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ACA Applauds FCC For Issuing Set-Top Box Waivers

Small Cable Can Rely On Low-Cost Digital Boxes

PITTSBURGH, June 2, 2009 -  The American Cable Association welcomed an important ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that will allow all cable operators to provide low-cost set-top boxes to millions of consumers who want to continue using their analog TV sets to receive their provider's digital tiers of service. 

"The FCC's action will allow small cable operators to take their systems all-digital at a much faster pace because now they can deploy set-top boxes that will cost about $50 instead of several hundred dollars each," ACA president and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "Under this ruling, cable's transition to digital -- which the federal government is not subsidizing as it did for TV stations -- will be far less costly for cable customers in this economically stressful time." 

In this first-of-its-kind ruling, the FCC granted Evolution Broadband a waiver filed for two boxes that do not include CableCARDs, an insertable device that protects digital cable programming from theft.  Evolution Broadband's boxes covered by the waiver were integrated one-way "limited-capability devices" used to convert digital signals to analog but not to offer HD signals, digital recording functions, or broadband access.  

Evolution Broadband's waiver lasts for three years, and the company may provide the set-top units to any cable operator. The FCC alerted Evolution Broadband's competitors that the agency would act expeditiously on waivers sought for similar devices. 

"The FCC's ruling was not just about digital television," Polka added.  "It also advanced the goal of helping to make the United States the world leader in broadband.  All-digital cable systems can take reclaimed analog spectrum and dedicate it to providing much faster broadband download speeds that consumers increasingly say they want in order to enjoy bandwidth-intensive services." 

Evolution Broadband was represented in this matter by Cinnamon Mueller, a Chicago-based law firm. 

On May 28, ACA praised another FCC set-top box decision involving Cable One, Inc.  The agency ruled that in a single market in Tennessee, Cable ONE could deploy a low-cost set-top box capable of displaying high-definition signals.  Cable ONE said that without a waiver to use a preferred $50 box, it would need to rely on a CableCARD HD box with a wholesale price range of $400 to $500.

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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