MSOs Deployed Just 5,000 Net New Standalone CableCards In Last Three Months

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The 10 largest U.S. cable operators have deployed only 536,000 standalone CableCards to date -- and only 5,000 net new CableCards in the last three months -- compared with more than 25 million CableCard-enabled set-tops since July 2007, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday.

The FCC has acknowledged the CableCard rule, which forces cable operators to use the cards in their own set-tops, hasn't achieved the aim of fostering a competitive market in cable TV navigation devices at retail. In October, the agency voted unanimously to change the CableCard rules in the hopes of improving their adoption, including requiring the option of consumer self-installation of the cards and giving consumers information on the cost of retail vs. leased boxes.

The NCTA has argued that the integrated set-top ban should be eliminated, particularly because the FCC is looking at adopting an "AllVid" requirement applying to all pay-TV providers that would supersede CableCards. The trade group said, though, that its members would continue to support CableCard-based retail devices, such as TiVo DVRs.

The FCC's AllVid proposal would apply not only to cable but to satellite and telco TV operators as well. As outlined, the rule would mandate all operator-supplied set-tops or gateways support standardized interfaces for video services, security and metadata, as well as have the ability to receive video from Internet sources, no later than Dec. 31, 2012.

In an ex parte filing last month, the NCTA, cable, satellite and telco operators told the FCC that AllVid rules should not "convert MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributors] into wholesalers of programming for reuse and repackaging by retail equipment providers."