Charter Pushes for Set-Top Waiver, CEA Pushes Back


The shoving match between Charter Communications and the Consumer Electronics Association over the MSO’s pursuit of a two-year waiver that would allow it to deploy CableCard-free, dual-security settops continued on in the Federal Communications Commission docket last week.

In exchange for a two-year waiver that Charter claims is necessary to deploy a new downloadable security system economically, CEO Tom Rutledge told the agency that it would voluntarily expand its 100 Megabits-persecond modem tier to another 200,000 homes, go alldigital in all Charter markets, and continue to provide CableCard modules for new CableCard devices until a third-party retail device with downloadable security is available for use by Charter customers.

The Consumer Electronics Association has opposed Charter’s request from the start, but was particularly annoyed with the MSO’s CableCARD pledge, responding that Charter “apparently now claims that by moving to its ‘downloadable’ version of integrated security, which has never been demonstrated to be interoperable from system to system or device to device, Charter would be relieved” of its obligation to supply CableCards.

Instead of more waivers, the CEA instead wants the FCC to pursue a CableCard successor called AllVid that could be applied to all forms of multichannel video-programming distributors (MVPDs), not just cable operators. Charter has held that the proposed downloadable security system can be made to operate on a wide range of consumerelectronics devices.