital basic tier, which is estimated to save millions of truck rolls.