A faulty electrical plug has forced Motorola Inc. to recall an unspecified percentage of the 1 million DCT-2000 digital set-top boxes manufactured between late February and May of this year.
As the DCT-2000 is the most widely deployed box, the recall will affect virtually all North American MSOs, including Cox Communications Inc., AT&T Broadband, Charter Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable. There are approximately 21 million DCT-2000s deployed worldwide.
Motorola vice president and general manager of digital consumer gateways Carl McGrath said the recall affects "a small percentage" of the 1 million boxes shipped during the February to May timeframe. So far, there have been no reports of any injuries to cable subscribers as a result of the defect.
"The actual impact is a pretty small percentage of that, but we have to go through the population and be very careful with them to identify potentially affected units by serial number and by delivery date," Motorola's McGrath said. "Working from production dates, we can go through serial numbers and not only work with them in warehousing, but also obviously for any units that got installed, we can go through access control systems and identify them."
The problem appears to center on a mechanical defect in the power-supply circuit within the detachable power plug.
Though it would pose no danger to units if they are left alone, it would potentially pose a problem if customers decide to unplug or power down the digital box.
Motorola, which was made aware of the problem by its manufacturer in the past two weeks, is now working with the MSOs and the Consumer Products Safety Commission on a recall plan. It will release details once the CPSC signs off on the plan.
There is no estimate as to how long the recall process would take, but McGrath said it would be "highly accelerated." After the affected units are identified, the recall will involve removing them and replacing the defective components, he said.
Motorola will not be releasing the potential cost for the recall.
"The cost of this is not material to Motorola," he said. "From a financial community sense, it is not material. Clearly, it is an issue that we want to work with the MSOs to clean up among us ASAP."
The defect also does not seem to be tied to the actual design of the digital box or its power system, McGrath added.
"This is an issue in a unit we procured," he said. "To our knowledge it is nothing we created.
"It is a mechanical defect in a piece part in a purchased product we put into the unit. We were informed by our suppliers of the problem," he said.
For consumers, the MSOs will be the primary point of information for the recall, he added.
"The relationship with the end consumer is through the MSOs and we are working very closely with both the operations and the PR parts of the MSOs to properly inform and properly stage this, and any consumer that had a concern, their first line of communication would be with the MSOs," McGrath said.