On Oct 14, 2010, the FCC issued a Third Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration adopting rules promote the statutory goal of creating a competitive retail market for devices that can access cable video services.
Adoption of the Third R&O specifically remedies the CableCARD regime’s shortcomings identified in the Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by:
- ensuring that retail devices have access to all video programming that is prescheduled by the programming provider;
- making CableCARD pricing and billing more transparent;
- streamlining CableCARD installations; and
- streamlining requirements for manufacturers who build CableCARD devices.
The Third R&O also updates the Commission’s rules to encourage consumers to connect their cable boxes to home networks and to ease the regulatory burdens on cable operators that are modernizing their systems.
- require cable operators to support the reception of switched digital video services on retail devices to ensure that subscribers are able to access the services for which they pay regardless of whether they lease or purchase their devices;
- prohibit price discrimination against retail devices to support a competitive marketplace for retail devices;
- require cable operators to allow self-installation of CableCARDs where device manufacturers offer device-specific installation instructions to make the installation experience for retail devices comparable to the experience for leased devices;
- require cable operators to provide multi-stream CableCARDs by default to ensure that cable operators are providing their subscribers with current CableCARD technology; and
- clarify that CableCARD device certification rules are limited to certain technical features to make it easier for device manufacturers to get their products to market.
The FCC also modified rules to encourage home-networking by simplifying set-top box output requirements. The FCC promotes the cable industry’s transition to all-digital networks by exempting all one-way set-top boxes without recording functionality from the integration ban.
Read the Report and Order
FCC Chapter: 4.13
On an expedited basis, the Federal Communications Commission should adopt rules for cable operators to fix certain CableCARD issues while development of the gateway device functionality progresses. Adoption of these rules should be completed in the fall of 2010.
The proposed rules should:
- Ensure equal access to linear channels for retail and operator-leased CableCARD devices in cable systems with SDV by allowing retail devices to receive and transmit out-of-band communications with the cable headend over IP.
- Establish transparent pricing for CableCARDs and operator-leased set-top boxes. Consumers should see the appropriate CableCARD charge, whether they purchase a retail device or lease one from the operator, and they should receive a comparable discount off packages that include the operator-leased set-top box if they choose to purchase one instead.
- Standardize installation policies for retail and operatorleased CableCARD devices to ensure consumers buying CableCARD-enabled devices at retail do not face materially different provisioning hurdles than those using operatorleased set-top boxes.
- Streamline and accelerate the certification process for retail CableCARD devices. For example, the rules could restrict the certification process to cover hardware only, similar to the certification required for cable-ready TVs, to ensure retail CableCARD devices do not harm a cable operator's network.